The Smallville Project: Episode 1.21 – “Tempest”
|February 7, 2014||Posted by Jess under Comics, Television, The Smallville Project|
Jess: Lex stands on a helipad, clothes billowing in the Wind of Significance. The helicopter lands and Lionel steps out. They chat about the possibility of an upcoming storm (which is definitely not symbolic, I’m sure) before Lex asks what Lionel’s upcoming speech is going to be about. Lionel says it’s the usual motivation shtick. Then he walks up to the podium, to thunderous applause, and says:
“As most of you know, you’ve all worked extremely hard this past year and you should all be proud of yourselves. Just as a ship can only follow the course set by its captain, any business is only as good as its leadership. Due to management failures beyond your control, this plant will be closing, effective immediately.”
BRB, laughing forever.
Rebecca: This was a fandom phrase at the time, so I’m happy to deploy it here: Lionel, you Magnificent Bastard.
Jess: It’s fitting! Anyway, Lionel heads off. Lex follows, yelling at him for being a dick to all of those people. Lionel says Lex’ll thank him someday and that the plant wasn’t turning a profit. Lex says it was, and that this is retribution for Lex refusing to come work for him. Lionel’s basically all “Haha, so what if it was? I’M RUBBER, YOU’RE GLUE” and boogies off in the helicopter. Lex tries to crash it with the power of his mind.
Rebecca: The moody industrial music here really makes it.
Jess: SOMEBODY SAAAAAAAAAAVE MEEEEEEEEE! AND THE ECONOMY OF SMALLVILLE!
Smallville High. Clark’s fretting about his “bowtie/cummerbund” combo, because hee. After some dumb banter, Pete heads off, presumably for the rest of the season, and Lana says that Clark seems extremely stoked for the dance. He’s even thinking about borrowing Lex’s limo.
Rebecca: He’s also thinking about trying to remember his lines, which is super hard according to Welling’s desperate face.
Jess: His good mood is ruined by Chloe’s expression as she joins them. “They’re closing the Luthorcorp plant,” she says (which means, for those of you playing along at home, that her dad is now out of a job). Clark looks gobsmacked.
Kent Farm. The Kents are reading the Ledger, which has a front page article about the closure (with, hilariously, the subtitle “‘Management Problems’ Sited” [sic!]) when Clark walks in. He asks what this means for them. “The plant was Smallville’s biggest employer,” Martha says. “Shutting it down is gonna have a domino effect on everyone.”
Jonathan squishes his face between his hands as he blames it all on Lex, somehow, magically, and Clark mopily says that he ought to be happy, then, because the closure means Lex is going “back to Metropolis…and out of our lives.” Jonathan snaps that he wouldn’t wish massive layoffs on the town even for the miracle of getting rid of his son’s best friend. Clark says that Lex had big plans for the town, and Jonathan replies that “the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.” DUDE. Uncalled for!
Rebecca: This is the kind of reaction that would make more sense if Clark/Lex were canon.
Jess: A field somewhere. Flash has set up a picnic for Lana. She asks what the occasion is and he says it’s to thank her for standing by him. Oh, and he joined the Marines and is shipping out Saturday night. SEE YA, FLASH!
Rebecca: BYEEEEEEEEE! See you on Orphan Black!
Jess: Wow, Tatiana Maslany really is versatile, I didn’t even recognize her as Flash.
Luthor Castle. Clark finds the piece of his spaceship in Lex’s study and is fretting over it when Lex walks in. He asks about the “paperweight” and Lex pretends it’s nothing before asking if Clark wants to be seen with “the town pariah.” Clark asks what Lex plans to do and Lex stares into the middle distance and says this “isn’t over,” which isn’t really an answer.
Clark grows visibly uncomfortable as Lex stares at nothing and finally excuses him. Lex thanks him for stopping by. “What are friends for?” Clark asks, and Lex gazes at him with wordless longing, then hides the octagonal disc in a paperweight-looking thing on his desk.
Torch office. Clark tells Chloe he’ll understand if she’s not feeling up for the dance, and she says it’s the only thing she’s got going for her right now. “Besides, I want to enjoy all the quaint Smallville High customs while I still can…My dad’s talking about moving us back to Metropolis. Permanently.” “What about the Torch and all your friends?” Clark asks in the whiniest, mopiest voice ever. I feel like she might have considered that, Clarktopher.
Rebecca: I’m distracted by the sudden realization that there seems to be a life-size model of Bigfoot in the Torch office.
Jess: Nah, that’s just a kryptomutant jock who died like that and they never got around to moving the corpse.
Anyway, Chloe plays it off like switching schools is just an annoyance for a minute before asking “You’re gonna miss me, right?” with just the right amount of vulnerability, and man is Mack too good for this show. Of course Clark says he will, and she asks him to make sure Saturday (dance night) will be great. “It’ll be a night you won’t forget,” he says, summoning the gods of dramatic irony. She picks a stray piece of lint off his shirt and they smile at each other. CUTIES.
Rebecca: Revisiting this episode in my old age is making me realize that Mack was doing 1000% of the chemistry heavy lifting. LOVE U GIRL. U R 2 GOOD 4 TEN YEARS OF THIS GARBAGE.
Jess: Luthor Castle. Five dudes, including Chloe’s dad, assemble in Lex’s study and he suggests they work together to “raise the capital for an employee-led buyout” in order to keep the plant open. He volunteers to pay the lion’s share and zzzzzzzzzzzz.
I’m sorry, I just fell asleep on my keyboard. Please tell me these extremely boring corporate espionage plotlines end after this season?
Rebecca: I…honestly can’t remember. I’ve kind of excised it from my brain. Maybe? Like, who in the audience is this poorly-written business intrigue for, exactly?
Jess: The Talon. Clark slouches in and leans in the doorframe like Welling looked up “sadness” on Google Image Search (I’m sorry, 2002 – on AskJeeves) and is trying everything he saw at once. Lana asks what’s wrong; he tells her about Chloe and she tells him about Flash. Oh, bee tee dubs, Flash asked Lana to wait for him and everyone’s taking this really seriously, like she’s not FOURTEEN YEARS OLD. Also, he’s shipping out Saturday so she’ll miss the dance. Anyway, they make sad faces at each other for a while.
Rebecca: For the record, Lana’s voice only catches when she’s talking about Chloe being out of her life. Because true love.
Jess: Kent Farm. Clark angrily drives fence posts into the ground with his bare hands. He gets into the Kent’s pickup truck, turns the key in the ignition – and the car explodes.
Rebecca: My absolute favorite part is that the explosion cold interrupts the song that was playing over Clark’s brood, the chorus of which was “I’m all right / I’m all right / It only hurts when I breathe.” LOL.
Jess: Okay, so that’s 21 episodes this season, and 17 of them have involved car/bus/truck-related accidents/tampering/peril of some sort. Maybe don’t give these people licenses anymore, Kansas DMV.
Rebecca: Especially not children.
Jess: Anyway, Clark gets out and rips off his burning shirt like it’s more of an annoyance than anything else. Sooty shirtless Clark is totally gratuitous here, but I’m not mad at it.
And of course, we see Roger the Reporter filming it while holding the trigger for the car bomb. Attempted murder and child porn in one day? Someone’s been busy!
In the house, Clark puts on clean clothes as Jonathan theorizes that the explosion had something to do with the gas lines and all the fertilizer in the back. He doesn’t look particularly concerned, though Martha gives Clark a relieved hug. Clark says he didn’t even really feel the heat or get any bruises from the explosion. What’s this? Clarktopher is evolving! Not into Superman yet, though. There’s a few stages to go. (Nine of them, to be exact.)
Rebecca: I can’t believe he only gets one new power next season. Jesus Christ.
Jess: IS IT SUPER BREATH???
Rebecca: It’s not, but oh my god I’m so excited for us to watch 2×02.
Jess: Luthor Castle. Lex frets over the business. Lionel bursts in and notes that Lex hasn’t packed yet, all mean-popular-girl sarcastic about it. Lex says he’s not going. Blah blah, boring business stuff, Lionel is giddy as a schoolgirl and Lex is super cranky and it’s pretty hilarious if you just ignore the stultifying words coming out of their mouths.
Smallville High. Clark tells Chloe his transportation to the dance “kind of went up in flames,” though he weirdly doesn’t explain that he means that literally, and she says she’ll drive. They chat about the Flash situation and Chloe says long distance relationships never work, putting a brave face on it as she tells Clark he’ll forget all about her soon. He’s indignant, and she makes a confession: “I just…have this horrible nightmare that you are gonna rush to the bus station after [Flash] leaves and profess your undying love for Lana, and I’m gonna be waiting at the gym all alone, and if you do that to me, Clark, I will never speak to you again.”
Clark, hilariously, looks like he’s thinking about it. But then he kisses her cheek (much to the dismay of a passing Lana) and tells her he’s going to the dance with her because he wants to, not by default. They smile at each other. STILL CUTIES.
Rebecca: Longest cheek kiss of all time, probably. Anyway, I love that they leave the camera on Mack and just let her keep smiling.
Jess: The Talon. Clark is staring at his cup like he’s never seen such marvels before when Roger accosts him. He asks to write a story about Clark, and when Clark demurs, cuts to the chase: “Why weren’t you injured in that explosion?” Clark stammers that he was nowhere near the truck when Lex interrupts. He claims not to know Roger, but issues enough of a veiled threat that Roger scurries off.
Rebecca: Jeez, dude, did no one ever teach you to ease into it?
Jess: Lex asks what Roger wanted, and Clark says Roger’s making him out to be “some kind of hero.” Lex warns him that the Inquisitor’s a rag, and Clark tells him he’ll keep his distance.
Kent Farm. Clark walks into the barn, still looking shellshocked, and tells his parents what happened – and also that he thinks Roger caused the explosion as a test, that Roger must have seen him do something super. “I swear, ever since Phelan I’ve been so careful!” he says, sounding very 14. Sometimes Welling is really good at that! Jonathan tells him it’s not his fault (aw) and Clark, still sounding very young, asks what he should do. Jonathan says to keep on keeping on, and he and Martha will run interference if necessary.
But Clark’s still troubled, and Martha asks what else is wrong. “I think Lex has a piece of the spaceship,” he confesses. Jonathan basically freaks out, but Martha says Lex can’t trace the spaceship back to them. Well, not without help from Roger, who’s listening to this whole thing with surveillance equipment from his car!
Rebecca: Man, Roger would have to be SUPER incompetent to not be able to pull this off, right????
Jess: Luthor Castle, and wow, yeah, from this angle it’s obviously also Queen Castle.
Jess: I would love to know who really lives there. Prince Maple Leaf? The Marquis of Curling?
Roger steals the octagonal disc, then acts all cool when Lex comes in. Lex basically tells him to get lost, but Roger tells him that his new intel is bigger than Lex’s threats, and hints at a connection between the crash site and the Kents. Lex says Roger has no evidence, and Roger says he’ll show Lex plenty tonight: “There’s a whole lot more to your friend Clark Kent than meets the eye.”
Lex gets in his face: “I swear if you harass Clark or his parents…” Roger in turn threatens to tell the Kents it was Lex who first put the idea into his head, and that he’ll sell his info to Lionel if Lex doesn’t want it. Dun dun dun!
Attic of Sad Voyeurism. Clark, half into his tuxedo, adorably calls out to Martha for help with his bowtie. Lex walks in instead and says, accurately enough, that Clark seems jittery. THEN HE TIES CLARK’S TIE FOR HIM OH MY GOD.
Rebecca: I know. I KNOW. And a million wedding manips were born.
Jess: When Clark mentions Chloe’s picking him up, Lex asks about the truck. Clark could not be less believable as he claims it was a routine “farming accident.” There’s some boring business talk with Lex staring into the middle distance, and some really anvilicious attempts to compare Lex and Lionel’s relationship, “built on deceit,” to Lex and Clark’s. SIGH. These two play off each other so well, but they’re being such dicks.
Rebecca: Welcome to THE REST OF THE SERIES FOREVER.
Jess: Anyway, Lex promises to always be Clark’s friend, Fox and the Hound-style, no matter what happens. “What do you think’s gonna happen?” Clark asks. “I dunno. I’ve just got a bad feeling. Kind of like how you can smell the air change when there’s a storm,” Lex replies. “Storms are a way of life around here, Lex. The trick is not to get caught out in the open,” Clark says. OH MY GOD THIS DIALOGUE IS SO BAD.
Rebecca: Even Jonathan is like, “Lay off the platitudes, son.”
Jess: Smallville High. Flash contemplates a huge trophy case basically dedicated to him, then suggests he and Lana check out the gym, which is all decked out for the dance. He puts on music and tells Lana they still have time for one last dance. ZZZZZZZZZZZZZ.
Rebecca: While I’m embarrassing myself by linking music, they’re dancing to the same Lifehouse song they danced to at Homecoming in the pilot. #kanyeshrug #2001
Jess: Kent Farm. Chloe pulls up, looking extra-pretty in a deep rose gown with gold accents, and Clark shuffles over with a corsage. D’AW. Rebecca, let’s make sure Mack and Rosenbaum has a lot of contrived reasons for them to put on formal wear, okay?
Rebecca: I want it to basically be one of those spy and/or vampire shows where they’re just constantly having themed dances. Alternately, what if the whole show was just Mack and Rosenbaum acting out the opening credits of Hart to Hart? Introducing John Glover as Max.
Jess: They exchange corsages/boutonnieres and smile besottedly at each other, then Clark hurries to get the door for her. “Looks like a storm’s coming,” she says as she climbs in. Oof, terrible dialogue, get out of here, this scene is cute.
As they drive off, Roger watches them through binoculars and fondles the stolen Octagonal Disc.
Smallville High. The students run in, giggling, as the heavy winds threaten to destroy everyone’s hair. Chloe skips off to take a picture of Pete and his date, and Clark is left in an awkward tete-a-tete with Flash and Lana, still in their jeans and on their way out. Clark wishes Flash luck. Flash asks for a minute alone with Clark, and Lana goes to wait in the car. Oh man, Lana, haven’t you learned anything by now? Never spend one more second in a car in Smallville than you have to!
Flash says it’s been a wild year and, to my surprise, legit apologizes for, you know, crucifying Clark in the pilot. He asks Clark to look after Lana until he gets back. What does that even mean? Like, he couches it in terms of their relationship, not Lana’s tendency to get concussioned and kidnapped, so…is Clark supposed to keep her lips warm or something? Clark agrees. Yick.
Rebecca: GRRRRROSSSSSSSS. The worst part is when he says, “Lana’s not sure how she feels about our relationship right now, but I am.” NO ONE CARES HOW YOU FEEL IF YOUR CHILD BRIDE ISN’T INTO IT, YA WEIRDO.
Jess: Anyway, Flash and Lana drive off to the bus station. I guess Flash’s mom doesn’t love him or something? Seriously, I bet she was thrilled when her son decided to risk his life professionally so soon after her husband’s death. Lana gives Flash the kryptonite necklace “for luck,” and it’s a sign of how inconsistent this show is about that dumb thing that I’d forgotten it existed. Choked, he tells her he won’t lose it this time. They hug. OH MY GOD HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE FOR SOMEONE TO JOIN THE FREAKING MARINES???
Rebecca: Oh my god, can you imagine if the show had devoted even one second to Lana’s decision to let the necklace go? Like, to tie up her emotional growth for the season or something? Just try to imagine it.
Jess: Nah, that would require Lana having an interior life. Screw you forever, writers.
Anyway, Flash tells her he’ll always love her and they kiss. I’m mostly confused as he gets on the bus, because, um, he drove and I’m pretty sure that’s his truck.
Kent Farm. Roger finds the spaceship in the storm cellar. How did he know it was there?
Rebecca: Jonathan told Clark to “stay away from that storm cellar” when Roger was eavesdropping. Because Jonathan is incompetent.
Jess: Roger films it. I would care more if I didn’t know he’s undoubtedly going to die pretty soon.
Dance. The band – presumably the actual Remy Zero – is playing “Save Me.” This is like on Tiny Toons, where all the incidental music was just the theme song again but with banjos or whatever, but less good because “Save Me” doesn’t include words like “afternoony.”
Rebecca: I don’t know why anyone thought we would want to hear this song twice in one hour.
Jess: As Clark and Pete make small talk, “Save Me” finishes and the band launches into a slow one. “Hey, you know this is one of Chloe’s favorite songs?” Pete says. Clark grins: “Why do think I requested it?” Awwwww. He makes his way over to Chloe and asks her to dance.
Rebecca: Why not go for broke on this? Look, I’m not going to defend how I spent 2002.
Jess: Elsewhere, Lana drives through the storm, tears streaming down her face. Suddenly a row of mailboxes slams into the windshield. Screaming, she veers off the road into a ditch. She manages to climb out of the truck – and sees three huge CGI twisters approaching. Let’s all hope Jonathan doesn’t get any noble ideas.
Oh, and hey, speaking of the Kents, they’re making a run for the storm cellar, but Jonathan stops when he sees that the door’s open. Inside, Roger holds up the OD, which flies out of his hand and into the matching hole on the spaceship.
The Kents come running down the stairs and Jonathan slams Roger against a support post and accuses him of trying to kill Clark. “I knew it wouldn’t hurt him!” Roger protests as Martha tries to get Jonathan to stop. “Who sent you?” Jonathan demands. “Was it Lex Luthor?” Okay, Jonathan, you have officially lost it. I know you don’t trust Lex, but he would never have put Clark’s life in danger.
Rebecca: This scene (and also the second half of the episode) might have worked better if all the dialogue hadn’t had to be ADR’d in because of the wind.
Jess: Roger stupidly yells that he’s going to tell the world about Clark, and Jonathan punches him. Martha screams for him to stop, then freezes as the spaceship starts to rise. While the Kents stare, Roger makes for the exit, and Jonathan goes after him despite Martha’s protests. The spaceship starts to glow, and she stares at it in…well, it’s hard to make out the expression on her face with all that glowing going on, but rest assured she’s feeling a lot of ways.
Back at the school, Clark and Chloe are still dancing, and Chloe tells him he’s surprised her with his romantic acumen. “And I’m still here,” he adds proudly. Hey Clark, you know what goeth before a fall, right? Also, that’s not much to be proud of.
Rebecca: “I showed up! Where’s my cookie?” – Clark/a dog.
Jess: Anyway, they’re about to kiss when someone – possibly the new principal? – gets up on the mic and informs them that there’s a tornado warning and for their own safety they’re not allowed to leave the gym. Clark realizes that Lana’s near where the tunnels have touched down. Chloe offers to call Lana and make sure she’s home, but she takes one step away and Clark’s already gone.
Luthor Castle. Lex realizes the OD is gone and angrily tears his study apart looking for it. Lionel bursts in as lightning crashes, because of course he does, and they start yelling about more boring business stuff. Lex says he wants to be free of Lionel, and Lionel says “You’re not my enemy, you’re my son!” “I never saw a distinction,” Lex sneers.
Rebecca: I really like Rosenbaum’s “over it” face as Lionel scream-lectures at him.
Jess: Lionel starts yelling about Alexander the Great, because OF COURSE HE DOES, and Lex yells back “I believe the term is ‘cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war!’” because OF COURSE. HE. DOES. Lionel grabs Lex’s face: “I’ll bury you, and everyone in Smallville who takes your side!”
They struggle, but suddenly the wind blows out the stained glass window behind Lex’s desk and flings them apart. A pillar falls over onto Lionel, holding him in place, and a support beam from the ceiling breaks, the jagged edge hanging over his head. Most contrived danger…ever?
Rebecca: It’s basically a commercial for Mouse Trap.
Jess: In that case, Lionel is fine, because that damn game never worked right anyway.
Lex, bleeding copiously from a cut above his eye, staggers to his feet. Lionel begs him for help. Lex stares contemplatively at him.
Outside, the twisters converge into one giant super-twister. Lana tries to dial her cell phone, then…can’t, for some reason? She gazes in terror at her impending doom. *copies and pastes that sentence for use in every recap from here on out*
Clark super-speeds through Smallville in his tuxedo, which is a pretty dashing image, I must admit.
Rebecca: He can guest on Mack and Rosenbaum I GUESS, but in a tux ONLY.
Jess: As a waiter with no lines.
Jess: Lana, about to be engulfed by the tornado, sees him and screams his name. He screams back as the truck is lifted off the ground, and runs into the funnel.
Rebecca: I used to like this episode a lot and I’m not sure why. There’s basically no A-plot, so it’s just a series of character moments without any character development and tying up loose ends no one really cared about. The main pay-offs that come out of this episode to affect Season 2 are probably not ones you would ever guess in a million years. In conclusion, does anyone on this staff know how to write a television show?
Jess, I’m curious about your thoughts on the season as a whole. How are you feeling about a possible ten-season commitment to this bland pile of krypto-garbage?
Jess: Well, for starters I’m amazed by how boring this season finale was. Like, I had this moment where I looked at the DVD player and realized we were 30 minutes into it and I could have sworn it was only ten because nothing had happened. In part that’s because I know there are nine more seasons so I’m pretty sure a) Lionel doesn’t die, b) Lana doesn’t die, c) Clark’s secret stays secret, etc. But even within the episode itself there’s very little question of whether, say, Lex will actually leave town. Even the Flash thing has no tension to it, because if he’s leaving the show, obviously Lana is not going to wait for him.
Show-wise, I’m honestly…enjoying it more than I thought I would. I mean, not as a version of Superman or anything, because this Clark is just the WORST, but the thing is, the show is so infamously bad and slow and bass ackwards that the good things have been a pleasant surprise. I knew Chloe was every boy’s nerd princess, but I never realized she would be mine! Rosenbaum is as magnetic as promised, and the Kents are great. I even like Lana.
So yeah, it’s badly-written nonsense, but it’s one of those shows where the supporting cast mostly makes up for the dull, jerky lead, and, like, How I Met Your Mother’s run for a long time too. Plus I’m excited to see lots of superheroes in leather jackets (eventually!).
Rating: Sitting in a pickup truck, waiting to be swept away by a boredom tornado.
Next week: We may or may not believe a man can fly.