The Best and Worst of Smallville: Season 1

For previous installments:


Smallville is a show also known for having creepy guys violate women in all sorts of ways, as seen here in X-Ray from Clark to Lana. This would not be the last time something like this occurs on Smallville. According to The Metropolis Times‘ “Peeping Tom & The Male Gaze“:

Peeping Tom is about Mark Lewis, a focus puller for a movie production crew.  He constantly carries a camera with him, and uses a hidden dagger in the tripod’s leg to stab women’s throats while filming their frightened faces for a documentary.

Michael Powell’s commentary is deliciously complex.  He’s not subtle about attacking the audience with his camera – he jabs right at us from the very beginning.  We witness a murder from Mark’s camera’s point of view, and then we watch it again, on a projector.  Mark isn’t killing/filming these women for his own private enjoyment.  He’s making a film for an audience.

This theme (like much else in the movie) is repetitively mirrored.  Mark’s father tortured him for the future good of humanity, and for his series of books.  He had an audience.  Mark’s pornography is purchased by gentlemen at the newspaper shop, while Mark watches.  Everyone is creating and consuming; even the blind woman wants to know what is on the film while she is being filmed for a different segment.

Powell really starts to run away with the joke.  Glamour model Pamela Green is cast as Mark’s pornography model.  Moira Shearer, who dances and dies for us in Powell & Pressburger’s The Red Shoes, does the same for Mark and us here.  And, Powell himself plays Mark’s father and casts his son to play young Mark…He lays the irony on pretty thick.

The film climaxes as the line between producer and consumer/subject and audience is completely erased.

Peeping Tom, along with Hitchcock’sVertigo, are the icons of the “male gaze” in film theory.  We see women from the perspective of men, and women see themselves from the perspective of men.  Mark’s girlfriend, Helen, assigns herself the Manic Pixie Dream Girl‘ script, and devotes her every moment to positioning herself in Mark’s mental frame in the way she thinks is best.  The star of the movie Mark works on devotes herself to positioning her body in the way the male director desires.  (The stand-in positions herself for both the director and Mark; the porn models clearly do as well)

Even though Helen is capable of writing a book, she needs a man to provide the pictures for it, and even to tell her what sort of pictures are needed.  She has no idea how to create an image on her own, and thinks it is impossible.

Helen’s blind mother most literally doesn’t have a gaze of her own.  She, more than anyone, is the most aware of Mark’s gaze and of its danger.  When she confronts Mark, she breaks down and reveals her total dependence on seeing through his eyes — she begs both to know what is on the screen (“What am I seeing?!”)  and to have her picture taken.


The Best:

Hourglass, Jitters, Leech, Kinetic, Stray, Obscura, and Tempest

Smallville 01.06.B - Lex

In pieces:

  • I didn’t really like an episode of this season until Hourglass, which is a pretty fantastic episode overall;
  • Jitters features Earl Jenkins suffering from mineral posisoning and decides to take hostages inside Lionel’s fertalizing plant, which leads to Clark to search for the mysterious Level Three (which would become Lex’s Level 33.1;
  • Leech features Eric Summers, the first person to possess Clark’s powers within the show. Eric was presumably “disadvantaged” because he didn’t have understanding parents, hence going evil with the Clark’s powers;
  • In Kinetic, Whitney Fordham loses his scholarship and falls into bad business with meteor rock tattoos that give him the ability to walk through walls;
  • Stray sees Clark play Cinderella to a young boy that can read minds, sort of like What Women Want?;
  • Obscura sees Lana having visions of Chloe’s kidnapper, after a gas pipe explosion; and,
  • Tempest is the first finale and cliffhanger which is worth watching.

According to the DouxReviews of Hourglass:

Clark: “It’s not your fault, Lana.”
Lana: “Do you know anyone else who’s lost an entire old person in a wheelchair?”

Seriously cool episode with Greek tragedy overtones about the future. Especially Lex’s future.

That vision of Lex that killed Cassandra deserves a paragraph of its own, because it’s just stunning. Lex is wearing a white suit and black gloves. We see the presidential seal. He stands in a field of sunflowers that becomes a field of bones, and blood rains down upon him. He smiles.

Clark’s vision of the future included the gravestones of everyone that he loved. (Starting with Jonathan, and not including Lex.) It’s very interesting that Clark’s arrival in the cornfield so many years ago inadvertently caused so many deaths as well as meteor freaks. In keeping with all the destiny and future talk, we also can consider that when Clark saved Lex’s life, he saved a future supervillain who will almost certainly cause innumerable deaths.

According to the DouxReviews of Jitters:

Jonathan: “Where were you?”
Clark: “At the hospital.”
Martha: “That’s it. I’m never leaving home again.”

Another meteor freak. This time, it was Earl, a poor schmuck friend of the Kents having super seizures that he claims were caused by experiments on level three of the Luthorcorp plant. Except there is no level three. No, wait, yes there is… but it’s empty.

Lionel was back, and of course, he was behind it all; they were secretly growing K-enhanced corn. Note how Lionel constantly competes with his own son. That’s not healthy.

That final scene was just fascinating. Lionel was holding Lex in his arms, sort of gingerly, and obviously without real affection. Lex was staring intently at Jonathan and Martha, who were holding Clark. Perhaps Lex’s obsession with being Clark’s best friend is just a manifestation of Lex’s jealousy. Lex may be rich and powerful, but he wants what Clark has. He wants someone to love him.

According to the DouxReviews of Leech:

Martha: “Clark, you’re our son. Whether you can bench press a tractor or not.”

Lightning plus K equals superpower transference, huh? That’s okay. I don’t insist on logic in my cartoon-based fantasy television shows. And this is really my kind of episode.

At first it was all nosebleeds and leg cramps, but Clark really got into being a normal human being: playing basketball without having to hold back, getting close to Lana without having a problem with the K in her necklace, and so on. Clark managed to adjust and he even enjoyed it. And that was because he has loving parents who have always been there to support him. Jonathan and Martha love Clark, not his powers, and Clark knows it.

Eric wasn’t as lucky. Drunk with superpower, he had a poor support system (i.e., truly wretched parents), and of course, he lacked Clark’s years of practice in keeping his powers under control. It had to turn out badly. At least no one took his parents hostage in order to force Eric to work for them, which was sort of what I was expecting.

Lex had the car accident reconstructed (he’s just never going to let that one be, is he?) and became convinced that Clark had, well, superpowers. This was certainly the perfect time for Clark to have his powers stolen. Lex also found the time to carry out a hostile takeover of Sir Harry’s company. Sorry about that, Victoria.

According to the DouxReviews of Kinetic:

Lex: “Clark, you can’t save the world. All you’ll end up with is a messiah complex and a lot of enemies.”

Interesting concept, faulty execution.

A few local ex-jocks got hopped up on K (via tattoos, which was new and interesting), and carried out heists by walking through walls. The chronically boring Whitney became slightly more interesting after the loss of scholarship pushed him into getting involved with them, at least until he realized what they were up to. I had the same problem with this one that I always have with this kind of plot. If they can punch through things, how can they also carry things? If there are no rules, it’s hard to swallow plots like this one.

Mild-mannered student reporter Clark Kent took up the Torch 🙂 and investigated the attack on Chloe. While Chloe, languishing in her hospital bed, was still the one to figure out that the K tattoos were speeding up the ex-jocks’ metabolism.

Lex bought the Talon/flower shop from Nell in order to turn it into a parking garage. Surprisingly, Lana came up with a viable proposal to turn it into a coffee shop, and Lex agreed to it. Lex said, “I think this could be the start of a very interesting partnership.” Hmm.

According to the DouxReviews of Stray:

Jonathan: “You’ve always had a soft spot for strays.”
Martha: “The last one turned out all right.”

Yet another supernatural orphan dropped into the Kents’ lives. (You certainly fell into the right family, honey.)

I liked this one. I liked how young mind reader Ryan had every intention of keeping his gift a secret, but couldn’t help telling people what he knew. Of course, Ryan loved the Kents, took to Chloe, and didn’t like Lex at all. He couldn’t read Clark, but still picked up from others what a good guy Clark was. In a transparent comparison to Superman, Ryan saw Clark as “Warrior Angel,” a “strange visitor from another planet who protects the weak.”

Lionel told Lex that he was “more than adequate” and in an attempt to diffuse Lex’s success in Smallville, offered him a job in Metropolis. Lex turned him down. We also got the first mention that Lex had a younger brother, Julian, who succumbed to sudden infant death syndrome.

So Clark had a temporary little brother. No little brother for Lex. I wonder what sort of big brother he would have been? Would he have treated Julian the way he treats Clark?

According to the DouxReviews of Obscura:

Clark: “Chloe leaves for a day, and the Torch goes down in flames.”
Lana: “Safe to say we won’t lose you to the entrancing world of journalism.”

So. Lana and Whitney are off horseback riding, and they encounter a gas main fire and get hit by exploding K. (Let’s face it. No place in Smallville is safe.) Fortunately, it gave Lana psychic powers that linked her to Bad Officer Watts in time to save Chloe from her exceptionally weird kidnapping experience. If Watts was planning all along to rescue Chloe in order to make himself look good, her life wasn’t in as much danger as it appeared. But still, being buried in a field is very shuddery.

Clark finally gave up on Lana and started paying attention to Chloe. Chloe even gave Clark his first kiss. And of course, Lana was jealous. Let her be jealous! Come on, Clark. Everyone who has ever read a Superman comic book knows that Chloe is much more your type of girl than Lana. Wake up and smell the girl reporter, Clark.

Eddie Cole, crop duster, saw Clark’s ship land twelve years ago. Lex had Dr. Hamilton do an analysis of that very same field, and found an octagonal piece of metal that just happens to fit into Clark’s ship. I think we’re ramping up for the season finale, folks.

According to the DouxReviews of Tempest:

Lex: “You just fired twenty-five hundred people and blamed it on me.”

So what was this? A triple cliffhanger? Actually, I think it was a quadruple cliffhanger. This is about as cliffhangery as you can get.

1. They left Lionel trapped beneath a jagged post. Will Lex save him, or let him die? Letting him die would (conveniently) solve all of Lex’s problems, but Lex may not be ready to do that.

2. Jonathan was chasing evil reporter Roger Nixon right into the storm. Nixon knows Clark’s secret, and he was holding out for the highest bidder, of course, because you know that an evil character who knows Clark’s secret is going to die a premature death or conveniently lose his memory. I’m betting on an early demise. Maybe Jonathan will accidentally knock him into a tractor prong or something.

3. Martha was alone in the storm cellar with the newly glowing and possibly dangerous space ship, after the octagonal key zapped itself right into the ship all by itself. Will she live? Will she die? Will she take a trip to Pluto? Will she start glowing in the dark?

4. Lana was actually airborne as well as trapped inside a truck, which was in turn trapped inside a tornado. Shades of The Wizard of Oz. Will Clark and his tux save her in time?

This was also a Whitney-heavy episode, which was fine because they finally wrote him out. I never cared about Whitney as a character, probably since they started him out stringing Clark up in a field. Now that Clark has (to some extent) committed to Chloe — and he was wonderfully romantic with her — Lana may finally be free of Whitney. Except that after Whitney apologized to Clark for being a perennial jerk, he had the nerve to ask Clark to “look after Lana” (translated, don’t date Lana while I’m gone). Once a jerk, always a jerk. This will probably serve as a good plot device to keep Clark away from Lana awhile longer.


The Worst:

Craving, Shimmer, and Drone



  • Craving features Jodi Melville, a man-eating monster;
  • Shimmer sees Jeff Palmer use green kryptonite rose extracts to turn himself invisible as his sister, Amy, is obsessed with Lex and jealous of Victoria Hardwick, so Jeff attacks Victoria, but is thwarted by Clark; and,
  • Drone sees Sasha Woodman eliminate her competition to be class president by commanding a swarm of bees to attack them. For real.

According to the DouxReviews of Craving:

Dustin: “You’d think someone that big would have a thicker skin.”

This was a rip-off of the Stephen King novel Thinner, with a dash of Vthrown in for flavor. So to speak. Let’s see. A deer and a high school boy both suffer from an attack by what seems to be a fat-sucking vampire. Clark and Pete’s friend Jodie magically gets a lot thinner overnight and is acting very strangely. No one puts two and two together. Uh huh.

Clark stood Lana up for the second time, and on her birthday, in order to rescue someone. But he covered well with that do-it-yourself drive-in movie near the barn.

According to the DouxReviews of Shimmer:

Jeff: “Did you forget the unspoken rule? Servants are supposed to be invisible.”

Turns out Lex can be a decent guy. He doesn’t seduce young female servants, even when they have monster crushes on him. Crush-girl Amy was of course the big red herring. Turns out it was her quiet, insane brother, Jeff.

Lana, who was having problems with Whitney, was busily organizing a blood drive. Which meant Clark had a problem. How can anyone in this day and age get through life without ever having a needle or a blood test?

Whitney’s father was seriously ill, and Whitney wasn’t sharing with Lana. A father with heart troubles. We all know from the comic books and movies what killed Pa Kent. A little foreshadowing there?

According to the DouxReviews of Drone:

Chloe: “I just want to know what you stand for.”
Clark: “I stand for truth, justice, and… other stuff.”

This is the type of plot that just makes me cringe, and I’m not talking about my reaction to the killer bees which, incidentally, didn’t kill anyone. Fortunately, this episode was less about the bees and more about the election of student body president. Except that that made me cringe too because hey, done soooo many times.

As Clark battled to become president of his class, Lana battled unfair competition from the Beanery in an attempt to keep the Talon alive. She actually played dirty and eliminated her competition, color me shocked. I was also surprised and pleased that Lex did not step in and help her.

The more interesting subplot was Lex’s encounter with Carrie Castle, a bloodthirsty reporter determined to make her bones by doing a hatchet job on Lex. (I can quote The Godfather, too.) She was out of her league, no surprise there. And we found out that Lex does indeed have political aspirations, which reminded me of that scary vision in “Hourglass.”


12 thoughts on “The Best and Worst of Smallville: Season 1

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