Clark's first day at the DP was a whirlwind of activity that left me breathless at times. The pace was relentless, but I still enjoyed it. It was fascinating to see Clark play a whole new part in a very familiar setting. In the past it's always been Clark and Chloe. They worked beautifully as a team, seamless and efficient, and comfortable enough together to often communicate without words. We never doubted their devotion to one another, or their ability to solve the problem at hand. She was his secret keeper; he was her superhero. They were a joy to watch together. But it always seemed to me that Chloe led, and Clark followed, and truth be told, I've been waiting for Clark to step out of Chloe's shadow for some time now.
Clark's relationship with Lois is completely different. It's contentious, and bumpy, and a little bit maddening. But it's also affectionate, and sweet, and funny. And I like it. Clark and Lois seem to be on much more equal footing. Lois brings a little more practical experience to the table, and a rash ambition that can be both good and bad. She's arrogantly confident around Clark, but it's played for laughs, and I thought it was cute. Clark brings a cooler head and the voice of reason to the partnership, and is shown to be both logical and intelligent in the course of their investigation. Plus he has all those superpowers. :)
Do you know how long I've waited to see a smart, competent Clark asking questions and solving mysteries? Or how rare it has been in the past to see Clark be independent and proactive? I do, because it's been a thrill for me every time it happens. And in S7 it happened most often in episodes written by Holly Henderson and Don Whitehead, who also wrote Plastique. I think we'll see a lot more of this Clark in S8, and I couldn't be happier about it.
The episode began with an explosion, an event that served to bring together all the players in this week's story, and showed us exactly how committed Clark is to becoming Metropolis's unsung hero. We were treated to another glorious scene with equal parts action and pretty, as Clark rescued the victims of the disaster wearing a gorgeous, deep blue dress shirt that gave us just a peek of chest. My favorite part was when Clark emerged from the wreckage carrying Tess to safety, evoking Superman in every step with his effortless strength, his perfect posture, and his noble countenance. And Tom rocked this whole scene, making me believe both in Clark's extraordinary abilities and his overriding concern for all human life.
The explosion sparked Lois and Clark's investigation, introduced Chloe to both Bette and Davis, and brought to light Tess's interest in and pursuit of Bette. There was a lot going on in this episode! Bette seemed to be a classic FoTW, corrupted by the power of her meteor ability and traumatized by those who would exploit it, and already past the point of no return. The difference was in Clark's attitude toward her. He was compassionate and understanding, and reached out to her instead of flinging her 30 feet. I approve, show. In the end, however, he still sent her off to Belle Reve with all the others. She did murder Tommy in cold blood, though, so perhaps that was the most humane option available.
I wasn't impressed with the actress who played Bette, and I had trouble understanding what she was saying a lot of the time, but I loved her final scene, with Tess. That was the scene in which Cassidy Freeman rocked my world, and convinced me that while she will never come close to replacing Michael Rosenbaum's Lex Luthor on this show, she will give us a villain who is complex and compelling, and who will be a worthy adversary for our hero. Watch her performance in this scene. It is so subtle, so quiet, and yet so full of menace. Tess is ruthless, manipulative, and creepy. *shivers* And she has an Evil Team! I am on board, PS3. You've even made me curious about Tess's tortured past.
Chloe's transition to the champion of the meteor infected seemed a little clumsy to me. I liked that Clark brought up the possibility of her returning to the DP. He asked a lot of good questions in this episode! I'm willing to buy that the life-changing experiences Chloe has had recently would make her introspective, and would result in a new direction for her, but her sudden passion for helping Bette just came out of nowhere, and she came off as more pushy than concerned to me. At least her conversation with Clark on the subject later made more sense. And I have no idea what her feelings are for the various men in her life! She professes to love Jimmy, and to want to spend the rest of her life with him, and yet a week after her engagement, she still hasn't told anyone about it. Then, in spite of blurting out to Davis, "I'm engaged," she seems attracted to him, maybe even irresistibly drawn to him, and he obviously has fallen for her like a ton of bricks. And then there's Clark.
Let's take a look at that final scene between Clark and Chloe. Clark was hurt that Chloe didn't tell him about her engagement to Jimmy, and told her unequivocally, "We're more than just friends." Tom looked so sweet, and so vulnerable! Awww. Chloe admitted she was reluctant to tell him because she knew it meant their relationship would be changing. And then she asked Clark flat out if he were ready for that. When he said all that mattered was her happiness with Jimmy, I swear she looked disappointed! And then, as they hugged (awkwardly), Clark had a furrowed brow! So it looks to me like things are not yet resolved between these two. Or is this just more of the same behavior we've seen in the past, an attempt to jerk the shippers around and keep them hanging on and hoping? Because I think the Chlarkers are beyond falling for that kind of crap by now.
Speaking of Chloe's engagement, how funny was the scene where Davis let the cat out of the bag to Clark? "I'm getting married?" "Chloe's engaged?" LOL! That was so cute, and I like that Clark and Davis hit it off initially. Davis seems like such a great guy, too. I have a feeling his story arc is going to break my heart. *sighs* And how freaky was that final shot of him, all naked and shivering, with that crazy forehead action? Yikes.
I also want to give special mention to the last scene between Clark and Lois. It was such a comfortable, friendly scene, and it's the first time I've truly felt some chemistry between these two. I believed the camaraderie between them, and I liked the give and take of their conversation. I laughed out loud at the expression on Erica's face and her line delivery when Lois said, "I can't believe my cousin is getting married... to Jimmy Olsen!" Me, either! hee! And I loved how relaxed Tom was, and how natural his dialogue sounded. I think he's enjoying himself, and that makes me happy.
I mentioned this in passing last week, but I am devastated by the fact that Smallville no longer includes current songs in the episodes. I have discovered so many wonderful songs from hearing them on this show first, and I love the way hearing them now always brings certain moments back to me. Is there anyone who doesn't think of Smallville whenever they hear You and Me, by Lifehouse? And for me there are so many more songs like that one. I have over 200 songs in my Smallville playlist on my iPod, and it kills me that I will never again rush to the computer after an episode to discover the name of that great song I just heard over the final scene. *is sad*
Random thoughts: Who else had their eyes riveted to the clear sections of the glass phone booth door as Clark changed his clothes inside, and was elated to see the brief flash of shoulder skin we were afforded? *facepalm* A backpack? Really, Clark? Can you believe we've actually left the Smallville Medical Center behind forever? It's the end of an era! Did you notice they brought back that roaring lion sound effect for Tess? And that plastic engagement ring just looks stupid, regardless of the "special" story behind it. *gags* Come on, Jimmy, man up and buy your girl a proper ring!
I still think they're trying to do too much in too little time, but I'm doing my best to keep up. I'm loving Clark beyond all my expectations, and so far I'm happy enough with all the other characters and their respective storylines. I'm a little nervous about next week's episode; when Clark isn't even in the trailer, that doesn't bode well for his role in the episode. But overall I'm a very happy fangirl, and I'll be back for more next week!