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Smallville: Eternal

Wow, that was epic! I think this episode is probably in my top 5 Smallville eps of all-time, just for the way it used the mythology.

Integrating Davis into the Smallville mythos: Davis and Lex, Davis and Clark
My brain is still probably too full of squee to analyze this in any depth, but I have to say I was completely blown away by how seamlessly they interwove the Davis backstory into the core mythology of the show--not just the Veritas stuff but all the flashbacks to the Pilot. And not only did that elevate the dramatic promise of the Davis' endgame, but it was a really lovely way to bring back characters many of us are missing: Jonathan and Martha and Lionel and, most of all, Lex.

BTW, did they reshoot/greenscreen in/or otherwise use tech to have child Lex in the cornfield played by the current actor? Because I swear he looked different in the Pilot

I haven't read any reviews, so I don't know how Lex fans overall are reacting to the replacement of Lex with Davis in the Kawatche cave myth of the doubleheaded figure, but I think that the way they developed young Lex's backstory with Davis in this made this feel less like they were robbing Lex of his mythic role and more that they were doing what Smallville loves to do: create a character who shares elements of both Lex and Clark to show the way both of their destinies could have gone.

The Clark parallels are in fact even more striking--Clark himself calls attention to them. Davis experienced both of Clark's greatest fear: (1)getting captured by Lionel Luthor, put in a cage, and experimented on; and (b) being abandoned in a world with no loving parents to guide him on the right path, and therefore ending up a monster. I think recognizing those parallels added a special urgency to Clark's attempt to persuade Chloe not to kill Davis. Of course Clark wants to see the good in everyone, even serial killers whom he's deeply suspicious of, but he also feels a level of responsibility once he's learned about Davis' origins.

But Davis, like Lex, has a "destiny" to go evil--his destiny being far more predetermined than Lex's because he literally *cannot* control the monster inside of him. And yet still he struggles, and we see the parallels to Lex's struggles early in the show. How bittersweet to have those flashbacks to little Lex back when Lex was still full of heroic impulses--to be like warrior angel, to slay the evil dragon like St. George. And Davis, too, loved warrior angel [no telling why he should--I guess he was programmed to speak English and have pop culture while in the pod?] and was willing to play the dragon, but knew he must be slain. Oh, god, my heart *ached* for both of those little boys in that scene. *Sobs* I just want to kidnap them both and feed them cookies and keep them far, far away from Lionel and his ilk. Though even that wouldn't save Davis in the long run.

Tess
And speaking of Lex parallels: WOW. Wow wow wow wow wow. Honestly? The way they're going with Tess is the way I wish they'd gone with Lex, at least some of the time. She makes blowing up trucks look *sexy.* Seriously? That scene where she thinks she's killing Davis to save the world? In my notes it says "holy fuck I have never seen murder look so hot." Like Lex, she's doing bad deeds for the betterment of humanity, but unlike Lex she is not troubled by her conscience. Guh. I probably should be more disturbed that I think this is hot, shouldn't I?

She's going to die by the end of the season, isn't she? (DON'T SPOIL ME, I AM ONLY SPECULATING). She knows more about Clark's secret than anyone besides Lionel does, yet she has the fanatic devotion of Lex in his first blush of true love obsession, and with a lovely soupcon of religious fanaticism that's her own special touch. I can't decide which I love more, "I forget: what's the prayer for dismembering a body", or her decision that Jesus Clark needs a little Judas in his life to fully embrace his heroic destiny?

And DAMN. All the confrontations she has with Clark, where she pulls no punches and tells no lies, and he fences back so persuasively (or it would be persuasive, if she didn't know everything)? HOTTER THAN HELL.

Chloe
You know, it was almost worth the whole damn triangle bullshit, and even the marriage to Jimmy and its subsequent disintegration, just to get to this episode for Chloe, where she has several really nuanced moral choices to make and makes them completely in accordance with her character and with the decisions she's made all throughout this season.

1. I guess we have the resolution to the question of whether she or Brainiac killed that guy in the hospital: Chloe will, in fact, kill to protect Clark.

2. And yet she was clearly deeply, deeply conflicted about her decision to help Davis kill himself, which I was glad to see. She had been deeply shaken about her trust in him--especially considered she had to come to grips with the fact that Jimmy had been right, and she was in fact responsible for the destruction of their marriage because she trusted the wrong man--and yet I still think that her decision to help Davis die was more of an act of love than simply a decision to protect Clark. And honestly? In her position I probably would have made the same decision--I'm curious to see what other people think. If I had just discovered someone I loved was (a) a serial killer (b) who wanted to stop and couldn't and (c) was a significant threat to the whole world because he was too powerful for normal prisons and (d) was a specific threat to my best friend? And (e) that person really, really wanted to stop even at the cost of their own life? I can't say for sure, of course, but I'm inclined to think I would have chosen as she did.

Still, it's going to cause a real rift between her and Clark, if not now, then eventually--especially given that she presented it to *him* as suggesting that in refusing to wipe out threats to himself, he was endangering the world. That's just not compatible with the Superman philosophy.

3. Her decision at the end, to stay with Davis, is an interesting one. Of course it can't work in the long run, and I'm really curious to see if they're going to play it more as Chloe embracing a Clarkian sensibility, that everyone can still be saved; as her really having deeper feelings for Davis than she thought she did and that she's deceiving herself; or that she's a martyr, offering herself to David to save the world and ending up in a bad place (or maybe even dead?) because of it.

In conclusion: this episode totally rocked the house. And I'm all in favor of more flashbacks to bring back dead characters/characters whose actors have left, because I MISS THEM. I didn't realize just how much until tonight.

Comments

( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
norwich36
Apr. 3rd, 2009 07:39 am (UTC)
I really like the parallel to Giles in "The Gift"--and now I'm trying to remember, was there ever any fallout between Buffy and Giles because of that decision? Not immediately, obviously, since Buffy was dead, but I can't remember if it ever came up later?

I do think it's important the Clark has someone looking out for his interests, and honestly I tend to prefer mythologies where heroes occasionally do have to make decisions that are morally grey, because in the real world you *can't* always save everyone. But it's so much a part of the Superman mythos that Superman doesn't make the "unheroic" choice. And while I tend to agree with you that Chloe's defense of him is justified, I'm pretty sure that in the *show's* logic it is not, because the people who have tried to protect Clark in the past by killing for him (Lex, Lionel, Tess to a certain extent even Oliver) have always been shown to be taking the wrong road. In fact, when Lana considered killing Lex to protect Clark, it was supposed to be one more sign that she was considering crossing over to the dark side.

Now, it's possible they're going somewhere new and different this season, because *both* Oliver and Chloe have killed to protect Clark, and they're both still portrayed as good guys on the show--so far. But if I had to predict, I'd predict it's more likely that this is going to lead them both to a flirting-with-darkness scenario in the future, since that's where Smallville tends to take things.
huzzlewhat
Apr. 5th, 2009 02:45 pm (UTC)
I really like the parallel to Giles in "The Gift"--and now I'm trying to remember, was there ever any fallout between Buffy and Giles because of that decision? Not immediately, obviously, since Buffy was dead, but I can't remember if it ever came up later?

Nothing that made it onscreen — there was a bit cut from "Lies My Parents Told Me" where Giles brought up killing Ben as an example of him making the hard choices that she couldn't — it was used to justify his being in on the plot to kill Spike, another deliberate "for the good of the world" action that the show coded as wrong-headed.
clari_clyde
Apr. 3rd, 2009 07:20 am (UTC)
When immigrants arrive to their new country, the adults look for media in their language made for their cultural mindset. The kids however? Soak up their adopted country’s pop culture like a sponge. So while I’m befuddled that Davis spoke English while Wee!Clark was mute, picking up on Warrior Angel makes sense to me because those comics were age-appropriate and very popular for the age that he was supposed to be.

I think, the tragedy of Davis is that, here is someone who was given the worst hand and yet, managed to make a hero out of himself. He was given a hand that was as bad as what Lex was given, if not worse and yet, he still genuinely loves and cares for people and truly loved being an emt. But because of forces beyond his control — namely that he was programmed to kill, and above all kill Kal-el — he is a monster. And that’s the tragedy of Davis — that unlike Lex, he had no choice. Oh what might have been if he had had that choice.

To be honest, I don’t think that being found by the Kents would have made a difference for Davis and that the Kents would have ended up dead. That said, the story, as Tess presents it to Clark, leads Clark to believe otherwise. Which leads me to the awe of just how much she really knows about Clark. You have to know how much Clark blames himself, via his arrival, for all the suffering that went on in Smallville otherwise, pulling a stunt like that risks too much.

As for Tess. I think she’s the Judas. There’s a hypothesis that Judas thought, that if the Romans arrested Jesus, Jesus would somehow find a way to overcome them and end up triumphant. Instead, what he got was a man suffering on a cross and the shame of what he did lead him to suicide. Tess thinks Davis is the Judas. But Judas is Rome — really, who is the only canonical character to kill Superman? — and Tess is Judas. Tess so badly wants a hero but, oh. That’s so not the way to go about doing it.
norwich36
Apr. 3rd, 2009 07:42 am (UTC)
Oh, I know that kids learn culture very, very quickly, but Lionel is supposed to have only had Davis for 5 days *total*, which seems like an extremely rapid time for him to have picked up both English and comic book knowledge.

I agree with you both about Davis' tragedy being worse than Lex's because he has no choice (poor programmed boy) and that that means the Kents wouldn't have been able to help him--but as you say, Clark doesn't know that.

And I think this is very insightful: Tess thinks Davis is the Judas. But Judas is Rome — really, who is the only canonical character to kill Superman? — and Tess is Judas. Tess so badly wants a hero but, oh. That’s so not the way to go about doing it.

Yeah, so very much NOT the way to be a hero. (Though it reminds me quite a bit of a lot of fanfic, except Lex of course would be the one playing that role.)
clari_clyde
Apr. 3rd, 2009 07:55 am (UTC)
Er, that was supposed to say, “but Davis is Rome.” But you knew that. :-p

I’d have to re-watch the episode again but, I got the impression that Davis, arguably, could have had a shallow knowledge of Warrior Angel. For adults, they have to know something inside out to believe in it. But for kids, all it takes is one issue or one episode and voila, they’ve got the basics that so-and-so character is a hero and heroes are good and therefore are to be emulated.

I found it ironic that Lex was the hero and Davis was the dragon. Too many ironies in that one to make my head explode.

You know? I like Tess playing that role much more than Lex playing that role. Like we were joking a few weeks ago, they haven’t had time to mess up Tess much yet. But other things: She’s got Lex’s obsession, Lionel’s power, Genevieve Teagues’ cunning, and Veritas’ fervor. She’s like all the bad elements of the show wrapped up into one. She’s like the anti-mary-sue in that she’s too perfect — but for evil.
norwich36
Apr. 3rd, 2009 11:14 pm (UTC)
She’s got Lex’s obsession, Lionel’s power, Genevieve Teagues’ cunning, and Veritas’ fervor. She’s like all the bad elements of the show wrapped up into one. She’s like the anti-mary-sue in that she’s too perfect — but for evil.

Oh, I really like that description of her.
(Deleted comment)
suex
Apr. 4th, 2009 12:03 am (UTC)
BTW, did they reshoot/greenscreen in/or otherwise use tech to have child Lex in the cornfield played by the current actor? Because I swear he looked different in the Pilot

Yes. It was reshot. They used the same actor that they used for all of little Lex's scenes last season. The boy they used in the Pilot is probably about 16 by now.

My brain is still probably too full of squee to analyze this in any depth, but I have to say I was completely blown away by how seamlessly they interwove the Davis backstory into the core mythology of the show--not just the Veritas stuff but all the flashbacks to the Pilot. And not only did that elevate the dramatic promise of the Davis' endgame, but it was a really lovely way to bring back characters many of us are missing: Jonathan and Martha and Lionel and, most of all, Lex.


I think I would have to watch this episode about 6 times before I could get my head around all of that stuff, not to mention all the religious analogies. I'm hoping that one of the great meta-reviewers who get this stuff, will make my job easier by interpreting everything for me. Feel up to the task? :D

And DAMN. All the confrontations she has with Clark, where she pulls no punches and tells no lies, and he fences back so persuasively (or it would be persuasive, if she didn't know everything)? HOTTER THAN HELL.


I love Tom and Cassidy's chemistry. I hope she sticks around next season so we can get more of it. I would even love it, with her biology background and knowing about Clark, if she became Clark's personal Physician. :)








norwich36
Apr. 4th, 2009 12:12 am (UTC)
Thanks for the confirmation of the reshoot. I know, of course, they couldn't use the original little Lex to play Lex now, but it was nice that they didn't just use the original footage from the Pilot.

I'm hoping that one of the great meta-reviewers who get this stuff, will make my job easier by interpreting everything for me.

I'm kind of hoping that too. (Where *are* the reviews of this ep, anyway? This is the first time in weeks I've actually had any time to collect reviews for eat_crow, and there are barely any!)

love Tom and Cassidy's chemistry. I hope she sticks around next season so we can get more of it.
Me too. In fact, I could even get behind a Clark/Lois/Tess love triangle, because it would be far more interesting than normal given that Tess has chemistry with Lois, too. (In fact, it would be eerily reminiscent of the Lex/Lana/Clark triangle, only from the femslash side of things).
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )

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