The Smallville Project: Episode 1.01 – “Pilot”
|June 14, 2013||Posted by Jess under Comics, Television, The Smallville Project|
Up ‘til recently, I had only ever seen one episode of that behemoth of comic book television, Smallville. (It’s the episode with Booster Gold and TWO Blue Beetles, and I have it saved on my phone and everything, because sometimes you just need to see Booster and Jaime hugging it out, okay?) But with this being the year of Man of Steel and Superman’s 75th anniversary and so on, I’ve been looking to catch up on my Supermedia. I’ll be working my way through all the movies, shows, and radio broadcasts I can get my hands on, but for Smallville I’m getting the guided tour from my friend Rebecca (not this one; when you’re Jewish you know lots of Rebeccas), who’s followed the show from the beginning.
until we forget or get bored we’ll recap an episode, bringing back all that pulse-pounding no-flights no-tights action. The passion! The peril! The Clex! We’ll also be rating each episode on a scale of Flying to Standing Still. So let’s kick things off with the pilot, shall we?
Jess: CGI rocks float through CGI space. Down on Earth, a helicopter flies past a sign: “Welcome to Smallville, Kansas, Pop. 25,001. Creamed Corn Capital of the World.” Okay, after everything I’ve heard about this show, I didn’t expect a legitimately funny joke in the first 30 seconds.
Rebecca: Enjoy it now – there’s not a lot of intentional comedy to come, at least until we get to Boner Vision.
Jess: A subtitle tells us that it’s October, 1989. In the helicopter, Lionel is reading a newspaper with the headline “Queen Industries CEO Missing, Presumed Dead.”
Rebecca: I wish I could say that this was pipe-laying for later, but it’ll be six seasons until we meet Oliver, and seven until we find out that Lionel was in an alien-obsessed secret society with the Queens, Jane Seymour, and Christopher Reeve. WELCOME TO SMALLVILLE!
Jess: Oh man. MY BODY IS READY.
Young Lex, with a truly astonishing red wig, sits next to him with his eyes squeezed shut. Lionel berates him for being afraid because LUTHORS ARE LEADERS and YOU HAVE A DESTINY, so, okay, I guess that’s how these two are going to have conversations from now on.
Rebecca: A fun game to kill yourself with is to drink every time someone on Smallville says “destiny.” Anyway, John Glover is the best.
Jess: Back down on the ground, the Kents walk into a florist’s shop. The woman behind the counter all but throws herself at Jonathan while Martha chats with Lana, who is dressed as a fairy and is apparently the florist’s niece. Lana seems to be about four or so here, and, like, I know in this continuity Clark doesn’t wind up becoming Superman until he’s 40 or so, but I didn’t realize he was in freaking kindergarten by the time he got to Earth.
Rebecca: Even early on, Clark is a late bloomer.
Jess: Yadda yadda, the Kents head for home, and also Martha wants a baby. Meanwhile, the Luthors have landed in a cornfield. Lex throws a rock at a crow. REALLY, SHOW? Also, that wig is not getting any better. While Lionel does something business-y, Lex wanders into the corn – and suddenly hears a voice crying out for help. He freaks out and starts running, trips, drops his inhaler, and turns to see a scrawny kid in his underwear with a red S painted on his chest and tied to a scarecrow’s, um, post-thingy. In the crucifixion position. At the risk of repeating myself, REALLY, SHOW?
Jess: The kid begs for help, just before the rocket crashes in the field. Lex and poor crucified nerd are both swept up in the blow from the impact.
Back in town, Lana’s parents arrive – just in time to be killed by a kryptonite meteor! Um, that was both darker and more inappropriately hilarious than I expected.
Rebecca: As far as I’m concerned, that meteor is the real hero. Also, the size of the explosion is extremely funny. It’s at, like, Fast & Furious levels.
Jess: I laughed out loud. Am I terrible? Anyway, more meteors follow, wreaking CGI havoc throughout the town, and on the road where the Kents are driving. If only they had a superhero of some sort to protect them!
Rebecca: Insert joke about the theme song here.
Jess: All the music on this show just reminds me of this old Shortpacked! strip.
Rebecca: So good.
Jess: Lionel runs over to the flattened cornfield looking for Lex and finds a forlorn tuft of wig on the ground. Oh no! Further along is Lex, alive but bald, save for one hilarious red tuft at the top of his head. I wish he sported that look the whole show.
Jonathan and Martha slowly wake up in their flipped-over truck…and see a little naked boy walk towards them. He squats down to look in the window and smiles at them. Aw, he’s adorable. The Kents manage to get out of the truck somehow, find the rocket, and realize this kid’s not from around here. Martha insists on keeping him.
Jess: Flash forward, to what the subtitle informs us is “Today.” Wow, what are the odds? In the Kent home, 35-year-old Clark is looking up news stories of people performing amazing feats of strength and speed.
Rebecca: Real talk – I wish Clark spent more time on this show looking for people to relate to. It’s like as soon as he finds out he’s an alien, he completely gives up. In case you haven’t already noticed, Clark is kind of a bummer. A stupid, stupid bummer.
Jess: After some banter with his folks, he shows them a permission slip for joining the football team. Jonathan says no – he’s afraid something will happen that will reveal Clark’s powers. Clark manages to express his displeasure without emoting at all, and sulks off. Please tell me he gets better at acting?
Oh, were you serious? Hate to break it to you – if anything, he gets worse.
The only bright spots are when he’s not playing Vanilla!Clark, which is strangely often. (I count at least seven non-Vanilla!Clark Welling characters to come: Red-K Clark, Brainwashed Kal-El, Bizarro, Clark Luthor/Ultraman, Jor-El [oh yes], Noir Fantasy Clark [oh yes], and Lionel Luthor [OH YES].)
Jess: I can’t decide which of those I’m most excited for. Is it all of them? It might be all of them.
Rebecca: Oh wait, I forgot Clark Possessed By A Prom Queen.
Jess: OH MAN.
Jess: Clark walks outside to find he’s missed the school bus. Chloe and Pete smirkily comment on how very slow Clark is. I know this dialogue is supposed to be ironic and all, but these are supposed to be his friends? They’re kind of terrible. Anyway, Clark superspeeds off through the corn.
At school, Pete asks Chloe if “you know who” has asked her to the dance, and she angrily tells him to “take a commercial break from the soap opera in your head.” “Your vehement denial has been duly noted,” he replies. Wow, I like them even less now.
Rebecca: Allison Mack spends a lot of her time on this show trying to rise above her incredibly overwrought “comedic” dialogue. It’s a testament to her charm and talent that she mostly succeeds. And wait until you hear the kind of shit they make Lois say.
Jess: And wear, if Tumblr is any indication! Anyway, Pete awkwardly asks Chloe to the dance as a friend-date, and Clark pops up behind them, much to their consternation.
Rebecca: Their comical height difference is my favorite part of this pilot, maybe. Hilariously Big Clark always amuses me.
Jess: Pete mumbles something about how Chloe’s paranoid, and Chloe refers to Smallville as a “leafy little hamlet,” except I haven’t seen a single tree, so no. Clark stands there like, well, a big dumb model adrift in a world of fast-talking short people. Pete brings up the football team, Chloe scoffs, and Pete explains that he and Clark are trying to avoid being this year’s scarecrow. These people have the awkwardest speech patterns I’ve ever heard in my life.
Rebecca: Also, why is Chloe so dismissive of the idea of Clark playing football? He’s 6’4” and looks 24 (because he is). Even without superpowers, he would be fine. I mean, I get it, Clark is a dork. But…is he?
Jess: Well, it might be because he doesn’t know how feet work? He zones out when he catches sight of Lana and wanders off to talk to her. Once again, Pete and Chloe take bets on whether or not their best friend will be humiliated. Sure enough, Clark’s legs abruptly stop working and he falls down. Seriously, he just…falls. For no reason.
Jess: Pete and Chloe smirk. WHY ARE THEY MONSTERS???
Rebecca: Then again, Giant Stupid Clark embarrassing himself is hilarious. Then again again, I have ten years of dickishness to hate him for. You’ll learn.
Jess: Lana helps Clark gather his books and makes an anvilicious crack about Nietzsche and Superman. She’s wearing a kryptonite pendant around her neck, and as her beefy football player boyfriend arrives, Clark just barely manages to perch awkwardly on a railing, clearly ill. Football Boyfriend asks if he’s okay and Clark croaks that he’s fine.
Inside, some 45-year-old student punches out the glass in a display case and takes out a framed photo of three football players. “It’s payback time,” he mutters, and stalks off.
Cut to the LuthorCorp fertilizer plant. Lex gets out of a vintage car all bald and handsome, and I just need to say, I am a Michael Rosenbaum hipster, okay? I had a crush on him back when he was on Zoe, Duncan, Jack, and Jane, so y’all can just get in line.
Rebecca: Is it wrong if I think he’s hotter bald?
Jess: I think he’s hottest as Wally West, but this is not the place to discuss my inappropriate feelings about cartoon characters. Wait until I start blogging about Darkwing Duck.
Back at school, Clark mopily watches the football tryouts and cheerleading practice from the bleachers, and fantasizes about using his powers to become the team’s star player. Before Fantasy Lana can lay one on him, Real Pete, swimming in a too-big football uniform and helmet, interrupts to ask how he looks. “Like a tackle dummy,” Clark snits. Well, at least he’s an asshole back to his friends?
Rebecca: Sadly, Sarcastic Welling is the best we get until the many shades of Evil Welling (see above).
Jess: Lex drives away from the fertilizer plant. Why did he go there in the first place, then?
Clark is sad on an overpass. What happened with the football tryouts? This show is like a hyperactive three-year-old.
Something – a pipe? a coil of wire? something appropriately phallic, anyway – falls off the bed of a passing truck and rolls into the opposite lane just as Lex approaches it.
Rebecca: YES HERE IT COMES HERE IT COMES–
Jess: He hits it, swerves, and plows straight into Clark and through the railing of the overpass.
Rebecca: AW YEAH!!!! That stunt is legitimately amazing, still. AND THEN–
Jess: Clark pulls the unconscious Lex out of the car and onto shore AND GIVES HIM MOUTH-TO-MOUTH. I’ve gotta admit, I was not expecting the show to go there quite this fast. We can’t beat around the slash bush here! There’s no time! Lex is dying!
Rebecca: 😀 😀
Jess: “Don’t die on me!” Clark says as he pumps Lex’s chest, because he is administering first aid on a TV show. Lex spews up some water and gazes up at Clark. “I could’ve sworn I hit you,” he says. “If you did, I’d be dead,” Clark replies, like, that is not helpful, Clark.
Rebecca: AND THE WETNESS AND THE PANTING AND THE OPEN MOUTHS. This is love at first sight. Drink it in.
Jess: I AM SO THIRSTY. Wait, that was gross.
Jess: Flash forward to emergency vehicles surrounding the crash site and the boys draped in red blankets. I see what you did there, show. Jonathan arrives and frantically makes sure that Clark’s okay, then demands to know what maniac was driving. Lex introduces himself and Jonathan grows clearly uncomfortable at the name “Luthor,” then hustles Clark away. “That’s quite an extraordinary boy you have there,” Lex says, which is a weird sentence, right? It’s not just me? Anyway, he asks if there’s any way he can repay Jonathan for what Clark did, which is also weird, and Jonathan tells him to drive slower before stalking off. Lex makes pensive faces.
Rebecca: Can we pause here for a second? Look – Lex thinks Clark jumped in after his car, and therefore he is inherently heroic. Except that’s not what happened! Clark was pushed into the water; it would have been less convenient for him to NOT save Lex. THIS is why it takes this asshole roughly eight years to start actively seeking out people who need help.
Jess: Well, he could have left Lex to drown and eliminated the witness to his invulnerability. I do think he would’ve been better served by opening the door rather than peeling the roof back like a can of bald billion-dollar sardines. That’s gonna raise some questions at the impound lot.
That night, Clark uses a telescope in his attic to gaze out at…um, Lana’s house. CLARK U R A CREEP.
Jess: Well, he’s punished for his voyeurism when Football Boyfriend shows up. Lana tells Football Boyfriend that if her aunt catches them they’re in trouble, even though they’re bundled up in winter clothes on the porch, hugging from opposite sides of a bench. Hey, however you get your kicks. She exposits that her aunt’s at Lex’s, which seems odd – not Lionel’s? Football Boyfriend gets all excited because the Luthors own the Metropolis Sharks and this could be his in. Is he a senior? Why is he dating a freshman, even one as pretty and clearly 25 years old as Lana?
Lana tells him that Clark has the real connection, having saved Lex’s life. Football Boyfriend is incredulous, but not in a hostile way. Lana goes as distant as she whispers “Sometimes people can surprise you.” Um, okay. Anyway, she thinks it’s cool that Clark saved a life, and now Football Boyfriend shows a hint of jealousy. She then hands over her kryptonite necklace and tells him she wants him to wear it to the game. Football Boyfriends love pendant jewelry!
Oh wait, no, it turns out that the pendant is made from the meteor that killed Lana’s parents. That is seriously gruesome. Lana u r weird. “So much bad luck came out of it,” she says. “There can only be good luck left.” I DON’T THINK IT WORKS THAT WAY.
Rebecca: I seriously wish that Lana was a goth instead of a cheerleader golden girl. For a heavily eyelinered, death-obsessed Teen, wearing the rock that orphaned you is a baller move. For a Fairy Pastel Princess, it’s just deeply unsettling. It’s stupid that we have three seasons and one French witch possession to go before Lana finally starts wearing black.
Jess: It also would’ve made Clark more interesting, going for an unconventional girl rather than the boilerplate Homecoming Queen. Also, French witch possession??? P.S. Clark is still watching them like a total creeper and looking resentful. YOU DON’T OWN HER, CAPTAIN CHEEKBONES.
In a garage, a young mechanic is startled by the appearance of Creepy Trophy Case Payback Boy. “You look like that scarecrow kid,” says the mechanic, which is not how anyone would refer to the freshman they crucified years ago, but is a much shorter name, so I’ll go with it. Not sure why a Kansas townie has a vaguely New Jerseyan accent, though. Scarecrow Kid smirks silently and the mechanic puts a hand on him – and is zapped with electricity. “That was twelve years ago, man! It was just a game! What do you want?” he asks. I dunno, my first words would probably be “WHY ARE YOU ELECTRIC???” “To play,” Scarecrow Kid says creepily, and picks the mechanic up, zapping him again. Goodbye, mechanic.
The next day, Clark plaids his way up to the house to find a shiny red truck with a big blue bow on it in the driveway. Martha explains that it’s from Lex and hands him a card: “Dear Clark, Drive safely. Always in your debt, the Maniac in the Porsche.” OKAY, YOU WIN, INTERNET FROM 2001. I SHIP IT REALLY HARD NOW.
Rebecca: WELCOME TO THE PARTY, WE HAVE SNACKS.
Jess: Jonathan cares not for your snacks! He tells Clark he can’t keep the truck, and kind of snottily asks if Clark thinks he deserves a prize for saving Lex’s life. Um, I don’t think Clark asked for the truck, Jon. Clark pushes, and Jonathan inexplicably hammers a staircase once before asking if Clark remembers their former neighbors Mr. Bell and Mr. Guy. I bet the writers really burned the midnight oil coming up with those names. Anyway, Lionel Luthor snookered them out of their property with expensive gifts, then evicted them, hence Luthor money is dirty money.
Rebecca: It’s also worth noting here that it was the Rosses who owned the creamed corn factory (they…just cream the corn there, I guess?) that Lionel was in Smallville to buy in the cold open. Which is why, as we’ll see in later episodes, Pete Ross is the Vice President of the Clex Anti-Ship Society. Whatever, Pete. ANYWAY, BACK TO THIS SCENE I KIND OF LIKE.
Jess: Clark stalks up the stairs. “Clark, I know you’re upset, son, but it’s normal,” Jonathan says. That line doesn’t make any sense at all. Clark really doesn’t like the word “normal,” and sticks his hands in the woodchipper to prove it.
Rebecca: CLARK KENT GOES HARD (for once in his godforsaken life).
Jess: Jonathan yanks him back, but Clark’s fine (except for how he ruined his shirt and probably broke the woodchipper). He mopily tells Jonathan that he didn’t jump in after Lex, he was hit by him (but if Jonathan thought Clark jumped in, why was he so angry at Lex?), and that he’d give anything to be normal. Um, Clark, “normal” does not mean “receives expensive gifts from bald sugar daddy.” Unfortunately, because I’m as normal as they come.
Rebecca: I kind of don’t understand why getting hit by Lex’s car is the Straw that Broke the Weirdness’ Back. Bro, you beat the bus to school this morning. Clearly, not everything is on the up and up.
Jess: I guess because weirdness was finally paying off for him? But dating a 20-year-old billionaire is weird no matter what planet you’re from.
Up in the Attic of Sad Voyeurism, Clark broods. Jonathan comes in: “It’s time, son.” “Time for what?” Clark asks. “The truth,” Jonathan says. Wait, Clark didn’t know he was an alien?
Jess: How were Jonathan and Martha explaining his powers, then?
Rebecca: Um…Clark is stupid? The Kents, like Chloe and Pete, are kinda jerks.
Jess: Jonathan hands Clark a piece of metal with Kryptonian writing on it and says it’s from his real parents. Clark seems to already know he was adopted, at least. Jonathan explains that he was never able to decipher the writing, and that Clark’s real parents weren’t from around here. Clark initially tries to play it off like a joke, but when Jonathan shows him the rocket, he angrily insists that Jonathan should have told him, and superspeeds out the door.
Rebecca: I wish Clark joked more, instead of taking everything so Deadly Seriously.
Jess: Cut to Lana riding a horse (???) up to a cemetery in the middle of the night, holding what looks like a bouquet of dead twigs. Lana, you are morbid, girl.
Rebecca: This would be normal if she were listening to Bright Eyes, doodling pentagrams, and dabbling in Wicca! That’s all I’m saying. GOTH LANA 2K13.
Jess: Also, it’s super foggy, which doesn’t seem particularly prairie-like to me.
Rebecca: Vancouver, everybody!
Jess: She startles at a noise, but it’s just Clark, lurking in the cemetery because he is a giant weirdo. “What are you doing creeping around the woods?” she asks and haha, okay, points for Lana. Clark is standing in front of a statue of an angel so that it looks like he has wings, for bonus sledgehammer symbolism. Don’t get too excited, kid, you won’t fly for a decade.
Lana asks if he’s okay, and he says that he’s hanging out in a graveyard, so no. She points out that she’s there too. More points for Lana! Clark sniffles in an admittedly adorable way and asks why she’s there. She asks if he can keep a secret. “I’m the Fort Knox of secrets,” he says. She politely ignores that stupidity and tells him that she comes out there to talk to her parents. He breathes in the scent of her hair. Clark, STOP IT.
Rebecca: Okay, so I watched the commentary track with the two creators and the pilot director (whose most recent work of uplift was Game of Thrones’ Red Wedding!) and they all fell over each over jizzing about Kristin Kreuk in this role. Lana is SO BORING as a result of bad writing and this pulseless performance, and the creative team’s blindness towards her faults is the first major thing to ruin the show irrevocably. Stalker Clark is merely a cypher for a roomful of creepy 40-year-olds. It sucks.
Jess: Ah, the Joey Potter Phenomenon. Sigh. Lana leads Clark over to the grave and proceeds to have a lengthy conversation with her parents, which, um, okay. I know Chloe’s supposed to be “quirky” or whatever, but Lana is just straight-up bizarre. She tells Clark that her dad wants to know if he’s gay. Give him time, Dead Daddy Lang, he just met Lex yesterday.
Clark asks if Lana ever feels like her life was supposed to be different. Considering that they’re squatting on her parents’ graves, it seems like kind of a tactless question. She gives him a pretty sweet speech about missing her parents, and Clark pretends that her mother told him to tell her that she’s never really alone. This is the weirdest, most morbid courtship ever, you two.
Rebecca: Full disclosure: revisiting this scene gave me Feelings because what Clark “hears” from Lana’s mom is not far from part of the first message he hears from Krypton next season (“We will be with you, Kal-El, for all the days of your life”). I wish the show had done that on purpose. Togetherness should be more important than Aloneness! It’s the Superman Way!
Jess: Clark walks Lana home (where did the horse go???) and manages to ask her to the dance without falling down and breaking both his legs. She’s going with Football Boyfriend, but tells him to come anyway, because she’ll save him a dance, then kisses his cheek. But wait! Who’s this lurking on the porch watching everything? It’s Football Boyfriend! Dun dun dun! Also, Lana appears to have walked in a totally different direction from the house. Whoops.
Cut to…well, basically a castle, presumably the Luthors’ and presumably the next day. I’m sorry, but the idea of a ridiculously wealthy and powerful dynasty of elite businessmen living in Kansas is cracking me up. Sorry, Kansas.
Rebecca: Wait until we find out that METROPOLIS IS IN KANSAS!!! Get your headdesking desk ready.
Jess: Oh no, I knew about that. I’m sorry, but no way would a major city be built that far from a significant body of water. Just…no. (Although in the comics Metropolis is in Delaware, which isn’t much better.) Does Lionel live in Metropolis? Otherwise I can’t understand why he has so many business interests in a state specifically chosen for being uninteresting.
Clark wanders around the first floor, calling out to see if anyone’s home. Was the front door to the castle unlocked? Seems unlikely.
Suddenly, two dueling figures in fencing gear thrust and parry their way into the room! The smaller of the two wins the point, and the larger one hurls his foil into the wall, nearly skewering Clark (well, nearly breaking the foil on Clark’s invulnerable skin, but you know what I mean).
Rebecca: It’s an epee. [/high school fencing nerd]
Jess: Right, only peasants fence with foils. Clark’s would-be accidental murderer takes his helmet off, and It’s Lex, of course. “I didn’t see you,” he explains. “How’d you get through the gate?” Okay, now I feel better about the Luthor home security system.
Clark non-explains something about squeezing through the bars and asks if this is a bad time. Lex says no, hands his helmet over to “Heidi,” and proceeds to deflect all of Clark’s awkward compliments about the house with self-deprecating badinage. Apparently the house was shipped over stone-by-stone from the ancestral Luthor estate in Scotland, but Lionel never had any intention of living there, just in throwing his weight around.
Rebecca: Lionel is such a crazy invention. In most ways I think he’s probably more evil than Lex ever was/will be.
Jess: Lex asks if Clark likes the truck, and Clark tells him he can’t keep it. “Your father doesn’t like me, does he?” Lex asks. “It’s okay. I’ve been bald since I was nine. I’m used to people judging me before they get to know me.” Okay, so if he was nine and Lana was three when the meteors hit, and we’ll assume Clark is approximately Lana’s age since they’re in the same grade, that makes Lex twenty now. Not old enough to drink, but definitely old enough to buy himself a pretty boyfriend. Wait, Clark is fourteen, I just grossed myself out.
Rebecca: Well, “fourteen.”
Jess: Fourteen and abs for days. Clark says Jonathan’s just not a fan of Lionel. “Figures the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree,” Lex realizes. “What about you, Clark? Did you fall far from the tree?” The space tree?
Clark thanks him for the truck and hands him the keys. “Clark, do you believe a man can fly?” Lex asks. Oh ho ho, I see what you did there, writers. “Sure, in a plane,” Clark says. Lex says he’s talking about unaided flight, and Clark insists, in a weirdly hostile tone, that people can’t fly. “I did,” Lex said. “After the accident, when my heart stopped. It was the most exhilarating two minutes of my life. I flew over Smallville and for the first time, I didn’t see a dead end. I saw a new beginning.” So just to be clear, this was when Clark was giving you mouth-to-mouth, right, Lex?
Rebecca: I’m so glad you’re transcribing this whole scene, because it’s So Important. Lex’s air of wonder and seduction is really what sells this…friendship.
Rebecca: Also, Lex is by far the most sympathetic character on the show.
Jess: It’s really true, because out of the context of Rosenbaum’s charismatic performance, Lex is basically raving. “Thanks to you I have a second chance,” he goes on. “We have a future, Clark, and I don’t want anything to stand in the way of our friendship.” Then he lays a big sloppy wet on Clark. At least he does in my head.
Rebecca: And in thousands of fanfics.
Jess: Elsewhere, a man on a stretcher is being loaded into an ambulance while a crowd watches, including Pete and Chloe. Oh right, you two exist. Pete completely randomly points to Scarecrow Kid, who is blending in with the crowd, and they decide to check him out. Cut to the school’s journalism room, where Chloe shows Clark Scarecrow Kid’s yearbook picture from twelve years ago, and the picture she took today. I thought the fact that he was a student over a decade ago was the show’s excuse for casting an actor in his 30s, but no, apparently he hasn’t aged since high school. Pete theorizes evil twins. Twins are the same age, Pete.
Chloe says that SK’s been in a coma for 12 years and just woke up a few days ago. He was suffering from “massive electrolyte imbalance,” which sounds more like he just needs to drink some Gatorade. “That’s why he hasn’t aged a day,” Pete adds. Because he was in a coma? Shut up, Pete. Anyway, apparently an electrical storm came through town and woke SK up. These writers do not understand how electrolytes work even a little.
Rebecca: Or meteors. Or teenagers. Or conversations. Or romance. Or superhero origin stories.
Jess: “And now he’s back in Smallville, putting former jocks into comas,” Clark says. Um, how’d you get from “was in a scientifically dubious coma” to “is a criminal,” Clark? I mean, you’re obviously right, but this is the pilot. You shouldn’t be genre-savvy yet. Pete explains that SK was chosen as the scarecrow 12 years ago. Wait, if the meteor strike was 12 years ago and it’s football tryout season, Clark and the others would have to be 15 and sophomores.
Rebecca: …Maybe all their birthdays are in September?
Jess: Maybe an electrolyte imbalance held them all back. Chloe then shows Clark “the Wall of Weird,” full of newspaper clippings of all the strange things that have happened in Smallville since the meteor shower. How does he not know about this already? How does everyone not? It’s on school property.
Rebecca: Smallville’s favorite pastime is Keeping Secrets For No Reason. Joke’s on Chloe; turns out Clark is the champion.
Jess: Clark boggles at a picture of Lana crying on the cover of TIME Magazine. I’m sorry, there is no way in a small town everyone wouldn’t know which girl had been on the cover of TIME. Clark mutters something about how it’s all his fault and runs away, leaving Chloe and Pete dumbfounded.
Outside the school, Football Boyfriend jumps Clark and informs him that he’s this year’s scarecrow. Clark tries to fight back, but FB is wearing the kryptonite necklace. Clark clutches at it. “Like her necklace?” FB asks, tying it around Clark’s neck. “Good. It’s as close as you’re ever gonna get to her.” I’m interested in seeing what you plan on telling Lana happened to her most prize possession, FB. A bunch of other football players help FB load Clark into a truck and they drive off. Scarecrow Kid watches creepily.
Rebecca: Not to be a downer, but some people at the time protested that the Scarecrow hazing premise (and, by extension, the billboard for the show) bore too close a resemblence to the Matthew Shepard murder. And seeing FB put a “feminine” necklace on Clark before stringing him up and leaving him for dead…I kind of get it. “But how,” The WB asks, always and forever, “can we make this tragedy more sexy?”
Jess: Yeah, that’s a fair point. Way to stay classy, WB!
Cut to a cornfield at night, with Clark crucified and shirtless, wearing the necklace and a painted S, because what’s the point of having Tom Welling on your show if you don’t take his shirt off? And listen, folks, no 14-year-old ever looked like that.
Jess: SK emerges from the corn to creep at Clark, then heads off to wreak his revenge on the homecoming dance. He’s nearly hit by Lex, who’s driving another snazzy car away from the fertilizer plant. (Side note: this whole “fertilizer plant” thing better pay off eventually, because we’ve seen a lot of shots of it.) Lex recognizes him and flashes back to the meteor strike, but by the time he’s done with the flashback, SK is gone.
But… “Help me,” Clark calls, and Lex runs into the corn and helps him down.
Rebecca: How does Lex hear Clark from the road? Super ventriloquism!
And can we talk about Lex finding Clark, prone and naked, and saving his life two days after Clark saved his? BOYS.
Jess: Theirs is a contrived and inappropriate love! The necklace falls off and Clark springs up, super once more, even though just being near it when it was on Lana and FB made him weak. He grabs his clothes, refuses Lex’s suggestion of a doctor or offer of a ride, and runs off into the corn. Lex picks up the necklace.
Back at the school gym, Chloe is dancing with Pete and Lana with FB. SK opens the sprinkler system, um, control panel thingy? Whatever. But Clark’s there! And he won’t let SK hurt his friends! After some yammering about destiny, SK zaps Clark and Clark throws him into a car. SK uses his power to jumpstart the car, climbs in, and hits Clark with it.
Rebecca: Readers, this fight is as dynamic as it sounds.
Jess: SK slams Clark into a water main, tries to zap him, and electrocutes himself. Clark pulls him free, only to discover that SK has zapped away all memory of his powers or quest for vengeance. Phew!
In the gym, Lana kisses FB, and Clark angsts from the shadows. STOP BEING A CREEPER, CLARK. He slouches out of the gym, then pauses in the parking lot and smiles. Later, as the students emerge, they find the football players’ trucks stacked on top of each other. Haha, take that, potentially-murderous bullies!
Rebecca: Easily my favorite Clark moment of the pilot. I JUST WANT CLARK TO BE SNARKY AND THE TEENSIEST BIT WITTY INSTEAD OF A DUMB BLOCK OF WOOD.
Jess: Man of Steel! I hope!
Clark returns to the Attic of Sad Voyeurism and Jonathan comes in to ask if he’s okay. “Can I answer that in about five years?” Clark asks. Ten, kid. Ten. Jonathan starts to walk away, but Clark stops him: “I’m glad you and Mom were the ones that found me.” Awww. “We didn’t find you, Clark. You found us.” AWWW.
Rebecca: Jonathan’s unfailing dickitude aside, the show gets the Kents pretty right. There’s just the right amount of Kent hugs, which is to say, there are a LOT of Kent hugs.
Jess: Clark turns back to the telescope, but suddenly: Lana! “I didn’t see you tonight, Clark,” she says. “I saved you that dance.” They start to dance, and she asks if everything’s okay. “Perfect,” he says…and LOL IT WAS JUST A DAYDREAM. Lana is walking into her house across the way as the football players drive off. “Thanks for the dance, Lana,” Clark says, and she gazes towards him as if she heard it. So the show is going with super ventriloquism as one of his powers? Because that would be AWESOME.
Rebecca: I like revisiting this pilot because, even though it portends a lot of the dunderheadedness to come, I still see the show that made me want to keep watching (and watching, and watching), so I feel a little less bad about my life choices. What works here will continue to be what carries the show: the Kent emotional stronghold and the chemistry between Clark and Lex.
I remember watching this show at the beginning and being so engaged and tantalized by the inevitable tragedy of the Clark/Lex relationship. It’s strangely exciting to root for two people to grow closer while also knowing that one day it will end painfully. And I really thought that they would pull it off; I expected it to be gut-wrenching and poignant when, one day, Lex turned his back on Clark, and the nascent Superman must make his hardest choice yet – to take down his best friend.
Of course, the show fumbles this beautiful pass so epically that it must be seen to be believed. But that will come later. For now, though – OMG THEY LOVE EACH OTHER SO MUCH.
Jess: I am PRETTY STOKED. I’ll be honest: I am way more excited for things being dumb and terrible than well-written and coherent. If nothing else, dumb and terrible is way more entertaining to recap.
…But if I had watched the premiere in 2001 (which was right around the time I was starting to think about maybe beginning to be a little bit interested in superheroes, actually), I probably would’ve been totally into it. It’s dopey, but Clark is hunky, Lex is magnetic, and the rest of it is passable. Hey, I watched two whole seasons of Dawson’s Creek for less than that.
Rating: A brisk jog.