The Smallville Project: Episode 1.02 – “Metamorphosis”
|June 21, 2013||Posted by Jess under Comics, Television, The Smallville Project|
Jess: We open with a shot of Lana’s house at night. Someone is squatting in a tree in her yard, holding a camera. In her bedroom, Lana’s still wearing her dress from homecoming, so I guess it’s still the same night as the pilot. She puts her tiara in a drawer full of tiaras and ribbons, which is actually pretty funny. She also sticks the corsage in there, which seems like a bad idea to me. That way lies rotting flowers, girl!
Rebecca: Alternate Universe Goth Lana is making those flowers rot on purpose.
Jess: “JUST LIKE MY SOUL.”
Turning, Lana finds a gift box on her bed, and makes a few hilariously quizzical faces at it before sitting down to open it. Oh man, is this episode going to be about someone creepily stalking her, but not acknowledge that Clark is doing the exact same thing?
Lana opens the box and a flock of CGI butterflies fly out, much to her delight. Outside, the dude in the tree, who is sweaty and bespectacled, films it all. He then schlumps down the road to his VW Beetle and drives off. Do you guys think this dude likes bugs?
Sweaty Dude arrives home to find his mother watching a home video of Lana laughing with Football Boyfriend. “Is this what you do with your time now, Greg?” she asks. In the light, Sweaty Greg has bad hair and bad skin, which is nice touch; so often everyone in TV high schools looks like they just walked out of a Clearasil commercial. It also helps to counteract the fact that he looks like the poor man’s Christian Bale. NERD!
Rebecca: As you’ll see, kryptonite bugs are really into She’s All That-style makeovers.
Jess: I now feel cheated that this episode had no choreographed prom dance numbers. Sweaty Greg gets all affronted that Mama Sweaty went in his room, and she rightly points out that he’s one to talk about privacy, and also, he’s creepy. Further dialogue reveals that he collects insects, which his mother also doesn’t approve of, which is somewhat less righteous but not terribly surprising. Fed up, she tells him that she’s sending him to a military academy. “WHO’S GONNA TAKE CARE OF MY BUGS?” he shouts. Hee!
In his room, Sweaty Greg rubs his face all over his many terrariums of bugs before picking up a jar of glowing green fireflies and shaking it. “Don’t worry, guys,” he wheezes. “I’m gonna take you somewhere safe.”
Cut to Sweaty Greg swerving all over the road, with Papa Roach (again! funny!) blaring on the soundtrack.
Rebecca: I cringed in 2001, but in 2013, I threw up devil horns.
Jess: The music in this show is taking me back. Though I suspect that in a season or two I will cease to recognize anything, since Smallville premiered during my senior year of high school, and once I went to college and stopped driving on a regular basis, I also stopped listening to the radio. But if they throw in some Hannah Montana towards the end of the run, I’ll be all over it.
Rebecca: I was horrified when rewatching this episode to realize how much of the music I liked at the time was shit I discovered on this show. I bought the album with the song that’s playing when Football Boyfriend is driving his truck! (It’s Better Than Ezra.) UGH.
Jess: The jar with the glowing bugs rolls off the passenger seat and smashes on the floor. Bugs swarm SG. He grows increasingly panicked and finally wraps his car around a telephone pole. The windshield glows green as he screams.
The next morning Mama Sweaty opens SG’s bedroom door to find the bugs gone and his glasses smashed on the floor. The room is apparently empty, but as she closes the door we see SG, shirtless and covered with swollen bug bites, clinging to the ceiling. Okay, is this whole episode a long Spider-Man parody?
SOMEBODY SAAAAAAAAAAVE MEEEEEEEEE!
Rebecca: SAAAAAAAAAAVE! SAAAAAAAAAAVE! C’MOOOON!
Jess: Whoa, Football Boyfriend is in the opening credits? Does that mean I have to learn his name? Can it just be Flash Thompson?
Rebecca: Incidentally, this actor would go on to play Flash Gordon on a weird, Canadian reboot series for Sci-Fi, so you’re not that far off.
Jess: Haha, awesome. Flash it is!
A long, sweeping aerial shot takes us over the fields of Smallville and into Lana’s room, where she’s asleep in bed. Clark hovers over her, literally, a smug expression on his face. AUGH THIS IS SO FUCKING CREEPY.
Lana opens her her eyes. “It’s all your fault, Clark,” she says, and closes them again. Clark looks dismayed; then Martha calls his name off-camera and we cut to Clark flying over his bed, daylight streaming in the window. He gasps and falls, breaking the bedframe. Wait, so he flies in the SECOND EPISODE but not actually really until the FINALE?
Rebecca: WELCOME TO SMALLVILLE! I will note there there is some intermittent flight, but not from Clark Classic. We see Brainwashed Kal-El, Ultraman, and, of course, Kara, the Legion, and Booster all fly before Clark finally figures it out with 10 minutes to go in the finale. NO! FLIGHTS! NO! TIGHTS!
Jess: Also, isn’t Hawkman on the show? I assume he flies, otherwise his only power is shirtlessness.
Rebecca: Basically everyone flies before Clark does. But we can rest assured that Clark is the first one to wield the power of shirtlessness.
Jess: Later, at the farmer’s market, Pete and Chloe help the Kents set up their stand. I like this; the Kents are clearly small farmers, not a big dairy conglomeration or whatever, so having them sell their produce this way is a nice detail. I also enjoy watching Clark push nails in with his thumb when no one’s looking.
Rebecca: Um, I have always really loved that moment, so I’m glad you do, too. If animated gifs had existed in 2001, that one would have gone on my LiveJournal. Maybe with Blingee hearts around it. I’M WEIRD, OKAY?
(I made myself laugh so much making that.)
Jess: No, no, I super love discreet, mundane uses of powers. See also: like 90% of Lois and Clark. (The other 10% was villains of the week chewing scenery and Teri Hatcher falling down. BEST SHOW.)
Rebecca: We gotta recap Lois and Clark when we’re done with this show. We’ll have a lot of spare time in the nursing home.
Jess: Lana and Flash appear and Chloe snits something about the homecoming king and queen. “Clark, I didn’t see you at the dance last night,” Lana says. Clark glances at Flash. “I was a little tied up.” Wait, so does no one know about the scarecrow incident? If Pete was so anxious about not being the scarecrow, I find it hard to believe that he wouldn’t be curious as to who was.
Jonathan comes over and congratulates Flash on the big game: “I haven’t seen an offense that good since I played.” Clark squirms with jealousy. Wow, Jonathan, you are a douche. Clark heads off to unload the rest of the boxes, and Flash follows. Flash tries to play the whole scarecrow thing off as a joke, and tells Clark he needs the necklace back, since it’s Lana’s. “So you better go out to that cornfield and find it,” Clark replies snottily, and you were right, Rebecca, Sarcastic Clark is the best Clark.
Rebecca: I love you, you snot-nosed superteen.
Jess: At another stand, Lana is looking at glass butterflies when Sweaty Greg comes up behind her. But gadzooks! His skin has cleared up and he is no longer sweaty!
Jess: After some dumb dialogue about butterflies, he asks her to help him with his lit paper. She agrees, but when he tries to get her to come over to his house after school, she pauses and says “Library might be easier.” Flash appears to tell Lana her aunt is looking for her, and when she gratefully skedaddles, he tells No-Longer-Sweaty Greg to back off, and also that leaving butterflies in girls’ bedrooms is FUCKING CREEPY. NLSG is all “Sometimes you’re the windshield, sometimes you’re the bug.” Shut up, NLSG.
Lana kisses Flash and he drives off. Clark watches mournfully. If this episode doesn’t end with him learning a valuable lesson about not stalking, I will be furious.
Rebecca: Hahahahaha. 🙁
Jess: I wonder if the camera will pan over to a pining Chloe – but Lex appears instead, looking dapper in a suit, and I laugh out loud. MUCH BETTER.
“Can’t knock your taste in women,” he says, and steals an apple from the basket Clark’s carrying. “Gonna tell me what happened last night?” Clark tries to play it off all “What night? Who?” Lex points out that he could have died, but Clark just wants to forget the whole thing.
Jonathan arrives, all “What is the holdup? I want to talk some more about how great I was at the sport I won’t let you play,” and is clearly discomfited to see Lex there. Lex holds out a hand and Jonathan shakes it, then tells Clark to hurry up and walks away. “Least I got a handshake this time,” Lex says with a little half-smile, and Clark half-smiles back. LEX YOU ARE THE BEST ONE. Clark walks off, and Lex takes a satisfied bite of his pilfered apple before tossing it back into the Kents’ truck.
Rebecca: Just…the look on his face when he bites the apple and stares at Clark. It says everything.
Jess: Flash cruises down the road. NLSG scampers up a tree as he approaches. As Flash’s truck passes beneath him, he jumps onto the roof and slams it a few times until the car tips and skids off the road on its side, knocking Flash out.
But here come the Kents! Wait, the farmers’ market is over already? Didn’t Flash leave forever ago? Anyway, they spot the overturned truck, and hilariously overwrought heroic music plays as Clark yanks Flash out of the cab. The engine has caught fire, and Jonathan only has time to shout Clark’s name before the truck explodes.
Rebecca: Some amazing green screen work there by Vancouver Elementary’s third grade computer class.
Jess: Clark covers Flash’s body with his own. Jonathan and Martha freak out, but Clark’s totally fine – and so’s Flash, which may be why Clark gives his parents the saddest eyes imaginable.
Later on the porch, Jonathan tells Clark that Flash is going to be fine, and that he doesn’t remember anything between the accident and the ambulance. Clark’s worried that he scared Martha, and Jonathan tells him he made her proud. Clark confesses about that morning’s flying episode, and Jonathan is clearly weirded out, but tells Clark to have faith that they’ll work it out. Clark’s like, “Yeah, yeah, faith, whatever, I’m terrified over here.”
At Luthor Castle, Lex admires Lana’s necklace in the light through a stained glass window, because it’s only the second episode, but it’s pretty clear Lex only does things in the most bombastic way possible.
Rebecca: It’s frankly a miracle he’s not also doing this while drinking scotch and listening to opera music. But we’ll get there.
Jess: Lana gallops across the fields. Good to know the horse found its way home from wherever she abandoned it last episode. She reaches the stables, and is dismounting when: “Your form’s good, but his gait’s off.”
Startled, she looks up to see Lex lurking in the stables, because every freaking dude in Smallville is a creeper. “You might want to check his shoe,” Lex adds, pointing. “Lex Luthor. I’m a friend of your aunt’s.” “Sneaking up like that, you’re lucky you didn’t get kicked,” Lana replies. You go, girl.
Lex tries to engage in social niceties as Lana unsaddles her horse, but Lana tells him they’ve already met: “When I was ten I went to Metropolis for a riding competition. Your father invited us to stay over. My aunt said you had an indoor pool. When I went to check it out, I found you and a girl skinny dipping. I think you were teaching her the breaststoke?” Hee, Lana’s delivery on that last line is great, as is Lex’s uncomfortable squirming. “That was you?” he asks. “Wow. You’re all grown up now.” EWWWW. There is no way for any human to say that sentence and not be creepy.
Lex wanders over to a display case of Lana’s ribbons, which she modestly dismisses as “tacky, but it makes my aunt happy.” Because God forbid a girl be proud of her accomplishments.
Rebecca: Also, girl, you keep a DRAWER OF RIBBONS AND TIARAS AT HOME.
Jess: Lex points to a picture where Lana is wearing the kryptonite necklace and notes that it’s unusual. Okay, so he definitely knows it’s hers. And he’s just keeping it because…? She says it’s very special to her and he asks why she’s not wearing it. She explains that she lent it to her boyfriend, and when she tells Lex’s Flash’s name (Whitney, and that’s so hilarious I may switch over from calling him Flash), Lex is all “the kid that Kent saved today?” Boy, word gets around fast. Except about the scarecrow, apparently.
“I just got back from seeing him,” Lana says. “Lucky Clark was there.” “I know the feeling,” Lex replies thoughtfully, and I laugh forever. “Kind of makes you wonder if you’re with the right guy,” he goes on. “One chucks footballs, the other helps save lives.” Okay, I see, ostensibly, what Lex is supposed to be doing here – Clark’s his buddy, he’s helping him out! – but it’s not something actual humans would do and just highlights his emotional overinvestment in Clark. Even more than that, though, I want to know what Lana thinks of this weird 20-year-old who walks in, hits on her (remember, she’s 14), compliments her jewelry, and tries to set her up with the quiet nerd down the lane.
Rebecca: “Oh, this weird gay dude’s got a crush on Clark.” – Lana’s thoughts, probably. And me.
Jess: So say we all. But all Lana says is that for someone who just moved into town, Lex has a lot of opinions. “You just seem more interesting than that,” he says. RUDE, Alexander.
Finally we get to the meat of the scene. “While you’re nursing your boyfriend back to health, ask him what he was doing before the big game,” Lex says. “He was with me,” Lana says. “Are you sure?” Lex says, and Lana looks like she’s actually thinking about it. It was YESTERDAY, honey. “Tell your aunt I stopped by,” Lex says, gives the horse a hilariously loving pat, and smooves out of there.
You know what? I liked Lana in that scene. She had a good balance of hostility and humor, and didn’t let a cosmopolitan older dude rattle her. I’m sure it will all end in tears, but right now I’m on Team Lana.
Rebecca: On the page, I totally get what you mean. It’s just a shame that Kreuk’s delivery is so whispery and milquetoast. Like every actor on this show, she’s better opposite Rosenbaum, but just wait until she spends all her time with ol’ Cardboard Welling over there.
Jess: Back at Casa de Sweaty, Mama Sweaty walks into find the thermostat at 103 degrees. She calls NLSG’s name and marches upstairs to find the walls smeared with muddy handprints. Furious, she throws open the door of his room to find it full of fakey-looking spiderwebs, like a Halloween store threw up in it. She’s staring at it, appalled, when NLSG appears, smirking and apparently naked.
“What the hell has gotten into you?” she demands. “About two million years of intelligence and instinct,” he replies. Ah yes, bugs: nature’s Einsteins. She tells him to cut it out, and he tells her: “It’s too late. Nature’s already taken its course. First I’ll eat. Then I’ll molt. Then I’ll mate.” Frightened and upset, Mama Sweaty tells him he needs help and tries to leave, but he blocks her exit. “Hey, Mom? Did I ever tell you about the Pharaoh spider? Fascinating creature. See, after it hatches, it kills its mother.” He opens his mouth and shoots out web as she screams. Uh, I don’t think spiders shoot web from their mouths. It’d be hilarious if he was pooping it out, though.
Rebecca: I love the idea that he’s inherited the traits of literally every bug. What even.
Jess: Insects and arachnids, even! Kryptonite is powerful stuff.
At Luthor Castle, Clark squats and contemplates a table with an elaborate battle scene laid out in miniature on it. From the (relatively) giant wooden horse, I assume it’s meant to be Troy. Lex walks in: “Save any lives on your way over? Keep it up and you could make a career out of it.” Clark, maybe you should stop breaking into Lex’s house? Clark stands, grinning big and embarrassed, and explains that he’s just there to drop off Lex’s produce. I don’t know if I can picture Lex eating anything but, like, tiger steaks. Ideally while pontificating about the thrill of eating your own kill out loud to his dining companion. Maybe he’ll work up to that when he’s older.
Rebecca: I know he doesn’t, but it’s easy to see how this Lex could grow into John Shea’s Lex on Lois and Clark, who has staring contests with snakes just for fun.
Jess: Rosenbaum > Shea’s bug-eyed weirdness, though.
Rebecca: Oh, I COMPLETELY agree. [Blingee hearts] Rosey [/Blingee hearts]
Jess: Clark apologizes for his parents being hard on Lex and Lex brushes it off. Clark asks about the Troy set. “My father gave this to me when I was nine,” Lex says. “It was a strategy gift. My father equates business with war. Take the battle of Troy. It started because two men were in love with the same woman.” Um, what does that have to do with business? Lex brings it around to the Clark/Lana/Flash triangle, and Clark squirms as he says Flash has already won that particular battle. Lex is all “You’ve still got a shot, champ!” “The guy’s captain of the football team,” Clark mopes back, and I laugh forever at the idea of a guy with that face and those abs having low self-esteem. So does Lex, actually, which is pretty great.
“If you hadn’t pulled him out of that truck, your problems would be solved,” Lex says. Clark looks at him warily. Clark, your new buddy be dark. “I’m kidding, of course,” Lex says, and Clark relaxes. “I’ve got your Trojan horse,” Lex continues, opening up the ornate box he’s been keeping Lana’s necklace in like a giant weirdo. Clark backs up. “You okay?” Lex asks, and Welling remembers he’s supposed to act like he’s sick.
Rebecca: Wince! Wince harder! Now open and close your mouth like a fish! Now flail your arms in a circle!
Jess: Lex looks at Clark, then the box, and slowly closes it. Clark shifts uncomfortably and tries to deflect questions by asking about the box, and Lex rambles on about how it’s made of lead and belonged to his mother and is supposedly made from Saint George’s armor, then drops dead of lead poisoning right there on the floor. Or not, but you know.
Lex tries to hand Clark the box and Clark practically bolts away from it. “What is it about Kents and gifts?” Lex asks. “It’s yours. Hand it to Lana, tell her what happened. Trust me. Once she opens it, you’ll win her heart. That necklace gives you the power, Clark. All you’ve gotta do is use it.” Show, your irony is the least subtle. And your ideas about consent and women’s autonomy are the worst.
Rebecca: This show overall has a hard time having its female characters make the transition from “strong and/or vaguely interesting” to “actual human being.” I guess the writers were too busy writing “ironic” dialogue.
Jess: It doesn’t help when the female lead is supposed to embody the best traits of all of their imaginary high school girlfriends. Speaking of which: the next day at school, Lana confronts Flash about where he was before the game. He tries to deflect, and she flat-out asks him if he scarecrowed Clark. Her hair is adorable and her makeup is very 14-year-old. Flash ‘fesses up, but says it was just a prank. Lana asks for her necklace back, and Flash squirms as he admits that he lost it. “Were you planning on telling me or was that a prank too?” Lana asks, and sadly walks away. Mm, I’d’ve liked a bit more anger in that scene, but she’s still pretty righteous.
She passes by No Longer Sweaty Greg, who tells her, not unpleasantly, that he’s been waiting in the library for an hour. She apologizes and asks if they can do it some other time. As she turns to go, he grabs her and demands if she’s blowing him off for her boyfriend. “I’m not blowing you off. I need to see Clark.” NLSG is all “What, Clark’s more important than me?” and Lana doesn’t even dignify that with a direct response, just tells him that she can’t talk about it right now and walks away. TEAM LANA FOREVER (maybe).
Rebecca: This episode probably would still play great for her if she didn’t get stalked or kidnapped like half a dozen more times this season. It gets tiresome.
Jess: I would love, love to see her play it with boredom. One of the best parts of Superman: Unbound is Lois’s total indifference to being kidnapped by terrorists. Eh, Clark or Kara will save her, no big. If Lana was all “Listen, brother, I’ve been held hostage by better bug-men than you” I would give the writers a million dollars.
Out in a field, because fuck school, Clark contemplates the box. He opens it, and eerie music and gross sound effects play as his hand shakes and his veins turn visibly green. So if Smallville is the Meteor Capital of the World and so lousy with these stupid rocks that half the town is a mutant, how has he never encountered kryptonite before?
Rebecca: He has, as you’ll hear later in the episode. He’s just INCREDIBLY DUMB.
Jess: Maybe he doesn’t fly for a decade because the sheer amount of kryptonite in this universe’s Smallville screwed up his powers’ development.
Rebecca: And his mental development.
Anyway, he closes the box and heads back to the house, where he finds Lana in the Attic of Sad Voyeurism, looking through his telescope (not a euphemism). I wonder what she thought when she found it pointed at her bedroom window. Clark hides the box, fluffs up his plaid, and approaches her. “This is an amazing place,” Lana says. Um, isn’t it just the barn attic with a telescope in it? “My dad built it,” Clark says. “Calls it my fortress of solitude.” Okay, again, this show is not subtle, but that was kind of cute.
Rebecca: Now that you know what’s it’s “called,” it’s up to you whether to keep calling it by its true name, the Attic of Sad Voyeurism.
Jess: ATTIC OF SAD VOYEURISM FOR LIFE.
Lana asks Clark a few questions about the telescope and he’s like “What? I can see your house? Get out of town! *coughcough*” before changing the subject by asking why she’s there. She tells him she knows about the scarecrow thing and wants to apologize. He points out that it’s not her fault. She insists that what happened to him was wrong and man, Kristen Kreuk must’ve been mainlining Dawson’s Creek, because her squeaky Joey Potter delivery is on the nose. Clark asks who told her, and again I have to wonder why the whole school doesn’t know. Lana tells him it was Lex, and that Clark’s lucky to have such a good friend.
“What are you gonna do?” Clark asks. “I’m not sure,” Lana replies. “I thought I knew Whitney. Now I wonder what else I’ve been blind to in my life.” IN MY LIFE. Maybe Lex isn’t the only one who always goes straight for the bombast. She mournfully adds that she’s lost her necklace, and Clark uncomfortably asks if she can’t replace it. She tells him about the dead-parent-meteor thing, and also that her Aunt Nell had it made and gave it to Lana the day she officially adopted her. I think it’s funny that less than a week after watching a movie that was 40% Jor-El blather, I’m watching a show where a necklace gets a more elaborate backstory than Clark.
Rebecca: After Man of Steel, Smallville Clark is kind of refreshingly go-with-the-flow at this point about being in the dark. But not to worry, the Jor-El blather will be here soon enough. SO MUCH BLATHER.
Jess: “On my world, it means never fucking shutting up.”
Lana monologues a speech Nell gave her along with the necklace about change in a tortured attempt to make this plotline fit in with the episode title/A-plot, then smiles at Clark and leaves. Clark gives the semi-hidden lead box a guilty look.
In the shower, No Longer Sweaty Greg Brillos his skin off. It’s pretty gross.
That night in the barn, Jonathan is doing some kind of farm thing to a piece of equipment with sharp blades on it. Clark calls down from the Attic of Sad Voyeurism and offers to help, but before he can go downstairs, NLSG leaps from the shadows and attacks him. Clark flings him away. Jonathan comes up to see what’s going on and Clark tells him there’s someone in the rafters. They pull out flashlights and start Scooby Dooing around.
Suddenly: NLSG! He pushes Jonathan off the second level of the barn. Clark whirls to see his father falling towards the pointy farm equipment he was working on, and there’s a pretty cool effect where he runs in normal speed down to block Jonathan’s fall while Jonathan falls in slow motion. They both fall onto the equipment, breaking it, but since Clark took the brunt of the fall they’re both fine. (The reaper or whatever is not.)
Rebecca: I have to believe that whatever the Kents are saving by not having to hire extra farmhands is less than what they lose every time Clark breaks farm equipment.
Jess: Post-commercial break, Jonathan tells a worried Martha that he’s never seen anything move like NLSG. Clark suggests he wasn’t entirely human, and identifies their attacker as Greg Arkin. (“Arkin” is Finnish for “sweaty.”) Martha and Jonathan are all “You and Pete used to hang out with him in grade school, what happened?” in an adorably authentically parenty way. Clark’s like, “Whatever, dude’s into bugs, it was gross” and then shows them the gooey green footprints on the ceiling. Ewwww. Please tell me the show moves away from horror soon?
Rebecca: There are some more slightly freaky Freaks of the Week coming up, but I don’t think too many. I remember the scariest being Ice Guy and Amy Adams the Deer-Sucking Fat Vacuum. We’ll get there!
Jess: Jonathan’s skeptical and Martha says, “This from the man who’s been hiding a spaceship in his storm cellar for the last twelve years” with a hilarious series of facial expressions. Ha! Point for Martha. I’m glad she finally got to do something.
Rebecca: MARTHA FUCKING KENT! I love her and I love Annette O’Toole so much in this role (when she’s allowed to do something, which is sometimes). Also, Jonathan’s skepticism gets increasingly silly. “I know you’re an alien, son, but you’ve gotta be lying about this x-ray vision thing.”
Jess: After Martha leaves, Clark confesses that he feels like all the weird stuff in Smallville is his fault. Jonathan scoffs: “If you’re talking about 50-pound tomatoes and two-headed calves, then I got a better explanation for you: LuthorCorp. I mean, God only knows what that fertilizer plant’s been pumping out over the last 12 years.” Finally the fertilizer plant has a point. Clark points out that LuthorCorp didn’t kill Lana’s parents, and Jonathan points out that Clark wasn’t exactly steering his own rocket to Earth. Clark says he still feels responsible. Welling’s conveying being very young pretty well here, which is jarring from such a big side of man-beef.
“What happened to Lana’s parents was a terrible tragedy, but no matter how many extraordinary gifts you have, you will never be able to change that,” Jonathan says in the worst pep talk I have ever heard. Clark says he wants to make the guilt go away and Jonathan tells him the fact that he can’t is what makes him human. Wow, 180 switch from asshole to tearjerker in two lines, Jon.
Rebecca: I’m convinced that the writers’ room had, like, a big whiteboard covered in Jonathan platitudes, and then they would just drop them into scripts at random.
Jess: I wish they were farmier. Like, “Clark, being a man is like staking beans; if the wind’s in the east, the crick’s not gonna rise.” And Clark is like “…what.”
The next day at school, Clark tries to find out Greg’s whereabouts from Chloe. She asks if he’s coming out of the entomology closet, which: hee. He tells her it’s nothing, and she accuses him of shutting her out and asks if he’s outgrowing her as a friend. Allison Mack plays the line with a mixture of bravado and vulnerability that almost makes up for the fact that a) no 14-year-old would be that upfront about that sort of thing, and b) she’s been in like 10 minutes of the show so far, so why should we care if he is outgrowing her?
“Chloe, I could never outgrow you – other than vertically,” he teases. She goes all obviously swoony as she talks about his “Kent charm,” then, embarrassed, changes the subject back to Greg.
Rebecca: Clex is the first ship out of the harbor, but this scene launched Clark/Chloe at for a lot of fandom. I fell for it, I admit it. These two have chemistry and this scene is wicked cute. Related: this show is very lucky to have Allison Mack.
Jess: She ends up with Ollie, right? I’m excited for that. Part of the fun of Clex is the inevitable doom it brings, but I suddenly find myself liking Chloe too much to enjoy watching her watch Clark moon after Lana and wind up with Lois. (Side note: this show doesn’t have Lori Lemaris, does it? Because THAT WOULD BE AMAZING.)
Rebecca: They somehow never even teased Lori, which shows incredibly uncharacteristic restraint. At least Chloe scores a hot guy only, like, two years after Ollie breaks it off with Lois. :/ (I fear these recaps will finally expose me as the partisan Chloe fangirl I am.)
Jess: Wait, Lois dates Ollie? Oh man, I mean, I know he’s very different here than in the comics, but I thought she had better taste than that. And I say that as someone who loves Comics Ollie passionately.
Rebecca: Lois even makes out with Aquaman. I guess the idea is that she has a type (dudes who lie to her for too long for no reason).
Jess: Cut to the Wall of Weird room. “I found an article about Amazonian tribesmen who took on the traits of the insects they’d been bitten by, but nothing as extreme as what you’re talking about,” Chloe says. Wow, racist. They rule out NLSG being affected by the meteor strike directly, since he didn’t live in Smallville then, but Chloe makes a rather extraordinary leap to NLSG being bitten by meteor-affected bugs. Because that’s the obvious conclusion. She then leaps to “he’s probably in the mating phase,” like, does Chloe get to read the Wikipedia episode summaries in advance or something?
Rebecca: She’s a complete plot device, but imagine how much longer the show would take if she wasn’t the Exposition Machine. We’d have to wait for Clark to figure things out. That could take days.
Jess: Or, you know, ten years. FLYING IS NOT THAT HARD, CLARK.
Chez Sweaty. Clark, Chloe, and Pete peer into the windows. The boys exposit a bunch about NLSG’s old treehouse, but Chloe must not have read the whole episode summary, because instead of heading straight over there, she opens a window and hustles the boys into the house.
Rebecca: These dorks! They’re like the Harry Potter trio if Harry was Kryptonian and his scar was made of kryptonite, thus interfering with his critical thinking skills.
Jess: They find the skin in the shower, which, ugh, can we PLEASE not have any more shots of this, and the webbed-up bedroom. More salient to the plot is the footage of Lana playing on NLSG’s TV. I have some questions about the timing of all this – shouldn’t that skin be dried out and the tape over by now? (I mean, I guess Chloe could’ve put the tape in, but why would she have ignored the webbing in favor of watching random tapes?) And why is the bathroom full of fog/steam?
Anyway, Clark finds dead Mama Sweaty cocooned in a corner of the room, and they run off to save Lana. These are some seriously self-possessed tweens. I would be screaming my head off by this point.
Lang stable. Lana is feeding the horses when someone taps on her shoulder and…it’s Flash. PHEW. He tells her he was jealous of her and Clark and that he’d do anything to take the scarecrow thing back. “It’s too late, Whitney,” NLSG announces. “She’s mine now.” EWWW THIS EPISODE UPSETS ME ON MULTIPLE LEVELS.
Rebecca: If you’re upset by Lana being kidnapped or endangered by creeps, um…trigger warning for the series?
Jess: SIGH. Flash tells NLSG to back off and NLSG throws him into a stall. Lana backs away as NLSG approaches. “It’s time,” he says. “Time for what?” she asks. “Time for us,” he replies. DUN DUN DUN!
Post-commercial, Flash gets up as Clark walks into the stable calling for Lana. So…Chloe and Pete didn’t care, I guess? Flash tells Clark that NLSG took Lana and Clark realizes they must be at the treehouse. Flash gets into what I assume is his parents’ minivan as Clark gives him directions to the treehouse. He starts to apologize for the scarecrow thing, but when he looks over, Clark is already gone. How Batman of you, Clark.
Rebecca: This is common knowledge at this point, but Gough & Millar originally wanted to make this a Young Batman show. So…something to consider (with horror).
Jess: Which just makes me think of this amazing Shortpacked! strip.
Rebecca: Shortpacked! really GETS what makes Smallville terrible.
Jess: Clark superspeeds to the treehouse, which is shrouded in mist even though it’s high up and late afternoon. Climbing up to the treehouse proper, he finds Lana unconscious under a shroud of web and NLSG lurking in the corner. NLSG’s all “I do what I want, Thor” and knocks Clark through the wall of the treehouse, then scampers hilariously away. Why is he running? He has no reason to believe Clark can physically best him.
Clark trails him to an abandoned warehouse, because of course he does. Unfortunately, it’s lousy with uncut kryptonite for some reason. NLSG pops up and wallops Clark with a pipe and gloats that Clark still gets sick around the warehouse, “just like when we were kids.” And nobody thought that was weird?
Rebecca: Real talk, maybe the reason Clark has low self-esteem and is allegedly considered a nerd is because he’s literally allergic to his whole town. I guess it doesn’t matter how studly you are if you’re throwing up all the time.
Jess: Hmm, fair point. NLSG hurls Clark across the warehouse again, then starts looking for him. Um, dude, you threw him there. Clark realizes that he’s fallen behind a big piece of lead as his veins turn back to normal. By the time NLSG gets there, he’s totally fine, and able to throw NLSG across the warehouse. NLSG accidentally hits a lever and drops, like, a tractor on himself. Clark and I watch in horror as like a billion cockroaches scatter out from under the tractor.
Clark then bolts off, but it’s too late: Flash has already woken Sleeping Beauty from her buggy prison. Clark gets there just in time to watch Flash and Lana walk off arm in arm. Man, remember when Lana had agency in this episode? I miss the first 20 minutes. P.S. I guess Pete and Chloe really didn’t care about Lana, because they are gonesville.
That night, as The Calling’s “Wherever You Will Go” blares on the soundtrack and takes me back to senior year again, Clark takes the lead box over to Lana’s. He opens the box and EW EW A BUG JUST LANDED ON MY SCREEN. NO LONGER SWEATY GREG LIVES!
Rebecca: Incidentally, I remember that fanon decided that Greg survived. I was about to say that he never returned, but I just remembered that HE TOTALLY DOES – in the 200TH EPISODE. Apparently the moral is that Clark handled all this perfectly. Whatever you say, show.
Jess: Okay, the bug’s dead now. Anyway, Clark valiantly lifts the necklace out of the box – and Lana calls Flash’s name and opens the door. Whoosh! Clark’s gone, but the necklace is hanging from the doorknob. How on Earth did he muster up that kind of superspeed that close to kryptonite? Lana is delighted but not surprised, so I guess she thinks Flash left it? Clark watches ruefully from the road, then trudges away. Thank God this episode didn’t end with him peeping on her again. I don’t have high hopes that he’ll stop, though.
Rebecca: This episode, more than the pilot, gives us a hint as to what we’re in for going forward, as far as Freaks of the Week. Overall the Greg plot is pretty gross when it’s not extremely boring, and more than anything, it’s very, very silly.
But at the same time, I think this episode might have more character moments that I love than the pilot does. I love Lex equating Clark’s crush on Lana with the Trojan War (somehow) while his adoring eyes betray his intention. I love Clark and Chloe in the hallway, even though it’s barely 10 seconds of cuteness. I love Lana tearing Lex down in the stable. I love the Kents being a complete unit and Martha taking Jonathan down a peg. There’s a show here! As long as they don’t get bogged down in poorly-conceived sci-fi or soapy trappings, they can make a run at this!
What if I just lied and said this ends up being a good show? What then?
Jess: Lying is wrong, Rebecca.
Honestly, I’m really enjoying the show so far. It’s just the right level of dumb where it’s really enjoyable to make fun of without being totally off-putting. And there are some great character moments in this episode, which you’ve pointed out above. I would like to see the supporting characters get more to do than exposit at Clark while he stumbles his way towards the climax, though, especially since they’re all mostly better actors/more interesting than him.
NO MORE BUGS THOUGH, PLEASE. I mean, until Blue Beetle shows up.
Rebecca: Also, I’m addicted to making Blingees now. I’m sorry.
Rating: Walking off the bug-jitters.