The Smallville Project: Episode 2.10 – “Skinwalker”
|July 31, 2014||Posted by Jess under Comics, Television, The Smallville Project|
Jess: Construction site for a new LuthorCorp complex. The workers leave and a guy in a “Construx” jacket starts locking up. Suddenly an older Native American man pops up behind him. Mr. Construx yells at him for trespassing and he replies that he can’t trespass on land his people have owned for thousands of years. Twangly “mystical” music plays when he talks. Oh no. Oh no.
Rebecca: The wood flutes! The windchimes! This is already basically a hate crime.
Jess: The Native American man tells Mr. Construx that he doesn’t understand the consequences of what he’s doing, and Mr. Construx tells him to take it up with “the big guy” and locks him out of the site.
Night falls. Mr. Construx is loading his truck up with gas from an on-site pump when he hears a noise. He looks around, clearly spooked, but sees nothing. He’s just managed to pull a flare gun from his truck when he’s attacked by a huge white wolf. Screaming, he shoots the flare into the sky – then realizes that gas is pouring out of the pump.
The wolf, no fool, takes off. The flare hits the gas, and the site goes up in a massive fireball. The wolf watches impassively from a nearby hill. Hee.
Rebecca: I don’t understand what the wolf’s game plan is here. Surely this contractor has no actual power to affect whether or not the project happens?
Jess: Well – spoiler! – teenage girls are not great at corporate espionage.
SOMEBODY SAAAAAAAAAAVE MEEEEEEEEE!
Day. Clark and Pete motocross (that’s a verb, right?) through the woods, then pull up at the construction site, which is packed with cops. Pete wonders if the explosion will convince LuthorCorp to “finally get the hell out of Smallville.” Well, this is some new and random hostility.
Rebecca: It was Pete’s family who owned the creamed corn factory that Lionel bought through blackmailing Jonathan! It kinda makes sense! Also maybe Pete’s just jealous of Lex’s friendship with Clark. But creamed corn! Anyway, how did Clark afford a fancy dirt bike?
Jess: Yeah, and now I remember that Pete was vaguely anti-Lex in some Season 1 episodes, but he seems to forget that for long stretches at a time.
The boys motocross off and Clark veers off on his own, then hits a tree root and flies comically over the handlebars. He hits the ground and it caves in, sending him crashing into a subterranean tunnel. He lies there for a while, grunting in apparent pain. Dummy, did you forget you’re invulnerable?
Rebecca: Maybe he just hates dust.
Jess: A girl approaches him with a flashlight. “Lana?” Clark asks. Um, no. The girl, who is Native American, rips open Clark’s shirt to check him for injuries (sure) and boggles at his perfect, uninjured torso. Clark awkwards that he’s lucky and asks why she’s down there. “Research for my grandfather,” apparently. Also, her name is Kyla.
They’re gazing flirtatiously at each other when Pete shouts down from the surface world. Clark hastily calls that he’s got company to keep Pete from spilling the beans about his powers, but Kyla’s more interested in the wall paintings behind him: the “Legend of Naman,” long thought lost. “It was prophesied that Naman would fall from the skies in a rain of fire. They say that Naman will have the strength of ten men and be able to start fires with his eyes.” Clark’s like HMMMMM.
Rebecca: Aw, here it goes.
Jess: Kyla tells Clark to come with her so she can tell her grandfather (so…get comfy, Pete). Clark starts to follow, then spots a depression on the wall exactly the right size and shape to fit our old friend Octagonal Disc. OH COME ON.
Rebecca: This is far from the biggest problem, but wouldn’t this all make slightly more sense if Clark’s fall actually was what opened up this part of the cave, rather than that Kyla just hadn’t walked over there yet? What is even happening?
Jess: I think his fall actually knocked open a passageway from Kyla’s cave to his, but the whole thing is stupid. Also, those paintings don’t look old at all.
Rebecca: Later in the episode, Clark says they’re a hundred years old??? Who was painting caves in 1902?
Jess: Later that night, Clark tells Jonathan about all of this. Jonathan’s understandably skeptical, even when Clark pulls out some gadget Jonathan apparently pulled out of the spaceship before it closed, which has symbols that match the ones in the caves. Clark thinks Kyla’s grandfather might be able to read it – and more importantly, tell him what he is and where he came from. Jonathan says they don’t know anything about this family. “I know. That’s why I invited them over for dinner,” Clark says. Hee!
Rebecca: My favorite part of this scene is when Clark explains the octagonal hole and Jonathan exasperatedly says, “It’s a very common shape, Clark!” Anyway, I think they redid that gadget prop from the pilot to change the language to DC-approved Kryptonese, the aesthetic of which the show will continue to use. /nerd
Jess: Dinner. The older man from the opening scene is telling them that a man came to Earth 500 years ago, fell in love with “the mother of our people,” and founded the Kawatche nation, then returned to the sky, promising that another like him, Naman, would return. Kyla bats her eyelashes hard at Clark as her grandfather says, “You’re not from around here, are you, Clark?” The Kents all freeze, and Martha says Clark’s adopted.
Clark asks about the symbols and Grandpa-of-Kyla says the Kawatche don’t have a written language; he’s never seen the symbols in patterns like this, but could probably decipher them, “if Luthor doesn’t get at them before we do.” Jonathan perks up, having found a common enemy.
Clark suggests that Martha talk to Lionel and she squirms and says that the complex will create many badly-needed jobs. Clark asks if that’s more important that the caves. Everyone looks uncomfortable.
Rebecca: I’m all for preservation, but if Kyla already knew the whole story of Naman, what exactly is the significance of this discovery? IDK archeology.
Jess: Attic of Sad Voyeurism. Clark, clearly smitten with Kyla, stands awkwardly behind her, really close, as he asks if she thinks the legends are true. She takes his hand and uses it to point out a constellation that Naman supposedly came from. (So…yes, then?)
They’re about to kiss when Lana walks in, summoned by an “urgent message” from Clark. He introduces the girls and suggests that Henry Small might be interested in preserving a bit of town lore like the caves. Wow, that’s incredibly presumptuous, especially after the way he left things with Lana last episode. (To be clear, I’m firmly Team Kawatche. But also Team Anti-Clark.) Anyway, Lana, who clearly feels profoundly uncomfortable, says they’re not really close but she’ll give it a shot.
Rebecca: Ugh. Clark.
Jess: Luthor Castle, day. Martha walks in to find Lionel on a treadmill talking to Sheriff Ethan. As Sheriff Ethan walks out, Lionel tells Martha that “Joseph Willowbrook” (finally! a name!) has “a history of civil disobedience” and may have sabotaged the construction.
Rebecca: You know those strong-willed, pacifist Native Americans!!!!!! 🙁
Jess: Civil disobedience is just the pits.
Martha tells him she sent flowers to the dead foreman’s family; when Lionel calls it shrewd, she says she actually did it because, um, it’s the right thing to do. Lionel says that she’s a lot like his wife – and Lex interrupts, with a nice sharpness to his tone.
Martha heads for home and Lionel starts buttering Lex up, trying to get Lex to partner with him on the new office park. Lex isn’t buying, though.
Construction site. Work is proceeding apace. Below, Clark and Kyla are exploring the pictographs, which apparently say that “one day Naman will protect the entire world” even though we were just told Joseph and Kyla can’t read these symbols. Clark climbs up next to Kyla to look at a pictograph depicting Saget, Naman’s brother who will eventually turn against him. SHOW YOU ARE NOT AS CLEVER AS YOU THINK YOU ARE.
Rebecca: “These characters sure sound a lot like Warrior Angel and Devilicus!” Anyway, please note that this name is pronounced “Seget.” “Seh-get.” Because in the next episode you hear it, inexplicably, it will be “Sageeth.” YES I’M STILL MAD. PLEASE CARE ABOUT YOUR SHOW ENOUGH TO MAKE IT ONLY A LITTLE CONSISTENT.
Jess: Then Clark spots a painting of a woman, who Kyla explains is the woman Naman is destined to be with – and who just happens to be wearing a symbol that matches Kyla’s bracelet, which is a family heirloom of unknown provenance.
Rebecca: Despite the determination of scores of fic writers, I don’t believe this bracelet thing recurs at the end of the series. The rest of this business, however, KEEPS. HAPPENING.
Jess: They’re gazing at each other when the bulldozers above cause a cave-in. A rock knocks Kyla off from the ledge they’re on and Clark leaps down to catch her, then covers her body with his own as boulders shatter in slo-mo against his back.
They gaze at each other, then he helps her up. He tries to claim it was adrenalin, but she’s not buying it. “What, you shoot fire out your eyes too?” she asks. He makes some awkward faces and she’s like “Holy crap, you really are Naman!”
“I don’t know what I am,” he says, then notes that she’s not freaked out. “‘Cause I know what it’s like to be different,” she says, which I guess is a reference to being Native American? Maybe? Where are the other Kawatche anyway?
She gets all cozy and says this explains her feelings lately. He says he can’t explain everything and she says he doesn’t have to. A girl who doesn’t get mad about secrets and lies? JACKPOT! They make out. Boy, he’s real broken up about everything with Lana and Chloe, huh?
Rebecca: Clark is SO into Kyla, which is kind of charming without the context of the usual love triangle business?
Jess: I would be fine with the two of them if it were devoid of context, but coming right after the previous episode and considering he initially mistook Kyla for Lana, it feels more like he’s into a random hot girl who reminds him of Lana but won’t challenge him in any way, shape, or form. Which is gross.
The Talon. Lana thanks Henry for his help. He tells her he got the test results back, and…yep, basically. We get some effective emotions from Kreuk as Lana absorbs that, then says, “So you really are my father.” “I don’t think I’ve earned that place in your life yet,” he says, “but I want to. If it’s not too late.” She beams. Aw.
Construction site. There’s a bunch of protesters yelling outside the fence, summoned by Henry. Martha girds herself as she approaches Joseph, and tells him Lionel wants to “discuss his concerns.” He calls her a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and she indignantly says she “understand[s] the importance of these caves better than anyone.” Um, they’re not your heritage, so no you absolutely do not.
Rebecca: I love how Joseph, like, immediately knows Clark “is” Naman and then he and the Kents just talk around it for the whole episode.
Jess: Anyway, she asks for a peaceful compromise and he reminds her that hasn’t historically worked out so good for Native Americans. Then Henry Small smugs up to the conversation and hands Martha a cease-and-desist, and Joseph says he’ll see Lionel in court.
Rebecca: Ugh, Henry.
Jess: Sheriff Ethan approaches and tells Joseph he’s under arrested for the murder of the foreman. Martha and Henry are both shocked, but Sheriff Ethan says he found a towel in Joseph’s trash with the foreman’s blood on it. From an explosion? Also, Lionel presumably would’ve had to have had that on file in advance, so…creepy. Joseph glares at Martha and asks if this is LuthorCorp’s idea of “peaceful coexistence.” Martha is gobsmacked.
Luthor Castle. Clark storms into Lex’s study and asks for bail money for Joseph, who he thinks is being set up by LuthorCorp. Lex is less offended by that than skeptical about Clark’s chanced against Lionel – oh, and Clark’s “newfound advocacy wouldn’t have anything to do with a beautiful, doe-eyed crusader, would it?”
“Lex, have you ever wondered if you’re destined to be with someone?” Clark asks. I’m pretty sure Lex said something to that effect about you in the pilot, buddy. Lex asks about Lana and Clark says “It’s a completely different feeling when the person likes you back.” Um, both Lana and Chloe like you, Clark. They just want you to stop treating them like garbage.
Clark asks again for the bail money and Lex says he doesn’t “make it a practice to bail out alleged murderers.” “Maybe I can get you to change your mind,” Clark purrs and Lex gives him a startled, intense look. HEE.
Rebecca: In this scene, Lex refers to Clark’s crusade as “David & Goliath” because he is straight up out of myths.
Jess: The Talon. Lana’s wrangling all the protest organization. So Clark’s “activism” consists of kissing a pretty girl and assuming another culture’s legends are all about him, and no actual work, hmm? Chloe asks why Clark’s so over the moon about Kyla, and if it has anything to do with the letter Lana wrote Flash. Lana admits that she’s been writing him every week since he left. Didn’t she video break up with him?
Anyway, Flash hasn’t so much been writing back, lately. Lana laments the emotional stupidity of boys and Chloe says “You know, maybe we should stop falling for guys who are trying to save the world?” and I swear to God I thought she was going to stop before those last seven words. MAKE OUT, YOU TWO.
Rebecca: DATE HER! DATE HER! DATE HER!
Jess: The caves. Clark shows the paintings to Lex, who is duly impressed – but it’s not until Lex spots the octagonal depression that he’s convinced to join the good fight.
The Talon. Kyla hugs a newly liberated Joseph, then Clark. Joseph asks why Clark is doing this; he gazes at Kyla, then says, “For a good cause.”
Rebecca: Clark’s a jerk.
Jess: In walks Martha, who tells Joseph she’s sorry he got “tangled up” in the murder investigation. He says it was a setup. She says more false accusations won’t help, and Clark points out that the bloody towel was a plant. Joseph and Kyla snub Martha epically as they leave, with one tragic, Romeo-and-Juliet-ish final look back from Kyla. Do you think she had a life before Clark, or was she just sitting in that cave waiting for her Destiny Boyfriend to arrive?
Torch office. “Anything new in Joseph’s case?” Clark asks as he walks in. “You know, Clark, a simple hello goes a long way,” she replies. Seriously, he’s such a tool. She tells him the autopsy revealed wolf toothmarks in the foreman’s bones. Oh, and Kyla’s tribe name translates to “skinwalkers,” a.k.a. animal shapeshifters. Clark insists Joseph’s innocent.
Rebecca: Of all the non-smoking guns that Chloe and Clark have used to assume someone’s guilt, the translation of a Native American tribal name is the least smoking-est of all.
Jess: Some LuthorCorp parking lot, night. The construction site? Not clear. Anyway, Martha leaves the building and is heading for her car when she hears a noise. Spooked, she hurries for her car and climbs in, but as she’s turning the key in the ignition, the wolf suddenly appears on the hood, snarling at her. Scared, she fumbles the keys, drops them, turns the car on – and the wolf is gone.
Kent Farm. Clark trudges in and Jonathan tells him Kyla called twice. Clark morosely says he feels like they’re destined to be together, and Jonathan, rather than worrying about his child bride son, asks what the unspoken “but” in that sentence is. Clark says he thinks Kyla’s keeping something from him, and Jonathan basically calls him a hypocrite – gently, but still, and also, Clark is the actual worst in this episode, so Jonathan can mock him all he wants.
Jess: Clark says he thinks Kyla knows something about the foreman’s death – and Martha walks in, still looking shellshocked. Clark asks what’s wrong and she says a wolf attacked her. Clark makes a mildly resigned face, like he wanted strawberry jelly on his prop toast but all they have is grape. #HERO
Luthor Castle, day. Lionel strides into Lex’s office: “Have I done something in the recent past to offend you?” Lex smiles: “There’s so many ways I could answer that question, Dad.” Hee! Lionel’s pissed about the bail money, of course, and rants about “treehuggers” for a while, which is pretty delightful. Lex offers to buy him out, thus averting the PR nightmare, but Lionel realizes that if Lex wants the land, there must be something valuable on/in it already. Lex realizes he’s been outmanuevered. Lionel stares into the middle distance and moves his jaw around. #LUTHORS
Kent Farm. Clark’s rubbing down a saddle when Kyla skips in and kisses him. All of these “teens” look about 25, but Kyla may be the least plausible high schooler since Stockard Channing’s Rizzo. He tells her he trusts her more than almost anyone, and asks what she knows about Skinwalkers. She squirms off into the middle distance (gasp! is she a Luthor?!) and asks if he’s been studying up on her. When he presses, she says Naman supposedly brought green stones that had strange effects on people, leading to the first skinwalkers of legend.
Jess: “So they’re real?” he asks. She laughs and says they’re just stories. Clark is OUTRAGED at the suggestion that Naman, too, could be just a story, and asks if it’s possible Joseph could be a skinwalker. Kyla gets angry, and Clark points out the attacks on his mom and the foreman. “I thought you were on our side!” Kyla yells. “Those paintings are very important, but not enough to kill innocent people over,” he replies. Kyla says maybe they aren’t meant to be together and Lionel Luthor really does control all the honkies, and tearfully exits. Clark furrows his eyebrows manfully.
Luthor Castle. Lionel is walking down the hall when he hears a noise. He enters the study, pours himself a drink, and is drinking scotch and smiling inscrutably at nothing when he hears the noise again, then banging on the door, and claws scratching. “Lex?” he calls. “Who’s there?”
Howling starts from all around him – and then the wolf is there, snarling at him! A hilarious muppet paw reaches out and scratches his cheek. Lionel yells and staggers backwards, falling onto the couch.
Suddenly, Clark bursts in! “Joseph!” he says, and the wolf calms down. There’s a deeply comical series of shots of Clark and the wolf looking into each other’s eyes, all Jacob-and-Renesmee style.
Rebecca: This scene is literally three full minutes of Clark yelling “Joseph!” at a wolf. It is basically camp.
Jess: Two armed men burst in and Clark quickly tells them not to shoot. The wolf leaps through the window, crashing through the glass. Clark runs to the window but the wolf is gone, leaving behind only an implausible amount of blood.
Clark runs into the woods. “JOSEPH!” he calls, then finds the wolf lying on its side, bleeding. It shifts…and it’s Kyla, of course. Naked, because why cast a beautiful woman of color if you can’t liken her to a murderous animal and then leave her bloody and naked in the woods?
Clark hurries to wrap his jacket around her and cradle her in his arms. She gasps that she didn’t want to hurt anyone (except Lionel). “Why didn’t you tell me it was you?” he asks. She says she saw the look in his eyes when he thought it was Joseph, and he apologizes. Um, but she is kind of totally a murderer who attacked his mom, so…?
Rebecca: Like, of COURSE Clark fell in love with a murderer. They have so much in common.
Jess: Honestly, I’m shocked Chloe didn’t fall in love with Kyla, who is just her type!
Kyla says she never thought she’d find anyone with a secret like hers until Clark, and when he tries to take her to the hospital, asks him to stay with her instead. “I’m sorry I can’t be the one for you, Naman,” she says, and dies. He cries. Well, this is just terrible.
Rebecca: This. Is. The. Worst.
Jess: Construction site, day. Lionel and Martha pull up and the workers tell them they can’t work because “some kid thinks he’s a hero.” It’s Clark, of course – but he’s just standing next to the site, so I’m not exactly sure what the problem is. Lionel’s pissed, but Martha gleefully tells Lionel she agrees with him. “Are you willing to lose your job over this?” Lionel asks. “That’s up to you,” she replies. Well, no, it isn’t – just whether she actually loses it.
She trots over to Clark and they hug. So we just got an episode where we could have had some really interesting conflict with Clark and Martha on opposite sides, but instead they never talked about it, Martha never got to have an opinion, and everything was resolved with a giggly hug? Uggggggggh.
Rebecca: I mean, this speaks to the general subplot of Martha working for Lionel. I’m glad she has something else to do besides sit at home like Topanga on Girl Meets World, but there’s almost no character development coming out of it. The writers are constantly failing to think things through.
Jess: A bunch more trucks pull up and Clark grins. He sure seems sad his girlfriend’s dead, huh? It’s Joseph and some other Kawatche. “Thank you, Clark,” Joseph says. “Kyla was right to believe in you.” Uh, what is he thanking Clark for? Clark has literally done nothing except watch Joseph’s granddaughter die. “I didn’t save her,” Clark says. “You did what you could,” Joseph replies, in the sonic equivalent of “ugh, someone died”-face. DID HE REALLY, THOUGH.
Rebecca: How are they going to explain this teen girl’s death? “She was naked in the woods and she just died?”
Jess: Joseph gives him Kyla’s bracelet, “for the true one in your life.” UM. UMMMMMM. “Hey white boy, have this ancient artifact that has been with our people for untold centuries. It was last worn by my dead granddaughter who you dated for a day, then let die, but I know she’d want you to give it to whoever you wind up marrying instead.” This is some imperialist bullshit.
Rebecca: “Hey, other Kawatche! This dumb white boy is basically our king now I guess. That’s how made-up Native American tribes work, right?” – Joseph Willowbrook
Jess: Lex struts up in a turtleneck (Lex, NO) and says Lionel always told him to choose his battles wisely. “I hope I didn’t use such an obvious cliche,” Lionel replies. ALL YOU EVER SAY IS CLICHES, LIONEL. Lex says that the site’s now a historic landmark. Lionel tells him he’s going to figure out what Lex has found that’s so valuable.
The caves. Lex blows dust out of the octagonal depression. The camera pans over to the painting of Seget, just in case you didn’t get it. (Everyone gets it.)
Attic of Sad Voyeurism. Lana approaches and tells Clark she’s sorry about Kyla. He says she was a lot like Lana. Clark, you’re gross and creepy. He tells her about the missing star, and she whispers, “It’s amazing how quickly a light can go out.” He asks if she’s okay. “No,” she says. “No, I don’t think so…[Flash’s] mom just called. He’s missing in action.” She cries into his chest. Cliffhanger!
Anyway, that was racist.
Rebecca: Unbelievably racist. I can’t believe this business comes back as much as it does. By the end, this fictional myth from this fictional tribe even gets appropriated by white characters in the show! It’s dumb. Everything sucks. And a hardcore fridging that doesn’t even serve its intended purpose of making Clark angsty, because Welling is unable to emote. Not the last Naman episode; not the last fridging. Everything sucks.
Jess: It’s just such lazy shorthand, everything about it: Native American myth that’s really about a white dude, POC giving a white savior their legends and cultural artifacts for no damn reason, fridged WOC love interest who is also a murderer and an animal, mystically wise old brown man who is also implied to have a history of violence, Native American landmarks that can only be saved by the intervention of a bunch of white guys (and Lana, I guess). It’s like they’re ticking off all the boxes on the “lazy appropriative bullshit” checklist, but as quickly as possible. It’s made more infuriating because Clark is such a useless “hero” and is showered with attention and rewards for literally not lifting a finger, ever, at all. Throw in his sudden passionate feelings for Kyla just happening to coincide with his Dream Girl and Backup Girl getting fed up with his bullshit, while still feeling no compunction in throwing Kyla in Lana’s face AND guilt tripping Lana into doing VERY PRESUMPTUOUS FAVORS for him, PLUS everyone calling him an “activist” for it, PLUS Martha being forbidden from actually having an opinion, PLUS the terrible anvilicious “foreshadowing” of this nonsensical myth, and this is up there with the very worst episodes this show has had to offer (what’s up, deer-eating Amy Adams and that tattoo guy Clark killed?).
Rating: Falling into a cave and then just lying there, covered in dirt.
Next week: A female character finally goes gay. I won’t say who.