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Lionel, Jor-El, Zod

So I rewatched a bunch of episodes last night, and I have some additional thoughts about what the hell is going on with Lionel. I'm not sure I'd say the following is cohesive enough to be called a theory, precisely; it's more an examination of some evidence.

Since I had so much rage about Lionel's warnings to everyone in "Vessel" that Lex is teh evil, I had to go back and rewatch certain key scenes to try to figure out what was going on. Specifically, I was trying to figure out if Lionel is supposed to be Lionel, Jor-El, or a Zod-avatar in certain key scenes. (I actually did this not just for "Vessel" but also for "Hidden," "Splinter," "Solitude," and "Reckoning"--but that's going to be a longer post.)

I don't have any conclusions, as of yet, just speculation.

(A) First Clark/Jor-El scene, in the cave:

J: "Hello, my son"
C: "I had no other choice but to come"
J: "I know you are still angered by the loss of Jonathan Kent."
C: "He was my father."
J: "I am your father. Pain is a part of life, Kal-El, but you cannot let it blind you."

This could be Zod or Jor-El, really. The "Pain is a part of life" is a deliberate echo of what Jor-El said to Clark in "Hidden" after telling him "The life force that has been returned to you will soon be taken from someone you love. You're about to face your darkest hour, my son, but remember the lessons we learn from pain are the ones that make us strongest. Always know that I love you." This seems to suggest either that (A) It's really Jor-El in the Fortress or (B) Zod has been in control at least since "Hidden."

(B) Continuing the scene with Jor-El in the Cave--I don't have all of this verbatim, but Jor-El is warning Clark about Zod.
C: "Zod killed you"
J: And your mother and your entire race.

To me this seemed to echo (and reverse) the speech Fine made to Clark in "Solitude" in which Fine tries to persuade Clark that Jor-El "was a violent dictator" who destroyed Krypton. If this really is Zod, he's smart: he's figured out exactly what buttons to push to get Clark to act.

(C) Clark's first scene with Lionel . Again, I don't have this verbatim.
Lionel tells Clark that in some cultures, the gift of a knife from a father to a son is a rite of passage. That's a very interesting suggestion, if Lionel is supposed to be Jor-El, here. What rite of passage is Clark undergoing, if that is true?

Of course, Lionel could just be Lionel, in this scene. Somebody, in their review (sorry, I read over 60 reviews of this episode, I don't remember who) pointed out that in some ways Lionel has adopted Lex's functions this season: his moral ambiguity, for one thing. My initial reading was that here Lionel has just adopted Lex's habit of interesting historical exposition.

This is also the scene in which Lionel suggests to Clark that "sometimes the greater good is served by an evil act." This could be Lionel, Jor-El, OR Zod talking, really. Regardless of who it is, it's consistent with the voice in the Fortress in the previous scene telling Clark that he must "find the human vessel and destroy it, no matter who it may be." And Lionel's little collapse when he hears that the vessel is Lex could be Zod or Lionel--in either case they would want to convince Clark their concern for Lex was real.

(D) Lionel's scene with Lex in the field. I did write this down verbatim, and I'm going to refer to Lionel as the MB for clarity here:

MB: Lex? Lex? Son, are you all right?
L: Everything feels different.
MB: Clark told me they'd taken you. What happened, son?
L: You tried to warn me about Fine. I didn't listen.
MB: You never have. No matter what I've given you, the things you've always wanted were beyond your grasp. This time you've overreached yourself.
L: Did you come out here to lecture me or to help me?
MB: It's too late to do either, isn't it? You made a deal with the devil. He always comes to collect. Lex....
[Lex throws him against the car]
L: Dad? Are you ok?
MB: What have they done to you, Lex? What have they turned you into?

As latxcvi pointed out, in many ways that scene is a mirror of the Pilot: Lionel once again finds Lex in a field, transformed, and he is shocked/disgusted by what he sees. And the dialogue he has with Lex here is certainly in keeping with his pattern of constantly chastising Lex. He could simply be being sanctimonious Lionel here--like many folks who've "gotten religion," intolerant (and intolerable) to those who have not yet had the conversion experience, yet continuing in new form his older patterns with Lex.

It's interesting that Lex's powers are revealed by shaking off Lionel's intrusive touch, which Lionel (no doubt) intends to be comforting, yet Lex has been shown again and again (including several times this season--e.g. Solitude) to find invasive.

But what if this scene is supposed to be Zod or Jor-El? One thing I noticed when rewatching the pivotal mythology episodes from this season is how much Lionel's little comments to people--warning Chloe about Fine's identity, warning Lex not to trust Fine, provoking Jonathan into the fist fight (and now I'm convinced it was a deliberate provocation) --have been driving the major plot action forward, this season. I'm pretty convinced, now, that Lionel is not *simply* Lionel in these moments--I'm not sure if he's Zod or Jor-El, but one of them is using him for their own purpose, and not simply at the times when he is obviously possessed. So the question is, what stake might Zod or Jor-El have in convincing people (including Lex) that Lex is evil? And frankly, that seems more Zod than Jor-El, because for the first few episodes of the season Fine was on a regular campaign to convince Clark that Lex was evil. Why?

(E) Continuing to the scene with Clark and Lionel at the hospital:

L: He's changed. Everything Fine was doing was to prepare Lex. Somehow he possesses the same powers as you. You can't begin to imagine what he's going to do with them. He wasn't raised like you, Clark. I taught him to survive at any cost. To be completely ruthless.
C: Maybe that's what will save him. There's still a part of Lex that can fight this.
L: You see that in him because you want to. There's always been a dark force at work inside of him.
C: I don't want to hurt Lex.
L: If Zod is as evil as you believe him to be, it's easy to understand why he chose Lex to inhabit as his vessel. What about Lana? Someone close to you--she is a big part of his life right now. Be careful what you decide to do, Clark. Which one are you willing to sacrifice?

To me, this reads *much* more easily as Zod/Fine controlling Lionel. For one thing, Fine picked up on Clark's concern over Lana as far back as "Splinter"--setting up the situation where he could put Lana in jeopardy and then save her in the nick of time, getting Clark to trust him. And if Zod (or Fine) *is* really in control of the Fortress, even the situation where Lana is the one who dies in "Reckoning" seems like an elaborate plot: then they send Lionel to provoke Jonathan into the fatal heart attack, and then position him to gain Martha's trust and move in on Clark via that angle. (On the other hand, if Jor-El is in control of Lionel but not the Fortress, he could be doing the same thing to try to protect Clark from Zod. Though I find it hard to believe that the real Jor-El would be encouraging Clark to kill Lex.

Of course, this could just be Lionel, trying to exchange the son he is disappointed in for a better version (Clark). I am trying to decide whether the fact that Lex, during his fight with Clark, echoes Lionel's words ("You see that in him because you want to"/"That's why you cling to the idea there's still some good in me") is better evidence for Lionel being himself or Lionel being controlled by Zod. It could show that Lionel is himself, and Lex of course thinks just like Lionel, not simply because he's been raised by Lionel but also because one of the big character movements for Lex this season is Lex becoming Lionel. On the other hand, even though Zod hasn't downloaded himself into Lex during that argument with Clark, Lex has *somehow* been influenced by Fine's "preparation" process, so he could be influenced by Fine/Zod in that scene.

So, like I said, I have no conclusions, except that I think there actually *is* a master plan behind this plot arc, and it's very carefully plotted. One thing I noticed last night, rewatching "Hidden," was that Lion-El tells Clark "When this body was activated by the crystal, it became an oracle of Kryptonian knowledge and a vessel for me to inhabit if ever you should need me."

Expect another post on the whole plot arc from me soon.


( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 17th, 2006 01:02 am (UTC)
Personally, I think Zod has been in control of the FoS since it appeared. I mean, I still think this whole thing goes all of the way back to the stones, and their summoning of the ship and creating the Fortress and taking over Lionel. But I'd have to go back and watch the end of season four through five to put it all together...
May. 17th, 2006 01:59 am (UTC)
I can certainly see the argument for that, because God knows Jor-El has the parenting style of a sociopath. But on the other hand, if Jor-El isn't going to somehow come to the rescue in next season's opener, I don't know who will, which is part of the reason I think it might be more than just Zod all along.

Also, if it was Zod all along, I'm not sure why he didn't just download himself into Clark during that whole summer in which Clark was under his control. Unless of course there was something he needed that only arrived when the ship did, which is a possibility.
(Deleted comment)
May. 17th, 2006 03:54 am (UTC)
Re: *cracks knuckles and gives it a whirl*
The *real* Jor-El would *never* have strangled the *son of Hiram Kent*. We know from Relic that Hiram and his wife protected Jor-El after Louise's death. The real Jor-El would never repay that kindness by treating Hiram's son as disrepectfully as Jonathan is treated in Covenant. But if *Zod* needed Kal-El to collect the keys to his prison (the Fortress), then that explains torturing Jon to force Kal-El to submit to re-programming (Covenant/Crusade).

That's a really good point. And it reminds me that Kara, as reprogrammed by Jor-El (or Zod) was as dismissive about humans and their problems as Fine was--and just like Fine, warned Clark that Lex was evil.

So Zod tries another tactic. When Kal-El comes to the caves in Sacred, Zod feeds him cryptic warnings about Bad Things to Come if he doesn't collect and unite the elements. *This* is why that one element -- the one in China -- was surrounded by kryptonite: whoever put it there knew what it was the partial key to -- a prison housing a Very Bad Prisoner. With kryptonite around it, none of Zod's disciples, or, alternatively, no one from the same place (read: planet) as the Very Bad Prisoner could get to the elements (and only people from the same place as the Very Bad Prisoner are likely to have knowledge of VBP in the first place).

Ok, I *love* that your theory deals with the kryptonite surrounding the element, because that has always been a big WTF, for me, if it was supposedly hidden by Kryptonians.

It would rock *so hard* if your theory were correct, but at this point I'm kind of afraid to get my hopes up, you know?
May. 17th, 2006 12:11 pm (UTC)
Re: *cracks knuckles and gives it a whirl*

OMGZ get outta my head!! LOL! I've been sitting around, pondering this whole thing far too much, and couldn't stop coming to the conclusion that when Clark returned in Crusade it was with the sole purpose of gathering the stones - which was totally and completely Zod's purpose. Only the black!K prevented that all from happening to the degree it was supposed to.

Thank you for making me feel not as if I were being completely and totally insane... :)
(Deleted comment)
May. 17th, 2006 04:01 am (UTC)
Re: part II
But no. Chucklehead, I mean Kal-El, is nothing if not his earth father's stubborn, sometimes contrary son. Lana is pretty, smells good and has glass in her hair, so Kal-El blows off his promise to return to the Fortress by sundown.

In an understandable fit of pique, Zod punishes him by stripping of his powers because (a) he's a bitch like that, and (b) being Zod, he overestimates the degree to which Kal-El would be upset at the loss of his powers. Zod probably thought the kid would come running back to the Fortress to get his powers back because dude, who doesn't want *powers*?

But, you know, Kal-El and pie = OTP (who needs powers when you can have pie) and so Zod has to wait until the kid gets himself shot to have another chance at him.

Ok, THIS? Had me ROFL. And it was also a brilliant theory, but a hilariously worded brilliant theory. You really need to post it in your own journal.

I'm with you all the way up to Lionel's role. (You may be right about Lionel being plan G, H, or I, but I also wonder if Lionel might actually BE the real Jor-El: not via the ship/caves/FOS, but via the crystal itself. Because I do think at several points Lionel was working at cross-purposes to Zod).
(Deleted comment)
May. 17th, 2006 04:36 am (UTC)
Re: part II
A part of me really wonders if the essence of both Zod and Jor-El wasn't somehow downloaded into the single AI program that was sent along with wee!Kal-El's pod and then something happened to dislodge Jor-El's essence from Kal-El's sphere until the events of Covenant.

Yes, I think it's definitely possible that Zod and Jor-El are both present in the pod. But now I am wondering if the crystals were, in fact, a back-up plan for Jor-El. If he really was the one who imprisoned Zod, and he was thinking all along as Earth as a backup for refugee Kryptonians (or at least Kal-El, depending on when this was set in motion), maybe he somehow had a backup of himself in the crystals, and it's been Jor-El rather than Zod controlling Lionel this whole time.

I have to think about this some more.
May. 17th, 2006 12:14 pm (UTC)
Re: part II
My only problem with Lionel as Jor-El at this point is the dagger. I mean, he sees the dagger when he enters the barn, he claims to have seen the Kryptonian symbols, and then begins this long speech about fathers giving sons daggers, blah blah blah. If that were Jor-El, he'd know he didn't give Kal-El the dagger, and know that it can't be a good thing. So what's up with Jor-El completely ignoring the portal through which Zod can be released?
May. 17th, 2006 12:17 pm (UTC)
Re: part II
And I forgot to mention, I keep wondering now if they hadn't originally wanted Jor-El to inhabit Swann, but of course Chris's untimely passing knocked that storyline out. I mean, as much as they were maneuvering him into knowing everything, and the fact that the key just *somehow* ended up magically making it's way into his possession has me wondering if, in the end, Jor-El was supposed to guide Kal-El via Swann.
May. 17th, 2006 03:55 pm (UTC)
Re: part II
Good point about Jor-EL and the knife. And I *really* like your idea about Jor-El and Swann, because wow, that would have been amazing. And it would have been so wonderful to have the former Superman play Jor-El.
(Deleted comment)
May. 17th, 2006 04:46 am (UTC)
Re: part II
Hee! I just thought "Damn, once again I am misremembering title names." I always have to go look them up before I post things.
May. 17th, 2006 04:50 am (UTC)
Re: part II
Oh, and p.s. your Zod icon is awesome. DAMN. Makes me want to be conquered by alien invaders.
May. 17th, 2006 01:16 am (UTC)
Trying to figure out what's going on with Lionel makes my head ache. I miss Lionel from S1-2, myself.

Thanks for trying to help explain it! I hope you're right about there being a "master plan" and that it isn't just TPTB playing the "wouldn't it be cool if--" game.
May. 17th, 2006 02:01 am (UTC)
It's pretty clear to me, rewatching the earlier mythology episodes, that they *do* have an overarching plan. Whether they'll be able to carry it out without messing it up is another question entirely.
May. 17th, 2006 01:45 am (UTC)
Perhaps the human Lionel actually died back in Commencement after being zapped with the crystal and that is why either Jor-el or Zod or Brainiac or ?? took over his body. Maybe all during season 5 this Lionel has been nothing but someone's puppet.
May. 17th, 2006 02:06 am (UTC)
That's definitely a possibility, although I remain convinced for reasons of thematic parallelism that Lex is going to have to be responsible for Lionel's death, eventually, and I'm not sure that's going to carry the same impact if he's really been dead all this time.

I do think he is not completely in control of the actions he *thinks* he's controlling, however.
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )


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