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I am sorry that I was so delinquent with my Smallville post from last week. Just after I had said that the episodes were off-topic, but enjoyable, we get an episode about killer dogs that had been experimented by Luthorcorp for a government weapons program. Oh, I checked out after that. Yes, I still watched the episode, but I could not stand to revisit the episode, even if it was to help out all of the loyal TVgasm readers who watch the show. And I still like the show, and hope it sticks around for a little while longer. Hey, even the New York Times thought the show was good enough to warrant some press (registration required). As far as the action on the small screen goes, we are finally starting to get some answers to all of those questions they had us wondering about towards the early part of the season – and they have us asking a few more after tonight’s episode.With his hopes of a college scholarship dashed, Clark has to go back to doing what the rest of us poor souls do when the recruiters and the boosters aren’t knocking on our door, namely fill out applications, write essays, and go to alumni interviews. Clark is busy with his applications when he gets a package from Dr. Swann. At that same moment, Jonathan turns on the TV, where they are announcing Dr. Swann’s death. Clark is stunned, as they had spoken just days earlier, and there was still so much that he had to learn. Opening the package, Clark found that Dr. Swann returned another octagonal piece of the spaceship he crashed to earth in, with further instructions about his father Jor-El, and Clark’s legacy.
Whenever you talk about Clark’s legacy, you have to think about the caves. I wonder how long it is going to take for Clark to learn these caves don’t have a lot of privacy and move his setup to the arctic. Clark places the piece of the ship inside a piece of the rock, and his dad appears to him as a disembodied voice. Usually when Jor-el has appeared, it has not been good news. He is either making Clark go crazy or trying to kill Jonathan somehow. This time, there is nothing to worry about. Jor-el gives us a little explanation of the stones. They are the stones of knowledge, and when he collects them all, he will be able to harness all of the power of his ancestors. Oh, and he needs to get them before any humans do, because they will use them to destroy the earth. No problem, it’s just the fate of an entire civilization on his hands. Clark is probably more worried about finding a senior prom date (although I am guessing he will just take the copout and go with Lois).
So, Clark needs to find out more about the stones. Hmm, why not start with the girl who has a Krypton symbol magically tattooed on her back? When he gets to Lana’s apartment, she is visibly upset. She had spoken to Jason earlier and he said he was in Metropolis, but she was later called to the Luthor mansion by Lionel and told that he was actually in Shanghai. Lionel then went on to tell Lana a little bit more about Countess Isabelle Thoreau and her arch rival the Dutchess Gertrude. The Dutchess was obsessed with the three stones as well, and she used her wealth to search for them all over the globe. One of her ships came back from China with a map, which the Countess stole and had hidden. For her crime, the Countess was burned at the stake, but before she died, she promised to exact revenge on Gertrude. Jason and his mother are direct descendants of Gertrude, and Lana is a direct descendant of Isabelle. If ever there was an example for the term “star-crossed lovers”, Lana and Jason would be it.
Although Lionel isn’t directly searching for the stones anymore, he knows that his son is, and he knows that he can passive-aggressively get other people to do some of his work as well. For instance, tell Lana her boyfriend is in Shanghai, give her the same map that he has, then offer to fly her to Shanghai. Lana is packing for her little expedition when Clark comes along. He knows that it has something to do with one of the stones, so he offers to come along with her. And to be honest, even though they are not a couple, he isn’t going to let her face all of those horrible communists without any help. And although I have serious doubts that the Luthorcorp jet has the range to make it to China from Kansas (maybe with a stop at LAX), it is not a bad way to travel. But come on Lex, any billionaire worth his salt has a BBJ to fly him around.
Jason was not the only person who was in China from Smallville. As it turns out, Lex had followed him (very conveniently leaving the Luthorcorp jet at home so his dad could let Lana and Clark use it later). Lex knew that he couldn’t completely trust Jason, so he followed him to China, perhaps thinking that his father or Jason’s mother might have told him something to help him find the stone they are looking for. All they need to do is lay low, and make their way up to the temple on the map. Unfortunately for them, two tall white guys tend to attract a lot of attention, including that of the People’s Army, who chase them through the streets for a little while before capturing them, driving off (apparently China buys surplus American Hummers for the use of their army), and taking them to a cell.
There is nothing scarier than the phrase “unofficial Chinese prison”. After a little while, Lex is dragged off, and when he comes back he has been worked over pretty well. He tells Jason to give up any information he knows, and that it is not worth dying for. It turns out that Lex had paid a Chinese general to give the two a little scare in order to make Jason talk. But as they are dragging Jason away for his little interview, Lex finds out the the Chinese general betrayed him for somebody who had paid him even more money. The strange part was not that the general betrayed Lex, but that Lex acted like this was a somehow strange event. It’s not like Lex’s money is the only one that is good for corrupting government officials.
While Lex and Jason are incapacitated, Clark and Lana are searching around Shanghai themselves. Lionel doesn’t really give them any more instructions besides, follow this street until you see a green rooster. It took me months to understand why there are two Santa Monica Boulevards in Los Angeles, so I can only imagine how hard it must have been to find a green rooster on some random street in Shanghai with not even a little GPS to help them out. They were told a meet a professor at this green rooster, but how in the hell are they going to know what she looks like? Well, they found the green rooster and the professor found them.
The professor, who is not an old, grizzled man with a fu-man-chu and a penchant for ginseng and ginger. Our professor is a hot young woman, who is not any less knowledgeable, but sure does love leather jackets. She retells the ancient story of the temple, how there was an ancient legend about gods from another planet bestowing leaving an ancient artifact at the temple. Then there was some talk about how some Europeans came, but they were never able to find the artifact. (This is where you are supposed to figure out that those Europeans were working for the Dutchess). While in the temple, Clark notices that there is a false wall. He makes up some excuse for Lana and the professor to go on while he investigates a little more. He pushes the wall, which reveals a silk robe, woven with a pattern that looks like the same map that took Lex so long to find, but is now passed around more often that those star maps on Sunset Boulevard. There is also a chinese mask above the robe, and when Clark gets closer he finds that the mask is inlaid with Kryptonite eyes and is quickly weakened to the point he can’t move.
Looks like Clark will have to wait around for Lana and the professor to find him. They will get around eventually, they will wonder what took him so long. Before those thoughts enter their head, some soldiers come in and see the two of them. They shoot the professor on sight, and are about to kill Lana when they notice the tattoo on her back, recognize it, and decide they need to see if she knows anything about it. They take Lana back to the prison (do they have a secret prison for every ancient temple? it seems like you can’t find one without the other in any movies these days), where we see that Jason and Lex are getting a little electrocution treatment with a car battery and a wet sponge. Not to worry though, because they are soon to get a break.
The general removes the battery because there is going to be a new inmate in town, one Lana Lang. The guys see that Lana is brought in, and both of them are likely blaming themselves for the fact that she is there, Lex because he paid the general, and Jason because he knows Lana was probably looking for him. Lana is tied down to a chair which is terrible, but better than hanging from the ceiling like her two friends. She also has another ace up her sleeve – a 17th century witch that had possessed her body. Although the Isabelle had been stopped before, there is still a part of her inside Lana, and she is determined not to let anything happen to the hot body she possesses. Once Lana has the electro sponge applied, the Countess reappears in her body, complete with all of the witch powers she needs to magically blast away Red Army soldiers with a hardly a thought.
During the time Lana was going through her mental break, the soldiers at the temple found Clark. Finding it too convenient to shoot him right away, they make sure they take the time to move him just out of range of the kryptonite before they start to work him over a little bit. This gives Clark all of his strength back, which he uses to beat up the guards and rush to save Lana before anything happens to her. He makes it to the prison just in time to see Lana has been possessed, and she sees him just in time to knock him out with one of her nifty energy rays. She then walks on, map in hand, to find this elusive stone.
Clark soon awoke, and helped Lex and Jason down. All three went to the temple and inspected the robe, Clark at a safe distance of course. What they had all believed on the map was a river was actually a different sort of map. The river was actually the branches of a tree, and looking through the same tree would give you the true location of stone. Lana knew this, and she performs a spell at this spot and pulled a statue of a horse from the ground that bore more than a small resemblance to Seths Cohen’s Captain Oats.
I had been sort of wondering the whole episode why any of this was taking place in China, and I would soon find out. After breaking the horse in half, the sacred stone was revealed, and Clark raced in just in time to grab it. Isabelle used another energy beam to knock Clark out, but the fighting would not end there. The two find themselves inside of the temple, and the Countess is pissed. She finds her inner Ang Lee and they start doing some low budget Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon moves. Clark takes a sword through the shoulder, it bleeds profusely (although nobody will ask about the blood later, of course), but it doesn’t stop him. They fight, some more until they collide, conveniently knocking both of them out, and restoring Lana to her original state. She of course has no memory of what was going on, and all three of them head back to Smallville.
Once home, Lex immediately goes after his dad. He thinks that he set him up, and blames him for what happened. We have been getting more and more hints that Lionel is really his old self, but the time in prison seems to have made him patient. He is now fine with letting other people get worked up about it. Although he tells Lex not to go crazy with the search for the stones, you know he is secretly counting on Lex to try even harder to find all of them.
We aren’t quite sure how long everybody was gone, but you can be assured that his parents weren’t happy to learn that he had been missing in China, especially with all of those college apps to finish. He went to get the stone, but in the aftermath of his struggle with Isabelle, he wasn’t able to find it. To make it worse, he received a posthumous e-mail from Dr. Swann stating that he was going to return the one piece of the stone he had to Clark, but Clark never received it, of course. What’s worse, whoever Bridgett Crosby was, nobody knew about her, certainly not the people at the Swann institute. (If this seemed like a strange twist, the NY Times article was mentioning that Margot Kidder was not going to be on the show again with a “contract issue” to blame. I guess this was their way of writing her out of the season).
Not everybody came out of China empty handed. The stone was not lost in the battle of Clark and Lana, Jason had picked it up. He tells this to Lana, and all of a sudden, everything is right in there world. He lied, she was pissed, but this stone was the perfect make up gift, at least for their current relationship. There is that whole thing about the Countess determined to exact revenge on any of the Dutchess’s heirs that they are going to have to work through.
Overall, an up and down episode. I like that we got more information, but the whole China sideshow was a little forced. Everybody was tortured, and although it takes some people years to overcome the scars of abuse, the folks of Smallville are fine just a day later. Still, after the killer krypton dogs, I can live with a few more episodes like this.