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SV: Void

Is Void really the title? Are the writers just trying to make it easier for Omar to slam the episodes? I actually really liked it, but that title is just asking for trouble.

I fully expect many people on my flist to have hated this (I haven't read anybody's responses yet), but I have to say I really, really loved it. I was partly spoiled--I knew we'd be seeing Jonathan again--but I didn't know Lillian was in this too, and that enough would have made the episode for me.

But I actually *liked* the Lana plotline, to dispense with that first. Although in the beginning of the episode, there was some suggestion that her descent into junkiehood was fueled by her breakup with Clark, I think the final scene with Clark gave a reason that is very organic to Lana's character: her sense of being alone, *even when she is in a relationship.* And sure, that may display a less-than-admirable self-centeredness and inability to appreciate the relationships she *does* have (and way to GO Lex, for calling her one that!), it is also an iconic part of her character: the isolated one, the one everyone leaves.

And to tie this to the iconic episodes we got for Clark and for Lex (part one of Reckoning and Lexmas), I find it telling that even in her fantasy/dream/post-death world, Lana doesn't get what she most desires. Even compared to Lex and Clark's experiences with their parents tonight: Lex and Clark both got very clear messages from their parents about the type of men they are going to be (and I'll discuss that more below), but Lana just got pulled away from her parents, again. Loss still remains the defining feature of her character. But I think what we saw tonight was Lana really *accepting* that, on an adult level, and realizing that if she lets herself be ruled by loss, she *will* be no more than a junkie, needing a fix. Really, although on one level the junkie/flatliners plot was laughable, on another level it was just a metaphor for Lana's addiction to being in relationships and letting other people define her. And I hope what the end of the episode was symbolizing was that she is done with that. She is turning towards Lana Lang, Zen Machiavellian. (RivkaT, are they paying you for this? True, they're having her come to this realization BEFORE she sleeps with Lex, but still, the resonances seem to be there).

I also kind of loved Lana manipulating Lex, because DAMN. He made that lovely speech and she still stole his Porsche. That's cold, but in a way I really loved. I really, really do hope the Lexana turns out to be about them playing manipulative games with each other, because that will be really fun, I think. For the same reason, I'm glad Lex lied to Lana about what his mother said to him, because it means that he's lying about always being truthful to her. This says too me that even though he does seem to have some feelings for her, he's playing her, too, which is fine with me. As long as he isn't a lovestruck fool, I'm completely ok with that. Bring on the mutual manipulation!!

Ok, on to the actually important parts of the episode: the visions of Jonathan and Lillian. First of all, I think the lighting choices were really, really interesting. I wasn't entirely sure it was significant that Lillian was living in that darkened room until we saw that scene of Jonathan completely bathed in light. Now my only question is, is Lillian in hell or purgatory? (Maybe this is partly dependent on whether she was able to save Lex? That might explain part of her anger, anyway. And I can't imagine a worse hell than watching the son you tried to save become a mass murderer).

I'm a little upset that this episode clarified "Lexmas" too much. I liked it better when it was ambiguous as to whether Lex's experience was an actual vision or just a dream (especially since I leaned toward the dream theory, myself). While I suppose one could still, theoretically, argue that both Lex and Clark just hallucinated what they most needed to see, the fact that Clark's vision contained true information makes the "wish fulfillment" interpretation less likely.

Really, in a way I feel sorry for both Lex and Clark, being told by their significant parental figures that their destinies are inescapable. Of course, as outside observers we know this to be true, because the writing staff thinks it true, even if they must bash us over the head with it. Still, from a meta perspective, the fact that it is Lillian and Jonathan that deliver these crucial messages underscores the SV theme that your destiny is profoundly shaped by your parents/family history, since it is the very fact that Jonathan and Lillian deliver these messages that gives them power.

I really now want to rewatch Lexmas, Reckoning, and this episode to think through some of these things again, but alas, I am going out of town this weekend, so I probably won't be able to do it for a while.

OK, a few other comments (mostly mad, mad squeeage) on the episode:

--"There really isn't a card for "Sorry I got you killed" is probably the best line in SV history.

--Add one more to Lana's body count, and one more to the lives saved by Chloe count.

--I know, I know. Mionel is completely out of character, her husband just died, he kidnapped her baby, etc. etc.cakes. I DON'T CARE. I was squeeing like a crazy mad fangirl in every single one of those scenes, especially Martha all decked out to go to the ball.

I did like that she tried drawing a boundary with him at friendship, and I thought one might fanwank it by saying Martha's developed enough political savvy to realize that one must cultivate useful "friends," even if one has personal grievances, in order to succeed politically. But really, I was allowing myself to appreciate the Mionel, especially since it looks like this is the only episode we really get it before she goes back into protective mother mode.

--And finally, Lionel, master manipulator (I KNEW he was Chloe's secret source! I knew it! Mionel AND Chlionel, baby, I'm in heaven!) is my FAVORITE THING EVER. Ok, pardon all the caps. Hello, I just did like 140 Lionel-centered recs, you all know I'm the big Lionel fangirl. I am now in my head deciding canon ends here, before Lionel gets all murdered by Lex, and setting up the AU in which Lionel is just emperor of the city and sleeping with, you know, just about everyone. OK, Clark and Lex can join forces to fight him, that would be ok, but really. I love effective evil. And by the way, this reinforces my theory that the reason Lex isn't allowed to be competently evil is because Lionel has to reach his apogee and be taken down by Lex, and after he dies at the end of this season (I presume--I'm not spoiled) next season Lex will reach his level and then quickly surpass him.

Ok, off to read what I'm expecting to be a lot of hating of this episode, but I don't CARE, because it pushed all my big fangirly buttons, and nothing you say will make me not like it!

Comments

( 36 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
norwich36
Apr. 7th, 2006 06:01 am (UTC)
Re: part I (Reposting with better formatting)
I'm laughing, because I just made almost the same comment in your journal, about us liking the same things but for different reasons. We must have been responding to each other at the same time. And I was responding to you there, I was actually answering you on this, even though I hadn't read it yet:

See, this I'm not sure about, largely because she's about to jump into a relationship with Lex. I'd be more persuaded that Lana's really accepting it and that she's really growing beyond it if they didn't plan to stick her right back in a relationship that seems to be more about her not wanting to be alone again and less about her actually having feelings for her new partner (and also possibly about her being broke, too, although I don't know if this creative team is willing to let Lana be *that* ruthless). I think Lana *wants* to be over this aspect of her personality; I think she recognizes the ways in which it's her emotional and psychological albatross, but I don't think she can actually break free of it.

I think you're right that she *wants* not to be dependent, but that she hasn't achieved this yet. (When I was originally posting this I was too struck by the parallels between that scene and the end of Rivka's "Tertium Quid" that I was being optimistic. Now my thought is that breaking free of dependence on others to define herself is what they're foreshadowing as Lana's iconic destiny (just as Lex and Clark's iconic destiny are foreshadowed heavily in this episode).

Of course, freedom from dependence can be a good thing (independence) or a bad thing (isolation/detachment/ inability to connect with people). It would be interesting if her relationship with Lex pushed her more into isolation and coldness, putting her own interests above those of other people, at least for a while, but I doubt they would stay there with her character.

What I liked about it was that I also think it shows that even if he wants to, he doesn't really trust her. I mean, Lex *has* opened up to people about dark things in the past (and by 'people' I really mean 'Clark') and it's been established that if he really loves or thinks he loves someone, he can even come clean with them about really bad stuff that he's done (cf. telling Helen he stole that vial of blood). But the fact that he wouldn't tell Lana just how dark that vision really was suggests that he doesn't feel the kinship to her that he might want to. I liked it because to me, it showed that he absolutely realizes she's capable of active manipulation; he didn't just write off the business with his car as her being strung out. If Lex were truly besotted with Lana, his answer would have been a lot closer to the actual truth, even if he did put a spin on it.

Yes and yes and yes. It's especially potent that he doesn't open up to her about his mother when she did open up to him about why she was seeking out the drug, even though she was initially so reluctant that she would steal from him rather than admit the truth. To me, that suggests he's definitely manipulating her rather than being besotted.
(Deleted comment)
norwich36
Apr. 7th, 2006 09:50 pm (UTC)
Re: part I (Reposting with better formatting)
You could just *feel* the underlying "Why are you being a crazyperson, Lana? Did you really think I wouldn't be able to find my *$100,000+ dollar car*??!"

Oh, yes! I really loved Lex in both of those scenes.
bop_radar
Apr. 8th, 2006 10:44 am (UTC)
Re: part I (Reposting with better formatting)
Why are you being a crazyperson, Lana? Did you really think I wouldn't be able to find my *$100,000+ dollar car*??!"
Hee! Yeah, that was my favourite line of the ep. There should be more of those lines...
mskatej
Apr. 8th, 2006 02:52 pm (UTC)
Re: part I (Reposting with better formatting)
Also, why did Lana give the scientist dude the keys to a "borrowed" car? How is that useful? She borrows it and *he* steals it?
norwich36
Apr. 8th, 2006 03:40 pm (UTC)
Re: part I (Reposting with better formatting)
*Laughing* Really good point! Um, I didn't really steal this, but you can?
(Deleted comment)
mskatej
Apr. 8th, 2006 05:03 pm (UTC)
Re: part I (Reposting with better formatting)
It really is. She's a sympathetic character at last. Go Lana! It's boggling to me that she can't get past her parents' death. She has serious mental problems if you ask me.
norwich36
Apr. 7th, 2006 06:20 am (UTC)
Re: part I (this part on your criticisms of the ep)
Too many of the connecting threads -- why is Chloe even taking Lionel's calls? How did Lana even meet her flatlining compadres? how did Clark know exactly where in Honduras to look to pick up Fine's trail? why did we need the Homeland Security shout-out when Chloe simply hacking into the school's systems would have been sufficient since they were tracking Lana's electronic student I.D.?, etc. -- were just, as I said, dumber than a sack of hair

Of these, I think the Honduras bit was the biggest WTF for me. (And I also thought, how the hell does Clark avoid mowing people down when he runs so fast, but yeah: does the space ship have GPS too? That was pretty unbelievable).

The Chloe getting tips from Lionel, though, they've been setting up for a while. At least as far back as Splinter, when Clark saw his emails to her--and didn't Lionel bring her flowers even before that? I mean, this still leaves the great mystery as to why the hell she'd trust Lionel, who tried to have her killed, and not Lex, who saved her life--but if you simply ignore that little problem, which goes back to seasn 4, then this has been amply set up this season.

You're so right about the Homeland security thing, though. That was just weirdly random. All the colleges I know have keycards these days--why bring Homeland security into it? Unless they're setting something up for a future episode? (Fine does seem to be posing as a government agent). Ok, that seems unlikely, given SV's shaky foreshadowing.
(Deleted comment)
(Deleted comment)
norwich36
Apr. 7th, 2006 06:06 am (UTC)
Re: part II
Oh, I like this argument a lot! I'd really, really prefer that all visions of dead parents on this show be unconscious projections of their children's fears and desires rather than actual voices from the beyond. That's just way, way too anvilly. (Though damn. If it's Clark's unconscious mind, he's a little full of himself. Symbol of peace and justice is anvilly coming from Jonathan, but really self-important if coming from Clark!)

And if that's your reading of the visions, I now better understand why you see Lex's vision of Lillian as being about accepting that he's becoming a vision. If it's all a projection of his subconscious mind, that would have to be the explanation.
(Deleted comment)
norwich36
Apr. 7th, 2006 09:54 pm (UTC)
Re: part II
I can easily believe Clark internalized all of that and if he needed a final push to *stop dithering*, then it might manifest itself as Jonathan's bombast during the vision.

Ok, that makes a certain amount of sense. I'm glad you make such a persuasive case that these visions aren't real!
bop_radar
Apr. 8th, 2006 10:52 am (UTC)
Re: part II
Clark's reaction to the drug might not have been exactly like Lex's or Lana's.
I hadn't thought of that, but you are of course right. I always found it particularly fascinating that only Clark could see Cassandra's visions.

it's also information he himself must have suspected since Hidden. After all, Jor-El used Lionel as an avatar. Some part of Clark may have been worried all along that without meaning to do so, Jor-El might have exposed Lionel to the truth. So it's possible that Clark's vision tonight was telling him something he already knew/believed deep down
Yes, I also feel that it could be read as Clark's fears coming 'into the light' (rather literally, since they're voiced by light-drenched Jonathan). When you really sit back and think about it, it's almost absurd that Clark has not articulated more about the collective knowledge that Lionel has built up over the years. And Jor-El using him would have compounded so many of those fears. While there was that brilliant scene in Vengeance where Clark was so oblivious to Lionel, it's actually hard to believe that he wouldn't be fretting at least unconsciously about it. And the fact that Lionel was sneaking around subversively during the senatorial campaign makes it not that much of a stretch that Clark could imagine Jonathan 'dying defending his son'. While the priveleged audience reads that as Jonathan's reference to his confrontation with Lionel before his death, this isn't actually spoken aloud. I think Clark does remember his father as someone that protected and defended him to the end--so there's still some ambiguity there.

I do think though that these visions are open to interpretation still, and I'm ok with a blend of reality and unreality to them. In a show that is obsessed with the idea of surface image versus deeper truth, it seems appropriate that these visions can be read at different levels.
voldything
Apr. 7th, 2006 12:49 pm (UTC)
and setting up the AU in which Lionel is just emperor of the city and sleeping with, you know, just about everyone. OK, Clark and Lex can join forces to fight him

I WANT TO READ THAT FIC, YES!
norwich36
Apr. 7th, 2006 02:06 pm (UTC)
Me too! Unfortunately I have never successfully ever written anything fictional, so we'll have to persuade someone else of the beauty of this idea.
bop_radar
Apr. 9th, 2006 04:30 am (UTC)
Yay that you liked it! I liked it too. More than last week's actually.

it is also an iconic part of her character: the isolated one, the one everyone leaves
Yes! As I said elsewhere, I think we had a very honest, real Lana in this episode. It explored her iconic attributes, but in a very real way.

Lana doesn't get what she most desires
Oh yes! I hadn't made the connection to the other eps quite so clearly, but you're so right.

He made that lovely speech and she still stole his Porsche. That's cold, but in a way I really loved.
Oh I LOVED that scene. I got this inkling she wasn't buying it and she played it really well. Of course it was the junkie stereotype (never turn your back on them) but I also like that it's going to be like that with these two--they each have a hidden darkside that could strike out.

Bring on the mutual manipulation!!
Heh, yes! And let it be HOT. (It so will be!)

the fact that Clark's vision contained true information makes the "wish fulfillment" interpretation less likely
Yes, I figured people would say that. For me though, as LaT has posted, Void actually solidified in my mind that vision!Lillian is a projection. And I very much read Jonathan as a projection too. The question is then raised about how Jonathan could pass on this information, but even that, at a stretch, could be argued as Clark's subconscious telling him what he could easily know to be true. Clark has seemed so oblivious to Lionel, but the signs have been there. He has long feared how much the Luthors know about him, but he's repressed this knowledge, fearing even to confront it. I can understand that only through projecting his fears onto Jonathan--having vision!Jonathan say it--would Clark be able to confront and believe the idea that Lionel really does know his secret.

Having said all that, I actually think the readings remain very blurry--neither the literal or the subconscious explain everything, so I think it's helpful to explore both. I don't mean to sound like I'm sitting on the fence on this one: I just honestly think the show is deliberately leaving ambiguity about the nature of the afterlife and the characters' relationships with it.

I KNEW he was Chloe's secret source! I knew it! Mionel AND Chlionel, baby, I'm in heaven!
Hee! I love how happy you are about this ep. I get a kick out of people not simply following the tide of opinion, and I enjoyed this ep myself. But I did think of you! It had all your things! (And I also figured Lionel was Chloe's source and had a squee moment when proven right.)
(Deleted comment)
bop_radar
Apr. 8th, 2006 10:41 am (UTC)
Yikes! That was one of my worst HTML moments Ever.
*headdesk*
I am SO sorry! Eep. It's unreadable. After the bold last week, and this this week, you should ban me from LJ. I'm hopeless!
norwich36
Apr. 8th, 2006 03:47 pm (UTC)
Oh, it's not unreadable--though I didn't reply directly to that one in case you want to delete and repost it. I can never close parentheses or quotation marks, myself, so it's actually amazing to me that I don't leave more html tags open.

I'm trying to do a quick reply to a bunch of comments before I leave town in half an hour (how sad is it that I feel I'm going into withdrawal at a mere 36 hours without lj?), but I wanted to say that I agree with you that the ambiguity is actually good, as far as I'm concerned. I do like that it is open to multiple readings, because that prolongs the suspense and makes it more fun to talk about!
bop_radar
Apr. 9th, 2006 04:33 am (UTC)
Yes--ambiguity is good. Much better to have a variety of viewings to discuss.
bop_radar
Apr. 9th, 2006 12:36 pm (UTC)
Just bobbing up to say that rumpuso and toadstoolsmiles both prompted me further re. the nature of the visions and also the theology of SV over in my journal, and I'd be interested in your thoughts when you get back!

36 hours is scary, but what about 24 DAYS! Which I'm facing in 2 weeks time. (I'm sure it won't really be that long, as I'll be running to internet cafes as often as possible, but still...!)
norwich36
Apr. 10th, 2006 12:13 am (UTC)
Yikes! 24 days would probably kill me! You're clearly going to have to find a *lot* of internet cafes!

I'll go check out the conversation in your journal.
bop_radar
Apr. 10th, 2006 02:27 am (UTC)
Hee. Yeah--internet cafes will be go. And I'm planning to drop in on mskatej in London. Can you believe that I'm overseas the WEEK OF THE SEASON FINALE??? I'll be dying internally. I'll miss all the meta! *cries*
norwich36
Apr. 10th, 2006 05:01 am (UTC)
Really? I thought the season finale was later in May, for some reason.

*Hugs you* (My only hug icon is Vmars! I should correct that)

But maybe you can have actually real life meta conversations about it instead with mskatej?? And I know it's not as much fun, but I'm sure some of us will be happy to talk about it all over again after you get back. After all, we're looking at a long summer with nothing new to analyze! (Or, I guess, long winter in your case). And sv_ledgeris going to be keeping track of episode commentaries, I'm pretty sure, so you'll be able to find them when you do have net access.
bop_radar
Apr. 10th, 2006 06:28 am (UTC)
I hope so! Yes, a long cold winter without BSG or SV for me... although I'm sure it will provide lots of opportunity to catch up on other shows.

I keep hearing different dates for the final ep, actually. But I am so spoiler-phobic, I don't want to search about it myself. I think I might have to vox pop my list--maybe if I'm lucky I'll be back home by then. Either way, I'll miss three eps, but hopefully can catch up at Kate's and enjoy some in-person meta-ing!
mskatej
Apr. 8th, 2006 02:42 pm (UTC)
For the same reason, I'm glad Lex lied to Lana about what his mother said to him, because it means that he's lying about always being truthful to her.

I loved that yes, but I don't think Lex *was* lying when he said he'd never lie to Lana. I think when he said it, he was telling the truth, which makes the fact that he lied in Void much more chilling. Because now he's crossed that line and there's no going back.

I loved this episode too! LOVED it. I'm a big fan of Mionel as well, although - and I said this in my own lj - I think she probably should have reassured Clark that she wasn't on a date with Lionel.
norwich36
Apr. 8th, 2006 03:49 pm (UTC)
I think when he said it, he was telling the truth, which makes the fact that he lied in Void much more chilling. Because now he's crossed that line and there's no going back.

Interesting. Do you mean that he's crossed the moral line since he made the promise to Lana, or is the lie itself crossing the line? (I can totally see lying about what he did, myself--I mean, would you tell anyone if your dead mom predicted you'd end up a murderer?)
mskatej
Apr. 8th, 2006 04:15 pm (UTC)
No, not the lie itself. Of course I understand *why* he lied. But he still crossed a line by *lying at all*, because we've seen him promise (more than once) that he will never lie to Lana. Their relationship has been based on honesty (they've both craved it and insisted upon it with each other) so it's HUGE that Lex told an enormous lie, and that he did it with a smile of his face. He didn't even *consider* telling the truth, and normally Lex does. The vision profoundly affected him, I think, and the lie to Lana confirms that he embraced it. So good. It totally made the episode.
(Deleted comment)
bop_radar
Apr. 9th, 2006 12:45 pm (UTC)
What's significant about this being the ep wherein Lex lies to Lana again is that it's *also* the ep where she kind of demonstrated she's not necessarily trustworthy.
Yes! Interesting. Although Lex is generous about it, he's also well aware that this is a world in which this sort of situation ('not yourself') could arise again, for either of them. A more generous reading would be that Lex feels that *he* was 'not himself' in his vision, and therefore dismisses it. And I do think there's an element of self-denial in his lie to Lana. But it's largely calculated. I think Lex recognises that Lana is somewhat behind him in the developmental scale from naive victim to calculated controller. Her very naivety means he can't trust her: she's weak, she's vulnerable, she's not as guarded as he is. He sees himself as her protector too, which puts a power dynamic in place. He may think he's protecting her by lying to her.

On another notes, a question arose in my journal this week about the theology of Smallville--whether there's a true Afterlife and/or God. I wondered where the comic canon stands on this? I thought you'd be the most likely person to know. SV has really avoided the question of God, but playing with these near-death experiences does bring the matter rather more into the foreground. (Although I still lean towards reading the visions as manifestations of the subconscious because I find that reading more satisfying.)
(Deleted comment)
bop_radar
Apr. 10th, 2006 02:25 am (UTC)
Interesting. That was my hunch as well. I don't remember seeing any presiding minister or priest at the funerals either. It does seem like the question of God/religion is deliberately avoided. And fair enough! I can see why the original creators and the SV writers would choose to avoid it.
norwich36
Apr. 11th, 2006 03:17 am (UTC)
I read that religious discussion in your journal with interest, though I don't really have much to contribute. But did you see that coloredink was trying to have a conversation about religion and SV here: http://coloredink.livejournal.com/187094.html#comments
norwich36
Apr. 11th, 2006 03:14 am (UTC)
Sorry to be so late with comments--I was out of town. But I really like your reading of this! Especially this part: He didn't even *consider* telling the truth, and normally Lex does. The vision profoundly affected him, I think, and the lie to Lana confirms that he embraced it.
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