The Smallville Project: Episode 1.03 – “Hothead”
|June 28, 2013||Posted by Jess under Comics, Television, The Smallville Project|
Jess: Torrential rain. The Smallville Crows (really?) face off against an opposing team. Flash catches the snap, hesitates on the pass, and gets sacked. The coach yells at him for not following the play they practiced, and sends him out to try again. He calls him “son,” but I’m not sure if that means we’re going to get a Very Special Episode about Flash’s abusive father, or if that’s just what the coach calls the kids.
They try again, and this time Flash throws the ball. His teammate catches it in the endzone, winning the game for Smallville. We have now officially exhausted my knowledge of football, so I hope we don’t get too many more game scenes.
Locker room. The team is triumphant. It looks like Pete is there, which, huh, thanks for letting us know how that whole plotline panned out, show.
Rebecca: I literally said “Pete!” out loud because I didn’t expect him to be there.
Jess: “Coach Walt” and Flash yell some exposition about how next Friday’s game will not only put them in the championship, it’ll be Coach Walt’s 200th win. WOO!
Cut to, um, Coach Walt’s private sweatbox, and no, I am not making this up. He pours water over the heated rocks and breathes in the steam, somehow not noticing that it is green. Ominous “here be kryptonite” music plays. I am excited for Chloe to somehow figure this one out.
Rebecca: Do you think the kryptonite was part of the gift from the alumni association or whatever? “Be reminded of our town tragedy every time you try to relax!”
Jess: Well, apparently the whole town is really sentimental about the meteor strike, considering their motto and Lana’s necklace. “Remember that time a lot of people died and we got in the Metropolis papers? Boy, that was great.”
A knock on the door turns out to be “Principal Kwan,” who informs Coach Walt that they’ve got a problem. Out of the sweatbox, he explains that seven of the players have cheated on their math midterm, making them ineligible for the big game. Coach Walt wants him to hush it up until the off-season, but Kwan refuses. Coach Walt is all “But, my legacy!” So if you lose this game, wouldn’t the next be your 200th win? It’s not your last game ever. Unless it’s 200 wins in a row, which seems…implausible. Coach Walt flips out; Kwan looks hilariously unimpressed, although I think it’s more because the actor doesn’t know how to make very many facial expressions.
Rebecca: I like to think that Kwan is just very unflappable. I love this guy.
Jess: Kwan tells Coach Walt that he doesn’t approve of his temper or his methods and that he’s suspending the players on Monday, then walks out. Coach Walt slams a towel down on his desk…which bursts into flame. WHAT? WHAT??? I thought the rocks would just make him crazy. This is moronic.
Rebecca: Kryptonite = superpowers, Jess. Someday, you’ll learn.
Jess: SOMEBODY SAAAAAAAAAAVE MEEEEEEEEE!
Monday morning, Clark, Chloe, and Pete head into the school. Clark reads Chloe’s frontpage headline in the school paper: “Football: Sport or Abuse?” Pete thinks Chloe’s being too harsh on Coach Walt: “The man coached my dad, all my brothers…he used to come over and watch the Super Bowl.” Chloe gleefully tells them she’s getting hatemail, presumably from the players; Pete’s like “Um, no, they’re illiterate.”
They walk past the cheerleaders, and Clark notices trouble in paradise: Lana’s upset about something that Flash doesn’t think is a big deal. Lana stalks off, and Chloe cackles about a “pom-pom meltdown.” Does she hate Lana for any particular reason other than the Clark love triangle?
Rebecca: I think Chloe’s supposed to be That Girl who’s got a chip on her shoulder about being unpopular and then takes it out on the popular kids to comfort herself. On the show it makes her seem kind of irrational and mean, but I definitely knew That Girl in high school, and she definitely had a “You Laugh Because I’m Different, I Laugh Because You’re All the Same” sticker on her Trapper Keeper.
Jess: The football team walks past, and Chloe demands Pete’s camera so that she can get a picture of the cheaters. Isn’t Pete gonna get in trouble with the team if he’s helping her expose them? As Coach Walt assures the team that the suspension isn’t a big deal, one of the players notices Chloe filming and chucks a football at the camera. Clark’s hand snaps out and catches it. Pete is impressed; Chloe is irritated that Pete’s not more concerned about her. Clark throws the football back at the player, who catches it hard in the stomach. Coach Walt watches appraisingly as Clark walks away.
Rebecca: I’d like to think that Clark threw the ball hard as a “fuck you” gesture, but Welling’s face is so blank that it’s impossible to say for sure.
Jess: That was the impression I got, which made me like that scene. I like Clark actually liking his friends (even though they’re kind of jerks)!
Inside the school, Coach Walt catches up with Clark and Pete, approvingly notes Clark’s strength, and asks why he’s not on the team. Clark beams at the compliment but explains that Jonathan needs him on the farm. Coach Walt reveals that he coached Jonathan and tells Clark that football skillz are in his genes. Clark: “Actually I’m adopted.” I don’t know whose expression is more delighted by the awkward, Pete’s or mine.
Rebecca: Or mine. Sarcastic Clark!
Jess: Getting heated–
Jess: –Coach Walt tells Clark he’s seen him staring at Jonathan’s picture in the trophy case and he knows Clark wants in on that sweet sweet gridiron action. “Why don’t you suit up? Look at Ross. He doesn’t have a lick of natural talent, but he’s got a truckload of heart.” Ha!
Clark says he’ll think about it. Coach Walt calls Flash over, and he arrives with Lana in tow. She greets Clark and he tries not to faint. Coach Walt asks Flash how he thinks Clark would do on the field, and Flash is like “Yeah, he’d be okay.” “He seems afraid, though,” Coach Walt says, obviously trying to bait Clark. Lana offers him an out by suggesting there’s another reason and Clark brings up Jonathan again, but Coach Walt tells him it’s time for him to be his own man. Clark looks at Lana, then agrees. The others disperse, Coach Walt elated and Lana looking vaguely disappointed, and Pete’s like “Hey, Clark, remind me of what your dad said the last time you asked him to play?” Clark’s all “…Shit,” and Pete mocks him a bit before trotting off. Pete Ross: still a terrible friend.
Elsewhere, Lana is still upset, and it turns out it’s because she’s outraged that the other players (but not Flash, apparently) cheated and that Flash super doesn’t care. Flash reminds her that they’re his friends – and hers – and asks what’s really bothering her. “It’s just that the things that I thought I knew for sure don’t seem so certain anymore,” she replies. Like, um, that dudes can’t turn into bugs and kidnap you? Are we not going to talk about that particular trauma? And if not, what the hell is she talking about? Flash is as confused as I am, and Lana’s like “I know how much you love football, and you’re great at it, and I want to support you. I wanna find something that I’m great at.” Um…riding? You have, like, a shit-ton of blue ribbons, girl.
Kent Farm. Jonathan is not pleased that Clark joined the team, but Clark still looks totally smug about it, which is actually nice to see after two episodes of self-loathing moping. Jonathan’s like “Psh, you’re not special. And you can’t play.” Clark’s little face falls, and he accuses Jonathan of not trusting him. Jonathan tells him that in the heat of the moment, if Clark gets angry or is trying to impress a girl with “a fancy move,” someone could get hurt.
Rebecca: It sucks that Jonathan is putting this all on Clark – obviously the real threat is someone trying to tackle him and getting knocked clear across the field. Teach Clark to take a fall like a pro-wrestler and he’ll probably be fine.
Jess: Jonathan says there are more important things in life than playing football. That’s a bit rich, coming from a dude who spends all his time talking about his own high school football career. “I’m sick of being punished because I have these gifts,” Clark says, which is also a bit rich, considering he was beating himself up over accidentally weirding Smallville up with meteorites just last episode.
Clark says most fathers would be happy to have a football star son, and Jonathan says he doesn’t need to live vicariously through Clark. He doesn’t add, “Because I’m so great at football all on my lonesome,” but you know he’s thinking it. Jonathan refuses to sign the permission slip, and Clark points out that Jonathan can’t actually stop him from doing, well, whatever he wants. Damn.
Rebecca: It’s a miracle that Clark doesn’t pull that trump card more often.
Jess: Luthor Castle. Lex walks into a room with a towel around his neck to find three solemn-faced dudes in suits waiting for him. “Well, if it isn’t the three wise men,” he chirps, and greets one of them as “Dominic.” Dominic, who turns out to be British, asks why he’s late, and Lex says he isn’t: “I canceled this meeting, as you’ll recall.” Dominic says Lionel un-canceled it, and asks if Lex has seen the quarterly numbers. Lex replies with complete unconcern that they’re 20% below projections. Dominic says that Lionel wants Lex to take “drastic action,” and Lex says he plans too. Dominic assumes that means Lex is cutting his workforce, but Lex says he’s increasing it: “You gotta spend money to make money, Dominic.”
Rebecca: Just some riveting business action here for the teens at home. Talk more about sectors!
Jess: Dominic angrily tells Lex that he was sent to Smallville to turn the plant around, and Lex retorts that he was sent to Smallville because Lionel would rather be surrounded by yes men than people who challenge him. He kicks them out, and as they leave smirks, “By the way, Dominic, tell your sister I said hi.” Lex, you devil! Using women as bartering chips instead of people with agency! How, um, roguishly charming.
Lana’s house. Nell asks why she’s home early and Lana cheerfully tells her that she quit cheerleading. With lethargic concern, Nell asks why and Lana says she decided there’s more to life than shaking pom-poms, and that she doesn’t see the point in cheering for players with no academic integrity. I’m starting to see what you mean about the relentlessly milquetoast delivery, Rebecca. She doesn’t quite say every sentence like a question, but it’s a close thing.
Rebecca: Incidentally, I’m starting to see what you mean about Lana being kind of interesting, if you can see through to the script. We’re like two ships passing in the night.
Jess: I really want to like her, is the thing! It’s not her fault that she’s getting perved on from both sides of the camera. And, er, it’s not the character’s fault that Kreuk’s not a great actress.
Nell, whose delivery is equally breathy and tired, isn’t thrilled, but she tells Lana she just wants her to be happy and asks what Lana’s going to do with her newfound free time. Lana says she might get a job, “earn some extra money so I can go travel in the summer.” Nell says she can always use some help around the shop, but Lana insists that she wants to do this on her own. Nell looks rather unsettled by all of this, but I can’t tell if it’s because of something sinister or because she’s not a very good actress.
Football practice. Clark walks out onto the field in a jersey like he’s just walked into his own personal heaven. His number is 89 – I wonder if that’s a reference to the year he landed on Earth? He asks Pete if he’s seen Lana. Pete hasn’t – but he has seen Clark’s dad in the bleachers. Ruh-roh!
Clark trots over and tells Jonathan that it means a lot to him that he showed up. “I still don’t support your decision, Clark,” Jonathan says. “I’m here to see that no one gets hurt.” What a dick.
Rebecca: And, like, what’s Jonathan gonna do? Yell “don’t get hurt?”
Jess: Clark goes all crumple-faced and runs onto the field, presumably about ten seconds from shouting “Glenn Ford let Christopher Reeve play!” (Or, you know, that other guy who played teenage Clark in the movie. Whatever.)
They run a play and Clark lets himself get tackled by three dudes. He glances at Jonathan to see his reaction, and Coach Walt hauls him up by the faceguard on his helmet: “Kent! Quit looking at the stands! Your dad’s not coaching this team, I am! I didn’t bring you out here to be a tackling dummy. Get angry! Kick some butt!” He punches Clark in the chest a few times, not hard, and Clark nods. Jonathan frets visibly.
Next play, Clark plows through the attempted tackle, leaps over a pile of down players just a leetle bit too high to be natural, and makes the touchdown, staying just ahead of the other players.
Rebecca: How very Dash Parr of him. (The Incredibles? Eh?)
Jess: DASH. <3 The crowd (why is there a crowd at a practice?) cheers. Jonathan leaves and Clark sadfaces in his direction. Later, Coach Walt watches the practice footage, seemingly not noticing Clark’s giant leap (for mankind). He turns off the tape when Principal Kwan walks in: “Coach, one of the players accused of cheating has come forward and said you supplied them with the test.” Coach Walt denies it with calm menace and asks who accused him. Kwan refuses to tell him. Coach Walt asks if Kwan’s already asked the school board to suspend him, and Kwan has, but to no avail: “You’ve got a lot of friends in high places.” Getting angry, Coach Walt says he ought to, after 25 years of victory. Kwan says he’ll get the rest of the students to come clean and get Coach Walt permanently suspended. Coach Walt slams his hand down on the desk in a rage and the TV bursts into flames. They both look at it in alarm, and Kwan asks, “What the hell’s going on here, Coach?” Because of course you would assume that somehow the man standing across the room caused that rather than, say, a faulty wire. Maybe Kwan’s been talking to Chloe. Rebecca: Or maybe he’s a robot and THAT’S why he’s so unflappable. (Or maybe he’s Canadian and has no affect.)
Jess: Do TVs burst into flames a lot in Canada? Maybe it’s not a big deal there.
Kwan hustles out of the room. Coach Walt looks thoughtful. As Kwan crosses the parking lot to his car, Coach Walt watches him through the blinds. “Who the hell does he think he is?” he mutters, closes his eyes, and concentrates. Kwan turns the key in the ignition, and it bursts into flames. The rest of the car follows suit. Kwan grabs for the door handle and snatches his hand back. Dude, I know it’s hot, but it’s worth it. Coach Walt chuckles and turns away from the window as Kwan screams.
Luckily, Clark and Pete are leaving the school! They see the car on fire and Clark sends Pete for help while he charges into action. He smashes the driver’s side window, rips the car door off and tosses it away, and runs off with Kwan’s unconscious body until the car explodes, knocking them to the ground. Clark covers Kwan’s body with his own. Three episodes, three heroic car-related rescues. Man, it is not safe to be a licensed driver in this town.
Rebecca: Also, dammit, Clark! Stop ripping off car doors!
Jess: Back at the Kents’, Clark eats dinner uncomfortably while Martha hangs up the phone. She tells Clark that Kwan’s going to be okay. They’re doing a good job of making the tension in this scene palpable. Jonathan picks at his food and asks if anyone saw Clark. Hurt, Clark insists that no one saw: “I told the paramedics that I wrapped my hands in my jacket when I pulled him out” (and ripped the door off?). Martha says it’s lucky Clark was there, and Clark snits that he missed his ride. Jonathan’s all “Whatever, I saw enough.”
Rebecca: And you have superspeed, ya big baby.
Jess: Clark insists that he didn’t and won’t hurt anyone, and smugly adds that Coach gave him Jonathan’s old position – starting tailback. Jonathan walks off in silence and Clark is all, “Don’t everyone congratulate me at once,” before lugging himself out of the scene.
Jonathan asks Martha how Clark got so stubborn, and Martha points out that Jonathan ran away as a kid to try out for the Metropolis Sharks, which is adorable and great. He gives her the most smitten look imaginable, which makes me forgive him a little for being such a raging asshole in this episode (and last episode, and the one before…). Martha points out that they’ve never let Clark have any normal extracurriculars – just climbing around poison rocks in an abandoned warehouse while collecting bugs, I guess – and Jonathan skirts very close to “With great power comes great responsibility.”
“This isn’t about his gifts, it’s about his judgment,” Martha says. “You’re telling Clark that you don’t believe in him.” Jonathan scoffs at that and says that if the secret gets out, someone will come take Clark away from them. “Well, if we don’t start trusting him, no one’s gonna have to take him away,” Martha retorts. “He’s gonna leave all by himself.” This conversation would make more sense if Clark was 17, not 14.
Rebecca: Whatever, in real life he’s 24. The point is: I love Martha SO MUCH.
Jess: Downtown, Chloe says out that cars don’t spontaneously combust, and that she’s already got her headline: “Jockstrap Saves Principal from Burning Car.” They walk into a coffee shop as she lols at the idea of Clark on the football team: “Next thing you know I’m gonna be joining the pom-pom brigade.”
Lana emerges wearing an apron and carrying an order pad: “I hear there’s a spot open.” Our Idiot Heroes are all very startled, as am I. Didn’t she just get this job today? Doesn’t she need training? Chloe asks if it’s some cheerleader charity activity, which makes no sense; why wouldn’t some cheerleaders need jobs? I mean, Lana’s single guardian can apparently afford a stable with multiple horses and plenty of riding competition travel on the profits from a florist shop, but all the cheerleaders can’t be in bed, figuratively or literally, with the Luthors.
Rebecca: Maybe the Langs had really good life insurance policies. HER PARENTS ARE DEAD, JESS.
Jess: I HAD NO IDEA.
Our heroes continue to cross-examine Lana while she attempts to wait on customers. Leave her alone, guys! She’s working! Clark even demands to know where her necklace is, like, just blurts it out. WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU. (P.S. She left it off because of the dress code.) They ask for regular coffees even though they are 14 and it’s after dinner, and Clark scurries after Lana with her abandoned tray. She’s all “lol yeah I’m flustered” and then settles down to chat with him, like, girl, this is your first day. Get back to work!
He asks again about the quitting cheerleading thing, and she notes that he sounds surprised. “Well, it’s not like you broke any state laws or anything, but yeah, I am,” he says. Specifically state laws, Clark? Is she breaking maritime law right now or something? Clark asks about Flash’s reaction, and Lana’s like, “You’re his teammate now. Why don’t you ask him?” But, like, in a flirty way? I would be so irritated with Mr. Bothers Me At Work Asking Nosy Questions right now. Clark says it’s “amazing” that he made the team and she quit the squad in the same week, which seems like reaching to me, and that he was hoping they’d see more of each other. Kind of a weird thing to say, but Lana just grins and tells him to visit her at work. Her boss snaps at her that customers are waiting for their drinks and glares at Clark. Clark makes an admittedly cute “oops” face and returns to his table while Lana gets back to work.
Back at the table, Chloe can’t wrap her head around Clark the football player, Lana the waitress. The scorn with which these children say “waitress” is actually really offending me. Also, Chloe looks like she’s about to break into a chorus of “Stick to the Status Quo.”
Rebecca: Now I just wish that Clark’s big secret was that he played the cello.
Jess: Pete nods towards the suspended football players; one comes in and tells the others Coach wants them at the field, and they all leave. Chloe runs off after the story, passing by Lana, who promptly drops a tray of drinks. Clark grins. What a tool.
On the field, the sprinklers chug back and forth and Coach Walt demands to know which of the players squealed to Principal Kwan. There are eight, even though Kwan said only seven cheated. One of them says that colleges won’t look at them with cheating on their records, and Coach Walt backhands him across the face. The water in the sprinklers catches on fire. WHAT.
Rebecca: On Soviet Krypton, fire puts out water!
Jess: The players look around at the gouts of flame in alarm as Coach Walt screams that nothing will stand between him and his legacy. He tells the boys to go home and keep their mouths shut, and they quickly agree. Across the field, Chloe snaps picture after picture.
Luthor Castle, the next morning. Lionel storms into Lex’s study.
Rebecca: Lionel!!!!!! Hi, Lionel!! Hi!
Jess: “Congratulations, Lex, you made the business page for once!” he says, and drops a newspaper on Lex’s desk. Lex points out that he told Dominic what he was doing two days ago, and if Lionel didn’t like it, he could’ve called. Your hair doesn’t billow back majestically when you call someone, Lex. Oh, sorry – was that insensitive?
Lionel tells Lex not to expect special treatment and Lex languidly replies that he never has. “That wounded pride routine might have worked for your mother, but don’t try it with me,” Lionel snaps. He reaches out to touch Lex’s face, and Lex leans away. “You know perfectly well how I feel about you,” he tries. “Hence I’m at a crap factory in Smallville,” Lex replies. Lionel starts pontificating about the Caesars, but Lex blows him off, so Lionel – no shit – challenges Lex to a duel. AND THEN THEY FENCE! P.S. You guys should be wearing masks.
Rebecca: This is the series’ FIRST SCENE between Adult Lex and Lionel, and THIS is how the writers want to introduce this core relationship. What a ballsy move, and a great omen.
Jess: Lionel accuses Lex’s fighting style of being rash, and Lex tells him if he wanted a running commentary, he’d buy Lionel’s books on tape. Lionel tells Lex he’s ruled by his emotions “and that can be a fatal flaw” – and knocks Lex’s epee away to rest his own on Lex’s throat.
Rebecca: (Pretty sure it’s a sabre this time. …I’m sorry.)
Jess: Dammit! So close.
“I want those workers gone by noon tomorrow.” He stalks off, and Lex pants angrily. I hope I get to use the phrase “Lex pants angrily” in every recap from here on out.
In the Attic of Sad Voyeurism, Clark admires himself in the mirror in his jersey. Does he not have a bedroom? Also, he’s now number 32. I guess it makes sense that he doesn’t have an assigned number yet since he might just be a fill-in, but the geek in me wishes the number was more significant, like 38 or something. Otherwise what’s the point of putting a big number on your protag’s chest?
Rebecca: This show doesn’t really think farther about Superman iconography than “pentagons!” And they find a lot of silly ways to put one of those on his chest.
Jess: Martha asks if he’s going to the pep rally and that he looks very handsome, “just like your father.” Clark tells her she doesn’t have to play “Kent family peacekeeper” and asks if she’s taking Jonathan’s side. She tells Clark that she told Jonathan he was being unreasonable, but that Clark needs to be prepared to live with any mistakes he makes. He asks if she trusts him. “I want to, Clark. So does your dad. Just give him a chance.” Wow, lots of pressure in the Kent family!
Pep rally! Cheerleaders cheer in front of a blazing bonfire. Well, I see no way that this could possibly go wrong. Chloe walks away from the rally to see a player – I believe the same one Coach Walt backhanded – hiding in the shadows of the stadium. She smiles and heads over to him. He anxiously/angrily asks why she called him and she says she wants to know if Coach Walt supplied the answers to “the tests,” which is not the first time someone’s pluralized that, so I guess the math midterm multiplied along with the number of cheating players. He tells her to leave them alone and she says whether or not he talks to her, she’s putting a picture of last night’s flaming sprinkler adventure on the front page of the paper (which ironically is called the Torch). Um, isn’t there a faculty advisor on this paper who might be interested in the fact that the football coach is physically assaulting his players and setting things on fire with his mind? I was going to also question the fact that Chloe seems to be running this paper singlehandedly (well, Sweaty Greg wrote for it, but he is now a million cockroaches, so), but then I remembered that I did the same thing in high school, so never mind. Chloe seems to be much better at it than I was, though. (Although again, she is only a freshman, so why is she EIC?)
Rebecca: No one seems to be interested in the Torch even existing except Chloe. She has to goad Clark so much to even help at all. And Lois, later. Because it’s ironic if they immediately reject their future passion!
Jess: “Trevor” tells Chloe to leave him alone and heads for his car. As he’s unlocking the door, Coach Walt grabs him: “Talking to the school newspaper, Trevor?” Oh no, anything but a high school newspaper! Trevor begs for mercy as smoke rises from Coach Walt’s grip on his forearm and tells him that Chloe has pictorial evidence. Coach Walt releases him and heads off after Chloe.
In the journalism room, Chloe types up her article. Coach Walt stops outside the door and closes his eyes. The computer bursts into flames, followed by the desk. Chloe backs towards the window as the fire spreads rapidly through the room.
Outside, Pete asks if Clark’s seen Chloe. Clark hasn’t…but turns towards the school just in time to see Chloe waving out the open window (too high up to jump) and screaming his name. He runs towards the school.
Inside, Chloe takes her coat off, puts it over her head, and tries to run through the fire. She trips over a desk and falls. Flinging the burning coat away, she stands, but now she’s cornered. As is usual with stories where a bad guy tries to silence a reporter, usually Lois, I have to wonder how Coach Walt thinks two suspicious fires in one week is going to fix things, especially after he murders a 14-year-old girl.
Rebecca: Yeah, how exactly was he planning on dealing with these murders?
Jess: Clark superspeeds through the halls and up the stairs. He calls Chloe’s name, and Coach Walt abruptly turns off the flames, or at least turns them way down so that the danger isn’t immediate. Chloe throws herself into Clark’s arms and they stand there hugging it out, breathing in the smoke because why not.
Rebecca: But they’re so cute!
Jess: Coach Walt walks away. After the commercial break, Clark contemplates the destroyed journalism room: “The Torch torched. How’s that for dramatic irony?” Chloe is not amused, and he says he’s just trying to get her to smile. Aw. “This is more than arson, Clark,” Chloe says. “It’s like the fire knew what I was doing.” Clark asks if she thinks Coach Walt is behind it and she points out that every time someone gets in his way, there’s a fire. I’m not sure how she knew Kwan was gunning for Walt. I also think that since there is smoke wafting up from behind them, they should definitely leave that room.
Clark is unwilling to believe that Coach Walt is behind all of this, and adds that without the picture – since both camera and computer burned up – Chloe has no proof. Except for the charred journalism room, I guess. Chloe says that Trevor is too scared to talk to her – but might open up to Clark.
Speaking of people who want to open up to Clark, we cut to Lex, unhappily contemplating papers in Lana’s coffee shop. Lana pops up to take his order. They look delighted to see each other, which is a little confusing on Lana’s part, but she seems to view everyone in the world with the same bland friendliness, so okay. There’s some banter before he orders a cappuccino, and she turns to get it just as Clark walks in.
“Well, if it isn’t Smallville’s latest football star,” she coos, and Clark’s all “Gawrsh, I dunno” while Lex eavesdrops with patently obvious glee. I SUDDENLY LOVE ALL OF THESE DORKS. Clark asks if Lana’s seen Trevor, which she hasn’t, and how work’s going. “Today is one of those days I just want to scream,” she breathes while smiling blandly. Sigh.
Rebecca: Get ready for seven seasons of this!
Jess: They shoot friendly encouragement at each other’s new endeavors before she trots off to get him some coffee. Lex congratulates Clark on joining the team and says Jonathan must be thrilled. Clark grumps about his dad, and Lex is like “Yeeeah, I know that feel, bro.” They smile faintly at each other and exchange promise rings. Okay, maybe just the first part of that sentence.
Rebecca: AHHH THEY JUST GET EACH OTHER.
Jess: Lana appears with coffee. “If it makes you guys feel any better,” she starts, and I so hope she’s going to finish that sentence with “my father’s dead,” but she just says Nell wasn’t thrilled with her taking the job, then settles on the arm of Clark’s chair. Since his shoulders take up roughly 90% of the room, they are suddenly very cosy. Lex tells the teens that at least they stood up to their parental figures, while he caved. He lifts his “cappuccino,” which has whipped cream and a straw. Do they not really “get” cappuccino in Kansas?
Rebecca: This seems like as good a time as any to note that before this season is over, Lana will own and run her own coffee shop.
Rebecca: Co-own. We’ll get there.
Jess: Lex takes a sip and Lana asks how it is. “Perfect,” he says, and she beams and runs off. “Is that what you ordered?” Clark asks. “Not even close,” Lex says, whipped cream all over his face. AWWW, DUMMIES.
Rebecca: This scene is so cute, I don’t even know. I like all these characters more when they’re together than in any given twosome (except Clark/Lex). Rosenbaum helps a lot.
Jess: It’s really precious. More of this, less of Clark and Lana smiling shyly at each other!
The next day, Clark shows up at Trevor’s house and just walks in, because that’s how he rolls. Trevor tells him to leave or Coach Walt will come back. He’s in the corner surrounded by fire extinguishers. Clark asks what’s going on, and Trevor tells him that Coach Walt has a bad temper and justifies verbal and physical abuse by saying he’s like a father. Subtlety is dead, folks.
Clark asks if Coach Walt gave Trevor the midterm, and Trevor nods. Clark offers to help, and Trevor’s like “Yeah, that’s what Principal Kwan said.” Trying another tack, Clark asks about Trevor’s bandaged arm, and Trevor claims it’s a carburetor burn – but when Clark insists on seeing it, there’s an obvious handprint burned into Trevor’s skin. “I don’t know how Coach did it, but if I talk he’s gonna fry me,” Trevor says.
Rebecca: This is a weak scene, but I like how it fits into the episode. It’s Clark helping Chloe’s pursuit of journalistic truth, which is nice, considering, and he gets to display his innate compassion (to the extent that Welling can). This is the kind of scene a Young Superman show needs.
ANYWHO BACK TO THE KRYPTONITE SAUNA.
Jess: Coach Walt’s sweatbox. Clark opens the door, and Coach Walt asks why he isn’t in the locker room getting dressed. “I’m not walking out on that field. Neither are you,” Clark says. Coach Walt warns Clark that he wouldn’t like him when he’s angry, etc., and the rocks in the steamer glow green. So he made them…more kryptonite-y?
Rebecca: For some reason, kryptonite on this show glows when Clark is close to it. Who knows.
Jess: Clark flops against the doorframe and gasps like a fish, but tries to persevere: “I saw what you did to Trevor’s arm.”
“Trevor should’ve kept his mouth shut!” Coach Walt snaps as Clark struggles to stand. “What’sa matter, Kent? Little too hot for ya?” He socks Clark in the stomach and hurls him into the wall. The steamer falls over and as Clark falls, the rocks tumble on top of him. Coach Walt smugly walks out, locking Clark into the steam room. So what exactly does he think is wrong with Clark? Everyone on this show seems to just calmly accept that Clark will sometimes act like he’s dying for no reason at all.
Outside, the game commences. The Kents arrive and sit next to Chloe in the stands. She explains that she’s put her personal politics aside to support Clark. Haha, screw you, Pete. The Kents ask where Clark is, but Chloe doesn’t know: “I was supposed to meet him before the game, but he didn’t show. I thought he was with you guys.”
Back in the steamroom, Clark valiantly struggles to lift a rock and hurl it at the little window in the steam room door. It just misses.
Rebecca: Okay, but like…considering how sick he gets around Lana’s necklace, he should be dead, right?
Jess: Maybe Lana’s necklace is, uh, more pure or something? But his reaction to the necklace is really inconsistent too, since he’s been able to talk to her just fine while she’s wearing it. And you’d think he’d’ve developed a Pavlovian dislike to a girl who has literally made him sick his entire life. Maybe all of Lana’s shirts are just made of lead.
Out on the field, Coach Walt frets over the game. Jonathan trots over to the bench to ask Pete where Clark is, but Pete hasn’t seen him. Coach Walt tells Jonathan that parents aren’t allowed on the sideline. “I’m looking for Clark,” Jonathan says. “Join the club. I need him out here,” Coach Walt replies. “Guess he doesn’t have what it takes to be a winner, huh?”
Jonathan walks away, and Chloe tells him she thinks Coach Walt is lying. They head inside – Jonathan to check the locker room, Chloe to check the rest of the school. Coach Walt follows.
Clark manages to throw a rock at the window, cracking but not shattering it. A third rock goes through, and he collapses. Jonathan enters the locker room, calling for Clark, and spots the broken window. He sees Clark inside and kicks the door down. “It’s meteor rocks,” Clark gasps, and Jonathan drags him out of the sweatbox…
…and Coach Walt wallops Jonathan with a fire extinguisher! Clark’s veins turn back to normal and he rolls just in time to block Coach Walt’s attack on him. He throws him off hard enough to send him crashing through an (internal) window. “Coach, you need help,” Clark says, approaching him. “What I need is to win this game,” Coach Walt replies, and sets the locker room on fire. Clark stands there calmly. Dude, you may be invulnerable, but your unconscious father isn’t.
Clark walks through the flames and Coach Walt backs up in alarm. “How’d you do that?” Clark smiles and removes his burning jacket: “It’s in the genes.”
Rebecca: Snarky Clarrrrk!
Jess: Coach Walt tries to hit him and Clark throws him into the showers. “Give it up, Coach, you’ve lost!” UM, JONATHAN IS STILL LYING IN A BURNING ROOM. Coach Walt roars in fury and fire bursts out of the showers, which he can apparently turn on with his mind as well as lighting water on fire. Clark watches with vague disapproval as Coach Walt goes up in flames. That is one unflappable 14-year-old.
Rebecca: He’s just constantly watching people die. He reacts to death like I reacted to spills when I was a toddler and I just sat and watched it drip onto the floor.
Jess: Crying with laughter at that mental image, btw.
Luthor Castle, that evening. Lionel bursts in and Lex stands up from his desk: “Two trips in one week. I’m flattered, Dad.” Blah blah blah, it turns out that Lex has submitted a proposal to cut the operating budget by 20% without layoffs. Lionel says that’s not what he told Lex to do, and Lex points out that this way, Lionel doesn’t get bad PR. “That’s not the point,” Lionel snaps. Lex’s eyebrows shoot up: “Careful, Dad, you’re getting emotional.” He picks up…let’s say it’s a sabre again. “We could always try a rematch. Or are you afraid you can’t take your son again?”
Lionel’s mouth twitches. “You get one.” “One what?” Lex asks. “One chance to defy me.” Lex grins: “I can’t figure out what you hate more: the fact that my plan works, or that you didn’t come up with it first.” “Just remember, empires aren’t built on careful bookkeeping,” Lionel says, and Lex says that Lionel has no idea what he’s capable of. I wish this plotline wasn’t so random and vague, because this is by far the best acting and writing on the show.
Rebecca: The Luthor Show is, like, a series I probably wouldn’t badmouth at every opportunity like I do about certain shows about dumb alien teens.
Jess: Meanwhile, Clark and Jonathan leave the school, past a crowd of firefighters. “Sorry you didn’t get to play,” Jonathan says.
Rebecca: Don’t worry, he will in season 4. A lot. Too much.
Jess: Clark asks if Jonathan was there to make sure he didn’t hurt anyone, and Jonathan says he was there to support Clark, which is easy enough to say now that it’s a moot point. Clark apologizes for saying things that were out of line, and Jonathan says he trusts Clark, and though part of of him will always be afraid, that’s just part of being a parent. Yeah, but aren’t you afraid for your kid, not of him? Clark is mollified, though.
Alone, Clark contemplates the football field. “You” by Binocular plays. Aw, I like this song. “Peaceful, isn’t it?” Lana asks, approaching him. She tells him she got fired, and hey, isn’t it weird about the coach? “Won his 200th game and he didn’t even see it,” Clark replies. So did he die, or what? Lana asks if Clark’s gonna stick with football and he says no: “I got out on the field and realized my reason for playing was gone.” Ugh, this scene is interminable. Clark says sometimes he just wants to scream, and Lana asks him why they don’t, since she is a manic pixie dream girl (but a boring one). Clark’s all “Wait, really?” and then, on the count of three, they scream up at the sky. This scene would’ve been really cute if they had any chemistry at all or if Clark had a good reason for being frustrated enough to scream. Oh, well.
Rebecca: I remember this episode being really easy to hate back in 2001, but it actually played really well for me this time. The “defying parents in boring ways” theme wasn’t subtle or even that interesting, but it was well-executed and was a good excuse for all our characters to interact in appealing ways. Finally Lex isn’t isolated in the mansion and Clark on the farm. So maybe what I’m saying is that I’m glad to see the Beanery, which will only be the hangout place for a little bit because of some really dumb plot developments later. Anyway, I thought all the parent/kid disagreements made sense and gave decent things for these characters to do. I didn’t even really mind Fire Coach! But then again, I’ve had 12 years to internalize the idea of “Fire Coach.”
Jess: Yeah, I feel like this episode gets things going a lot better than the bug one did. Chloe and the Kents are actually tied into the plot, Pete has lines, Lex and Lana’s plotlines aren’t great but at least tie in with Clark’s thematically. It felt a lot more like the writers were able to juggle the amount of characters they’re working with. (Although there’s a surprisingly scarce amount of Flash, considering that the whole episode is about the football team.) Fire Coach was nonsense, but if I didn’t like stupid powers for stupid reasons, I wouldn’t like comic books.
Rating: Getting up speed!