Saturday, October 13, 2007

“When I talked about fitting in, I was thinking of something with more clothes”: Smallville

So after an episode that showed off everything good about Smallville, we get ‘Fierce’, an episode that exemplified everything god-awful about it. The story revolved around Kara’s attempts at fitting in in Smallville, which she decides to accomplish by entering a beauty pageant - a pageant attended by three oddly stunning model-types. Even after their presence is explained (they’re meteor freaks after a hidden loot), the inexplicable concept of these three taking part in a local town fair is too ludicrous to get over. On top of that, they are terrible villains of the week. One of them has a power similar to Iceman’s, which she uses to freeze people to death, and another can throw wind at people. (The third is swiftly dispatched when she turns against the other two, in a confusing and horribly shot scene.) Kara uncovers their dastardly plans and commits herself to stopping them, hoping to impress a moody and dismissive Clark.

Why is Clark in such a bad mood? Because the love of his life, Lana Lang, has just returned to him, back from the dead! Wait – that can’t be right. Clark seems to exist as two entirely separate characters in his two plot strands, overjoyed with Lana and pissed off with Kara. The scenes between him and Lana are nothing less than pathetic. She comes to see him right at the start of Act 1, a mistake in itself – a big scene like that needs some build-up! He is suitably astonished to see her, but ludicrously, his first reaction is to hug her. I’m sorry, a HUG? If I know Clark, I’m sure he’s been wishing ever since her ‘death’ that he hadn’t let anything get in the way of being with her. Therefore, I think his first reaction would be a little more than a hug. This alone I could live with, but as the episode goes on, the two barely spend any screen-time together. They talk for a while, Lana explaining everything, him understanding, but then Kara is being annoying and she leaves. The next time we see Lana, she and Clark are straight away back to normal, flirting and paling around as if nothing had happened. Writer Holly Harold takes a pivotal moment of this season and bungles it, lazily and in typical Smallville fashion. There is a suggestion that Lana is finally committed to their relationship, but somehow I doubt this will last long.

Jimmy returns (finally!), and it’s nice to have that easygoing chemistry between Ashmore and Mack once again. The two are unfortunately ill-served by bad dialogue and forced ‘romantic banter’. Ashmore is underused again when Jimmy is put out of commission by Icegirl at the halfway point. Chloe runs with the potential story after being egged on (and put down) by Grant Gabriel (Michael Cassidy, getting one scene and stealing one scene). However, she ends up disheartened when Jimmy admits how right she was about meteor freaks: “Sooner or later, they all snap!” Dramatic irony, anyone? No? Just irony then.

While all this is going on, Lex spends some quality time with Agent Carter. It’s becoming pathetic how the writers keep playing him off faceless ‘evil agent’ caricatures, only to dispatch them swiftly afterwards. I guess this is what happens when every other character hates an ensemble member - should have thought of it before, Smallville writers! Lex doesn’t do much except blather on about the “angel” that saved him (this being Kara). Somehow it takes his goons the entirety of the episode to find her, even though she’s just around the corner. Eventually Lex visits her, in an uninteresting final scene that serves no purpose except to pose the question, is Kara an angel or a danger? “Boring!” you might proclaim, and you would be right – based on ‘Fierce’, I’m not very optimistic about Kara’s long-term direction at all.

Hopefully things will perk up a bit, although next week isn’t looking too promising: Dean Cain as an evil scientist. Ingenious!


Carrie said...

God help me, but I kind of enjoyed this episode. The beauty queen story was stupid but painless for me. And after one of Clark and Lana's conversations I even found myself thinking (*gulp*) "Wow, that was kind of sweet." It's nice to not have Clark's secret hanging over their heads and making them double-talk every conversation.

Maybe I got hit over the head with a heavy object directly prior to viewing. I don't know.

Joey Sims said...

The beauty queen thing was the kind of story I hate on Smallville, but I'm glad to hear some others like it considering how often episodes are built around similar ideas.

And you're right, there were moments of sweetness between Clark and Lana. I guess I just know the show well enough to know it's all going to go horribly wrong, and soon. I'll be very impressed if the two of them are actually allowed to be happy for a while.