Among the season premieres that have come our way over the last couple of weeks, there were few that I had anticipated more than Smallville. Sometimes I am afraid that Smallville will always be doomed by obscurity, and that mass appreciation will come too late. Then again, I really can’t complain that much since Smallville has had four seasons and the network execs are committed to the fifth. Unfortunately, Smallville has moved away from its little corner of the world on Wednesdays and is now fighting with many other programs for viewers at the Thursday 8PM time slot. Since the TVgasm offices are now equipped with three Tivos, I won’t have to worry about missing an episode and will continue to bring the recaps to you. But I have to admit, when I heard the master plan to move the show, I wondered if it was going to have enough eyes watching to warrant another season. Hell, I was worried the writers wouldn’t come up with episodes that were worthy of another season. After the season premiere, I can say that I am not so worried about the second of my concerns, which will hopefully take care of the first.When we last left our not-so-caped crusader, a meteor shower had just hit Smallville. Lex had almost figured out his secret after following him into the cave, Lana almost died after her helicopter crashed; then there was a huge black spaceship, and his parents were buried somewhere under the rubble of their house after a meteor hit it. Although, to be fair, they were likely going to be shot or something by Jason Teague, so maybe that meteor hitting the house was a blessing in disguise. Lois made her way to the Kent house, and she found Jonathan there, looking for Martha. They found her under a pile of debris. She was hurt badly, but it looked like she would make it, and they took her to the hospital. The whole time I was waiting for Jason to come out and make a last gasp or something, but he didn’t show up. He couldn’t have made it out, could he?
As for Lana, after the helicopter that was supposed to take her to safety crashed, she found herself in a field looking at a black spaceship in a huge crater. She was trying to see just exactly what it was when she sees a huge flash of light and has a vision of these two people coming out of the ship. Some people would say that she should be thankful that she wasn’t getting an anal probe, but what came out of that black spaceship could have been worse. Lana’s vision wasn’t so much a vision as it was reality. This black guy and a brunette friend of his came out, and they looked like they wanted to ask Lana some questions. Lana doesn’t wait to stick around because, well, they are wearing black, so they must be evil. No hero would dare ruin the über-hues of Smallville, Kansas with such drab and dreary clothing.
Before these two people could do any damage, it looked like the Smallville first responders found out about the crash or saw the spaceship on radar or something, because there were a lot of them. It became clear that the creepy couple, as I will call them for now, were not interested in any “take me to your leader”-type pleasantries. When the police and rescue asked them the normal police-type questions, the brunette, who had sort of a Linda Carter thing going, hit one of the helicopters with heat vision, blowing it up. This prompted everybody they knew to fire at will, and wouldn’t you know it; the bullets weren’t doing any damage. It is customary for the invulnerable villain to allow the people trying to kill them enough time to properly bask in their greatness, but after that time elapsed, the creepy couple began to destroy the rest of the police vehicles and kill everybody in the vicinity, although it looks like that stupid sheriff wasn’t among those that were dispatched to that wonderful Krispy Kreme in the sky, so we’ll have to deal with her for another year. Lana used this destruction time to hide, and the two aliens do nothing to stop her, saying they must find Kal-el.
Now we all know that Kal-el is Clark, and we knew where he was off to. After putting the three pieces of the sacred stone together, he was sent to the Arctic – North Pole to be exact. Instinctively, he knew what to do when he got there: throw the sacred stone as far as you could and watch as it buries itself into the ground and builds an Arctic Circle version of the “crystal cathedral.” Now obviously this whole thing had to be done using CG, but when I saw the sequence when they were building the ice palace, it looked really poorly done, or at least done on the cheap. And also, if I were building a secret ice palace, or what I am assuming is going to be a secret ice palace, because why would he build it in the arctic if he was planning on charging commission, I would make less obvious. I mean, how can you NOT notice that thing? You’ll be able to see it from space.
Clark makes his way into the cave, and using those great instincts, picks up a big icicle which speaks to him. It is his father, Jor-El, and he says that one journey has ended and another one is about to begin, which they timed conveniently to coincide with his high school graduation, just in case the whole “transition period” thing was lost on everybody.
Right as Clark was being transported to the North Pole, Chloe and Lex were in the cave with him watching. Chloe, working in her undercover ally-of-Clark method, had stopped Lex before he stumbled upon Clark and his not so little secret. Lex saw the bright light, but couldn’t find Chloe. He found her cell phone, a Treo 650, but had no clue where she was. He did inspect the little stone table with all of the symbols in the part of the cave that was now no longer protected and found the octagonal part of the spaceship Clark came in on that we now know is the key.
Lex must have though himself very lucky to have found the piece. He recognizes it as a part that he once had, but was lost, and grabs it. Just as he grabs it, the creepy couple shows up, probably drawn to the Krypton presence inside the cave. They wonder if he is Kal-el because he has the key, but when they grab him by the neck and he starts to bleed, they know that Lex is not Kal-el. They help themselves to the key and throw Lex, deciding they would figure out what to do with him another day.
Where was Chloe in all of this? She must have been close enough to the force that sent Clark to the North Pole, because she was sent to the North Pole as well. She wakes up, and realizes she’s not in Kansas anymore. No really, she’s no longer in Smallville, Kansas; I’m not just making up lame Judy Garland humor. She sees the ice palace and starts making her way there. It probably would have been easier to call somebody to pick her up, but what are the chances she would get any reception? I bet she doesn’t even get one bar’s worth.
Inside the Ice Palace, Jor-El continues with his monologuing. It’s not just an Ice Palace, it is a “fortress of solitude” and it replicates the geography of Krypton and he’ll need it for his training. A dark force from Krypton has awakened and it is planning to wreck some shit on earth. When Clark asks what he should do to prepare, Jor-el tells him what any parent would say. “Do your homework!” No really, he tells Clark to study and he begins displaying a lot of information in front of Clark’s head. Clark is going along at a nice little clip, but Chloe has made her way to the fortress of solitude and, wouldn’t you know it, it’s damn cold in the arctic if you aren’t an alien from a galaxy far, far away. Chloe is freezing, but Clark is in his trance in the middle of a pool of light, which means important alien communication. She starts to literally freeze, and tries to speak to Clark but the words really don’t come out.
Chloe’s words are nothing but a whisper, but Clark hears them and it is enough to break him out of his trance. Clark tells Jor-el that he wants to help his friend, which is really no option for the disembodied voice. He reminds him that one friend is not worth the entire existence of humanity and that he is letting the fate of planet rest in the hands of these human emotions. For Clark, friendship comes first, and Jor-el tells him that he can help his friend as long as he comes back before the yellow sun sets, meaning our sun, just in case Clark might try to cheat on some “you didn’t tell me our sun” type of technicality later.
You can imagine how awkward it was for Clark and Chloe when she wakes up in the hospital. She breaks the ice by asking who is the most freaked out? Is it her because she is in some hospital that gets its medicine by sled dog, or Clark because she knows all of his secrets? Clark of course wants to know how long she has known, and why she didn’t say anything. She tells him that he knew that he would say something when he was comfortable with it, and even though it looks like she wasn’t a good enough friend to be let in on the little secret, she never told anybody. She did take a little bit of comfort when she heard that Lana didn’t know. I mean, she didn’t say anything but you knew she was like “Ha ha! I win! I win!” inside.
From there, you have to get some of the big questions out of the way, and Clark lays a lot on to her. Even though he has guarded his secret like nothing else in his life, it’s a relief for him to get to tell somebody else. He’s not from Kansas; he’s not from this galaxy. It’s always hard for me to watch these Clark and Chloe scenes, because I have always been in the camp that these two are the ones made for each other. Once again, she says the perfect thing. Chloe tells Clark that he is amazing; he saves people and doesn’t want any credit. It makes him a superhero, and the world would be a better place if there were more people like him. But for now, the meteor shower is on the news, and one of the pictures is Clark’s house. He runs off to help his parents knowing that nobody would bother Chloe while she is in some random hospital in northern Canada.
People are still struggling to deal with things in Smallville. Lana is still limping along, literally, when Lex nearly runs her over as she is crossing a rural highway. Some bad shit happened between Lex and Lana as he demonstrated he was concerned more about the sacred stone she had than anything else. Still, he was probably wondering why the hell she wasn’t in the helicopter he chartered for her. Lana is scared of seeing Lex, but she is more scared of those strange people that were after her. She screams that they aren’t safe, and tells Lex about the spaceship that she saw in Landers Field, which was very conveniently named. I wonder if Crashers Field is nearby. Lana tries to get away but before she can get far, or ten feet, she passes out. Lex picks her up and takes her to a hospital. OK, I take that back. It would have been smart for Lex to take Lana to a hospital, but instead he had somebody at the mansion splint her leg up, and left her to sleep off her craziness on the couch.
The only problem with her sleeping off craziness is that there is somebody even crazier than her at the mansion, and that is Lionel Luthor. Lana wakes up to the sound of a bunch of scratching. Lionel is using some device, scratching something into the floor. When she makes her way down to him, he is clearly possessed and says, “The Disciples of Zod must be stopped.” Finally, the Disciples of Zod are their names! Much easier to write than making up lame surrogate names for them! He then says that their home is their only poison, and stares at the green glow coming out of the safe. “Their home is their only poison!”
Lana decides that she is going to find these Disciples of Zod. I am not sure what she was thinking when she was searching for them, but she must have known that it had to do something with the stones. She had noticed that the girl Zod had a symbol on her back, very similar to the one that she used to have. She also knows that Clark has something to do with the stones, so maybe she should look for him. She doesn’t know where Clark is, but she heard that his parents were at the hospital. How she knows that, I don’t really know; maybe Lois called her. Jonathan was at the hospital because he wanted to be there when Martha woke up. When she did wake up, she asks where Clark is. Jonathan doesn’t know, so he tells her not to worry. Don’t you think she would get over Clark being gone by now? Clark freaks out at LEAST once a season, and he always comes back. She shouldn’t worry her pretty little head. Not unless there is some explosion in the hospital.
Oops! Looks like I spoke too soon. The Disciples of Zod figured out that with so many people in the town injured, there were probably a lot of people at the Smallville hospital, which was spared from all of the devastation, much like the Luthor mansion and many other important buildings. The D of Z thought about how they would figure out which one was Kal-el. Why not kill everybody in the hospital and see if anybody is left standing? And if that doesn’t work, you can move on to the town, then the county, etc. until somebody notices. So, you start some explosions, which gets Jonathan Kent to come out of the woodwork. You ask him about Kal-el, and you can tell that he is lying. You start to crush his larynx, then some other woman bothers you, her name is Lois Lane. You start to crush her larynx as well, until another young woman, Lana Lang, comes along and says that she knows where Kal-el is, so you follow her.
And where is Clark? He has had a long time to get to Smallville from the arctic. He makes it to his house, but there is nobody there. With all of the excitement, he must have forgotten that he has X-ray vision, and can’t seem to find his parents. Luckily, Lex is there to tell him that his parents are safe and at the hospital, but he has more important things on his mind. Uhh, what was Lex doing there and how did he sneak up on Clark? You could say he assumed that Clark would check in on his parents at their house, but he obviously had to drive to the Kent farm. Clark would have heard his car coming up, right? I guess we’ll chalk it up to nervousness, like the lack of X-ray vision all of a sudden. Lex wants to know where Chloe is, and he wants to know if Clark was in the caves when the meteor shower struck. Clark has never been a good liar, and he says that his parents sent him ahead on a military transport. It really wouldn’t explain how Clark got to the farm without his dad’s truck, but Lex is more interested in the caves. Clark gives more bad answers, and Lex is nowhere near convinced that he is telling the truth.
Lex Luthor is one worry that Clark would rather not have right now, so he gets to the hospital, and Lois is there to tell him about the Disciples of Zod, who I think should be named the Apostles of Zod since they are out traveling, preaching the word of Zod, or at least wrecking shit up in the name of Zod. The Disciples have gone to the Luthor mansion, following Lana, which means that Clark will be there in no time at all.
At the Luthor mansion, Lana has decided that she is going to trap the Disciples near the safe with the Kryptonite. She gets them to take a look, and they are momentarily weakened, but the black guy has enough strength to take the door of the safe and close it, sealing the Kryptonite and returning them to full strength. They throw Lana across the room for pissing them off, which conveniently knocks her out so Clark can come in and do his thing without her noticing he’s all, like, superhuman and stuff. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, the disciples are clearly from Krypton, so they are just as strong as Clark, and there are two of them. Two is higher than one, so you know that he will be overmatched.
The Disciples of Zod aren’t there to kill Kal-el, though; they want to make him a deal. Help them take over the world, and he can rule it with them. We all know this is a request that Clark would never agree to, so he says no. This leaves the Disciples of Zod no choice but to banish Clark to a realm where he will be helpless to stop the two of them. The female Zod takes off her bracelet and throws it at Clark. He is able to avoid the hit, but as it goes by him, it opens up a portal. Well, I am not sure it was a portal, but since it was sucking him in and he was just promised he would be banished to someplace where he couldn’t stop the Zods, I figure it was a portal. Clark is sucked in, and the Disciples decide to let the portal do its work; Clark is only hanging by a fingernail, so why worry? They obviously didn’t have television on Krypton, because any good villain who watched TV would have known that when you turn your back on the superhero with no chance, that superhero will find a way to turn the tables and use your own trap against you. That is exactly what Clark does, as he is able to fully grab a piece of rebar, pull himself out of the portal, and shove the Disciples of Zod in. They are enclosed in a crystal, which is clearly indestructible except for nuclear explosions built by terrorists trying to blow up the Eiffel Tower, and it flies into space.
Although the sun is about to set, Clark doesn’t want anything to happen to Lana. He is checking to make sure that she is not hurt just as the sun goes down. Uh oh, Jor-el promised some grave consequences if he didn’t get back in time for the sunset. Although I do have to say, if the sun is setting in Kansas, it’s still not setting in California! It’s still the yellow sun, Clark has some time before the day is over, right? I think he could argue that technicality. Well, it doesn’t matter what he thought he could have done, because there are grave consequences. As Clark is helping Lana, he notices that his finger is bleeding. He wouldn’t be bleeding if he still had his abilities. It looks like Clark’s little gamble caused him to lose all of his powers.
Later, at the hospital, Clark is visiting Lana and about to bring her some flowers. I have to say, the disaster preparedness of Kansas is pretty good, or maybe FEMA knows what it is doing, because they have managed to keep the flower shop open, and they were still stocked with irises, Lois’ favorite flower. When he gets to her room, she is reading an article about the death of Jason and his mother, with a note saying “You owe me one -L,” which we assume is coming from Lionel Luthor. I am not sure why Lana would owe him one. He didn’t actually kill Jason, and it was Lex who had found Lana’s body over Genevieve. If anything, Lionel owes her one for killing her. And as for Jason, how did they call him dead without a body? Isn’t he buried in the middle of the Kent farmhouse still?
But enough of that, we have more important things. Throughout their entire relationship, there has been something that has been holding Clark back. The reason why he never told people about his powers is that the knowledge that he is special has always hurt the people that he knows. He didn’t want that to happen to Lana, but now that he is not special, he doesn’t have to worry. It completely scared his mother when he told her that he has no abilities, because he would now be vulnerable and would hurt like anybody else. Clark said that was what it meant to be human, and so he welcomed the change. Along with the vulnerability, he also feels like he has a chance to love somebody. He did once have Alicia (who I loved, but apparently a lot of you hated), but she was dead. Now, he has a second chance with Lana.
When he asks Lana if she meant what she said in the barn, those three words that mean so much to so many people, she at first kind of darts around the question. She says that the world was about to tumble upon them. Her answer discourages Clark; did she say “I love you” only because she thought they were going to die? Tearfully, Lana says that she meant every word, and the only question was whether HE meant the words. They share another kiss, and Clark says, “no more lies, no more secrets,” for like the hundredth time, but it might actually have a chance of sticking. He no longer has to hide his powers, so he can be completely truthful, at least from this point forward. Now that they have this new understanding, she asks Clark if he believes in life on other planets, which, of course he does, and says, “Actually, I do.”
Lana tells Clark about the spaceship that she saw, and although they are being truthful with each other, she leaves out that difficult discussion about the Disciples of Zod and how Clark was able to stop them and save her. When we cut to Landers field, the spaceship is no longer there. Where could it be? Why, in the bowels of Luthorcorp, of course, and it’s heavily guarded, to stick around until Lex can pay people to study it. But there is something wrong. The spaceship is melting into this black tar, and the black tar is forming into a human, it’s…it’s…it’s Spike? No, it’s not Spike, just James Marsters, who played Spike. Looks like Clark losing his powers is going to be quite inconvenient with another Disciple of Zod around.
Now if you know anything about the Superman movies, a lot of this episode is taken from Superman II, like the Fortress of Solitude. Also in Superman II, one of Clark’s friends, that time Lois Lane, discovers the Fortress of Solitude, although it wasn’t quite an accident in that movie. Superman II likewise featured disciples of Zod that Superman had to beat as well as a period when Clark Kent went completely human and had no powers. He eventually gets his powers back, as if we were worried that Clark wouldn’t get them back for Smallville, and he eventually must break off his love with Lois Lane because he realizes his responsibility to humanity is greater. I am not saying that it won’t happen in Smallville, but if you want to see what some of the influences are, at least early in this season, check out to Superman II DVD.
One of the more interesting aspects of Superman II was that Lex Luthor worked together with one of the Disciples of Zod to try and take over the world and defeat Superman. So when I saw James Marsters, I thought that maybe he was General Zod and Lex was going to work with him. When I checked imdb, it listed Marsters as Braniac, which is another Superman villain from the comic books. It will be interesting to see if Braniac and Lex get together to take over the world, which may be the impetus for Clark seeking to regain his powers.
Although a lot of this episode was predictable, I really enjoyed it. Now that Clark is out of high school and those problems are gone, we have a chance to explore some of the other Superman villains, and we get to further see Lex’s progression. Chloe is now stuck with the burden of knowing Clark’s secret, and it has already caused trouble as Lex found in her in the remote hospital and wondered why she called Clark’s name when he entered the room. Lionel is still a problem, and well, I still think that Jason might make it back for an episode. And if he doesn’t, I hope they at least show us that he was blown to bits or something, because it is a huge oversight when you think about it.
What did you think of the premiere? Enough new things to keep you interested? Will you take time to watch with all of the other stuff going on Thursday at 8PM? (The OC is gone for a month while the baseball playoffs are going on, so it can’t hurt to check out Smallville, right?)