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SV: Reckoning

Rewatching "Reckoning" last night, I had a few additional thoughts on it.

First of all, I went back and reread all four of the reviews I posted on this episode, just to make sure I wasn't being repetitive, and I hereby make a new rule for myself: no parentheses! Geez! What is it with me and parentheses?

I remember, vaguely, when this episode first came out there was a lot of discussion about destiny and choice and the extent to which Clark's choice was responsible for Jonathan's death. As I watched it this time, though, what I was thinking about was how much Jonathan was responsible for Jonathan's death. Here I'm not merely thinking about the deal he made with Jor-El to bring Clark back from Metropolis, but also his lifelong choice not to attempt to reign in his temper. We know, for example, that he alienated Martha from her family by punching out her dad when they first met, an encounter neither side has ever forgiven.

And here he brings on his own fatal heart attack by punching out Lionel. Why?
What on earth could he hope to gain from such a thing? Men like Lionel Luthor aren't intimidated by violence; in fact, punching out Lionel Luthor is more likely to endanger Clark's secret than to save him. If anything, Jonathan's decision to attempt to protect Clark through violence is even more impulsive and ill-considered than Clark's bargain with Jor-El to save Lana--at least in that case Clark knew he'd be saving someone. Even if Jonathan hadn't ended up giving himself a heart attack, though, his attempt to protect Clark by beating down Lionel would have inevitably failed.


I'm not saying this to knock Jonathan, by the way. I wouldn't say he was my favorite character, but I always did respect his genuine love for Clark and Martha. I'm saying this because rewatching this episode in the light of the rest of the season has given me hope that TPTB know that Jonathan was flawed, and though Clark has inherited his moral code, maybe he's supposed to learn that Jonathan's rash impulsiveness and rush to solve things physically isn't the right way to go. Thinking about this has also made me somewhat less irritated at Martha's plot arc. Maybe they're trying to (eventually) make Clark into a golden mean between the extremes of his two parents (especially vis-a-vis Luthors): he needs to avoid Jonathan's extreme judgmentalism and his impulse to solve everything with his fists, AND to avoid Martha's extreme of trusting too soon and making herself too vulnerable because her faith in people swings too much the other way.

Or something like that. I can hope, anyway.

The whole funeral scene, especially the musical montage, still utterly destroys me. Even though I still think this episode should have been a two-parter to fully develop the themes it explores (especially the reveal to Lana), every time I watch this episode I like it more.

Comments

( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
myownghost
Jul. 14th, 2006 11:55 pm (UTC)
this makes a lot of sense, i think. jonathan has been so clearly flawed in his judgment and behavior, yet we're supposed to have seen him as a good guy (which was problematic because of his prejudice against lex). i like your idea about clark needing to learn from jonathan's failures and flaws, and also from martha's.

but i think you're lots smarter and more perceptive than the producers and writers. i want to see the show done your way!
norwich36
Jul. 15th, 2006 01:01 am (UTC)
I actually think, when it comes to the elder generation prefiguring the younger generation, that the producers have given thought to this. They've frequently talked about the role of the parents in shaping Clark and Lex's destinies.
myownghost
Jul. 15th, 2006 01:29 am (UTC)
oh, have they? that's good to hear. maybe they're smarter than i think. i got so digusted with their apparent KK worship that i assumed they weren't too bright. that's probably not nice of me.
lacylaces
Jul. 15th, 2006 12:54 am (UTC)
I watched again last night and I had a somewhat similar reaction to Johnathon starting that fight. And I started thinking about his temper and failure to think things through rationally before acting as well. What was he hoping to accomplish - brawling with a heart condition is just not a good idea. And starting a fight while declaring your moral superiority over the other party seems contradictory. I think he would have done better to find out as much as he could about what Lionel was up to and told him to leave. And talked with his family about it and how to deal with whatever.

We really don't know for sure that Johnathon was going to survive the night regardless of Clark's choice to change time. Although we didn't see who it was, didn't he get a call in the 1st time? We just didn't see that play out.

I think we are supposed to think and wonder about the choices Clark makes, but I'm not sure that the decision to save Lana is one of them. I think Johnathon is to blame for his own death and not Clark.

I think two parts would have given them the time to develop the themes and outcomes much better. I think that the 1st time line is some of the best SV I've seen. But it's kind of diminished by how quickly it all got wiped away.
norwich36
Jul. 15th, 2006 01:04 am (UTC)
Yes, you would think that someone with a heart condition would remember that brawling isn't a good strategy!

Yes, Jonathan did get the same call in the first continuity. In fact, the reason his truck was there when he dragged Clark away from Lana was because he was on his way to meet Lionel. It's true, he might have still had a heart attack later that night, but he certainly wouldn't have gone through with the meeting with Lionel--he would have been too busy taking care of Clark.

I wonder why they *didn't* make this a two-parter, or a two-hour episode. It was the 100th episode; I bet the network would have let them.
frelling_tralk
Jul. 15th, 2006 01:10 am (UTC)
I'd have loved a two-parter, with the first episode ending on Lana's death. It would be so cool to see KK getting the chance to play at a reaction that made sense, then Lana coming around and accepting Clark's proposel. Clark so relieved and thrilled, then bam!

Plus playing with the timelines, means we could see season 5 Lex's reaction to Clark's secret. We so briefly get a look at his face as Clark rushed up, and then that's it. Pfft


I wonder at Vengeance with Clark deciding to hold back on violence by thinking of how his dad would have responded. From back in Rogue, Jonathon has always been lashing out with his fists
norwich36
Jul. 15th, 2006 01:21 am (UTC)
Yeah, I knew there was another episode in which Jonathan beat up someone. Was Rogue the one with Phelan?

Of course, now that Jonathan is dead he's been idealized by Clark. But also, I think Jonathan strongly emphasized that Clark couldn't be violent, because of his strength--even though he himself resorted to violence. (Maybe we're supposed to see Jonathan's violence as a "pushed to the extremes" thing--each time he lashes out someone he loves is being threatened--but that's still not a great model for Superman!)

I'm kind of surprised there hasn't been a lot of post-Reckoning fic, either Clexifying it or doing a kind of "Five Things" revisioning of it. It would be very interesting to explore timeline one further, for example.
pepperjackcandy
Jul. 15th, 2006 01:36 am (UTC)
I was never all that fond of Bo, way back to the pseudo-tolerant reaction to Martha's desire for a child in the Pilot.

But I digress.
norwich36
Jul. 15th, 2006 01:47 am (UTC)
:D I think a lot of people had "Bo is dead" parties after that episode. I never hated him quite that much, but he certainly wasn't my favorite character (or second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, or seventh favorite.)
acampbell
Jul. 15th, 2006 03:03 am (UTC)
I'd lost 99.8 percent of my fondness for Bo by mid-Season 3, but having spent nearly five seasons with him, it felt like losing part of my own family when he died. The Jonathan in my SV continuity has many of the flaws of TV Jonathan, but still some heart and perception. I've wondered, too, how much of the show's portrayal both of him and other characters/situations is intentional or just sloppy craftsmanship, and may never have a definitive answer to that question.

Interesting question you raise. I imagine Jonathan would have succumbed shortly to a heart attack, anyway, but it was unwise behavior for someone with a heart condition. I wondered, way back in "Krypto," if a heart-healthy diet included a t-bone steak! but maybe Jonathan just decided to enjoy life while he still had it!

"Reckoning" was a great episode. I've always wished SV would do some longer, or two-part episodes. They have a way of rushing things, and trying to cram over-ambitious storylines into lengths of time that can't do them justice.
norwich36
Jul. 15th, 2006 04:05 am (UTC)
Yes, I agree that SV often rushes good stories that could be multi-part arcs. That's not completely their fault; I know there is a lot of pressure from the WB and other production people to make the show less serialized so it can be syndicated more easily, but I still think it sucks.
acampbell
Jul. 15th, 2006 03:04 am (UTC)
"Never all that fond" of Jonathan.

You, PJC? Naw! I'll not believe it.
bop_radar
Jul. 24th, 2006 09:08 am (UTC)
his lifelong choice not to attempt to reign in his temper
Yes!

even more impulsive and ill-considered than Clark's bargain with Jor-El to save Lana
Oh, I'm very glad I scrolled back and found this post of yours! That's an excellent observation, and I agree. Jonathan frequently lost my sympathy through this trait off his. It frustrated me that he never saw how destructive his actions could be. His death was perfectly, if stupidly, in character.

Maybe they're trying to (eventually) make Clark into a golden mean between the extremes of his two parents (especially vis-a-vis Luthors): he needs to avoid Jonathan's extreme judgmentalism and his impulse to solve everything with his fists, AND to avoid Martha's extreme of trusting too soon and making herself too vulnerable because her faith in people swings too much the other way
*nods* I can see them going that way--they've already played with the idea that a balance of maternal and paternal influence is ideal.
norwich36
Jul. 24th, 2006 05:37 pm (UTC)
Jonathan frequently lost my sympathy through this trait off his. It frustrated me that he never saw how destructive his actions could be. His death was perfectly, if stupidly, in character.

And what's really frustrating is that the destructiveness was rarely, if ever, acknowledged by other people, as if we are supposed to approve of his habit of hitting first and thinking later.
bop_radar
Jul. 24th, 2006 11:24 pm (UTC)
*nods*
Yes, exactly! And he's lauded for protecting his son so well, but I don't think he really did--for example, in Vortex, or the ep before it, he totally gave the game away by overreacting and threatening violence. Playing calm and 'I don't know what you're talking about' would have been wiser--he just piqued the reporter's interest more. I think Clark is safer without him around to fly into a rage whenever someone comes close to Clark's secret.
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )

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