The Best and Worst of Smallville: Season 4

For previous installments:

 

Season 4 of the show finally introduces the character, Lois Lane, who I really, really liked during much of this season. It also has a very strange storyline involving Lana Lang becoming possessed multiple times (Spell, Sacred, Commencement) by Countess Margaret Isobel Thoreaux, an aristocratic witch who died in 17th century France, an ambitious woman bent on attaining the Stones of Power. Countess Margaret Isobel Thoreaux is not the only one interested in attaining these stones though, as is Genevieve Teague, and Lex Luthor.

 

The Best:

Crusade, Gone, Transference, Spell, Scare, Unsafe, Pariah, Sacred, Onyx, Spirit, Blank, and Commencement

Blank-Lois-Adams-01

Briefly:

  • In Crusade, Clark returns to Smallville as Kal-El intent on fulfilling his destiny, meanwhile Jonathan Kent lies in a coma, Lana is in Paris, and Lois Lane comes to Smallville searching for Chloe;
  • Gone finds Clark and Lois investigating Chloe’s apparent murder, and encounter Lois’ father, General Sam Lane;
  • Transference sees Clark and Lionel switch bodies, which gets creepy;
  • Spell, a Hocus Pocus inspired episode, features the formal introduction of Countess Margaret Isobel Thoreaux, along with Madelyn Hibbins, and Brianna Withridge, taking over the bodies of Lana Lang, Chloe Sullivan, and Lois Lane, respectively;
  • In Scare, a LuthorCorp experimental toxin is released into the atmosphere that causes its victims to experience their worst fear;
  • Unsafe sees the return of Alicia Baker, noted for being depicted as “violent, dangerous and scary” in last seasons’ Obsession, gets released from Belle Reeve, meanwhile, “Lana (Kristin Kreuk) decides to have sex with Jason (Jensen Ackles) in order to win him back“;
  • Pariah sees a brutal attack against Chloe and Lana, which is thought that Alicia Baker is the suspect, but when Clark questions or not whether she did it, she reveals his secret to Chloe before being murdered;
  • Sacred sees Clark and Lana follow Jason and Lex to China in search of the Crystal of Air;
  • Onyx sees Lex get split into two, a good side and an evil side;
  • Spirit‘s “freak of the week” character, Dawn Stiles, wears similar clothing and has similar attitudes compared to Elle Woods of Legally Blonde, and Cat Grant from Season 10;
  • Clark develops total amnesia in Blank through Kevin Grady, so Chloe teaches him about his powers, and learns about them from him; and,
  • Commencement is the 90-minute season finale of the season, and the only finale to be this length which culminates in the final appearance of Countess Margaret  Isobel Thoreaux, Genevieve and Jason Teague, and the first appearance of the Black Ship.

According to the DouxReviews review of Crusade:

What a marvelous and unexpected introduction to Lois Lane.

I just loved her instantly, because she was so Lois: sarcastic, reckless, inquisitive, clashing with Kal-El as well as Clark. She was even addicted to cigarettes. And what a new and interesting way for Lois to meet Clark for the first time: naked, in a cornfield, with no memory. I loved how she said to herself, “Look at his face.” And then she didn’t.

It’s been a tough summer for poor Martha, what with Jonathan brain dead and Clark missing. It took the new and interesting black K to wipe out whatever Jor-El did and bring Clark back to himself (and Jonathan as well). But we still don’t know what happened to Chloe. When Lois bearded Lionel in his prison den (a courageous thing for a teenager to do, she’s not Chloe’s cousin for nothing) Lionel said he was innocent of Chloe’s murder. The only reason I believe him is that Allison Mack is still in the cast.

Lex was off playing Indiana Jones, looking for another new and exciting pyramid-shaped Kryptonian artifact. Last year, it was a desert island and a drug-induced psychotic break; this year, because of the poison he ingested in the season finale, his blood must be purified every seventy-two hours or his organs will shut down. Good thing he has his own jet and a private physician.

Lana was off having a ball in Paris with her cute new wardrobe and her cute new boyfriend. And a mysterious tattoo, given to her by the tomb of Countess Whatever. I can feel myself getting bored with this plot thread already, and it hasn’t even started.

That flying scene with Kal-El overtaking Lex’s jet was just spectacular. And what fun to finally see Clark fly.

According to the DouxReviews review of Gone:

Big, busy, climactic episode, with helicopters and multiple nude shower scenes and everything. And Chloe’s finally back. Hallelujah.

God, I love Lois. Digging up Chloe’s grave. Walking in on Clark in the shower. (Was she hoping for a second glimpse of Clark Jr., or just trying to catch him off guard?) There was some wonderful chemistry between Clark and Lois. Much more so, in my opinion, than there has ever been between Clark and Lana.

Turned out Lex was hiding Chloe, which made sense, and even saved her life. Lex won this round of the Lionel/Lex death match, although I just don’t believe Lionel will be in jail for long. During the early scene when Lionel implied he was behind Lex’s poisoning and told Lex he would never, ever be safe from him, Lex’s usual bravado deserted him. I think Lex was finally afraid of his father. Who wouldn’t be?

The Clark/Lex friendship was still on the rocks, and Lex was all obsessed with the plane incident. Clark has even started to believe Lex may be Sageeth. Are they finally on the road to being enemies?

Lionel hired an interesting meteor freak from Belle Reve, Trent aka Ginsu-boy. Clark and Lois blew him up into little pieces together. Does that mean that Clark finally killed someone?

According to the DouxReviews review of Transference:

What a wonderful episode. This is one of my very favorites.

Lionel was completely and utterly despicable. He was going to steal Lex’s body and leave his own son to die in prison of liver failure. But Lionel in Clark’s body was just one fun scene after another. Lifting the tractor over his head. Checking out Clark Junior. Drinking scotch. The cruel, cruel thing he did to Chloe, even though he clearly digs her. (Well, she did put him in jail, after all.) I think my favorite was the delightfully incestuous scene where he hugged Martha and his heat vision went off.

I often don’t give Tom Welling enough credit, but he was certainly up the difficult challenge of playing suave Lionel Luthor in an exciting young body. He was even able to convincingly deliver a ridiculous line to the confused Lana, like, “I’m not surprised a man would travel around the world to… pluck your succulent fruit.” He was much sexier than Clark. Of course, John Glover is sexy.

John Glover, in turn, did just fine as forthright, upright Clark Kent. Lionel’s black eye healed at the moment of transference, as did his liver. If he was sincere with the doctor, he’s changed emotionally, too. Lionel a changed man? Well, he couldn’t get more evil. Did “touching” Clark’s essence have an unexpected side effect of making Lionel a better person?

I don’t usually mention stuff outside the episode itself, but this was so interesting: in the DVD commentary, they mentioned that John Glover was on set through most of this episode, and did Tom Welling’s scenes before Tom did. That actually made a lot of sense, and partially explained why Tom was so spot on as Lionel. They also mentioned (a bit off topic, but fun) that Jensen Ackles was runner up to play Clark when they were casting Smallville. And that it was John Glover’s suggestion to shave his own head at the end of season three because he was sick of dealing with all that hair.

According to the DouxReviews review of Spell:

I hereby invoke Billie’s eighth rule of television: any episode that starts with burning people at the stake is going to suck. I mean, come on. Lana Lang cackling and swearing revenge as they put her to death?

That said, a lot of this episode was campy fun. Like needing the hair of two virgins. Lois wasn’t a virgin. Clark was, though. And Lana was. Guess things with Jason weren’t as serious as I thought. What about Chloe? They didn’t say.

The three girls vamping in their all black witch originals was fun, too. As was the crazed “Risky Business” party, the bemused recruiter from Princeton, and Lana tying up Clark and torturing him. Clark half-naked and chained to the wall of the barn was sort of amazing; Tom Welling is built like a brick farmhouse. The guys, Clark, Lex, and Jason, were all victimized by the witches and rescued each other continuously in this episode, which was also fun.

A little heat vision, a little book toasting, and voila. No more witches. Hallelujah. One episode like this was enough. No more magic and witches, please.

According to the DouxReviews review of Scare:

Extreme nightmare scenario. Caused by K experiments at LuthorCorp, of course.

For Jason, it was losing Lana to Clark. For Chloe, it was succumbing to hereditary insanity. For Lana, it was seeing everyone she loved dead. (I can identify with that one.) For Clark, it was Smallville hit by another meteor shower, and Lana discovering that he was an alien as well as the cause of her parents’ deaths. Lex’s went back to that scary prophetic dream in season one of being president, the missiles in the air, and standing on a field of bones, smiling.

This episode was mostly one living nightmare after another, very interesting, but with no real plot cohesion. But then it meandered over to the relationship between Chloe and Clark, and things started to pick up.

Chloe has discovered that her mother is a mental patient and is understandably terrified that it will happen to her. Aware of her own mortality as never before, Chloe found out what it was like to have a serious secret to keep. We could feel Clark wanting to tell her the truth, in the worst way. Why can’t Clark tell Chloe? She’s his best friend, she’s so smart and capable, and she could be such a big help to him. She is obviously able to keep his secret, and I bet she wouldn’t bitch about the responsibility, like Pete did. Could the writers be working up to Clark telling Chloe? That would certainly be okay by me.

The ultimate of ironies. Lionel continued to assert that he was innocent of murdering his parents, but admitted he still deserved to be in prison. Was he sincere? Hard to tell. And now he’s out. Who got him out? It certainly wasn’t Lex.

According to the DouxReviews review of Unsafe:

I was surprised by how good this episode was, and how much I liked it. Especially, how much I liked Alicia.

It was very hard to tell throughout who the bad guy was: Alicia, or the twitchy doctor McBride. I even thought that when the bracelet came off, Alicia would revert to type and go homicidal. But no. By the end, I found myself wanting it to work out for Clark and Alicia, and couldn’t completely blame her for dosing him with red K. Couldn’t she at least have waited another few minutes before taking Clark’s necklace off?

Sex was a general theme, and it wasn’t just Clark and Alicia and her extreme honeymoon lingerie. Jason wanted more, and Lana was ready to comply. She had enough candles going in her apartment to burn the Talon down. But Clark and Lana both got to the end of the episode with their virtue intact. It’s time, though. Heaven knows, the actors (especially Tom Welling) look older than their characters. Virginity just doesn’t seem logical any more.

Lionel was back, and still going on about his higher purpose, which appeared to be helping others in need as well as saving Lex from himself. The Lionel/Lex scenes were an absolute hoot. We still don’t know who got Lionel out of prison, though, or if he was sincere about his change. Lex certainly doesn’t believe it. I find it hard to believe, too.

According to the DouxReviews review of Pariah:

Poor Alicia. She was perfect for Clark, and clearly wasn’t going to revert to being evil again, so of course she had to die.

Alicia desperately wanted Clark to come out of the closet about his powers, so she did something about it. The scene where a super-shocked Chloe watched Clark catch a speeding car in his bare hands and then run off at super speed was very cool. And it had that feel to it where you knew there would be no re-set button, no amnesia. I loved that Chloe took it so seriously, that she wasn’t even slightly tempted to expose him, and that she took the articles about Clark off the Wall of Weird. Now, when will she tell Clark that she knows?

Lois showed some surprising sensitivity and maturity. She kept an enraged Clark from killing Tim. And she gave good advice to Chloe about keeping Clark’s secret, even though she didn’t know what Chloe was asking about. In fact, a lot of this episode was about maturity. Clark had a growing, serious relationship with Alicia, and had to face grief and loss, as well as the possibility that he had made the wrong decision. And Chloe had to make some heavy decisions when she learned Clark’s secret.

It was pretty obvious from the first five minutes that the non-Alicia culprit was Tim, the boy we saw sitting in the karaoke bar in the teaser. At least it wasn’t a meteor freak obsessed with Lana Lang; it was a meteor freak obsessed with a rigid interpretation of sexual morality.

According to the DouxReviews review of Sacred:

Crouching tiger, hidden Lana. I guess you could say this episode was something of a departure.

A little parallel frustration, as both Clark and Lana tried to deal with the fact that they were being manipulated by their ancestors. Clark was trying to protect Lana. Lex was trying to protect Lana. Jason said he was trying to protect Lana. Lana made mincemeat of all of them, which was actually rather fun. And a very impressive fight scene between, of all people, Clark and Lana.

Jason has been acquiring that “I’m secretly evil” feel for awhile. When a beaten Lex told Jason to tell the guards what they wanted to know, that it wasn’t worth dying over, I knew immediately that Lex was pulling the strings. But then the Chinese soldiers turned on Lex, and after all the torture and everything, it was hard to tell what was going on, or what anyone’s motivation was. I’m still confused.

In fact, this whole huge sojourn to China should have ended with a spectacular resolution of some kind, like the end of Lana’s possession by Isobel, Clark acquiring all three stones, something. But there are still stones left unturned. Jason has one stone. There’s one in the cave. And Bridgette Crosby has the third. I am of course assuming the three of them together will be a fount of Kryptonian knowledge, and if a human acquired it, it would be bad.

According to the DouxReviews review of Onyx:

Of course, every one has a locking iron mask in their basement, ready for situations like this.

I enjoy any episode that features Lex, but this one was just outrageously good. Michael Rosenbaum blew me away in scene after scene, as we finally got a good hard look at the darkness literally hiding inside of Lex Luthor. Rosenbaum even did a fabulous job in scenes with himself, as well as in that amazing duel of foils and emotions with his father.

Lex Luthor, a hundred percent evil, living out his fantasies. Playing out The Man in the Iron Mask with “good Lex,” which was just remarkably cruel since Lex knew what truly frightened himself. Finally making a pass at Lana, as well as an indecent proposal. Slashing Lionel with a foil, and shooting Jonathan. His glee when he realized what Clark really was, and his plans to force Clark to help him rule the world.

“Good Lex” bonded with Lionel over charity work, but “evil Lex” may have brought the real Lionel back to the surface. No more charity work, back to the three piece suits. That’s okay, though. I love Lionel no matter where he is on the morality meter.

At least this experience got Lex to come clean with Lana, as reconstituted Lex as much as admitted that he was in love with her. Interesting that she knew it already.

According to the DouxReviews review of Spirit:

From the sublime to the ridiculous. Yes, it was a body-snatching dead prom queen pulling a Carrie at the prom.

But it did have its moments, because body-switching is always fun. My favorite was probably Martha, who was a total hoot possessed by Dawn, although the rest of the cast had fun with the part as well.

The final scene was rather sweet. Clark and Lana finally danced together at a prom, but with Chloe and Lois, Clark’s future honey, watching from a nearby table. This episode strongly reminded me of the Buffy prom episode. It was the end for Buffy and Angel. Maybe this was the end for Clark and Lana, too.

I don’t usually mention clothes, but there were some damned fine outfits. Lana was stunning in virginal white (typical), Lois wore an electric pink dress that was barely clinging to her bosom, Chloe looked terrific in a red number and dangly earrings, and Martha wore a gold outfit looked marvelous with her coloring. Clark and Jonathan looked pretty damned good in tuxes, too. It’s always a treat when Clark wears something that isn’t red or blue.

In other news, the increasingly ambiguous Jason finally showed his true colors. He killed Bridgette Crosby, and was clever enough to get Lex to hide the body for him. And he told his mom on the phone that he loved her. This can’t be good.

According to the DouxReviews review of Blank:

A mind-wiping coffee shop thief shows up, and suddenly Clark didn’t know who he was. A superhero with amnesia. I know, I know, but I love stuff like this.

The best part of this one was Chloe and Clark. I really loved Chloe taking care of Clark and covering for him, as she discovered a bunch of his powers that she knew nothing about. For a few moments, I was afraid Chloe was going to lose all of her memories of Clark’s superpowers… but that scene at the end suggested that she remembered everything, or nearly everything. Hallelujah.

Clark’s wariness of Lex, inspired by Chloe’s warning, was right on the money, since Lex was prevaricating about the two of them researching the caves together. Lex just wanted to find out more about Clark while Clark was out of it. Things between Clark and Lex are getting mildly uncomfortable, because Clark can feel that Lex has ulterior motives, and Lex can’t stop trying to find out about Clark. They’re still going through the friendship motions, but it’s not the same as it was.

Kevin, whose thievery started the melee, turned out to be a very good guy; after what Clark did for him, he kept Clark’s secret, and covered for him. Bless his heart. I guess it was because he was a Summerholt experimental victim, not a meteor freak. But now we have yet another person running around who knows Clark’s secret. It’s getting to be a pretty big club.

I was a bit more bored with amnesiac Clark deciding to pursue Lana in a big way, and unfortunately, I can tell that new development isn’t going away. And consider the irony. Lana has decided that, secret-wise, Jason is unacceptable because he’s too much like Clark. You’d think Lana would have given up on Clark completely by now. Oh, how I wish she would.

According to the DouxReviews review of Commencement:

And of course, they left us with the usual three thousand cliffhangers.

Clark in the middle of endless wastes of snow, with a great big crystal. (Obviously, we can expect the real Fortress of Solitude in the fifth season opener.) Lionel, coming out of his mysterious paralysis because of the stones, to do what? Chloe and Lex in the cave, in who knows what danger. An injured Lana, dragging herself toward a crashed space ship. The Kents, alone with homicidal maniac Jason Teague, just as a meteor hit their house.

The second meteor shower was sort of amazing. In fact, the effects in this episode were just outstanding. That shot of Clark saving that little boy was stunning. The shot of Lois on the ground looking out over Smallville was also wonderful.

Lana and Clark told each other “I love you” when they said goodbye. And here I was hoping that Lex being all protective and getting lawyers for Lana would finally make her care for him. Yes, he went all bananas about getting the bloody crystal from her, but Lex really does love Lana. Can’t we change the Superman legends and have Lex completely reform for Lana, and marry her?

Lois and Clark had a long, very cute discussion about their futures, in which many bits of what we know will happen were mentioned. Clark told Lois that she should consider journalism. Lois said Clark would end up on the farm married to Lana. God forbid.

 

The Worst:

Façade, Devoted, Jinx, and Krypto

Smallville_4x03_003

In briefs:

  • Façade sees Clark join the Football Team, meanwhile Lois has to make up classes at Smallville High, and Lana is dating Jason Teague on the faculy of the Football Team, and we get to meet a “demeted plastuc surgeron“;
  • Devoted features a group of four cheerleaders who are discovered to have created a “love molecule” that allows them to control their boyfriends, so they are most certainly Straw Feminists (see Feminist Frequency‘s #6);
  • Jinx introduces Mister Mikhail Mxyzptlk, Smallville’s version of  Mister Mxyzptlk, and what a poor job is done; and,
  • Krypto is about introducing Krypto, the Super Dog, and boy did this episode suck.

According to the DouxReviews review of Façade:

Yes, it’s that old saw: beauty comes from within. Really.

It’s senior year, so it wasn’t surprising that Clark’s longing for football finally overtook him in a great big gridiron way. And this was of course paralleled by poor Scabby Abby literally knocking the guys dead with her new face, courtesy of her psycho plastic surgeon mom. Who was, of course, obsessed with Lana Lang, because everybody becomes obsessed with Lana Lang. Gee, do you think there was K in that “special process”?

Jonathan was (again) hot under the collar about the football thing, and I gotta say that Jonathan had a point. It wasn’t just that Clark might inadvertently hurt someone. Clark playing football is just inherently unfair to everyone else. Clark can’t possibly play without “cheating”, even if it’s unintentional. But Clark also had a point, that it wasn’t fair to deprive him of what other kids were allowed to have. Not that every kid who wants to gets to play high school football.

Lois flunked out and must repeat some classes at Smallville High. I was wondering what they were going to do plotwise with Lois’ tender youth. Does this make her a year older than Clark? If we actually knew for sure how old Clark really was, that is, baby in a spaceship and all. (And I’m not talking about Tom Welling. As fond as I am of him, he has never looked like a teenager to me.)

According to the DouxReviews review of Devoted:

Love potion number nine. But of course, with this being Smallville, it looked like Gatorade and had Kryptonite in it.

Chloe under the influence was definitely the most fun. You gotta love her wearing nothing but Clark’s football jersey and trying to seduce Clark, and then doing the embarrassing cheerleader thing as Clark was getting the crap kicked out of him. “Give me a K! Give me an E!” I think the plot took a wrong turn and got too serious when Jason beat the hell out of Clark, but got back on course when Lois got Clark to go undercover in a swimsuit. For a moment, I thought he was going to give Mandy his all for the cause, but no: Clark’s virtue was still safe. (For whom, though? Lana or Lois? Or possibly Chloe?)

Lex made several concerted efforts to win Clark’s friendship back. Being Lex, his first attempt was to buy it back with new football uniforms. But it finally worked when Lex dismantled his secret room and gave all his Clark obsession files to Clark himself.

Jensen Ackles was exceptionally cute with and without his shirt, as was Tom Welling. But as cute as they were, I still thought Lex in the locker room in his black suit and tie was twice as studly. But that’s me.

According to the DouxReviews review of Jinx:

Another comic book staple, Mr. Mxyzptlk, but with a Smallville twist.

Clark finally injured someone playing football. Yes, it wasn’t his fault, but still, Jonathan was right all along. And the whole team was depending on Clark to take them to the championships. Mr. Mxyzptlk showing up as a teenaged exchange student slash bookie and controlling things with his voice was an added complication.

Personally, I find football boring, and Clark and the big game didn’t resonate with me at all. I was much more involved with Mikail and the threat to Chloe. Mikail was actually pretty slimy and threatening, and worked well as a supervillain. After Clark’s amazing play in the last five seconds of the championship game, that involved saving Chloe as well as winning, it appeared that Chloe may have suspected that Clark was the one who freed her. If Chloe’s investigative instincts are finally focused completely on Clark, my money’s on her figuring it out. Even though we have been on this road before.

I was also intrigued by the possibility that Lex got Jason fired…. why? Because Lex wants Lana for himself. He certainly didn’t do it out of friendship for Clark. Not this time.

According to the DouxReviews review of Krypto:

Canine meteor freaks. That was new.

I’m a cat person, but I love dogs, too, and I enjoyed this episode a lot. The cliched trashing the food in the kitchen scenes were to be expected, but I loved the armored truck scene where Shelby saved Clark as well as the other dog, and Clark returned the favor and saved Shelby. It wasn’t surprising that Clark strongly identified with Shelby, since he was a super-strong stray at one time, too. The bad guys even illustrated the comparison by imprisoning Clark in Shelby’s cage.

What surprised me was that the Kents ended up keeping the dog in the end. Clark is just a tad old for the classic boy and his dog scenario, though, and Jonathan was right to wonder what they would do with Clark’s dog next year. Although Clark could go to college in Maine or California, and still come home and feed the dog every night.

(Shelby’s name was originally Einstein. I wonder if that was a deliberate homage to one of my favorite novels, Watchers, by Dean Koontz? Watchers is about a wonderful dog named Einstein born with human-level intelligence, and two people who come together while protecting him. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it. Especially if you’re a dog lover, as Dean Koontz clearly is. I don’t recommend the movie they made out of it, though, because it was an utter travesty.)

Arguing and bantering pretty much non-stop, Clark did all of his investigating with Lois this time. She constantly baited him, he was sarcastic with her, and I loved every minute of it. Their chemistry is a cut above anyone they’ve ever put Clark with before. Lois and Clark fit, somehow, and that’s as it should be. Good casting there, guys.

Things appear to be revving up with the tiresome Isobel tattoo plot. It seemed Jason didn’t know what his mum was up to, after all… unless the two of them were putting on a show for Lana. And Lana may be destined to destroy their entire family. Please, make it stop.

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Next in the best and worst is Season 3.

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4 thoughts on “The Best and Worst of Smallville: Season 4

  1. Pingback: The Best and Worst of Smallville: Season 3 | The Progressive Democrat

  2. Pingback: The Best and Worst of Smallville: Season 2 | The Progressive Democrat

  3. Pingback: The Best and Worst of Smallville: Season 1 | The Progressive Democrat

  4. Pingback: On Total Recall | The Progressive Democrat

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