The Smallville Project: Episode 1.09 – “Rogue”
|August 16, 2013||Posted by Jess under Comics, Television, The Smallville Project|
Jess: Metropolis at night, in some big building with columns in front. Inside, beautiful people mingle. Clark awkwards his way through the crowd, a suit jacket on over his usual red button-down, and I’m gonna assume he’s wondering if he can get a Shirley Temple from the bartender because that mental image is delightful to me. He squints at a breastplate on display: gold, bedazzled with red and blue stones and a snake curved into an S shape. Okay, one, that looks more like something the attendants wear outside Caesar’s Palace in Vegas, and two, I c whut u did there.
Rebecca: The breastplate is so great. It looks like a Superman costume designed by Liberace’s ghost.
Jess: Lex slinks up to Clark and informs him that the breastplate belonged to Alexander the Great. How have we gone like six whole episodes without Lex mentioning his beffie Alex? “They say the design symbolizes strength and courage.” Well, according to this closeup, it symbolizes a seven-year-old girl with a hot glue gun and a lazy Sunday afternoon. “Can’t exactly see myself going into battle with that on my chest,” Clark says. Show, I already saw whut u did there, do something else there now.
Lex rambles on some more about A the Great, and Clark’s like “Wow, you are super into history, huh?” This isn’t even the first time he’s babbled about Alexander to you, Clark. (Right?)
Rebecca: (They’ve definitely talked about Saint George and the Trojan War; I’m actually not sure that Alexander has come up yet. I know, I’m surprised too!)
Jess: (That is legit shocking to me.)
“I’m just interested in people who ruled the world before they were 30,” Lex replies. You know, a lot of Lex’s dialogue says “budding megalomaniac,” but most of his actions say “sitting at home swirling brandy in a snifter and thinking about that time he drove his car off a bridge and Clark kissed him.”
Rebecca: That makes two of us, Lexy-poo.
Jess: Lana comes up behind them. “Don’t worry, Lex, you still have a few years to go.” Clark awkwards his surprise, and they all squirm as Lex’s matchmaking becomes obvious to everyone. Lex excuses himself and Clark and Lana make small talk that reveals that Flash is also there, feeling as out-of-place as Clark. Lana invites Clark to eat with them and goes to fetch Nell.
Rather than go sit down with Flash, Clark walks off in the other direction. Lex, who has of course been watching this whole thing, tells Clark he’s never gonna get Lana if he keeps running away from his enemy. “[Flash]’s not my enemy,” Clark says, but Lex begs to differ.
Rebecca: At this juncture, Lex says, “Keep your friends close and the quarterback closer” in the gayest possible manner.
Jess: Lex has the most interesting outlook on life. A pretty British girl in an LBD sashays over to them: “Always the hopeless romantic, Lex.” Lex does a comical double take at “Victoria” and introduces her to Clark as “a very old friend.” Clark quietly teases Lex for his obvious boner-fueled discomfort around Victoria, and Lex tells Clark to amscray, which he does. “Want a private tour?” Lex asks Victoria. “I thought you’d never ask,” she replies.
Rebecca: Her accent sounds so silly and fake, but rest assured that this is Kelly Brook, actual British model-and-occasional-actress. Bless.
Jess: Across the street from I guess the museum, two dudes fight. One falls to the ground, and the other holds up a badge. “You see this?” he says. “I’m the only reason you’re not in a cage right now. Now you get into the IA and you get me those files.” “Why, is one of them yours?” the other dude asks, only to get kicked in the face for his troubles.
Meanwhile, Clark wanders out of the museum or whatever. “Well, welcome to Metropolis,” he tells himself, spots a homeless man asleep on a bench in a bus stop, and frowns. “More or less.”
Rebecca: Aww, baby’s first trip to his future home.
Jess: A bus turns onto the museum’s street. Suddenly the driver has a poor-acted heart attack, and the bus starts veering all over the road. Clark stands there looking completely befuddled as the bus drives past him – Superman, everyone! – but leaps into action when the bus heads towards the bus stop. (The homeless man’s dog whimpers, which is an adorably sad/funny touch.) Clark runs in front of the bus, plants his feet, and throws a shoulder into it, stopping it. The dog looks amazed.
Clark pulls back. His jacket is torn, but there don’t seem to have been any witnesses besides the dog. He doesn’t seem to care about the driver or any potential passengers, and dashes off when people start coming out of the museum to see what all the commotion is about. Superman, everyone! Again!
The driver sits up, apparently, uh, cured of his heart attack or something? And the dude with the badge stares at the bus…and then in the direction Clark’s gone. Uh oh!
SOMEBODY SAAAAAAAAAAVE MEEEEEEEEE!
Smallville, day, cows. Jonathan is trying to hoist something that maybe looks like a tractor engine using a pulley system, and Clark comes in and does it one-handed. “Don’t break a sweat,” Jonathan mutters. Oh, get over yourself, Jonathan.
Rebecca: Hey, bro, maybe don’t be so bitter about the superpowered teen who you can force to do chores superfast whenever you want.
Jess: Martha asks Clark how the gala was. He squirms, then tells them about the bus incident, handing them a Planet article on the crash. True to form, Martha wants to know if he’s okay (he’s fine), and Jonathan berates him for using his powers publicly (screw you, Jonathan). But as Martha points out, there’s no witnesses cited in the article. Clark trudges off, and Jonathan stops him to assure him that he’s proud of him. Clark beams. Aw.
Jess: Back in Metropolis, Badge Guy drives up to a security guard and asks if the guard “got them.” The guard is uncomfortable with this transaction and Badge Guy reminds him that he can reveal the guard’s past DUI to his boss. The guard hands him an envelope, which turns out to contain security photos from last night’s party…including one of Clark and Lex. Badge Guy smiles.
Rebecca: First of all, the look in Clark’s eyes in that security photo is like the gayest thing in this episode, even including the breastplate. Second-of-ly, do you think Badge Guy just blackmails people compulsively? “Get me this coffee or I tell your manager that your nametag is askew.” “Uh, can’t you just pay me the $2?”
Jess: “Stevens! Give me the rest of your candy bar or I call your wife and tell her you cheated on your diet!” “Man, Badge Guy, you’re a dick.”
Luthor Castle. Lex pours Victoria a drink and they chat about Smallville. Lex tells her that Lionel plans to bring him back to Metropolis in a few years. Victoria: “He’s lying.” Lex: “I know.” Lex cuts to the chase: what is the daughter of a “multinational industrialist” and an executive VP in her own right doing crossing the Atlantic to see little old him? Short version: Victoria’s daddy, “Sir Harry,” wants to poach Lex from Luthorcorp. Also, Victoria’s missed Lex. They trade sultry banter and make out.
In school, Clark and Chloe are sitting, like, super crazy flirty close to each other while he compliments her latest editorial.
Rebecca: OMG JUST KISS ALREADY.
Jess: Lana comes in and asks where Clark disappeared to the night before, and Chloe’s disappointed, Brave Little Toaster expressions as Clark pulls away are wonderful.
The kids’ banter is interrupted by Principal Kwan, who is furious about Chloe’s headline: “Smallville: Mutant Capital of the World.” Apparently parents have been calling all morning. You guys, I was the editor of my high school newspaper and I was also the only person who read it. Kwan reminds Chloe that the EPA declared the meteor rocks (METEORITES OH MY GOD IT IS A WORD) harmless.
“People have a right to know about the strange things that happen in this town,” Chloe says indignantly. She asks if Kwan is censoring her and he very weirdly tells her that no, he wants her to write about sports and school dances and things, and also she’s fired. Bzuh? Also, there’s no more Torch until Kwan can find a new editor. So basically no one in Smallville will be able to get their news now.
Rebecca: Chloe should just drop out and run the Ledger. She’s not gonna finish college anyway.
Jess: OMG spoilers!
Rebecca: Nobody on this show gets a college degree (except potentially, off-screen, Pete), and I don’t believe Lois even finishes high school. SERIOUSLY.
Jess: Kwan leaves. Chloe looks stricken and Clark, Pete, and Lana all give her sad faces. Lana gets all close to Chloe and volunteers to talk to Kwan for her. “Not to sound ungrateful or anything, but what do you think you can do?” Chloe asks. “I don’t know, but let me give it a shot,” Lana says. I want them to get married.
Rebecca: Lana wants to be Chloe’s BFF/girlfriend more than she has demonstrated any other emotion or desire on this show.
Jess: At the Beanery, Badge Guy is playing pinball when Lex walks in. “Lex!” Badge Guy says. “Or is it Mr. Luthor in Smallville?” Lex tensely greets “Phelan” and asks if this isn’t outside his jurisdiction. Phelan tries to make like they’re buddies and Lex blows him off. Phelan’s all “How many times did I pull you back from the edge? You’d be dead right now if it wasn’t for me.” Lex’d be dead right now if it wasn’t for a lot of things. Like half of his dialogue is about that idea. (The other half is yelling “NOW KISS” at Clark and Lana.)
“You were on my father’s payroll. His go-to guy in the department. You got paid to fix situations, so don’t try to pretend that it was anything else,” Lex replies. Phelan tells Lex he’s got a good life in Smallville and he’d hate to see anything happen to it. A good life of…sitting alone in his castle, overseeing a literal poop factory, and being creepily over-invested in a 14-year-old? Lex says Phelan can’t touch him, and Phelan says he’s looking for a witness to last night’s accident and shows him the picture of Lex and Clark.
Lex plays dumb. “Hmm. I’d have pegged you for buddies,” Phelan says. Phelan needs to work on his gaydar. Lex snarks some more and walks away.
Kent Farm. Clark walks into the barn and finds it empty. He calls for his folks, hears a noise, then spots something on the ground. As he bends to pick it up, we see the tractor engine thing he hoisted before directly over his head. The thing on the ground is Phelan’s badge.
Rebecca: Which is in the pentagonal shape of the S-shield. Show, I just don’t know.
Jess: Clark picks it up, puzzled – and the tractor thing falls, pinning Clark to the ground. He’s unhurt, of course, and tosses it away easily.
Phelan starts clapping and comes down from the second level. “I don’t know what they’ve been feeding you, but that was pretty impressive. Not quite as exciting as last night, but I wanted to be sure.” Clark asks who he is, and Phelan is slimy enough that it reminds me Clark is only 14. *shudder*
Rebecca: Also, he “wanted to be sure,” so he almost murders a child??
Jess: “I am your new best friend, Clark,” Phelan says, and picks his badge up off the floor. Clark asks what he wants. “I want your help. See, Clark, I’m in a battle and I can’t afford to lose, ‘cause if I do, the bad guys win. You have this…gift that I need.” He reaches for Clark and Clark grabs his wrist and snarls “I’ll never help you.”
Rebecca: The way Phelan talks to Clark about “bad guys” is also a nice/horrible reminder of Clark’s supposed age.
Jess: Phelan whistles. “You have a secret you don’t want the world to know about. I’m guessing that’s why you didn’t stick around for the TV cameras last night. You wanna keep things that way, you’ll do like I say. Drop by that overpriced coffee shop tomorrow afternoon and we’ll talk about your future.” He leaves. Clark makes an intense face at the camera.
You know, this is a pretty standard TV Superman plot (I think it happens to Dean Cain every third episode), but the problem is, Clark’s not Superman yet, and Phelan has no way of knowing that this freakishly strong teenager – who is in tight with the most ruthless and powerful family in the state – won’t just toss him off a bridge. You can trust Superman, but a random scared kid you don’t know? Maybe not.
Rebecca: Hmm. I assume that Phelan extrapolated a lot from the “altruistic” way Clark saved the bus and then peaced out. Also, presumably Phelan talked to people in town and heard that Clark is nice and quiet (and dumb). But this idea is handled in an interesting, subtle way at the beginning of Season 3 (if we ever get there): Clark runs away to Metropolis on a red-K bender and works a bit for Morgan Edge before snapping out of it and going home (basically), and when Morgan comes to Smallville to find him and blackmail him into One Last Score, Clark kind of puts on the red-K persona and tries to scare him off. It’s kind of a cool moment. ANYWAY.
Jess: Post-commercial, the Kents are dismayed to hear Clark’s story. Martha suggests they call the police, but Clark tells them that Phelan is the police. Jonathan paces the kitchen angrily and Clark apologizes. Jonathan tells him that he didn’t do anything wrong, but “I don’t want you going anywhere near this guy. I’ll talk to him and I’ll find out what he wants.” JONATHAN. <3 He tells Clark not to worry, and Clark nods and leaves. Attic of Sad Voyeurism, night. Clark stares out at a fakey-looking moon. “You look like you’re carrying the weight of the world,” Lex says from below. Clark starts and Lex apologizes for surprising him. “It’s okay. Thanks again for last night.” Lex beams. I laugh really, really hard. Rebecca: Me too. A lot of laughter. I had to pause.
Jess: Lex tells Clark that Phelan came to see him and Clark nervously asks what Phelan said. “Not much. Maybe that’s what’s bothering me. Metropolis police usually don’t seen detectives to investigate traffic accidents, so…I made a call. Turns out the official investigation is already closed. Clark, you really don’t want Sam Phelan in your life.” Rosenbaum is playing this with such a good blend of concern and menace.
Clark is surprised that Lex knows Phelan, and Lex explains his history with Phelan. Clark is displeased both by Lex’s past legal troubles and Phelan’s shadiness. Lex warns him that Phelan will stop at nothing and Clark says Phelan just wanted to talk. It’s pretty clear that Lex can tell he’s lying. Aw.
The Beanery. Jonathan walks in and Phelan greets him. Jonathan refuses the hand Phelan offers. Phelan says he figured Jonathan would be the one to show up. “What do you want with my son?” Jonathan asks. Phelan: “We’re both rational adults, let’s sit down…” Jonathan: “I don’t think a rational adult drops a generator on top of a teenage boy, do you?” Oh man, fiercely protective Jonathan is AMAZING and also that thing was a generator and not a “tractor engine thing,” sorry guys. Phelan’s all “Psh, we both know it wouldn’t hurt him, WINK” with a very weird worm’s eye view camera angle. Punch him, Jonathan! For the pride of the Beanery!
Rebecca: Jonathan’s, like, so great in this scene. FAMILY.
Jess: Alas, Jonathan is more prudent than I am. He sits, and so does Phelan, with a smirk that makes me really really hope he dies ironically by the end of the episode. Jonathan asks again what Phelan wants, and Phelan goes into a whole monologue about his duty to keep people safe (by dropping generators on them) and how he wants Clark to help him do so. “I will not let you exploit my son,” Jonathan says. “I’ve spent the morning going through the local police files,” Phelan says. “Clark’s name comes up quite a bit.” Phelan suggests that Clark’s natural instinct is to get involved when people are in trouble, which, haha, have you not been reading the recaps, dude?
Rebecca: Clark’s natural instinct is “Ugh, someone else died.”
Jess: Jonathan offers to pay Phelan off. Phelan says all he wants is Clark, and Jonathan refuses. Phelan starts to leave, then leans in close and whispers, “Of course if you don’t agree, I will tell the world what I know. Best case, Clark’s under a microscope, worst case he’s a freak in a jar. Either way, his normal life is over.”
Jonathan snaps. Grabbing Phelan, he pins him to the table. Yes! “Do not. Push. Me,” he grits out. Phelan grins. “Whoa, easy there, Mr. Kent!” he says loudly. Jonathan realizes everyone is staring and lets Phelan up. Phelan sasses Jonathan a bit more, then leaves. Oh man, you guys, these actors killed in that scene. I can’t decide what’s more palpable: Phelan’s repulsiveness, or Jonathan’s fear and anger. SO GOOD.
Rebecca: I also love that it’s clear that Phelan A) is a dick but also B) knew he could exploit Jonathan’s temper for his own means. And it’s ALSO clear that Jonathan knew exactly what to expect from Phelan but still failed to contain himself for one moment because losing Clark is his greatest fear. UGH WHAT A GOOD SCENE.
Jess: Journalism room. Clark reads through articles on the Planet’s website about Phelan’s past charges (but no convictions) of excessive force. I don’t know if that makes sense with what a sneaky dirty cop he’s supposed to be. Chloe walks in and asks if he’s okay, and he pretends he is. She frets about Lana’s meeting with Kwan when the girl in question walks in, rocking a pale pink blazer like a door-to-door baby powder saleswoman. Clark asks her how it went. “Well, it’s interesting…” she hedges. Oh no, she’s the new EIC, isn’t she?
“Bottom line it,” Chloe says. “How soon can we send out the next issue?” “Day after tomorrow,” Lana says, looking uncomfortable. Chloe’s pleased… “Except, uh, well…Kwan made me the new editor,” Lana finishes. Clark sideeyes Chloe and kind of leans away from her, which is hilarious. You’re invulnerable, dude, don’t worry.
Chloe stammers and Lana explains: “After I made my case, Kwan said if I have that much passion, I should be in charge.” Oh God, what a punch to the gut for poor Chloe, who got fired for having too much passion. This is also a really good, painful scene. Kreuk is so much better opposite Mack.
Tears in her eyes, Chloe snaps “So what, cheerleading’s not enough? Maybe the editor of the school newspaper looks better on a college application.” I thought Lana quit the squad? Also, they’re freshman. Whatever. Lana tries to explain that she “figured you could ghost write until we got you reinstated.” That doesn’t make things any better for Chloe, who doesn’t like the idea of working for Lana. Lana insists that the paper would still be Chloe’s, and Clark leaps into the fray: “Chloe, think about it. It’s not a bad idea.”
Chloe laughs bitterly: “I figured you’d side with her…you’re complete objective in all things Lana.” Lana looks uncomfortable. Clark’s all “Gotta go” and literally tries to run away, ahaha, and Chloe yells, “No, please, Clark, stay! Take my desk!” “Chloe, this isn’t what you think,” Lana tries. “You know what the weirdest part is?” Chloe asks. “For a millisecond I almost thought you were my friend.” She runs out and Lana looks distressed. Ugh, so good!
Rebecca: I do think that Chloe massively overreacts in this subplot? Or maybe I just forgot how Important things are when you’re 14. Lana is doing her best and just wants to be your (girl)friend, Chloe!
Jess: Oh, she completely overreacts, but that’s what I like about it. To her, this is the girl she clearly has had a huge chip on her shoulder about since the pilot taking the one thing Chloe knows she’s the best at away from her, and the boy Chloe loves is helping her do it. Plus, as you said, she’s 14. I think her flipping out is totally believable and kind of endearing. And poor Lana. What an awful position to be in.
Downtown. Clark is walking past the Beanery when Phelan pulls up next to him: “Get in, kid.” Clark glares and starts to walk away, but Phelan drives into some trash cans, blocking Clark’s path. How does he think physically threatening Clark is going to work, exactly? Clark asks what Phelan wants, and Phelan makes some vaguely threatening comments about Jonathan.
Luthor Castle. Lex and Victoria have sushi and sake in front of a roaring fire, because of course they do. Victoria asks if Lex has read Sir Harry’s proposal, but Lex already knows what he wants: “Sir Harry wants to take over Luthorcorp and he needs my shares to do it.” Rosenbaum is the best actor on the show but that doesn’t make this unrelated subplot about business deals and characters we don’t know interesting.
Rebecca: Yes and yes. I used to really tune this shit out.
Jess: Lex adds that he knows the plan is Victoria’s idea: “Do you think if you take over Luthorcorp, Daddy will finally give you the respect you deserve? He won’t, Victoria.”
Victoria asks what Lex proposes. “You came to play on my hatred of my father. Now I’m gonna play on yours. Why take one company when you can take two?” Victoria agrees and they clink glasses.
Metropolis, night. Phelan’s car pulls up to some high-rise – and Clark’s in it. Oh Clark, no. Phelan yammers something about the evils of bureaucracy. Clark says he thought they were going after bad guys, and Phelan says “We are. They’re called Internal Affairs. In fact, the head of the IA division lives right up there on the fifth floor.”
Clark gets out of the car angrily. “I’m not gonna hurt anybody!” Phelan says he just wants some files that the head of IA keeps in his personal safe. Clark does that and Phelan will leave him alone. Clark says Lex warned him about Phelan. “Your friend Lex isn’t exactly on the side of the angels,” Phelan says. “He’s got his secrets. Just like you.”
Cut to the lock on IA Guy’s apartment flying across the room. Clark, come on, there’s gotta be a subtler way for you to break locks. He sneaks in and looks around. This is a really nice apartment for a cop’s salary. Also, I’m starting to see another flaw in Phelan’s plan: giant teenage boys are not the sneakiest, quietest people in the world. Clark uses his X-ray vision to find the safe behind a painting and smiles.
Cut to Phelan waiting outside. Suddenly the safe lands on his car, crushing it. AHAHAHA YES GO SNARKY CLARK! “Hey, Phelan!” Clark shouts from outside, then superspeeds to the ground as sirens blare in the distance. He holds up some files. “Want your file? It’s all yours.”
Rebecca: This is hilarious, but maybe Clark shouldn’t show his hand on his powerset. Boy, you are so dumb.
Jess: Yeah, I was thinking that. At least he’s got the X-ray vision?
He thrusts the file at Phelan as patrol cars appear down the block. “Did you call them?” Phelan asks. Clark zips off. “You’re making a big mistake…” Phelan says, trailing off as he finds himself surrounded by squad cars.
Morning, Kent Farm. Clark comes down the stairs and covers for his late return last night by claiming he was helping Lana at the Torch. Jonathan asks if Phelan tried to contact him and Clark tells him not to worry: “I think he’s out of our lives forever.” Well, there’s 20 minutes left in this episode, Clark, so probably not.
There’s a knock on the door, and the Kents are all surprised to see Smallville cops. “Ethan,” Jonathan says. “Bob. What’s going on?” Ethan very uncomfortably says that he has a warrant to search Jonathan’s property, as per a tip from Metropolis PD. A third cop steps up and tells them to come take a look at something he found.
Surprise! It’s a corpse! In Jonathan’s barn, with a bullet through his heart. I can’t tell if it’s the guy from the opener or not.
Rebecca: I think it’s supposed to be, but I can’t tell either.
Jess: Jonathan starts to say he’s never seen this guy before when Third Cop returns with a gun that he found under the seat in the truck. Jonathan denies everything, but Ethan says he’ll have to arrest him, and Jonathan agrees and heads for the door, telling Clark and Martha to call Bill Ross and have him come down to the station.
Clark flings himself between the cops and Jonathan: “You’re not taking him!” Jonathan puts a hand on Clark’s shoulder: “I need you to stay here. And I need you to be strong.” Agonized, Clark nods. Martha tells Clark she’ll follow Jonathan in the car. Yes, because Phelan definitely won’t be ready to pounce the minute Clark’s alone.
Sure enough, after Clark storms into the house and punches out one of the (hopefully decorative!) support posts dividing the kitchen from the living room, Phelan comes out of his lurky spot. “That’s what you get for trying to be a hero, Clark.” Clark asks who the dead guy was, and Phelan twitches something about how his job is about scenarios (really) before yelling that Clark didn’t leave him with a lot of options. Why does every actor on this show get worse when they get angry?
Clark shoves him against another post and tells him to call the cops and confess. “What is it, Clark?” Phelan asks. “You wanna kill me? You think that’s the answer to your problems?” “I want him out!” Clark yells. “Then we both want something. Only you have a lot more to lose.” So…how did Phelan get out of jail or whatever?
Clark angrily releases Phelan, who snarls that he doesn’t want any more surprises. He promises/threatens to be in touch and leaves. Clark, this is where you call Lex. He does really well against blackmailers!
Rebecca: I really like this scene? It’s not Welling’s very best work, but the way the light catches in his eyes when he’s pinning Phelan is nice and kind of scary (I think I remember reading that this was Welling’s idea; he turned out to be a better TV director than leading man). I also like the moment at the very end, where he goes to gently touch the broken post but pulls away in shame. I’m willing to mostly chalk this up to good direction, but I also like how Welling plays the fear of A) a situation he can’t punch his way out of and B) his own temper and strength.
Jess: Yeah, this episode is doing a really good job of showing how tormented he is, and Welling’s not totally cocking it up like he might. Nice work, Captain Cheekbones!
Journalism room. Lana, looking exceptionally pretty, is fiddling with a printer when Clark walks in. She asks why he’s there and he says he’s hiding out. “I heard about your dad,” she says. “I know it isn’t true.” He thanks her and asks how she’s doing. She still feels bad about the paper situation: “I guess that’s what you get when you try to be a hero.” I wish all their conversations weren’t so full of contrived double meaning.
Clark commiserates. “You ever think your aunt’s life would be simpler if she hadn’t adopted you?” he asks. Okay, rude. He confesses that he feels like all he does is complicate his parents’ lives, and Lana tells him not to blame himself: “Every family goes through rough times.” She tells him a very sweet story of how she once ran away as a kid and when Nell found her, asked if Nell regretted adopting her. “She looked me in the eye and she said it was the best thing she had ever done. She didn’t love me any less because I was adopted, but she worried about me more.” You guys, I’m a little misty here.
Clark excuses himself and Lana tells him it’ll all work out as he leaves. He looks moderately convinced.
At the jail. I’m honestly surprised Smallville has one – like, I went to high school in a small town and we definitely didn’t. I’d buy a few temporary cells at the police station more. (Or, as I mentioned in a previous recap, stocks.) Maybe Smallville is like Sunnydale, which was repeatedly described as tiny despite being a university town with a zoo, museum, airport, and military base. (Fun fact: I just checked Wikipedia and Sunnydale’s population is actually slightly smaller than Smallville’s…and three times as big as my high school’s.)
Rebecca: The Smallville population is also about twice that of my hometown’s, and we definitely had more than one coffee shop.
Jess: We had zero coffee shops but 400 pizzerias.
Jonathan, in an orange jumpsuit, walks in on one side, and Clark on the other. They sit at the center window and pick up phones. “Hi, son,” Jonathan says. He asks where Martha is and Clark says the police are questioning her. Then Clark confesses to what happened with Phelan. “Oh, Clark,” Jonathan sighs. “I didn’t have a choice,” Clark says. “Well, I’m sure that’s what he wanted you to think, but you always have a choice,” Jonathan replies. That is not only a great general parenting lesson, it’s a particularly important lesson for someone immensely powerful who is going to have villains messing with him forever.
Rebecca: I’m just going sit here and definitely not cry about the end of Man of Steel.
Jess: Clark says he was protecting his folks, but Jonathan isn’t having it: “You cannot protect your mother and I by lying to us, come on.” For once his severity is totally merited and great. Also, sic. Sounding choked, Clark confesses that Phelan came back and for a second, Clark wanted to kill him. Equally choked, Jonathan says, “But you didn’t, right?” and Clark nods. They fistbump through the glass, which is both touching and hilariously weird, and Jonathan tells Clark that he knows all about losing his temper, but that Clark can’t afford to, and that he can’t let Phelan get to him. Clark says he won’t let anyone hurt Jonathan or Martha. “He knows that,” Jonathan says. “But once you cross that line, there’s no going back.” PAGING MAN OF STEEL, MAN OF STEEL PLEASE PICK UP THE GREEN COURTESY PHONE.
Rebecca: I’M DEFINITELY NOT CRYING, THESE ARE NOT TEARS.
Jess: The Beanery. Lex, looking troubled, sits at a table reading a magazine. He spots Clark walking down the street and runs out to talk to him. “Clark, I just heard about your dad. Is he all right?” He offers to find the best lawyers in the state, but Clark doesn’t think that’ll help. “It’s Phalen, isn’t it?” Lex asks. “What’s he got on you, Clark?” “Just stay out of it!” Clark snaps, then quietly adds, “Please.”
Rebecca: This episode is a fascinating portrait of a superteen becoming slightly unhinged by anxiety.
Jess: Lex tells Clark he doesn’t know how someone like Phelan works, but Lex does, and Clark’s like “Yeah, he told me you have secrets.” Lex once again offers to help, and Clark angrily says he can’t and walks away.
Rebecca: Clark, Lex is the first person to admit that he has dark secrets.
Jess: Attic of Sad Voyeurism, night. Clark broods. Phelan appears from above (how?) and Clark asks what he wants. Phelan promises “our next bit of business will be our last” and Clark snaps that he doesn’t care if Phelan spills his secret. Phelan points out that even if Jonathan beats the murder rap, he’ll lose the farm paying legal fees. Cut to the two of them driving off together…and Lex, who was waiting outside the Kent property, following. So neither of them noticed the silver luxury car with the LX LTHR vanity plates in the middle of a meadow?
Back in Metropolis, Phelan’s car stops in front of the museum. “Since I couldn’t pick up my Internal Affairs records, I figured it was time to pick up my retirement package,” Phelan says. “The breastplate,” Clark realizes. “You want me to steal it for you.” “I don’t give a damn about the breastplate,” Phelan says. “I just want the ten million dollars worth of jewels that are on it.” I hate to break it to you, Phelan, but I’m pretty sure those are just Treasure Rocks.
Rebecca: “Finally, I will be the Pretty Pretty Princess!”
Jess: Clark and Phelan go around back (I’m assuming). Phelan explains that the police have blueprints to every high security building in the city, and that the security system runs through the mini-fridge-sized junction box in front of them. He tells Clark to open it. Clark hesitates. “Clark, I’m getting pretty bored with this,” Phelan says. “You want your old life back, you do it.”
Clark rips the cover off and asks about the guards. Phelan says they’re about to be very busy and takes out his cell phone. “Yeah, Metropolis Museum? You have two minutes to leave the building. There’s a bomb outside.” So why would they go outside?
In front of the building, Lex touches the hood of Phelan’s car, presumably to see how long it’s been stopped. The guards hurry down the front steps, and Lex looks back and forth between the car and the guards, realizing what Phelan’s after.
Phelan cuts a wire. “Cameras are all dead in Luthor Hall.”
Lex, with the guards watching, looks at a package wrapped in brown paper inside a Planet dispenser. He puts a coin in the dispenser, opens it, and removes the maybe-bomb.
Rebecca: Why are the cops letting Lex handle this bomb threat?? No wonder Phelan managed to blackmail everyone.
Jess: Well, they’re only security guards, but fair enough.
Phelan and Clark approach the breastplate, which has a metal cage around its glass case for the night. “Show me the magic,” Phelan says, and steps back. Clark reluctantly bends the bars of the cage, then punches out the glass.
Lex opens the package and finds an ordinary alarm clock. He smirks and tosses it to a guard. All the others step back. Hee.
Phelan removes the breastplate and places it in a bag. “We are gonna make a great team,” he says. Clark looks alarmed. He X-rays towards the front of the museum…and sees the guards out front.
“We’ll never be a team,” he says, grabs the bag from Phelan’s hand, and flings it through a window. It lands in front of Lex and the guards. Lex opens it.
Rebecca: What a hilarious use of superpowers.
Jess: And one with such little impact on the effects budget!
“You might be able to explain the safe, but your fingerprints are all over that breastplate,” Clark says with a smile. “You might be strong, but you’re not bulletproof!” Phelan yells, pulling out a gun. Heeeeeee. (Also, dude got hit by a bus, he’s clearly invulnerable. Also, he has super speed.)
Phelan fires, and the bullet goes into extreme slo-mo, heading for Clark. Clark leans out of the way and watches it pass and smash another display case. He zips off as the film returns to normal speed, and Phelan spins around looking for him. “What are you?”
Rebecca: I guess it’s worth noting that Clark doesn’t know he’s bulletproof quite yet.
Jess: The guards come in and Phelan starts shooting. Lex ducks behind a display case as one of the guards fires back, eventually hitting Phelan in the chest. Lex runs forward and leans over him. “Phelan, where’s Clark? I know he came with you. Just tell me what you had on him,” he whispers. “Go to hell, Luthor,” Phelan gasps, and dies. Lex looks mildly disappointed.
Kent Farm. Jonathan walks in and informs a delighted Clark and Martha that all charges have been dropped. Martha’s thrilled, but Jonathan reminds them that there’s more than one Phelan in the world. Clark asks what they do then, and Jonathan says they’ll deal with it when the time comes.
“Maybe I should stop using my gifts,” Clark suggests. “That would solve all our problems.” “No it wouldn’t, Clark,” Martha says. “Your gifts are who you are. You can’t live in fear.” “Although a little caution wouldn’t hurt,” Jonathan adds, and smiles. Clark smiles back. “Clark, are you sure nobody saw you last night?” Martha asks. “I’m positive, Mom,” Clark says.
Rebecca: Please remember “Your gifts are who you are” in 3 or 4 episodes when one of the Kents literally tells Clark, “Your gifts are part of you but they aren’t who you are.”
Jess: Oh, show.
Journalism room. Kwan marches in. “Ms. Lang, what’s this?” “This” is a front-page article titled “Kwan Crushes Freedom of Speech.” Hee! Go Lana! Lana tells him it covers all the criteria he requested: a student, a school-sponsored club, and no mutants. “Did you do this because you thought I’d reinstate Ms. Sullivan?” he asks. “I did this because it’s the right thing to do,” she says. “Chloe was born for this job.” Kwan says he admires Chloe’s passion, but that her reporting lacks accuracy. “I can work on that,” Chloe says, coming in behind him. He tells her that if she wants her job back, she can’t print what she can’t prove. She smiles and thanks him. “Don’t thank me. Thank Ms. Lang,” he says, and leaves.
Lana congratulates Chloe, and Chloe apologizes for flipping out on her before. “It’s just…you know, the paper’s kind of my identity, and it’s like the only thing that Clark and I do together, and so when I saw you here…” “You thought I was trying to cut Clark out of your life?” Lana asks, and WHOA, MEGA CLOSEUPS FOR NO REASON. Chloe, embarrassed, says, “Nobody ever said I was rational,” and Lana earnestly says she wants to be friends with her, “but I don’t want to stand between you and Clark.” “Don’t worry,” Chloe says, a little tearfully. “There’s nothing between us. We’re just good friends. How ‘bout you?” “Same thing,” Lana says quickly. “We’re just friends.”
“Good,” Chloe says, “glad we got that out of the way. Now, let’s see what you’ve messed up since I’ve been gone.” They laugh and look over the paper together. Okay, wow. WOW. That conversation is super easy to interpret as not being about Clark at all, especially on Lana’s end. RUN AWAY TOGETHER, YOU TWO!
Rebecca: Yeah, why would they fight over that dolt when they could MAKE OUT ALL THE TIME?
Jess: It would be so much easier than standing on a ladder to kiss ol’ Stretch Kent over there.
Luthor Castle. Lex frowns at the security footage from the museum, which shows a blur running through the exhibits. Victoria asks if he’s coming to bed, and he tells her in a minute. She leaves, and he leans forward, pausing the footage as the blur runs through. Dun dun dun!
Rebecca: Speaking of things that are easy to interpret, here we have Lex turning down sex with a busty lady in order to think about his boyfriend again some more. BOYS.
Rebecca: This is our first episode completely devoid of kryptomutants, and it feels great. The themes here about fear and control give us interesting versions of these characters, and in particular I think this is a great story about how Clark and Jonathan separately deal with the paranoia of living with Clark’s secret. It’s actually slightly cool to see the beginnings of Clark’s problem-solving skills and physical control, which are Superman traits we don’t often see from this version of Clark. More character stories like this, please! (We won’t get them, but a girl can dream.)
Jess: Yeah, it kind of goes back to the whole point of a Young Superman show: taking something Superman will have to contend with his whole life (keeping his secret identity safe from those who will use his loved ones to manipulate and threaten him) and showing the first time he dealt with it and what he learned from it. It’s also a huge redemption for Jerky Jonathan. And the subplot is Lana and Chloe interacting, which, A+.
Rating: Thinking about how good the sky looks and what it’d be like to be up there.
Next week: The show lends some visibility to the dangers of Lex fandom.