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A few weeks ago, Smallville featured a show that was basically a ripoff of Flatliners and I thought that perhaps the writers had given up on all originality knowing that their new network would probably want them anyway. Last week, I was surprised that the episode seemed fairly original and very creepy, despite Tom Welling having directed it. This week, I am back to thinking that the show has jumped the shark, as the episode is basically a one-hour network safe version of Saw. The episode was very painful to watch but since I want to get a few plot developments out of the way, i’ll make the recap short and sweet.Lionel Luthor is riding in his limo when it stops on the train tracks. He wonders if his driver has gone crazy, but the driver runs out of the car and away from the scene. Moments later, and random guy with a strange mask appears on his screen (sound familiar?) and says he is going to play a little game. If Lionel wins the game, he lives. If he loses, well, I am sure that you can take a guess.
The first game is hangman, and the strange guy says that it is a lesson that he learned from Lionel. The lesson? NO MERCY. Lionel solves the riddle and escapes his limo just before a freight train comes crashing through.
Naturally, Lionel thinks that Lex is behind this sick little game, but Lex has no idea what he is saying and basically says that his father is worth more to him alive because he has brought the company millions. It’s not like Luthorcorp was hurting and eventually you bump into the law of diminishing returns, meaning that the longer you keep Lionel around, the less he is going to be able to help you. That being said, this didn’t look like it was the work of Lex.
Obviously Lionel had a problem, so he had his office checked for bugs. After the technician left and said there was nothing wrong, the masked man came back, this time on Lionel’s computer screen. Obviously this meant that the guys sweeping for bugs was this crazy killer. But why?
We didn’t get the answer to that question, but an earlier question was answered, namely “What happened to Lionel’s driver Alex?” Lionel woke up in a room with a charred body. His challenge, should he choose to accept it, was to balance two buckets of flammable liquid, and put it on a hook. If it was unbalanced, the flames coming up from the floor would set him aflame like it did for his poor limo driver Alex.
Now I thought there was a little suspense, because I do believe that they would kill off Lionel, but obviously he wasn’t going to die twenty minutes into the episode, so it wasn’t a surprise when he beat the first challenge. It was a little bit more of a surprise when he got to his second challenge and it involved Martha Kent. Yes, Mrs. Kent was included because she was a friend of Lionel’s and the man with the mask believed she had sold her influence to him.
Matha was in a plexiglass container and water was rapidly filling that container, threatening to drown Martha. Lionel had to solve a word puzzle to save her, which he did, and together they went to the third challenge, which was in an elevator.While Martha and Lionel were doing that, Clark and Lex were looking for their parents. Clark got a call that his mother wasn’t at a fundraiser, and since he recently told his mother that Lionel knew his secret, he asked Lex where they could be. Strangely enough, Lex found out his father was missing from the same fundraiser, and so they started looking around the room for clues.
Clark noticed an imperfection on a statue of Lionel’s and Lex, knowing his father would only deal with a flawless specimen, smashed it open to reveal a camera. Immediately, Chloe surmised that it was high res and had a wireless carrier. She started throwing around some techno jargon like piggy back transmission, hacking sequences and terminating points, but was able to narrow the location down to a house not far away.
Now that Lex was involved, Clark was a little upset. He has to be wary of protecting his identity, so he couldn’t just run off and save his mom, but he’s not too worried yet, so he agrees to follow Lex. When the two of them get to the location, the only thing they find is a television with their parents on the screen, about to play the third game.
Martha and Lionel got into the elevator and after reaching the top, they were give a gun with one bullet. One person in the elevator had to die or the killer would blow the charges on the elevator lift, and both would fall to their deaths. Lionel was willing to sacrifice himself, but Martha couldn’t pull the trigger. Lionel took it upon himself and pointed the gun to the bottom of his chin and pulled the trigger.
But nothing happened.
That’s right, there was no bullet. The killer came out and said he only wanted to see Lionel suffer. That’s when Lionel realizes this killer is going to kill them anyway. Lionely is correct, and the killer blows the charges, sending the elevator tumbling down.
Clark had been at the abandoned house playing dumb while Lex’s people searched through things when he got a call from Chloe. She picked up second signal that she thought was the true origin. It was far away and she didn’t know the exact spot, so she told Clark to start in that general direction and as she got closer to the trace, she would update him. Although he knew he might be sacrificing his identity by leaving, Clark didn’t want to take the chance on losing his mom just so Lex could chase down the signal in his Porsche.
Clark gets to the new location, which is an abandoned warehouse this time, and uses his x-ray vision to detect that an elevator is falling. He sets himself at the bottom of the shaft and braces himself for impact. Cark catches the elevator knowing that he is saving his mom, and Lionel Luthor as well, who wakes up, looks through the grated floor and is amazed at just how “special” Clark really is.
Now we have a bit of a dilemma. There is obviously no going back from this point, and Clark doesn’t know what to do. He wants to protect his mother, but he can’t trust Lionel, can he? I was wondering the same thing. We have gone back and forth with Lionel being alternately ruthless and sort of caring for a few seasons now. Which one is he? Well, when Lex asks him about what happened in the elevator, Lionel doesn’t mention anything about Clark. Later, Clark comes to visit him and we learn that Lionel has known about Clark ever since that third stone put him in a coma. Lionel says he is not Clark’s enemy, wouldn’t do anything to hurt his mother, and that he is not there to change his destiny.
Despite all the kind words, Clark isn’t convinced. He tells Lionel to stay away from his mother and, more importantly, stop calling him son, which got me to thinking. Lionel said he started the Apex takeover of Luthorcorp because he wanted to keep his son from getting too much power. He has also gone to great lengths to keep Clark’s secret. Could Jor-El be calling some of the shots for Lionel?
I am sorry if this recap shows my lack of effort, but I really didn’t want to waste time on something that was really very unoriginal. Smallville has always borrowed characters from the comics, which doesn’t bother me, but all of these story lines that borrow from other movies, especially the Flatliners and Saw episodes really take me out of the show. I only hope that with the Professor Fine story line coming back, some of the show’s excitement returns as well.
What did you think of the episode?