We open the show with both a popular band in the house and a corporate sponsor whose name is plastered on every available surface. Product Placement Pete has returned with a vengeance! :) Pete unwittingly chews some kryptonite-laced gum and is transformed into Elastic Man (wait, isn't that supposed to be Jimmy's storyline?). Of course, along with his new powers, Pete gains the more insidious effects of exposure to meteor rock: his judgment flies out the window, along with his sense of right and wrong, and soon he's hurtling down the path of his own self-destruction, dragging Clark along with him.
Yes, Pete was a jerk to Clark in this episode, but that behavior was quite consistent with the Pete I remember. Pete himself admits he has always been jealous of Clark, and felt lost living in his shadow. Perhaps this latest adventure will finally give Pete the push he needs to find his own way, and to finally let go of his desire to live Clark's life instead of his own. In any case, it was a treat to see Clark and Pete together again, especially playing basketball like in the old days. Sam Jones III is a good actor, and he fell back into the show seamlessly, as if he'd never been gone. The Chloe and Pete reunion was great, too, but would it have killed the show to give us a scene with the original Smallville trio, our own little Scooby gang back in action? I'm sure I'm not the only fan who missed seeing that.
Speaking of Chloe, how awesome was she in this episode? Her showdown with Lex thrilled me to my core! I loved how she took the time to put her suit jacket on before she went in to confront the boss. Chloe Sullivan is always the consummate professional when it comes to journalism! And she looked fabulous throughout the episode, especially in the red and black outfit she wore at the end. Yowza! The only false note for me was the resurrection of the Chimmy. Don't get me wrong, I continue to adore Aaron Ashmore, and I loved his performance in this episode in particular, but no man who utters the words, "It looks like Gumby found his Pokey," will ever be deserving of the magnificence that is my beloved Chloe Sullivan. Please.
Lana remains a mystery to me. I just don't trust her. She looked guilty when Clark came downstairs from his shower (mmm, Clark in the shower) to find her having a confab with Lionel, and I'm not sure she has Kara's best interests at heart when she insists they keep hiding the truth from her. When she showed up in the loft looking exactly as she did in the Noir dream sequence, with her hair parted on the side, dark lipstick, and severe clothing, it kind of creeped me out. What are you trying to tell me, show? I did like that Lana showed compassion for the way Kara is drawn to Lex, and displayed an empathetic understanding of how attractive Lex can be. But then why didn't she warn Kara more explicitly about her new savior? You want her to stay away from Lex? Tell her about the fake baby, for starters! Sheesh. And criticizing Kara for snooping in Clark's things? Hypocritical much, Lana?
Obviously Clark shares none of my concerns. The Clana continues unabated, in spite of everything Clark has experienced this season to raise doubts in his head. His heart isn't listening, I guess. :P The casual kiss they shared before she drove off in that ginormous, shiny, new Toyota truck (Chloe's Yaris on steroids?) was a jarring note to me. Will anything ever break up this dysfunctional couple? I guess we'll see. And how crazy was that whole scene, anyway? Seeing Clark use his superpowers to lift that huge bundle of fence posts was a kick, but where was Lana going with them? To see Ben Hubbard, evidently, who was going to help her unload them? Buh? So it's Lana the farmhand, now? Um, okay.
I continue to enjoy Laura Vandervoort. I like her acting on the show, she's beautiful, and she's fun. Did any of you catch her little bit as an onset reporter for this episode on the Canadian show eTalk? She's a natural interviewer! In Hero she wore white in every scene, which I thought was a cool representation of not only her innocence and naivete with Lex, but also her life without her memories, blank and colorless. Now that she has literally moved into the dragon's lair, I can't wait to see what happens next!
Lex was beyond awesome in this episode! Michael, please, please, please come back to us next season! What in the world will we do without you? You don't want to shave your head anymore? Fine, we'll do Lex in hats, every episode, no problem. Or better yet, Lex's scientists can come up with a cure for baldness. It'll involve meteor rocks, of course, and the treatment can make Lex even more villainous as a side effect. What? A girl can try, can't she? :)
Anyway, obviously I loved Lex in Hero. He was ruthless and cunning throughout, bullying Chloe, extorting Pete, and manipulating Kara. He even got smart, bringing a henchman to his meeting with Pete, although he ended up unconscious in that scene nonetheless. :) What can I say? It's his lot in life, at least on Smallville. Michael Rosenbaum rocked his performance more than ever, making me fall in love with him all over again. Every look spoke volumes, and each sly smile sent a shiver down my spine. Lex has truly come into his own as the big bad, I think, and I am eating it up with a spoon!
And then there's Lionel. Lionel, Lionel, Lionel, what are you up to now? Check out the look in Clark's eyes when he says to him, "You and I? Need to talk." Yikes. I'm actually overjoyed to see the return of the Magnificent Bastard, he's infinitely more compelling than the kindly father figure Lionel appears to be sometimes. Suddenly things seem a lot more interesting! I find myself reviewing all of Lionel's actions in previous episodes, looking for double meanings and possibly malicious intent. Only time will tell what it all means.
Finally, let's talk about Clark. The boy looks more like the man in each new episode, and he's never looked more super than he did this week. All those shots of him standing tall, quiet and assured, made me think all that's missing is the cape, fluttering in the breeze behind him. Clark doesn't freak out and fly off the handle anymore, he simply speaks and acts with calm determination and the knowledge that he's right. I love the courage and leadership he displays, and I can actually see progress toward his destiny. Did you notice he never agreed not to tell Kara the truth, but instead decided to search for her bracelet, looking for a way to ensure that the truth would be believable to her?
On the other hand, Clark continues to be haunted by the price of his superpowers, both to himself and those he loves. You can see the depths of his anguish on his face, and in his actions. Clark is developing into the complex individual who will eventually become two, man and Superman. And Tom Welling makes me believe every step of the journey. I still love this show, and I couldn't be happier that we will now have another season to savor. Yay!
On a more shallow note (oh, stop, you knew I was going there!), Tom looked gorgeous in this episode! Honestly, could the boy be more beautiful? As sick as I get of that blue T-shirt, there's something to be said for the way it showcases his massive chest, his lean waist, and those unbelievable guns. Guh. I also continue to dig the short Superman hair. And the close-ups! Those eyes. Those lips. That perfect skin. Yeah, I totally watch for the plot. :)
My favorite scene of the episode was near the end, when Clark walks through the barn, in glorious slow motion, to the plaintive Apologize, by OneRepublic. He kneels to hide Kara's bracelet under the floor boards (not there, Clark, Lana knows about that hiding place!), and his face is contemplative and sad. He now knows that Lionel has been lying to him, and that the man he went to for guidance has betrayed his trust. He realizes more than ever that in some ways he will always be alone, and that his inherent belief that there is good in everyone has once again been challenged. When he stands again, the camera shoots him from below, illuminated by a single ray of sunlight from above, and he looks impossibly tall, heroic, and majestic in red and blue. It's my Superman, truly.
Random thoughts: Usually it's the girls who end up on apple boxes on this show, but I'm pretty sure Pete was standing on something in his scene with Kara. Jimmy's hair appears to have incurred the wrath of the Smallville stylists. I hate torture scenes. The Veritas subplot is intriguing, and I loved how they brought back the toy warrior little Alexander was painting in Fracture. Of course Kara interrupts at the worst possible moment! And biologically enhanced individuals? hee!
In spite of the rampant product placement, I loved this episode. It was fun having Pete back, and he asked some questions I think Clark needed to hear. We had some surprising reveals, some intriguing developments, and the promise of great things still to come this season. And I thought OneRepublic's music was a perfect fit. Hello, Smallville, I'm so glad you're back!