tariel22 (tariel22) wrote,

Smallville 7.20 - Arctic

Arctic will forever be remembered as Michael Rosenbaum's last episode as a regular cast member of Smallville, and perhaps his last episode ever, if you take him at his word. Thankfully the writers gave him enough material to make a memorable exit, although why they didn't give us more of Lex and Clark together, I'll never know. Michael and Tom were both amazing in this episode, and they're never better than when they're acting opposite each other. I would have been happy to watch 35 minutes of Clex, and then give Chloe, expositional wonder that she is, the remaining six and a half minutes to catch us up on everything else that happened in the episode. But at least we got what we did, and I will wrap myself in the memories of that last scene for a long time to come.

Once again Smallville has given me an episode that seems to be a dichotomy. I rejoiced in all the scenes that revolved around our hero and his adversaries. I delighted in Lex's machinations with Jimmy, his deluded conviction that he was the world's savior, and his wonder at seeing his heart's greatest desire fulfilled as the truth he has sought all these years was finally revealed to him. I was truly afraid of Brainiac, in both of his forms, knowing he was capable of any evil I could imagine. And I felt a world of emotion for Clark, as he faced challenge after challenge, and rose to meet each one, just like the hero he is. Show, you rock my world when you get it right! But then you hit me with the Clana and the Chimmy, and you blow it all to hell. Why do we always have to go there? Just forget everyone's love life, would you, and focus on telling a good story! One particular line of 'shippy dialogue even reduced me to yelling at my television screen. *sighs*

Over the past few episodes, MR has shown us exactly why TPTB should have given him whatever he wanted to stay on the show. His Lex is fascinating and compelling, with a complexity I would have loved to explore further. Now that the villain in him has finally emerged, I feel cheated that the iconic struggle between Clark and Lex will forever be relegated to Offscreenville. This week Lex was masterful and in cold command at first. He sent teams of minions to risk the dangers of the Arctic and pave his way. He bullied Jimmy into lying and spying for him, and then casually moved to destroy Chloe's life when Jimmy backed out of the deal. Even when Krainiac revealed so much to him, he remained wary, and kept his feelings closely guarded. But once he stepped inside the Fortress, he was undone. That final scene, for all its briefness, was immensely satisfying.

Lex was in awe as he slowly walked the icy confines of the Fortress. It seemed he could scarcely believe that he was there, that all of his suspicions about Clark had finally been proved warranted. The music underlying this scene was awesome, communicating the import of the moment perfectly, and conspiring with the eerie glow of the giant crystals and the icy fog that covered the floor to bring our tension to a crescendo. And then, when Clark appeared and the device glowed pink to announce his arrival, Lex broke that tension with an unexpected laugh: "I must admit, Clark, this is a big step up from the barn." hee!

The confrontation that followed brought out the passion in both of our boys, and we saw not only the strength of Lex's convictions, but also the depth of his delusion. There is no doubt in my mind that he truly loves Clark, and yet he remained determined that Clark must be stopped. And so he stayed by his side, holding Clark in his arms, as the Fortress crashed down around them, proving that while nothing surpassed his need to be the savior of the human race, he was willing to sacrifice his own life rather than leave Clark to face his fate alone. The emotions betrayed in Lex's final words, "I'm sorry," spoke volumes about what this relationship means to him.

Tom Welling was also wonderful in this scene, bringing a rare intensity to this moment of truth between Clark and Lex. I loved how even as Clark was felled by the power of the mysterious device, he locked eyes with Lex, letting every ounce of his dismay for what their relationship had become, for what Lex had become, pour out in his gaze, along with his pain. These two actors brought everything they had within themselves to bear for this scene, and gave us the epic moment for which we've waited these past seven years. If only TPTB had seen fit to allot more than three minutes and fifteen seconds to their time onscreen together! I still can't quite wrap my head around that decision.

The FoS scene did leave me a bit confused. First, I think they must have cut some dialogue, because Clark's lines didn't quite mesh with Lex's in a couple of places. Second, I don't understand exactly what the device did. We've had all this talk in the episodes leading up to this one of a way to control the Traveler, which I interpreted to mean that whoever had the device could wield Clark like a weapon. Edward Teague expressly said the device would control, but not destroy, Clark, because Jor-El "couldn't bear the thought of his son's death." But it seemed to me that killing Clark was exactly what Lex was intent upon doing, and the device certainly seemed to have a debilitating effect on Clark similar to kryptonite. So what was happening there, and where did the control part come into play? Unless they always meant control in the same way you control a disease or a pest, to reduce it to the point where it can do no harm. Are we looking at a powerless Clark again when S8 begins? The words Lex used in his speech to Clark were frustratingly vague, too. And what did destroying the Fortress have to do with it? That destroys Jor-El, not Clark. I really don't know what to think about any of it.

Tom was great in the rest of the episode, too. He continues to portray Clark as a strong, independent, righteous man who has found his inner code of honor, and believes in it absolutely. Every second he's on my television screen brings me joy. Clark faced crisis after crisis this week, and met each one head on. I loved how he totally believed in Kara. When presented with the irrefutable evidence of her actions, he correctly concluded that there was something wrong with her, and then took decisive action to intervene. I didn't love another scene of Kara flying off while Clark watched in helpless frustration, but that's where Clark is in his development right now. :( I loved how, when he realized Kara was actually Brainiac, he didn't mope at Chloe's bedside, but instead went after him, and didn't hesitate to destroy him. And no, that didn't give me even a moment of pause. Brainiac was a freaking computer, people, a veritable killing machine, whose agenda was nothing less than the obliteration of the entire human race. I loved Clark's reaction to the news that Chloe had been arrested. And of course I loved how he went to confront Lex the second he heard he was headed for the Arctic.

But wait, you say. Clark faced one more crisis. Did you love how he handled that one, too? And you know what? I did. Sure, I yelled a few choice sentiments out loud when Lana said she was letting Clark go for the good of the world... Wait a sec, I think I'm gonna hurl... No, no, I'm okay... But did you really expect anything less? This is totally Lana's MO. She broke up with Whitney by videotape, wrote Jason a note in Paris, and would have left Lex a note on their wedding day if Lionel hadn't stopped her. I'm sure she had been traumatized to her very core by her encounter with Brainiac, and that upon suddenly escaping his torturous grasp, her first instinct was to flee. But, being Lana, she couldn't help but play the martyr, and once again make it all about her, by recording a tearful goodbye to Clark. And Kristin Kreuk nailed it, I have to say. But OMG, the lyrics to that song they played?! Shades of the end of Veritas all over again. Sometimes I just HATE you, Smallville.

I don't blame Clark for crying. My God, could his life get any more crappy? He's done so much to try to hang on to this clearly dysfunctional relationship, even when he must know in his heart of hearts it was never meant to be. In saying goodbye to Lana, he's saying goodbye to the last remaining remnant of the dreams he once had for his life: a normal existence, captain of the football team, in love with the prettiest girl in town, working the family farm, and best friends with that sexy, misunderstood billionaire who lives down the road. I think he mourns that loss as much, if not more, than the loss of Lana herself. And I think he cries for Lana, too, seeing in that desperate recording exactly who she has become, the perpetual victim for whom happiness has proved all too elusive. I don't blame Clark for one iota of what has happened to Lana, but I'm willing to bet he blames himself. So, yeah, go ahead and cry, big guy. It's been a hell of a season, and I think you're entitled. Besides, Tom blew me away with his performance. Well done.

And speaking of scenes I didn't hate, I didn't hate that Lois was there to comfort Clark. It was a nice callback to Siren, and it speaks to the friendship that continues to grow between these two. Besides, Lois has a nice way of being there for Clark without asking questions, and I think that has to be something he appreciates. I assume it was also meant to be an anvil for future Clois. That doesn't particularly bother me, but I prefer to enjoy it purely for what it was in the moment. I also didn't hate the scene where Lois brings Clark the application for a job at the Daily Planet. I think it was another unnecessary anvil, but it was a cute scene, and I think everyone who thinks Lois was an insensitive jerk to walk over the figurative grave of Chloe's journalism career to hand Clark that application just isn't hearing what the show has been telling us for most of the season.

I don't like the retcon any more than the rest of you, truly. I don't think it makes any sense, and I think it diminishes Chloe as a character, but I honestly think we're supposed to believe that Chloe has lost interest in journalism. They haven't shown her being a reporter in a good long while, and she hasn't shown any discernible anger or sorrow at losing her job at the DP, which she called a "black hole." Yes, Chloe has a long history of hiding her feelings, but the show always lets us in on the secret, by showing us her longing looks behind Clark's back, or a wistful remark she utters in passing. We've seen nothing like that. She's not trying to get her job back, or looking for work at another paper. And I think the most joy she's shown lately was while working with Oliver in Siren, and dancing the tango in Sleeper.

I also think we're supposed to believe that Chloe is head over heels in love with Jimmy. The signs have been there pretty much all season, but I just haven't wanted to accept them. In this episode, in their one scene together, she seemed positively entranced with him. And when he proposed... Oh, wait, this time I really am gonna hurl... Sorry, I can't help it... I don't think she was repulsed by the idea. Although I'm afraid that, like Lex, she's all too aware of Jimmy's limitations. After all, when the DDS dragged her away, it wasn't Jimmy's help she frantically wanted. :)

Chloe rocked the non-Chimmy portions of the episode, and I am beyond relieved that Allison Mack signed a contract to return for the final season. She's too gifted of an actress to lose. Let's just hope they honor her talent with some decent story lines! I liked Chloe's part in the story this week. She helped Clark without solving all the puzzles for him, and I loved their little exchange before she tried to take Kara down for him: "Chloe, you're the only one who can help me." "I'm always here for you, Clark." I thought it was cool that Brainiac remembered her, and saw her as a threat to him, but I didn't really understand what happened when he attacked her. I guess she was using her healing power to heal herself and resist him? And overpowering her clearly drained him. What I wonder is if the struggle somehow expended her ability completely and forever, and if the visual effect we saw was meant to represent that. Could we possibly come back to a non-infected Chloe in S8?

I still like Jimmy, and adore Aaron Ashmore. I think he's a good actor, and I buy Jimmy's incredible naivete when it comes to Lex. The boy is beyond clueless, which for me is part of his charm. I liked that he so obviously hated lying to Lois. I also liked that he stood his ground and said no to Lex, even though he didn't think that decision through to its logical conclusion. And he was suitably distressed in his scene with Clark. I'm telling you, I really can see the whole sidekick thing working there. And I won't even risk mentioning Jimmy's other scene again. I'm still feeling a little queasy.

Laura Vandervoort gave us one of her best performances this week, and I'm sorry to hear she won't be around much, if at all, next season. I've been a fan of LV and Kara both since the beginning. Although it does chafe to have a super-powered being around who routinely makes Clark look unaccomplished, so I can understand the decision to back off from that. LV seems like a gracious person, and I wish her every success.

Random thoughts: Michael Rosenbaum's voice-over on the previouslies gave me a thrill, as did hearing him call Clark Kal-El in the Fortress. Squee! Did you catch Jimmy pacing outside Lex's office before he burst in? That was cute. This episode was bookended by really bad CGI, on the airplane at the beginning of the episode, and on the collapsing Fortress at the end. Have we ever heard a doorbell at the Kent farm before? And because my review wouldn't be complete without it, I still hate the Chimmy!

All in all, this was another great Smallville season finale for me. The Superman moments were there, I'm curious about what the new season will bring, and I'm happy enough with the ending we got for Clex. I'll miss you terribly, Michael, and I hope you find nothing but joy in the life that lies ahead for you. Tom, I love you, and thank you so much for all you've given to this show over the past season. Plus a very special thank you for venturing out a bit recently. Could you please do that again, some more? I'm definitely in for one more season of Smallville, and I'll see the rest of you who are coming back in September!
Tags: smallville, sv episode review, tom welling
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