The Smallville Project: Episode 1.14 – “Zero”
|September 26, 2013||Posted by Jess under Comics, The Smallville Project|
Jess: Close on Lex’s face, sweaty and puffy. We pan out and around to see he’s dangling upside down and wearing a straightjacket. “Let me go,” he says, voice thick. A man walks in and shines a light in his face. “What do you want from me?” Lex asks. “The truth,” the man replies.
Cut to Lex and a girl making their way into a club. A caption tells us that this is Metropolis, three years ago. Lex pays off an employee to get inside; “She’s cute,” the guy says about Lex’s date. “She’s engaged,” Lex replies. They laugh. Okay, but Lex is 17 here. Most engaged women don’t cheat on their fiancees with teenagers.
Rebecca: But what about teenagers who look 28?
Jess: They’re goddamn irresistible.
Lex slips the guy another hundred to get a VIP room and takes the girl upstairs. She tells him he shouldn’t feel obligated to entertain her, since “Jude” will be back in a couple of days. He tells her the pleasure’s all his, and orders them two apple martinis. If I thought the writers were capable of consistent symbolism I’d think this has something to do with the apples in the second episode and Lex as a figure of temptation and sin, but as it is I’m just laughing at Lex’s girly drink.
Rebecca: I’m too busy laughing at the blacklights and test tube shots in this “trendy club” to notice.
Jess: The girl picks up a matchbook with the words “zero consequences” on it. “That’s quite a promise,” she says. Their drinks arrive, he calls her “Amanda” so I can thankfully stop calling her “the girl,” and they clink glasses. Then her face falls, and Lex turns to see a guy on a couch with a girl on either side. Jude, I presume?
Looking horrified, she approaches him, and his face falls. “You said you had to go away on business,” she says. As he sputters that he can explain, she takes her ring off and throws it at him, then storms away. “You son of a bitch,” Jude says, looking at Lex, “you did this on purpose!” “You did it to yourself,” Lex replies. “Amanda deserves better.”
Rebecca: This whole setup is so cliche, but I do kind of like the idea of Lex exacting this very innocuous and Lexy scheme.
Jess: Down on the dance floor, Lex catches up to Amanda – but Jude catches up to Lex, and punches him in the stomach. A fight breaks out, and the guy who let Lex in at the beginning breaks it up. Jude pulls a knife and stabs Lex. The guy shoots him. Amanda’s scream is drowned out by the music.
Cut back to Lex dangling in his straightjacket. “Liar!” his kidnapper yells. “That’s what it said in the papers, but that’s not what really happened.” “It’s the truth!” Lex insists. The kidnapper tells him Lex covered it up and is going to pay. “Who are you?” Lex asks. The kidnapper steps into view – and it’s Jude. “Don’t you remember?” he asks. “You killed me.” He cocks a gun. “Daddy can’t save you this time, Lex.”
SOMEBODY SAAAAAAAAAAVE MEEEEEEEEE!
Rebecca: MOSTLY LEEEEEEEX!
Jess: Smallville High, “one week earlier” according to the caption. Clark, Pete, and Chloe gripe about their English assignment: a six-page biography on a randomly assigned fellow student. Pete in particular is bummed that he got “Stan Gibson, manager of the student store” instead of a girl. Anything to give the writers an excuse to shoo you offscreen, Peter. Chloe, meanwhile, is all smiles, since her subject is none other than “the illustrious Mr. Kent himself.” “I take it back, Chloe’s the one with the challenge,” Pete says, and at Clark’s expression: “No offense, Clark, but digging up six pages of interesting on you is gonna require some serious excavation.” “I do stuff,” Clark says, wounded. Hee. Chloe’s eager to dig up dirt, which should be interesting.
But Clark’s grinning even harder than she is, because he got – of course – Lana. He tells them it’s perfect, since he’s already been helping Lana get ready for the Talon’s grand opening. “Oh, that’s nice,” Chloe says. “The surrogate boyfriend does the heavy lifting while [Flash] works at his dad’s store.” Hee! Clark heads off and Chloe asks when they’re gonna do her interview. “I’ll be around,” he says, and leaves. “Did he just blow me off?” Chloe asks Pete. This can’t be the first time this has happened to either of you shorties.
Rebecca: First of all, this scene was shot as a long, Tommy Schlamme-style one-shot walk-and-talk, which is weird for this show except that it happens two more times in this episode. I like the walk-and-talks because it helps the bantery rhythm and the “teen friends!” tone, even if Welling and Jones aren’t really up to it, acting-wise (although I do think Welling is generally better when the camera gives him some space). Second of all, if “I’ll be around” is a deliberate wink, THAT’S how you do an organic Superman anvil, instead of trying to find new and interesting ways to fit in the word “cape.”
Jess: The Talon. Lana’s freaking out because the plumbing is leaking and the plumber doesn’t seem all too concerned about getting it fixed anytime soon. “You resurrect the past, get the problems that come with it,” he says. Lana tells him that Lex will be there soon and will need a better answer than that, then nearly crashes into Jude, who’s smiling creepily. “Sorry, we’re not open yet,” she says. But no, he’s here about the assistant manager position. I have to say this show does a pretty good job casting creepers as bad guys, although that might be the urgent violins on the soundtrack and not Jude’s acting.
Rebecca: Maybe there are just a lot of slightly-off-looking white guys in Canada. I’M LOOKING AT YOU, CALLUM KEITH RENNIE!
Jess: Jude introduces himself and too-casually asks about Lex’s involvement. Lana asks if he knows him. “A lifetime ago in Metropolis,” Jude says. “Let’s just say there’s a reason he’s in Smallville. You know my advice? Stay away from him. When Lex gets involved, things usually turn out badly.” Lana looks alarmed, though whether that’s from the advice or Jude himself isn’t clear.
Lex pulls up outside and turns at a hand on his shoulder. It’s the guy from Club Zero. “What are you doing here?” Lex asks. “I thought we had an understanding. After that night we were never to have any contact.” That’s also what Lex tells all his lovahs. The guy tells him he saw Jude, and Lex says that’s impossible. “Listen to me! He’s alive. Everywhere I go, I see him! He’s stalking me!” the guy yells. Lex shushes him and asks what “Jude” wanted. “The truth,” the guy says. I hope they name him soon so I can stop calling him “the guy.”
Rebecca: Ha, yeah right. Also, is this literally our fourth black character in the series? Sigh.
Jess: The doctor who examined Clark in “Leech” was black, but he was also only around for 30 seconds. Come on, show. At least let Pete have parents.
Lex sees Clark Clarking his way up the street and gives the guy a key to a secure apartment in Metropolis: “You stay there, and you wait for my call.” The guy nods and takes off. Clark greets Lex and asks who the guy was. “Nobody,” Lex says, which appears to be enough for Clark.
Rebecca: Lex’s obvious desperation for Clark to not know anything about him that he doesn’t want to share is kind of fascinating and sad.
Jess: They go into the Talon, where Lana still looks shellshocked. Clark asks if she’s okay. “Just a little weirded out,” she says. “A friend of yours came by, applied for the assistant manager position. He told me to, um. Stay away from you.” That’s not terrible advice about a 20-year-old who spends all his time with high school freshmen. Funnily, Welling seems to have forgotten that he’s on camera, because he has no reaction at all to any of this.
Rebecca: I genuinely read that as Clark being like, “Yeah, people are always saying that, get used to it.” Or maybe he was thinking about pie.
Jess: To be fair, Martha’s pie is probably amazing.
Lex asks the name of this “friend.” “Jude Royce,” Lana says, and Lex looks pensive.
Clark seems to remember that this show is about him and stuff, and asks Lex what’s wrong. “When did he leave?” Lex asks, his voice tight. “Just before you came in,” Lana says. Lex walks outside and scans the street, to no avail. Clark joins him and asks who Jude is. “Trust me, Clark,” Lex says, Jude’s application balled up in his hand, “I have no idea who Lana met today, but it couldn’t’ve been him.”
He tells Clark not to worry, gets in his car, and turns it on. A song blares out with the word “KILLER!” screamed over and over. Lex tries to turn it down but the radio’s not responding. Clark X-rays the car and spots a discman (A DISCMAN) strapped under the dash. He tells Lex, who rips it out, silencing the music. Lex plays it off as a joke and says it worked, since there’s a curious crowd gathered around the car. Clark’s not so sure, but Lex tells him this doesn’t concern him and drives off.
Kent Farm. Clark walks in to find Chloe interviewing his parents at the dining room table. “Unlike a certain so-called friend of mine, your parents gracefully agreed to be interviewed,” she explains. “Chloe’s been asking us some very…interesting questions,” Martha says. “Thank you!” Chloe says. “Now, what was involved in adopting Clark?” Hee. Oh, Chloe.
Rebecca: God, I love her.
Jess: The Kents stammer vaguely as Chloe asks about the length of the process and whether they used a lawyer. Seriously? No one has ever asked them this before? Chloe runs out of tape and trots out to get another one from her car. How is she driving? She’s 14.
The Kents quickly tell Clark that they don’t want anyone digging into the adoption, and Clark asks why. UM, BECAUSE YOU ARE AN OUTER SPACE BABY, YOU BIG DUMBO. Chloe runs back in and says that now she can get down to interviewing Clark. He hastily says he’s leaving to go interview Lana, and Chloe asks if he’s avoiding her. Less “avoiding you” and more “wants to bone Lana,” I’d say. Although considering the questions are all probably things like “How did you know Shivery Sean was going to try to suck out all my body heat?” and “How did you find Level 3?” maybe it’s a bit of both.
Rebecca: “Just checking – you don’t have superpowers, right?”
Jess: “Tomorrow, I promise,” Clark says, looking a little deer-in-headlights-y, and leaves. Chloe sits back down. “Okay, this isn’t an official question, and I don’t want you guys to take it the wrong way, but has your son always been this strange?” The Kents squint awkwardly at her. Hee!
Downtown. Lana is gleeful about the Talon’s imminent opening, and about the fact that people are treating her more seriously now that she’s doing such a grownup project. Aw, Lana. I legit like you. She and Clark are grinning dopily at each other when Lex pulls up. Let’s just drop that line into every recap from here on out, okay?
Rebecca: That’s kind of the logline of the show.
Jess: Lex explains that the contractor asked to meet him at the Talon, so all three of them head inside. They turn on the lights – and find the contractor lying on the floor. Lana helps him up and he tells them that “some guy” forced him to let him in, then knocked him out. Clark spots a gothily-wrapped present on the counter, addressed to Lex. As Lana goes to call the police, Lex opens the card. It’s got the Club Zero logo on it and the words “zero consequences.”
Lex opens the box. Look, Clark, I know Lex loves opening potential bombs, but don’t you think your Kryptonian hands should take this one? And speaking of hands, that’s what’s in the box – a severed hand with a pinky ring with a bedazzled K on it. Lex looks like he might throw up. Is this the hand of the dude whose name I don’t know? If Lex had loudly called him “Kevin” a few times or something it might help.
The police show up, and Clark asks Lana how she’s doing. Not so hot, as it turns out. And neither of them have ever seen Lex so upset. “That guy warned me, he said everything Lex touches ends badly,” Lana says. Um, honey? Maybe the guy who came in and clearly didn’t like Lex, who Lex was extremely distressed to hear about, sent him the hand?
Rebecca: Lana is very busy opening her coffee shop, she doesn’t have time to connect any dots right now.
Jess: Lex comes over, apologizes to them both, and promises this won’t affect the Talon’s grand opening. “We’re infamous before we even open the doors,” Lana says, and stalks off. I wish the show could decide if Lana likes Lex or not. Depending on which previous episodes you watch, this is either her usual wariness around him or being a real fair-weather friend.
Sighing, Lex sits down next to Clark. Clark asks who the hand belongs to. “Max Kasage,” Lex says. “I knew him a long time ago in Metropolis.” Lex says he doesn’t know who sent it. Clark asks if it could’ve been Jude Royce, and Lex says Jude’s been dead for three years.
Smallville High. Chloe pumps Pete for info on Clark, since the only thing she got from the Kents was “the earth-shattering admission that Clark hates peas.” Sweetie, everyone else’s article is going to be really boring too, don’t worry. Also, you realize you’ve met Clark before, right?
Pete would rather talk about the severed hand, anyway. “You know Lex Luthor must be mixed up in this somehow.” “Easy, Pete! I mean, I know you’ve got issues with the Luthors…” “More than issues. You know what the Luthors did to my family,” he says.
Chloe doesn’t care about the severed hand, which is surprising, or Pete, which isn’t. She still wants to talk about Clark. “Chloe, what do you want from me?” Pete asks. “In a world full of designer water, Clark Kent is straight from the tap.” Chloe, who is seriously on the verge of hysteria (????????), begs for an anecdote from Clark’s childhood.
Rebecca: I wish the show had done even close to as much pipe-laying about Chloe’s suspicions of Clark as it did about Club Zero. As it is, I don’t think we’ve ever had a scene of Chloe seriously second-guessing Clark’s abilities or surprise arrivals. Watching this episode, I really have no sense of what Chloe actually thinks Clark might be hiding.
Jess: I assumed she just temporarily lost her mind. JOURNALISM! JOURNALISM FOREVER!
Pete finally caves: “There was something in first grade…There was this bully three grades ahead of us. This dude was determined to pound dents into every kid in the school. One day I guess it was my turn. He was just about to take my head off when Clark jumped between us.”
They walk into the journalism room, where Clark is printing out an article on Jude’s death at Club Zero. “As kind as that sounds, Pete, I don’t think it passes the something amazing test,” Chloe says. “I’m not finished,” Pete replies. “Clark didn’t just push Braindead away. He put him through the door, as in splinters and broken hinges. How he did it I still have no idea.” Pete has said all of his lines very fast this scene, like he’s trying to get them out before he’s written off.
Rebecca: Yeah, this story would be kind of cute if it were delivered by anyone else. Also, my headcanon about this that I just remembered is that the bully was Flash.
Jess: OH MAN YES. Clark squirms. “Clark, any comments?” Chloe asks brightly. Clark stammers something nonsensical, and Pete excuses himself to go interview his own subject. “And so the mystery that isn’t Clark Kent deepens,” Chloe says, grinning. Clark’s all “Huh?” and Chloe tells him she’s been asking around, since he won’t sit down with her: “For instance, I found that your adoption was done through Metropolis United Charities. But this is the strange part: they were only in business for six months. And from what I can tell, yours is the only adoption they handled.”
Chloe’s crossed the line. Her face falls as Clark shakes his head at her. “You didn’t know?” she asks. “I figured your parents would’ve told you. Weren’t you curious?” “Why would I be?” he asks, and he seems legitimately upset, not just feigning indignation like he was with Lex. “My biological parents are either dead or didn’t want me. The point is you’re prying into my private life.” “I was just trying to be thorough,” Chloe says. “This is a class project! I spent an hour yesterday with Lana. That’s it. That’s all I needed. I’m not some mystery for you to solve.” Clark stalks out.
Rebecca: I’ve always read this as Clark having his feathers ruffled because he’s trying to keep his secret, but maybe in the hands of a better actor we could actually see more of his anxiety about his birth parents. OH WELL.
Jess: In a gym somewhere, Lex pounds on a punching bag. “Talk to me, Mr. Rains,” he says to a figure in a suit. Or maybe it’s a different name, but that’s what it sounds like. Rains tells him that Kasage never made it to the apartment in Metropolis, so I guess the severed hand did belong to the club guy. Jude Royce was an only child whose parents died when he was young, and Amanda Rothman moved and has been hard to track down.
“It would help if you told me what’s going on,” Rains says. “No, it wouldn’t,” Lex snaps. “Your my head of security. You find her and warn her she could be in danger. That’s all you need to know.”
Rains leaves, and Lex flashes back to Club Zero, with Amanda weeping over Jude’s body. Phelan, the detective from “Rogue,” walks over to Lex, who’s clutching a bloody handkerchief to his chest.
Jess: “Thank God you’re here,” he tells Phelan. “Lex, Lex. You really put your foot in it this time,” Phelan says. He asks what happened – and we flash back further, to Jude stabbing Lex. But this time, instead of Kasage pulling the gun, Lex reaches under Kasage’s shirt, pulls it out, and shoots Jude while Kasage, it seems, tries to stop him.
Back in the scene with Phelan, Phelan tells Lex that he’ll use Lionel’s money to cover everything up – Lex was never there, and his name won’t appear in any papers. Lex asks about Amanda. Phelan says he’ll take care of everyone’s story, but Lex needs to stay away from Amanda from now on. He hands Lex a business card and tells him the guy on it will take care of his story, and not to worry, then shoos him out.
Rebecca: TOBY!!!!! They couldn’t get the hippie doctor from “Hug” back, I guess.
Jess: Lex shoots one last guilty look at Amanda, who stares accusingly at him, then leaves. Phelan goes over to Kasaage and tells him he’s about to “come into six figures of money.” Uh, but won’t Kasage also have to do jail time if he takes the fall? Lex could’ve plead self-defense, but Kasage can’t.
Rebecca: And was there a narrative reason for us to see that version of the story first, in the cold open? God, this episode is poorly written.
Jess: Back in the gym, Lex socks the punching bag again. And freezes when he feels a gun at the base of his skull. He turns to see Jude grinning at him. “Nothing to say?” Jude asks. “I thought Lex Luthor had all the answers.” “Look, you twisted son of a bitch, I don’t know what you want…” Lex starts. “I want to know what happens at Club Zero. The cover up,” Jude says. He caresses Lex’s chest and face (YES REALLY) as he adds that Phelan is dead, and, oh yeah, Lex was involved in that too. Lex asks why Jude doesn’t just kill him and Jude says it’s more fun toying with him.
Rebecca: This is why fandom thought that Lex’s Club Zero secret was going to be of the gay variety.
Jess: Clark approaches the door and hears Jude say “Tell me what really happened” and the gun cocking. He throws the door open and yells Lex’s name.
Rebecca: I sincerely heard Clark yell “Clex!” here. NO I’M NOT CRAZY.
Jess: So did I, so don’t feel bad. Lex glances over, and when he looks back, Jude is gone.
Clark asks where the other person he heard is, and Lex tells him there was no one else there. Clark buys that and goes on to say that he looked up Kasage, who according to the article killed Jude. “Everyone fits into this except for you. What’s going on?” “Please, Clark, for our friendship I’m asking you to stay out of this. Some secrets are better left alone,” Lex says. Clark looks hurt.
Kent Farm, and there are GOATS! I didn’t know they had goats! Goats are the best! Jonathan and Clark go about their chores as Clark says Lana’s not letting the severed hand dampen her enthusiasm for the Talon. “Well, that’s what happens when you get into business with somebody like Lex Luthor,” Jonathan says. Really? Severed hands? Clark tells Jonathan that Lex’s past is in his past, and Jonathan segues that into asking about Chloe’s article. Clark asks about Metropolis United Charities, and Jonathan’s face falls. “I used to think perseverance was an admirable quality,” he says.
Clark admits that he hasn’t thought much about the adoption since he learned he was an alien, but what Chloe dug up sounds sketchy. Jonathan says the process is complicated enough with a normal adoption, and Clark’s wasn’t normal. He assures Clark that everything was legal, “but it required a higher level of access than your mother and I had…Let’s just say that it’s a very long road between what’s sitting in our storm cellar and what’s written on your birth certificate.”
Rebecca: WHY IN GOD’S NAME is Clark so surprised that the process of legally adopting an alien is complicated and shady??
Jess: Well to be fair, he’s real dumb. He pauses. “You hear that?” “Hear what?” Clark asks. “The whole herd’s just over that rise, we oughta be hearing something,” Jonathan says.
Pan over the rise – and the entire herd is lying on their sides, dead.
Rebecca: DUN DUN DUUUUUN!
Jess: Commercial. When we come back, officials in hazmat suits are investigating bubbling pools of toxic waste spilling out of metal drums with the Luthorcorp logo on them. The Kents look on miserably as Chloe snaps pictures and wonders aloud how this could have happened.
A Jeep pulls up and Lex gets out. Chloe quickly excuses herself, and Clark and Lex make anguished eye contact before Lex approaches the Kents. “Mr. and Mrs. Kent, I have no idea how this could’ve happened, but I’ll do everything in my power to find out. And I’ll pay for your livestock, of course.” “You think that’s how you solve everything, don’t you, Lex?” Jonathan asks. “Just sprinkle a little money on it and hope the problem goes away. Well obviously some things are a little more difficult than that.”
He storms off as Clark walks over to Lex. “I didn’t think it was possible to fall any further in your father’s eyes. Obviously I was wrong,” Lex says. He seriously sounds like he’s bummed because now Jonathan won’t let him have Clark’s hand in marriage.
Rebecca: Ha ha ha, he really does.
Jess: Choked, he says he’d never intentionally let something like this happen, and Clark tersely asks if it has anything to do with Club Zero. “I think so,” Lex admits. “You need to tell the authorities everything you know. This isn’t just about you anymore,” Clark says, without the slightest trace of irony. He walks away.
Rebecca: It’s about THE COWS!!!
Jess: A cop sends Lex over to talk to the “CEP guy,” who turns out to be Jude. Lex tries to go for the police, but Jude tases him and throws him in a van. A storm brews overhead.
Later, in the house, Clark tries to get in touch with Lex, but he’s not at home or at work and he’s not picking up his cell. He tells Martha Lex will pay for the cows, but she points out that it’s not just about the money – their health could be in danger now. Clark is sure that someone is after Lex because of what happened at Club Zero, but Martha doesn’t want Clark hanging around Lex right now: “I’m usually the one who defends him, but there are some things in his past that are a little shady.” She adds that she grew up in Metropolis and knows Luthor kids grow up too fast, which makes wonder about her connection with Lionel.
“Whatever’s happening with him, it’s starting to affect you too. I mean, hands in boxes and poisoned cows? This isn’t normal, Clark.” Uh, your kid has X-ray vision, Martha. Clark asks if he’s supposed to cut Lex out entirely, and Martha tells him he should just cool it for a while, until they know what’s going on.
Rebecca: “Or at the very least use a condom.” (Sorry, I’m sorry.)
Jess: Attic of Sad Voyeurism. Chloe walks in and tentatively asks if she can talk to Clark. “That depends if it’s on the record or not,” he says. She apologizes, and he says she saw a story and went for it, which is what journalists do. “I know, and as much as journalistic instinct rebels, I would much rather have a friend than a subject, so I’m dropping the whole thing,” she says. Uh, are you still gonna write your assignment? Clark thanks her, and she asks him – off the record, she assures him hastily – if he ever wonders about his bio-parents. “Every day of my life,” he says.
She looks down and sees the Club Zero article, which Clark has inexplicably printed out multiple copies of. That reminds her, and she hands Clark her pictures of the cows from before. Clark spots a picture of Jude and compares it to the one in the article: “It’s the same guy.”
Cut to Lex in the straightjacket from the opening. He screams for help, wiggling frantically. Does this count as a concussion? Should it be added to the tally? He’s at three…
Rebecca: I’m going to go ahead and say that being hung upside-down for this long can’t be good for the brain. Go for it. Also, I’m like this close to starting a Lex torture count.
Jess: Okay! FOUR FOR YOU, LEX LUTHOR! Journalism room. Clark is really worried about Lex by now. Chloe tells him she hacked into the DMV database (“See? Sometimes persistence is a good thing!”) and found Jude’s address. Clark tells her to call Metropolis PD and send them to that address, then rushes off to rescue Lex.
Straightjacket room. Jude asks if Lex is ready to talk.
Clark trots up to the address Chloe gave him to see the police wheeling a bodybag out on a stretcher. He X-rays the bodybag and sees it’s missing a hand. “Kasage.” He asks the cop if there was anyone else in the house, and at the negative response, where he can find Club Zero. “You’re six months too late, kid,” the cop says. “Closed down. It was an old warehouse on 78th and Main.”
Rebecca: I kind of like the quick (yet obvious) detective work Clark does here. Also, my bar is very low for “Clark is smart!” moments.
Jess: Back in what I think we can safely assume is Club Zero, Jude and Lex repeat the scene from the opening, with Jude telling Lex he knows about the cover up and that Lionel can’t save him now. Lex closes his eyes. There’s a shot and a thump. He opens them.
Jude is lying on the ground. Another man walks slowly up to Lex. It’s the contractor from the Talon! Okay, whoa, was not expecting that. He hits a button and the lights and music go up, revealing that this is, in fact, Club Zero. “No more games, Lex,” he says, getting real close like he heard that Spider-Man and Mary Jane are gonna kiss with Spidey upside down in the upcoming movie and he wants to try it out. “It’s time for the truth.”
He shoots out the chain holding Lex up and Lex falls painfully to the floor. “You’re the contractor from the Talon,” Lex says. The contractor kicks Lex in the ribs. “Who are you?” Lex gasps. “Mandy never talked about her family?” the contractor asks. Lex says she had a brother in prison. “She was my lifeline when I was on the inside,” the contractor says. “See, I never had a rich daddy to keep me out of jail.” He reveals that Amanda committed suicide a year ago and he’s out for vengeance.
Lex asks who “Jude” is. Brother Rothman says he found him at “a greasy spoon in Bludhaven” shortly after Amanda’s funeral. He was a short order cook, and a dead ringer for Jude. This is the most comic booky thing that has ever happened on this show; I can’t count the number of Clark and Lois doubles wandering around in the 60s. Brother Rothman paid him to help ruin Lex’s life.
Rebecca: Hilariously, I remembered this twist involving Jude having a twin, as if my brain was trying to reconcile how nonsensical it all is. Although, to be fair, in this show’s universe there are genuinely Clark and Lana doubles (kind of) wandering around in the 60s. WE’LL GET THERE (god, I can’t wait for you to see “Relic”).
Jess: I thought that’s what the reveal was going to be too! The contractor was a better twist, but the random double is pretty deus ex machinish.
Lex gasps out that Brother Rothman was right: “The newspapers, the police reports, what I told Phelan – they were all lies. You want the truth?”
We flash back again. Jude stabs Lex. Kasage pulls his gun. Someone bumps into him and he falls, dropping the gun. Jude raises the knife again. A bullet hits him in the chest – fired by Amanda, who stares in horror at the gun in her hand. She bursts into tears.
Back in the present, this latest development has enraged Brother Rothman, who’s convinced Lex is lying again. He hauls Lex to his feet and leans him against a glass case at the edge of the railing of the upper level of the club. “Killing me won’t bring her back,” Lex says. “I don’t care,” Brother Rothman replies. “After this you’ll never hurt anyone else. You can’t escape your past, Lex.”
He shoots. Lex jerks away and the bullet smashes the case he’s leaning on. He falls off the balcony – and Clark zips in. He uses super speed to shove a couch directly under Lex, zips up the stairs, knocks out Brother Rothman, zips back to the door, and runs into the building at a normal speed as Lex hits the couch. It’s actually a pretty nifty sequence, but there are so many ways that the couch thing could’ve gone wrong – Lex could’ve hit wrong and dislocated his shoulder or broken his neck, he’s probably landing on a ton of broken glass, the couch might not be soft enough or might not be centered directly under Lex – that I’m pretty pissed he didn’t just catch him. When you have a secret identity and all your friends are dead, I hope you’re happy, Clark.
Rebecca: Don’t worry, Clark doesn’t take responsibility for anything, except of course for a meteor shower that happened when he was 3.
Jess: He runs over to Lex, who tells him to look out for Brother Rothman, but Clark points out that BR is unconscious. Lex, confused, asks how Clark found him. “Little help from my friends,” Clark says. He doesn’t add “who are less important to me than my secret identity,” but he’s probably thinking it.
The Talon’s grand opening. Clark walks in to find Lana all dressed up and hobnobbing with guests. They’re both pleased by the turnout. “Where’s Chloe?” Lana asks. “She said she wanted to be fashionably late,” Clark replies. Lana ducks her head shyly and twirls a yellow rose in her fingers. OMG just tell Chloe you love her, girl!
Clark hands her a present, while assuring her that it’s not a body part. It turns out to be an old framed photo of the Talon that belonged to Clark’s grandfather. Lana thanks him and heads back to manage her party. She looks so pretty in this scene I can’t even.
Rebecca: This is maybe the first Clana scene in the series that I’ve genuinely enjoyed.
Jess: Clark walks deeper into the party and Lex comes up to him. “I get the feeling you’re avoiding me, Clark,” he says. “Just realizing there’s a lot I don’t know about you,” Clark says. “Think my dark past is gonna rub off on you?” Lex asks. Hoo boy. Lex goes on to say that Lionel would never have helped Amanda but he willingly helped cover it up when he thought it was Lex. Clark asks if that’s really the truth. “The truth is I’d do anything to protect my friends,” Lex says. They stare at each other.
Rebecca: Ha ha ha you know who wouldn’t do anything to protect his friends? You know.
Jess: Journalism room (I think). Chloe, dressed up for the party, stares at her computer, where the info on Metropolis United Charities is displayed. A popup asks if she wants to delete or save it. The cursor hovers between the two for a minute before she clicks “Save.”
Rebecca: I genuinely can’t imagine watching this show and rooting for Clark to continue to conceal his secret rather than for Chloe to find out the truth.
Rebecca: This episode is so poorly written. The noir-lite plot makes no sense and has no stakes or emotional heft at all, and besides, it doesn’t even tell us anything we don’t already know about Lex, who has still murdered and lied to fewer people than Clark. Meanwhile, Captain Cheekbones runs around being a jerk whose actions are constantly exonerated by the show’s foreknowledge that he’ll eventually be Superman (spoiler: he won’t, IMHO). I think Chloe and Lana are terrific in this episode and I’ll leave it at that.
Jess: Yeah, considering that the events at Club Zero were mentioned in not one but two episodes before this one, the actual story was a real let-down. The mystery itself is pathetically simple; I was waiting for twists and turns, but the only question to be solved was “Who killed Jude?” and I don’t care about Jude even a little. I wanted kryptonite meth and undercover federal agents, secret babies and mafiosos, and a canny, remorseless Lex triple-crossing everyone. At least in the version of events where Lex killed Jude he strayed into a morally gray area (and only gray – a drunk, hotheaded teenager shooting someone in self-defense isn’t exactly on par with razing Metropolis to the ground). As it is all he did was stand next to someone when they died. Clark does that every week. I just don’t get the point of portraying Lex as blameless and pure; he’s Lex Luthor. We want him to do bad things.
Rating: Dangling upside-down in an abandoned nightclub.
Next week: Lana has a Phoebe Cates moment and Clark gets a boner, probably.