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Smallville: Traveller

So the medical stuff wasn't as bad as feared, and I actually got to watch SV tonight, albeit a little tape-delayed. YAYITY.



Denial is the first step
Ok, first things first: Patricia Swann is not dead. Because I love Gina Holden too much (oh Blood Ties, what did you do to me? I totally have a crush on her), and the character was way too cool to kill her off that early. I mean, she has serious femslash potential with, oh, just about anybody (Kara is the logical choice, all in all, but I'd be pretty damn happy with Lana or Chloe too), so I'm going with "I didn't actually see her corpse, so by TV logic she still could be alive. Blood spatter on a locket is not proof of death. La la la la la I can't hear you."

In which I actually appreciate SV's whackadoodle laws of characterization character inconsistencies:

I realized, watching tonight, that Lionel's very inconsistent characterizations over the past, oh, three seasons or so can actually make for good plot twists. Because when Clark was captured? I totally didn't think of Lionel at all; I was sure it was either Lex, the government, or Lex and the government working together. So that was a great twist. And then at the end of the episode I thought, oh, Lionel no longer has to pretend to be a good guy anymore, so he must have ordered the hit--when it turned out to be Lex. So, um, good job, SV writers? I guess?

Seriously, though, regardless of the inconsistency of Lionel's characterizations, John Glover really is masterful at making the best of what he's given. I really loved his performance tonight even more than normal, because for the first time ever, I became convinced (a) that Lionel is convinced in his own mind that he is sincere in believing he is a changed person (b) he believes this while being completely blind to the huge flaws in his own moral system that prevent him from authentically changing. In that scene where Clark confronts him, it seemed clear to me that this was more than one last desperate attempt for Lionel to try to spin things so as not to lose Clark (although it was definitely that)--Lionel actually believed he had made the right decision in attempting to protect Clark by imprisoning him. He knew, of course, that Clark wouldn't accept his reasoning (that's why he did it the way he did), and he definitely has his own agenda--yet in his own, extremely morally crippled way, he did think he was doing the right thing.

In fact, he was hampered by his own good intentions. Lionel playing at his A game would never have been authentically threatened by sadist!Tyrol, or even by Patricia Swann; he would have taken out the blackmailer, not tried to have her shipped off on a plane to Europe. This, more than anything, convinces me that Lionel really does believe his own press. And yet his past--which is absolutely crammed full of more misdeeds--is going to always rise up and strangle his good intentions, because there are no real shortcuts on the road to redemption. And in some ways? that redeems the whole mishmash they've made of Lionel in the past couple years, for me, as long as they're really going to show that he can't escape his past any more than Lex could. If anyone deserves to be crushed under the weight of his past sins, it is definitely Lionel.

The "return" of Veritas

It seems like way back when we were all gaping at the idiocy that was the stones-of-McGuffin plotline of season 4, there had been some sort of webcomic that actually set up the backstory we finally got in this episode, about the meetings of the Teagues, Queens, Swanns and Luthors--but I didn't actually read it, I just heard about it. Still, I'm happy that Lex's discovery of the secret of his family crest (which sounds like a bad Nancy Drew novel--and I'm pretty sure "The Secret in the Old Locket" is an actual Nancy Drew novel) is less pulled-out-of-their-asses than it seemed last week.

But, um, why kill the Swann that can lay golden eggs, Lex? Patricia might have known more secrets than the one in her locket. I am deeply confused by your idiotic choice to kill her, and please note my other objections at the top of this review.

The gratuitous TC porn
I just had to comment on the fact that the TC folks must be in heaven at this episode. Me, though? I'm happy to see Clark writhing around, don't get me wrong, I just think they should have stripped him down to the silver bikini pants first. See, this is how I should have known immediately it wasn't Lex that kidnapped him.

But dammit, psycho!Tyrol used to work for Lex--and that man was quite, quite scary. Lionel, you really have to stop shopping for your minions at Casa Lex--we all know those minions are inherently defective, go nuts and try to kill their masters. It's some defect in the factory they haven't been able to pin down.

Girlpower to the rescue
Speaking of femslashy episodes--if someone wants to write me the scene where Chloe consoles Lana about Clark's kidnapping, and they drink a lot as they plan Kara's rescue and things get a little out of hand, I wouldn't complain. Just saying. And they were damn cute in their mutual scoobying. I also really liked their confrontation with Lionel--they didn't *quite* pin him down, but they were very close. And I can't decide which I liked more: Lana using the secret knowledge of Lex's interior spaces against him*, or Chloe saving Clark with the power of love.

*I feel there is probably an interesting essay in this about Clark v. Lana in Lex's public v. private spaces. I nominate someone else to write it, though.

Comments

( 22 comments — Leave a comment )
duskwillow
Mar. 21st, 2008 01:20 pm (UTC)
so I'm going with "I didn't actually see her corpse, so by TV logic she still could be alive.
Can I join you in your denial?
She was so interesting and I agree that they could have done so much more with her character. It was way too soon to kill her off. :(
norwich36
Mar. 22nd, 2008 01:54 am (UTC)
Yes! We will live in our happy denial place! There was really no reason to kill her off so soon--in a few episodes, maybe, but think of all the future exposition she could have provided!
suex
Mar. 21st, 2008 05:13 pm (UTC)
Great review Norwich. I love your very witty analysis of the episode. I myself really enjoyed the episode, and cant wait to see it again, but did anyone else think that there was a scene missing between Clark, Lana and Chloe. I would have liked to have seen some kind of reunion and a thank you from Clark between the three, but I guess time did not permit when there were so many mythological scenes to get through, i may have disrupted the flow of the episode. Someone with a better grasp on story telling might be able to shed some light on that one for me.

And too funny about the Patricia Swan slash storyline, I didnt quite see that myself, but I did like her character and was truly shocked when it was "implicated" that she had been killed.
norwich36
Mar. 22nd, 2008 02:00 am (UTC)
See, they could have cut out the murder of Patricia Swann and left time for the missing Chloe-Lana-Clark scene. (I did think it was odd the way first Lana, and then Chloe, just vanished when their part in the rescue was done, but I guess plotwise it was more important to have it clarified that Kara had recovered her memories and to have Clark confront Lionel).

P.S. I love your icon!!!
(Deleted comment)
isilweth
Mar. 22nd, 2008 01:39 am (UTC)
Lionel Knowing hasn't saved or redeemed him; it stands to reason that it wouldn't save or redeem Lex, either.
YES! This is such an important statement. I've been trying to figure out why I loved Lionel knowing from the beginning retcon so much and I think this is it. It emphasizes choice as the creator of destiny, just like Clark chooses to maintain hope in Lex.
norwich36
Mar. 22nd, 2008 02:15 am (UTC)
Your reasoning about why Lex killed Patricia made sense to me--I would expect him to *eventually* murder her for those very reasons--it was more the timing that confused me. I mean, first steal the locket/hack her files/etc. to make sure you have everything and then kill her would be more what I would expect from Lex.

I mean, it's almost savant levels of moral/ethical blindness, because he honestly couldn't see anything wrong with putting Clark in a Kryptonite. lined. CAGE.

I know, seriously. Seriously!! The only way I can understand his reasoning here is to think that most of the Veritas group with the possible exception of Virgil Swann wanted the traveller as a pet/tool; none of them really wanted to be his protector. So when Lionel started getting blackmail notes from someone who knew about Veritas, he assumed that person was expected a scenario where the Traveller effectively was Lionel's prisoner/property, and had to deliver it. But even with that completely half-assed chain of reasoning, he could still have enlisted Clark's help. Fake Kryptonite cage, anyone? Not hiring the world's most sadistic guard? DUH!!

tariel22 has a great review in which she suggests Lionel has actually been "corrupted" by his good impulses. I would say, actually, paralyzed. They've actually put him off his game and hindered his ability to manipulate people, because he now has (one or two) moral limits. But at the same time, as you said, he is hindered also by his complete obliviousness to his own moral blindspots. So now he is neither an effective force for good nor an effective force for evil: he's becoming a confused, rattled, ineffectual figure who is easy prey for his own son. And honestly? That's practically biblical in its perfection as a punishment for Lionel's past.

I also think that Lionel here in this episode works as a surprisingly subtle, nuanced rebuke of the idea, espoused so many different places in SV fandom over the years, that Just Knowing the Secret could have been the difference between Lex being a good guy vs. being the Prince of Darkness. Lionel's known Clark's secret for almost three years now, and that didn't stop him from killing Edward Teague (who, as far as we knew was actually alive as of Commencement because Lionel commented to Lex about the fact that he might notice his wife was missing), extorting Lana into marriage with a man Lionel knows is dangerous, beating a woman to death after disarming her, and sticking Clark in a Kryptonite-lined cage in the interim. Lionel Knowing hasn't saved or redeemed him; it stands to reason that it wouldn't save or redeem Lex, either.

That's a really strong argument! I didn't realize Edward Teague's death was so recent--for some reason I thought Mrs. Teague was widowed, not divorced--but especially all the stuff Lionel did last year and this year demonstrates he is not redeemed by knowing, nor even by his desire to protect Clark.
jude_judith82
Mar. 22nd, 2008 01:09 am (UTC)
he character was way too cool to kill her off that early.
I was so disappointed about this too.

And I basically wanted to copy your paragraph about Lionel because the whole time I'm watching I'm just what is Lionel up to? You just made some amazing points about things that I've was trying to work through. So is the MB back?

I am deeply confused by your idiotic choice to kill her
My only reasoning at the time was that he knew he was being manipulated or used as a pawn in her little showdown with Lex and Lex at this point is not going to be anyone's pawn or that he knew she was hiding something but that she wouldn't share. I also like what latxcvi wrote much better.
norwich36
Mar. 22nd, 2008 02:25 am (UTC)
I don't know, actually, if the MB is back. I mean, we've seen Lionel bounce back from some horrific blows,but this one may have actually done damage. I think he had spent enough time convincing himself he was, actually, doing good by Clark that he was emotionally invested in that relationship--he seemed more rattled in their final conversation than I'd ever seen him. It looks to me like they're setting him up for a fall. My prediction? He's dead by the season finale.

I do like your point about Lex not wanting to be a pawn in someone else's game. I'm still pretty disappointed about Patricia's death, though. Couldn't they have at least waited a few episodes to kill her?
jude_judith82
Mar. 22nd, 2008 03:13 am (UTC)
we've seen Lionel bounce back from some horrific blows,but this one may have actually done damage.

You can actually see that. How nervous he was and how he downed that drink right before the Clark confrontation. The desperation on his face. It's surprising to see Lionel like that.

My prediction? He's dead by the season finale.

My brother and I were actually discussing this and we both came to same conclusion.

Couldn't they have at least waited a few episodes to kill her?

I know! I really liked her!
norwich36
Mar. 22nd, 2008 08:03 pm (UTC)
Yeah, it's seeming more and more likely that Lionel won't survive the season. Which is going to make me sad, since I totally love John Glover--but plotwise I'm actually amazed he's lived this long.
isilweth
Mar. 22nd, 2008 01:45 am (UTC)
I love how snarky this review is. It gave me a cathartic case of the giggles :D Lots of great points, as usual. I &hearts your Patricia Swann love.

I'm happy that Lex's discovery of the secret of his family crest ... is less pulled-out-of-their-asses than it seemed last week.
Out of all the good things in this episode, I think this was my favorite. I'm a sucker for backstory and Lionel's knowledge seems to give his relationships with the Kents and even with Lex more layers.

norwich36
Mar. 22nd, 2008 02:27 am (UTC)
Thank you! I do love to share my snark with the world. I actually enjoyed the episode a lot, but sometimes making fun of SV is too easy, you know?

The backstory was actually very interesting--too bad they didn't work it into the actual show a lot earlier!!
redteekal
Mar. 22nd, 2008 02:56 am (UTC)
Concur on just about all your points. (Including stupid Lex move at the end there with *block ears now and lalalala* Swann's murder. Sure hope he got all the info out of her he could have first because she had some tasty stuff on Lionel right there.) Except for one fairly major one I guess. I think Lionel was fully aware that putting Clark in the cage was completely wrong (the look on his face as he gazed down into the cage the first time he walks into the control room says it all - he *knows* it's completely wrong) AND that he only did it to serve his own aims. I think he is a supreme strategist and actor and with the smoothness of his lies to Chloe and Lana combined with his desperate sounding 'It was for your protection' story to Clark I truly believe that he is over his little delusion that he may actually be a changed man. If Clark had for one moment accepted this story and believed he was still an ally then I have no doubt phase two of "Clark to be dissected or vivisected like a lab animal" would have been enacted upon. Let's say evil Tyrol was stopped from killing Clark and Kara never showed up. Do we really think Lionel would have just let Clark out? Or would he have carried on imprisoning him under the pretense of it being for his own protection? A man with that sort of sordid history and just a touch of realism knows he will be never be rid of his need to cover up his sins which inevitably involves more murder and mayhem.

I too agree that Lex is past the point where knowing Clark's secret would have saved him. *Makes sad eyes here*

And I don't know about those arguments as to why Lex killed her. Isn't the enemy of his enemy his friend? I mean I know Lex ain't exactly the friend-making kinda guy but still I really thought there was some loose alliance formed there when she revealed her info on Veritas and her clearly communicated hostility towards Lionel. And was she his competition? Competition for what? For holding the key to all his questions? Sure hope he got that key before doing away with her.

Best line? Clark to Lionel "No..you haven't"
Worst Line? Lana "If he hurts Clark I will kill him"

See my LJ for my full review.

Edited at 2008-03-22 02:58 am (UTC)
norwich36
Mar. 22nd, 2008 08:08 pm (UTC)
Hi there! I've added you to the watch list for eat_crow, so I'll definitely be looking out for your reviews in the future.

I think he is a supreme strategist and actor and with the smoothness of his lies to Chloe and Lana combined with his desperate sounding 'It was for your protection' story to Clark I truly believe that he is over his little delusion that he may actually be a changed man. If Clark had for one moment accepted this story and believed he was still an ally then I have no doubt phase two of "Clark to be dissected or vivisected like a lab animal" would have been enacted upon.

I agree with you that Lionel, overall, is a superb strategist and a master manipulator. He lies fairly effectively to Chloe and Lana even when he's clearly under extreme stress--and even remains fairly convincing in that final confrontation with Clark when he must know he doesn't have a chance in hell of convincing him. I don't know about the vivisection, though. While that might have been his intent when he built the cage a couple years ago, I think that he instead became invested in the idea of controlling Clark through his influence, rather than violence--and in fact, that losing Clark's trust was actually causing him to make uncharacteristic mistakes.
seacrystal
Mar. 22nd, 2008 10:03 am (UTC)
And yet his past--which is absolutely crammed full of more misdeeds--is going to always rise up and strangle his good intentions, because there are no real shortcuts on the road to redemption. And in some ways? that redeems the whole mishmash they've made of Lionel in the past couple years, for me, as long as they're really going to show that he can't escape his past any more than Lex could. If anyone deserves to be crushed under the weight of his past sins, it is definitely Lionel.

This is an excellent analysis and I love how you've acticulated this. Your good deeds in the present doesn't cancel out your sins in the past, you have to actually face them up and pay for them in order to gain redemption.
norwich36
Mar. 22nd, 2008 08:10 pm (UTC)
Yes, totally. And a lot of folks have been complaining--fairly--that Lionel seems to have been "redeemed" (or at any rate, trusted by Clark and friends) without ever trying to make up for his past crimes, which is totally unfair. So I'm happy that they're showing that he can't escape his past deeds. If he had authentically tried to make up for them I would see this as more tragic, but much as I enjoy Lionel the Magnificent Bastard, part of me is glad he is reaping what he sowed.
bop_radar
Mar. 22nd, 2008 10:08 am (UTC)
I am deeply confused by your idiotic choice to kill her, and please note my other objections at the top of this review.
My concentration is shot today, so I'm just going to fangirl this sentence. :D
norwich36
Mar. 22nd, 2008 08:12 pm (UTC)
Yeah. LaT and some other folks above have argued that Lex hates to be manipulated, and that makes sense--but as you pointed out in your review, he knew from the moment Patricia said to "give my regards to your father" that she was manipulating him. The clever move would be to manipulate back, not to have her killed before you're absolutely sure you have all the intel she has.

Oh well. She can live on in fic, anyway.
bop_radar
Mar. 22nd, 2008 10:20 pm (UTC)
I'm with you, Nora! It seems to indicate Lex thinks he can be out-manipulated. And while that's flattering to Patricia (and she was excellent at it!), where's Lex's infamous ego?!

And let's face it, I just wanted her to live! :(
pep_singer
Mar. 22nd, 2008 10:24 pm (UTC)
//Ok, first things first: Patricia Swann is not dead.//

Heh. I understood why Lex killed her since she was obviously withholding information about Veritas from him, but I hate that she's gone. I liked Gina Holden in the role quite a bit.

//Seriously, though, regardless of the inconsistency of Lionel's characterizations, John Glover really is masterful at making the best of what he's given.//

Absolutely. I *loved* watching Glover in action this episode. He portrayed Lionel with such subtlety while he grew increasingly deseperate. Perfection, really.

ITA with your Lionel thoughts, and I love your take on Lionel in this episode.

//It seems like way back when we were all gaping at the idiocy that was the stones-of-McGuffin plotline of season 4, there had been some sort of webcomic that actually set up the backstory we finally got in this episode, about the meetings of the Teagues, Queens, Swanns and Luthors--but I didn't actually read it, I just heard about it.//

I wish we had known about this during s4 as well. Maybe then that season would've been more tolerable than it was.
norwich36
Mar. 23rd, 2008 06:14 am (UTC)
It turns out I am misremembering, and the web comic only came out last year as part of the Oliver Queen chronicles. Really too bad, because it *does* suddenly make things make so much more sense.

( 22 comments — Leave a comment )

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