If last week was all about Clark and the women in his life, this week was all about Clark and Lex. Oh, what a glorious, complex, rich relationship these two men have! No wonder their lives are destined to be entwined for all time. Lately we've had episode after episode without even a moment of Clark and Lex together, and I was beginning to think they had nothing left to say to one another, that their future promised nothing more than the bitter exchanges of sworn enemies. I should have known better than to take their current estrangement at face value.
We open the episode with Lex tracking down Kara, who has amnesia and has lost her powers, but who clearly knows Lex. Lois is in the mix too, evidently chasing a story. In a confrontation with Finley, Kara's coworker turned crazy stalker ex-con boyfriend, Lex takes a bullet between the eyes and is left for dead. Kara and Lois remain at the dangerous mercy of Finley while the authorities discover Lex and medevac him to the Smallville Medical Center.
Wait. What? They medevac him from Detroit, Michigan, to Smallville, Kansas, to the world-renowned team of neurosurgeons always on call at the good old SMC. Yeah, the Mayo Clinic doesn't hold a candle to the SMC. Right. That's almost as funny as Lionel saying he has a friend who's a cop, who let him borrow a critical piece of evidence from the crime scene. Smallville, please.
OTOH, I want to applaud Caroline Dries for explaining to us why Clark hasn't been searching high and low for Kara. And she did it with two simple words: "Kara's alive?" Clearly Clark thought Kara had been killed in the same explosion that destroyed the clones of Lara and Zor-El in Blue. See how nicely that loose end was tied up? I can think of so many more that are still dangling. Might I suggest a line for a future episode? Chloe: "My dad? He got a really great job in Indiana." Of course, then I'd be tempted to add, "He wanted me to go with him, but my home is here in Smallville, living in an apartment that is owned by the monster who exploited my mother and forced her to choose a catatonic state over life with me, and that is also a six hour round trip commute to my job and school in Metropolis." But that's why I don't write for Smallville. :)
Anyway, Lex is in a coma from which he may never emerge. Clark looks truly stricken at the news, and we begin to realize he still cares about Lex. No one knows exactly where Kara and Lois are, just that they must be in danger from whomever shot Lex. Chloe wants to use her powers to heal Lex so he can lead them to the rescue, but Clark thinks the risk is too great. What to do, what to do?
Lana, looking an awful lot like a female prison guard, uses her newly acquired computer-fu to discover an experimental LuthorCorp project that may allow someone to Vulcan mind meld with Lex and retrieve his memories, albeit with the possible side effect of death. There's a beautiful moment where Clark steps away as Chloe and Lana discuss the dangers of the procedure, a moment where he stands tall and alone, and realizes he is uniquely qualified to take on this risk. "I can do this," he says with determination, but what I hear is, "This is a job for Superman," and a thrill runs down my spine!
Lana doesn't want Clark to do it; she's afraid it's too dangerous. Or is she really afraid of what Clark might see in there? Chloe, who share's Clark's hero's mentality, warns him only to be careful. And we're off, as Clark takes a trip down the rabbit hole. Lex's mind is a crazy warren of dark hallways and mysterious doors, where Clark views Lex's memories to discover his recent history with Kara, and where the lighting and colors conspire to make Tom Welling look even prettier than usual. Guh.
It's notable to me that Clark is shown flinging his trademark red jacket off to the side as he readies himself to be linked with Lex, and yet when we see him inside Lex's mind, he has it back on. And for once I don't mind, because it's just one more element that evokes the image of Superman. That all-too-familiar red jacket and blue tee, coupled with Clark's new, short-cropped, jet black hair, and the powerful, quietly confident demeanor I see Tom Welling portray more comfortably each week, just seem to announce we have a superhero in the house. Although, as we soon see, one without his powers at hand.
And Clark plays the part too, as he protects little Alexander and mourns his loss of innocence at his parents' hands, as he views Lex's manipulation of Kara with righteous indignation and fiercely battles evil Lex, and most of all as he rediscovers the friendship with Lex he thought was forever lost, and once again embraces hope for Lex's ultimate redemption. Because I think the greatest of Superman's qualities is his inherent love for the human race, and his infinite capacity to find good in us all.
James Marshall is one of my favorite Smallville directors, and he crafted a wonderful story for us, with consistently outstanding performances from all the actors. The young actor who played Alexander was perfect: adorable, affectionate, heartbreaking, and with goodness just shining in his eyes. Yay for continuity, with Alisen Down returning as Lillian Luthor. I was also happy to see Laura Vandervoort return to the show. I've missed Kara, and she continued to shine this week. And John Glover was, as always, fabulous.
I was sorry to see Lois relegated to uttering clunker lines again this week. "Well, sail on, Columbus, I'm gonna chart my own course to find her," and "Does MacGyver blush every time he walks past me?" Really, Smallville?
Chloe emerged as a true hero in her own right this week. She saved Clark and Lex both, without hesitation or regard for her own peril. The experience clearly gave her pause, leaving her dead for the better part of a day, but at no time did she back down from the rights and responsibilities that come with such a great gift. It looks like she and Clark will take the hero's journey side by side, and each in their own way reconcile themselves with destiny. Rock on, Chloe!
So what did we learn from our little sojourn into Lex's inner workings? First and foremost, just as we saw in Onyx, Lex has two sides, good and evil, who each struggle for a place in his psyche. But now his good side has been reduced to a small child, while his evil side seems to have fulfilled the dark promise of Cassandra's vision long ago. Evil is clearly winning. Second, Lex may never really have had a chance, given the horrific childhood he survived. And finally, it's all about Clark. Lex pursues Kara and her secrets because she is Clark to him, right down to the underwater rescue that marked their first meeting. Solving Kara's mysteries is the key to solving Clark's, and Lex is taking advantage of her the same way he took advantage of Clark in Blank. And if Lex ever truly loved Lana, it was only as an extension of Clark, a second best substitute for the love and trust Clark could never give him. Now she is nothing more than a weapon to be wielded, as he did in this episode. And for the record, that had to be a false memory, because Lana was clearly wearing her wedding ring, and I'm fairly certain Lex and Lana never shared a bed after their wedding day, much less declarations of eternal love.
As for Clark, we learned he has never completely given up on Lex. And now that he's met Alexander, he'll fight in earnest to save him. The conversation between Clark and Lex at the mansion, the first we've seen in weeks, was completely honest and heartfelt on Clark's part, and completely cynical and heartbreaking on Lex's. Not that I blame him, but I fell in love with that little boy inside, and I want to see more of him. And what an intriguing exit line by Clark, quoting Lex's own words to Kara back to him: "Trust me, Lex, there's nothing that's lost that can't be found again."
Michael and Tom were both beyond awesome this week, especially in their scenes together. We rarely see a script where Michael is given enough screen time to remind us that he is one of the most talented actors on this show, and he certainly made the most of this rare Lexcentric episode. And Tom matched him, scene for scene, proving once more that nothing on this show beats the chemistry between these two actors, and between the characters they portray.
One scene that bears special mention was the final one between Clark and Alexander. That little boy just about broke my heart, and Clark was at his most heroic taking the time to reassure and encourage the better side of Lex. Tom Welling has always been magical when he acts with children, and this scene was one of his best ever. And that little wave, at the end? Yeah, me too. *sniffles*
Random thoughts: Lionel knows about Chloe now! That makes me nervous. Cute little shout out to Martha, with the "2nd best I've ever had" pie remark that Lex made. Did Clark already know that Kara saved Lex at the dam? He looked kind of stunned by Lex's memory of her in the water. And I don't quite know what to make of Lex's maniacal laughter when Clark was hitting him. Buh? Another lovely song this week, Say It Again, by Marie Digby. Her new album, Unfold, which includes this song and Spell, from Wrath, will finally come out in April.
So where do we go from here? I feel like anything is possible! And with the writers' strike finally settled, and the promise of additional episodes, it's all good. I'm a happy fangirl! Whenever the next new episode airs, I'll be there. I hope you'll join me!