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Smallville: Promise

Oh, Smallville, when you get your soap opera on, you really go all the way, don't you?



Damn. Well, somehow I suspect that most of my f-list, both the Clex contingent and the Lexana contingent, are spitting nails and vowing to quit the show at the return of the Clana and at some of the characterization issues with respect to Lex and Lana, but this episode is so congruent with the producer's sense of soap-opera melodrama and their belief that Clark and Lana's relationship is at the heart of the show that I can't imagine it wasn't the original plan of the Clexana triangle the whole time. And once it became clear what was going to happen in this episode, after I stopped howling with laughter--I think that was when Lionel went all Snidely Whiplash on Lana-- I just embraced the cheese factor and enjoyed it.

First of all, I have to say that I liked the experimental structure of the episode. The time-shifting was an interesting device, especially combined with Clark, Lana and Lex's dream sequences, because it left the viewer in suspense for a long time concerning what was real and what was a dream. I also liked all the little callbacks to earlier episodes, which seemed appropriate for such a pivotal episode. I thought, for example, that the fact that we got to see several key scenes from the POVs of different characters was a nice callback to "Reckoning." Somehow Clark's tantrum in the barn, combined with the fact that there was significant doubt as to whether or not Lana was going to show up for the wedding, reminded me of "Covenant". (In fact, what I said when watching that scene was "gee, Clark, why don't you just blow up a spaceship, cause Lana to have a miscarriage and run away to Metropolis wearing redK, instead of throwing things!") And we got an actual flashback to "Tempest," not to mention the appearance of Nell! My God, the next thing you know Gabe Sullivan will be making an appearance. And finally, that slap Lionel gave Lex echoed his similar act in "Memoria," the first time Lionel had to cover up a death Lex caused. (Well, Lex didn't cause Julian's death, but Lionel thought that he had.)

Second, I really liked that we got clarification of so many character's motives in this episode. Lionel is definitely, completely evil (hurray! confirmation at last!!), and he's returned to his old tricks of manipulating Lex by manipulating the woman he's with, something that has been his consistent pattern from Victoria to Helen to Lana. I didn't at all buy the idea that Lionel was working to ensure Lex's happiness, so I was relieved to get confirmation that he wants a hold over Lex. And while I'm sure a lot of people will be frustrated that Lex would willingly give such power to Lionel at this stage of the game, and that he would do so out of love for Lana (when it is now clear that Lana loves Clark more than Lex), I have more mixed feelings about this. Yes, I want Lex to be able to outmaneuever Lionel, and yes, part of me is disgusted that Lex is once again stuck in a marriage with a woman who doesn't love him as much as he loves her--but on the other hand, I'm happy that Lex is being allowed to keep having authentic human emotions. My concern lately has been that they've been making Lex so dark so quickly, and not allowing to keep any redeeming qualities, that there would be no place for the character to go in season 7. I'd much rather the writers have come up with a different method of keeping Lex somewhat sympathetic than to rely on the early seasons' tricks of making Lex the victim of loveless marriages and Lionel's machinations--but on the other hand, that is character continuity, so I suppose I should be happy about that.

And I honestly did feel really bad for Lex, because his father managed to give him what he wanted most and completely poison it at the same time. Making me sympathetic to Lex is pretty impressive considering that just a few scenes earlier he killed the doctor-- accompanied by organs of doom and Lady MacBethian handwashing--not to mention the fact whatever he did with Lana's baby is bad enough that it's giving him nightmares. So all in all I'm not unhappy that he's authentically in love with Lana even though she really loves Clark.

We also got the explanation for how Chloe was able to stand up for Lana despite her conviction that Lana was marrying a monster: she was counting on Clark to save the day. This might have been a copout on her part, but she's seen Clark save the day so often, I guess I can understand it. And while I think Martha should have chosen a day earlier than Lana's wedding day to have that particular heart-to-heart with Clark, it was nice to see her being supportive.

I was all set to be outraged that Lana left Lex at the altar, but she was actually planning on leaving him before the wedding actually started, so I was more okay with that. And I wanted dark Lana rather than self-sacrificing Lana, but I can see how this scenario has the possibility of both: she married Lex to save Clark's life, but who knows where the bitterness of being trapped will lead her? "Mrs. Luthor, welcome to the family," indeed! Of course, the scenario she set up to find out Clark's secret was, in itself, very Luthorian, in some ways echoing what Lex did in "Mortal," though Chloe was never in any real danger in Lana's scenario. I loved the fact that Nell gave her approval to the scheme, too, reminding us that from the very beginning of the series, the Potters were depicted as being in bed with the Luthors. (Oh, and speaking of things we got confirmed in this episode: Lex does sleep in a bed, and Lex and Lana do sleep together. Maybe they should have avoided seeing each other before the wedding and they wouldn't have had such bad luck!)

Just a few other comments:
Clark's dream about Lana stabbing herself in the heart when he tried to stop the wedding was oddly prophetic: she did basically stab herself in the heart, and partly because he was willing to tell her his secret to stop the wedding. I wonder if that means he's going to "kill" Lex before the end of the season as well? And are we to take Lex's dream of the freaky baby as prophetic too?

I thought they did a wonderful job using the music in this episode, largely ironically. "Heavenly day" when Lex, Clark, and Lana are all in their own personal hell, even if Lex hasn't realized it yet? Oh, and in the opening montage, when Clark was pulling out his suit, the lyric was "everything I own smells of you," which I chose to take as a shoutout to the Clex since Lex is always the one tying Clark's bowtie. They did a great job with symbolism in that opening montage--it was just as packed with references as the funeral montage in "Reckoning." I particularly liked Chloe tightening Lana's corset, even if that was a little anvilly.

And finally, I loved the look Clark and Lex exchanged just before Lex got into the limo.

Now off to read other people's reviews and hope they don't harsh my enjoyment of this episode too much.

Comments

( 36 comments — Leave a comment )
_touched
Mar. 16th, 2007 06:13 am (UTC)
I don't want to harsh your enjoyment of this episode, but at the same time I don't find it very comforting at all to see people dancing around about how royally fucked over my ship was, tonight.
norwich36
Mar. 16th, 2007 06:32 am (UTC)
I haven't seen anyone dancing, in the 20 or so reviews I've just collected for eat_crow, so I guess I don't know what you're responding to. What I have seen is lots of people hating on the episode even though they haven't watched it, which I find a little frustrating.

If you think that my statement that I suspect that this is the resolution the producers have always intended for the Clexana triangle was an attack on Lexana shippers, I apologize. I'm sure this was a hard episode for Lexana shippers who really wanted Lex and Lana to be authentically in love with each other.

I'm not going to apologize for continuing to like the show and the characters even when the plotlines don't go where I would like them to, however. Perhaps since my main pairing in this fandom will never be canon, I've always had the luxury of keeping canon and fanon separate and being able to enjoy all the ships on this show, even Clana, so my heart hasn't been broken with this episode. I'm really sorry if yours has.
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(no subject) - pep_singer - Mar. 16th, 2007 07:39 am (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - norwich36 - Mar. 16th, 2007 07:59 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - pep_singer - Mar. 16th, 2007 09:12 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - norwich36 - Mar. 16th, 2007 03:14 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - norwich36 - Mar. 16th, 2007 08:12 am (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - _touched - Mar. 16th, 2007 04:27 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - norwich36 - Mar. 17th, 2007 12:55 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - _touched - Mar. 17th, 2007 02:51 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - frelling_tralk - Mar. 16th, 2007 07:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - norwich36 - Mar. 16th, 2007 07:59 pm (UTC) - Expand
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serenography
Mar. 16th, 2007 06:59 am (UTC)
Insightful comments as always, Nora.
You have a wonderful ability to comment on what is actually presented, good or bad, as opposed to only seeing it through bias eyes. That's something I strive for, but admittedly, am not always as successful as you are.

Of course, I loved this episode. It's one of my all-time favorites. But I am a sucker for bittersweet and tragic romance - pretty much the definition of Clana. I'm going to lay low for a while since I just don't want to read the overwhelming hatred that this show will surely inspire in so many C/Lana haters on LJ. I continue to be amazed that some people seriously thought that Lex wouldn't go all EVIL. There are basic tenets of the Superman mythology that this show will not break. Lex becomes evil, and Clark and Lana not ending up together are two of the biggest. I'm not thrilled about the latter of those two, but I accept it, and still love my show for what it is as opposed to being bitter for what it never will be.
As far as Lex is concerned, I just adore watching Michael play both sides of the coin, and doing it so well.
Also agree about the look that Clark and Lex exchanged at the end. Perfect.
norwich36
Mar. 16th, 2007 07:13 am (UTC)
Oh, gorgeous icon!

I definitely understand your need to duck and cover--I've been kind of wincing as I collected people's review, and I'm not a dedicated Clana fan. Though for people who prefer their Clana bittersweet and star-crossed, this was *definitely* the episode! Have you seen this review, which I guarantee will not make you wince: http://www.mediavillage.com/jmentr/2007/03/14/jmer-03-14-07/

Although I do wish the situation they had put Lana in hadn't been quite so melodramatic, and I think if she had used her brain she could have gotten out from under Lionel's blackmailing (like threatening to tell Martha exactly what he had said!!!), I nevertheless admired Lana's resolve to protect Clark in this episode, and my heart just about broke when she looked up at Clark right before reciting her wedding vows.

And while I really don't think someone's wedding day is the right time to tell them how you really feel, God knows there are enough Clexfics out there that use the exact same scenario, with Clark telling Lex rather than Lana, so I guess I should not complain. And DAMN did TW ever sell me on how much Clark can't bear to see this happening. And then he just refuses to accept the marriage, and keeps pressing her, and she has to keep rejecting him: Clark, for God's sake, stop stabbing her in the heart with that sword! Damn, that scene made me hurt.

KK, MR, and TW were all definitely on their A game tonight, which is another thing that made this episode enjoyable for me.
(no subject) - pep_singer - Mar. 16th, 2007 07:36 am (UTC) - Expand
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norwich36
Mar. 16th, 2007 03:23 pm (UTC)
Yes, Lex married Lana. And if it not clear from my review, I should clarify that I like Lana. The prevailing theories on his marriage to Lana seem to be: (a) he's in love with her; (b) he's in love with her because the producers think that everyone falls in love with her; (c) he's using her to get revenge on Clark; (d) he's using her as a symbolic substitute for Clark; or (e) he's in love with her because she represents the qualities he looked for in Clark (like innocence and goodness) and yet is in many ways similar to him (in her quest for knowledge, especially knowledge about the true nature of Clark; or (f) he's in love with her because a love triangle was the one way the producers could fit their third lead actor into the the the Clark Kent/Lex Luthor tragedy.

Folks, have I missed any of the theories?
(Deleted comment)
norwich36
Mar. 16th, 2007 10:19 pm (UTC)
Re: part I
I already responded to most of the substance of this comment over on your reviews, so I'm not going to repeat that here. But for the record, even though I made some arguments for why I think they did go with the "second thoughts on the wedding day" scenario on your first review, I agree with you: it's a cheap, melodramatic shortcut and I really wish Hollywood would stop using it. It makes everyone involved look selfish. (Though at least Lex wouldn't have missed the cost of the wedding....And I assume she planned that he would find the note before he got to the church, so at least there wasn't a deliberate public humiliation involved in Lana's version of events--which is not saying much, I know).

Seriously, though, Lionel was pretty masterful. He's now maneuvered everyone but Chloe into some position that makes them potentially beholden to him and, moreover, has managed to do so while everyone else is thinking he's the lesser of the Luthor evils.

Yes. Someone's review had a brilliant rundown of this--I think maybe huzzlewhat? Though with that look that Lana gave him after he said "welcome to the family, Mrs. Luthor," if I were him, I'd be watching my back. If I didn't know for sure that Lex was going to off him, and probably sooner rather than later, I'd think Lana might do the job--and I wouldn't blame her one bit. And I love your vision of her doing it in the latest Prada line!

And I agree with you about the doctor: clearly he didn't really have ethical considerations so much as he was maximizing his blackmailing opportunities. Oh, Lex. Please, please, please get some better minions.
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norwich36
Mar. 16th, 2007 10:24 pm (UTC)
Re: part II
Yes, I agree with your reading of the corset scene, as I said over on your journal.

For me, Lana setting up a scenario to confirm Clark's powers was actually one of the few bright spots of the episode, because it gives me some hope she will actually grow into Lady MacBeth rather than simply ending up a second Lillian. She was, after all, able to do something that Lex has never been able to. I still don't think she has much of a chance at out-thinking Lionel or Lex, and she's definitely not as ruthless as either of them (to her credit), but I prefer Lana-as-agent to Lana-as-passive-victim.
isilweth
Mar. 17th, 2007 01:08 am (UTC)
I just embraced the cheese factor and enjoyed it.

I've found embracing the cheese factor immensely helps in enjoying Smallville.;-P

I liked the experimental structure of the episode. The time-shifting was an interesting device, especially combined with Clark, Lana and Lex's dream sequences

I liked the structure, too. I was worried when I first heard they were going to do POV of Clark, Lex, and Lana because Smallville doesn't usually do to well, I think, when it deviates from its MO. ("Crisis", for instance). I really enjoyed the structure in this episode, though, and romanyg points out quite eloquently that the structure actually adds to the theme.

My God, the next thing you know Gabe Sullivan will be making an appearance.

LOL!

My concern lately has been that they've been making Lex so dark so quickly, and not allowing to keep any redeeming qualities, that there would be no place for the character to go in season 7. I'd much rather the writers have come up with a different method of keeping Lex somewhat sympathetic than to rely on the early seasons' tricks of making Lex the victim of loveless marriages and Lionel's machinations--but on the other hand, that is character continuity, so I suppose I should be happy about that.

I was happy about that for that reason. It was nice to see that Lex is still vulnerable when it comes to affairs of the heart. He's not in the same place as he was with Helen, though, because the baby manipulation with Lana seems like it will be a greater betrayal (on Lex's part) than with any of his previous women.

I'm not unhappy that he's authentically in love with Lana even though she really loves Clark.

I think loving Lana is his final grasp for redemption. If he loves her as Clark did, he'll be as pure as he once believed Clark to be. I also believe Lana does authentically love Lex. She's just has too many doubts now about his true nature (just as Clark does) and she loves Clark more.

We also got the explanation for how Chloe was able to stand up for Lana despite her conviction that Lana was marrying a monster: she was counting on Clark to save the day. This might have been a copout on her part, but she's seen Clark save the day so often, I guess I can understand it. And while I think Martha should have chosen a day earlier than Lana's wedding day to have that particular heart-to-heart with Clark, it was nice to see her being supportive.

Hear, hear! I thought Chloe's characterization was spot-on in this episode, and I liked Martha, too. Like you, I thought it was nice to see her finally being there for Clark. We haven't seen that all season, and it was nice to come back to it.

About the dreams: I don't think Clark will kill Lex, I think it was a reference to 'stabbing him in the back' by trying to steal his fiancee from him on his wedding day. (He was even going to propose to her! WTF, Clark!?! I think Lex's dream was definitely prophetic and his baby manipulations are going to turn around and haunt him further.

I thought they did a wonderful job using the music in this episode, largely ironically.

Oh, totally! I loved the music choices this episode! The music has been mostly off for me this season, so that was a pleasant surprise. Besides the pop songs, I also enjoyed the anvilly organ music throughout.

I loved the look Clark and Lex exchanged just before Lex got into the limo.

Clex lives! \o/
norwich36
Mar. 17th, 2007 01:27 am (UTC)
Smallville is full of cheesy goodness. If you can't enjoy the cheese, you may as well bail, because you'd think the show was sponsored by the Wisconsin Dairy industry or something.

I'm not unhappy that he's authentically in love with Lana even though she really loves Clark.

I think loving Lana is his final grasp for redemption. If he loves her as Clark did, he'll be as pure as he once believed Clark to be. I also believe Lana does authentically love Lex. She's just has too many doubts now about his true nature (just as Clark does) and she loves Clark more

Yes, I think she loves Lex too, while simultaneously doubting him, and being pulled by her feelings for Clark. And it makes emotional sense to me that finally finding out what she's wanted to know all these years tips the balance toward Clark, *especially* when he was finally willing to tell her.

Lana as his last grasp toward redemption is tricky, though, because he's actually behaving in extremely shady ways to keep her (e.g. whatever's going on with the baby, plus murdering her doctor and making a devil's deal with Lionel)--so she's clearly not the moral anchor he's always wanted.

About the dreams: I don't think Clark will kill Lex, I think it was a reference to 'stabbing him in the back' by trying to steal his fiancee from him on his wedding day. (He was even going to propose to her! WTF, Clark!?! I think Lex's dream was definitely prophetic and his baby manipulations are going to turn around and haunt him further.

Ah, that's a very good reading of the dream.

I'm not at all surprised he was going to propose to Lana; it's part of this episode's deliberate references to "Reckoning," an episode that clearly established that for Clark, the kind of intimacy required to *deliberately* reveal his secret--which he tried to do twice in this episode--is linked to a permanent committment.
(no subject) - isilweth - Mar. 18th, 2007 06:21 am (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - isilweth - Mar. 27th, 2007 05:54 am (UTC) - Expand
bop_radar
Mar. 17th, 2007 02:38 am (UTC)
We made many of the same points. &hearts :-)

on the other hand, I'm happy that Lex is being allowed to keep having authentic human emotions.
I came down on that side too. Having Lionel still out-Luthor Lex at this late, late stage, is one of the few moves that could keep me sympathetic to Lex when he's this close to full-on villainy. I thought his speech to Lionel in this episode was wonderful. It had a classic Luthorian flavour. And I love that Lionel is revealed as completely evil again. I went with the melodrama... it was fun.

she's seen Clark save the day so often, I guess I can understand it.
Yeah, I think I never really understood why/when Chloe suddenly got onboard with the whole Clana-will-save-the-day thing. Although, I guess it's perceptive of Chloe to realise that Lana doesn't have the strength to leave her relationship with Lex unless she has another one to turn too. There. See. I managed to be nice! ;-p

the lyric was "everything I own smells of you," which I chose to take as a shoutout to the Clex since Lex is always the one tying Clark's bowtie
LOVE IT. :-)

And yeah, I loved the ironic use of music and the gorgeous sets and the anvilly omens and hey, it's Smallville. You get what you can from it! *hugs*
norwich36
Mar. 17th, 2007 05:09 am (UTC)
Oh, you don't have to be nice to Chloe just for me, since I know you feel strongly that she ought to have been warning Lana! But I do appreciate the effort.

I had another thought about Lex's vulnerability in this ep that was sparked by something you said about getting this episode from all three of their perspectives, and how we have *rarely* gotten an episode from his perspective lately (I can't think of one since Lexmas). It is precisely *because* we see that part of the episode from his perspective that he seems more vulnerable than he has in a long time. He has perfected his masque of opaqueness-with-a-side-of-menacing; it's the self he wants to be and the self he projects to the world, but there is a part of him that is still vulnerable. It's just that we can only see it when we're solidly inside his perspective: he's vulnerable to Lana, and (alas) he's still vulnerable to Lionel.

This is making me long for more episodes from his perspective--I particularly would love to see him making villainous decisions from his perspective, and see how he sees himself. The fight with the doctor was a little too exterior for that.
(no subject) - bop_radar - Mar. 17th, 2007 05:34 am (UTC) - Expand
enderwiggin24
Mar. 18th, 2007 04:36 pm (UTC)
heee :D
I have never been so happy to currently ship Chloe/Lionel with 20 other fans....
*wanders off to prepare a rec post with full of chlionel goodness ;D*
norwich36
Mar. 19th, 2007 12:13 am (UTC)
Well, I will look forward to that post.
( 36 comments — Leave a comment )

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norwich36
Nora Norwich

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