All the opposing forces in Quest pretty much mirrored the feelings at war within me as I watched this episode. I rejoiced in watching Michael Rosenbaum give us some of the best acting we've ever seen on this show, but was dismayed anew that they wasted his talent for so long before this, and made Smallville a place he needed to escape, instead of the playground for his craft it could have been, and the showcase for his skill it should have been. I delighted in the strength and integrity Clark displayed, convincing me once again that he truly is my Superman, but was appalled to see a Chloe I barely recognized, and didn't like much either. I welcomed the lack of Clana angst, but felt assaulted by the gratuitous Chimmy. I thought it was cool that they tied the whole legend of the Kawatche caves back into the Veritas story line, but I thought it was ridiculous that they suddenly turned Jimmy Olsen into an ace reporter to do so. I mean, come on! Super spy and irresistible love monkey weren't enough? Whose geekboy fantasies are being brought to life in this character, anyway?! This episode left me reeling.
Michael Rosenbaum was made of awesome this week. I swear, his Lex Luthor could eat babies before my very eyes and still make me feel compassion for him. The depth of emotion in his voice, and the stark torment in his eyes, made me understand Lex's compulsion to find the truth behind his father's obsession. My heart goes out to the lost little boy who could never hope to compete with an alien from another galaxy for his father's devotion, and whose life was changed forever when his father dragged him along in pursuit of that stranger from the skies. Although I still think Lex must know that Clark is the Traveler. Indeed, on some level he's always known. He just needs to hear the words made truth, spoken by someone who knows with absolute certainty.
On a more shallow note, MR is cut! That chest! Those shoulders! Even his collarbone is sexy! And all that golden skin. I must admit, I'm going to miss more than his acting when he leaves this show. One more episode, guys. *cries*
I really loved Clark in this episode. After seeing him act so heroic in the AU in Apocalypse, I find myself wondering more and more, what is it that is holding him back from embracing his destiny? Why in the world is he still hanging around on the farm milking cows instead of saving the world? I don't feel like the show has answered that question (except to say it's Lana, Lana, Lana), and I'm worried they never really will. I'm afraid he'll just have one of those trademark Smallville lightswitch moments, and suddenly want to be a superhero. But then Tom gives me hope, by giving us moments like we saw tonight. I really feel like Tom has taken us on a journey this season, one where Clark is slowly but surely shouldering the mantle of the man he is destined to become.
This week we saw Clark reject the worship that his superpowers could command. We saw him fight for his life, and declare himself as a force for good in the world. And twice over we saw him choose not to kill or let be killed those who pose the greatest threat to his own personal safety. All qualities that define Superman. Yes, it is the script that dictates these developments, but it is Tom's finely crafted acting that makes me see them as a natural progression of events, as the culmination of moments built on moments throughout the season. I truly think Tom has a vision for this character, and that all season long he has worked hard to show us the emerging hero, one whose convictions appear just a little stronger with each episode. Tom's acting, both commanding and nuanced, makes me believe it, and gives me hope that a watchable S8 just might rise from the ashes of MR's departure and the possible loss of the irreplaceable Allison Mack.
I have to wonder what went through Allison's mind as she read the script for this week's episode for the first time. Professional that she is, she gave it her all. She was damn sexy as she nuzzled up to Jimmy, and passionate in her speech to Clark in the loft, but I can't help but think she was as bewildered as the rest of us to see Chloe act so completely OOC. Chloe would rather mack on Jimmy than hear the details of a near-fatal attack on Lex, the man who even now may hold in his hands the secret to controlling Clark? Huh? She would be all over that story, not only because she has printer's ink instead of blood running through her veins, but also because Clark is her best friend! And while I understand and empathize with Chloe's bias against Lex, seeing her basically urge Clark to kill Lex was jarring and disturbing.
If I were AM, I'd be tempted to get out before they can take this character assassination even further. What can they be thinking, tearing down a character who is not only a fan favorite, and the main character's best friend and closest confidant, but also the show's single best original contribution to the Superman mythology (all thanks to AM, IMO)? Not to mention the fact that writing Chloe this way can only serve to alienate the best actress Smallville has, right at the moment when they want her motivated beyond her compensation package to sign a new contract. I swear this show is run by crack monkeys.
So how did this self-proclaimed Jimmy fan feel about Jimmy this week? I was, quite frankly, disgusted. Like AM, Aaron Ashmore gave it his all, and I thought his performance was great. But Jimmy's story line was just ridiculous, coming out of left field the way it did. It was as if Jimmy and Chloe switched bodies or something! And as much as I loved the way they brought back the Kawatche cave legend, is there really anything about the cave symbols Jimmy could discover in a day of research for which Lex would actually pay money? Show, please. Lex obsessively studied those symbols for at least two years, with the help of world-renowned experts. That's just stupid, sloppy writing. Just as it is to call Clark the Traveler, the same name as the big bad in Slumber, and also have him not remember that Saint Christopher is the patron saint of travelers, as if the events of that episode never happened.
It was fun to see Richard Picardo guest star. I've been a big fan of his forever, and he was great as the crazy Edward Teague, even if his character was a bit over the top, and had nothing in common with what we previously knew about ET. :) Man, he turned on a dime with Clark, didn't he? Nothing is scarier than a lunatic with the courage of his convictions behind him! I loved the strength of purpose Clark displayed in his scenes with ET, and his utter refusal to engage in the craziness that Veritas had ended up to be. The exposition in this part of the episode raised more questions, though. Why all the religious overtones, and why be so heavy-handed about it? The shot of Clark standing at the altar, with a giant crucifix above and behind him, was a bit much, I thought. And that whole part about Jor-El giving mankind the fail-safe device that can control Clark didn't even make sense to me. Since when does Jor-El care more about humans than his own son? And why would his fail-safe be something operated by inferior humans, instead of something entirely Kryptonian like the AI in the Fortress? I wasn't buying it. Let's just say that ET got it all wrong in his warped brain, okay? I say it was Zor-El and his SCIENCE! that somehow planted the fail-safe on Earth. :)
And finally, if I didn't love this episode for anything else, I would have loved it for the shirtless Clark scene alone. Yowza! Tom Welling is looking good! Although I was annoyed he took the time not only to slip on THRJ before he sped off to find ET and Lex, but also to zip it all the way up. Was that really necessary? :) In a tux at the Met, or shirtless here, the man is truly stunning! Yeah, plot, shmot, you'd better believe I'm watching S8. LOL! TW looked gorgeous throughout the episode. I can't wait to see the screen caps for this one.
Random thoughts: Why does Jimmy need a key to unlock Chloe's door? Judging by the way Clark just bursts in all the time, I thought she never locked it. ;) How did Jimmy get that one perfect shot of Lex's bloody chest? Was he straddling him on the gurney?! Watching my two beautiful boys have their chests carved up was beyond gross. I did NOT need to see that, show. The church was in Quebec, and Lex mentioned Quebec on the phone in Sleeper. Coincidence or continuity error? I hated it when Clark whined about Chloe waking him up just because Lex was hurt. I'm writing it off to Clark being tired and cranky. *kicks the writer* And because I can never say it enough, I hate the Chimmy!
This episode gave me lots of mixed feelings, but for me the good far outweighed the bad. At least they're giving MR a good send-off. I can't wait to see what the final episode holds in store, and to find out if the fandom fallout will be everything the current speculation promises. I think we're in for a wild ride.