As Lex and Lana Prepare for their Wedding, Clark Wrestles with his Feelings and the Burden of his Secret Identity
As it has done several times this season, Smallville this week advances two key storylines in the six-year saga of Clark Kent: His struggle with his secret identity and his love for Lana Lang. By the end of Thursday’s episode, Clark will have finally stepped up on both fronts, having been motivated by the arrival of one of the most dreaded events in his life: The wedding of Lana and Lex Luthor.
Smallville has been building toward this emotional peak all season. Lana and Lex’s wedding day is, for Clark, the occasion for much soul searching, prompted in part by the always faithful and ever-involved Chloe. When she calls upon Clark to rescue her after she locks herself in Lex’s wine cellar–a seemingly simple slip-up on her part that turns out to be anything but–she starts politely but firmly riding Clark with the old “Why are you still hiding who you really are from Lana?” thing.
“You think this is easy for me?” he replies, with a look that suggests even Clark doesn’t quite understand why he’s keeping his secret anymore.
“I think it’s easier than getting hurt,” Chloe asserts. Then she delivers the words that finally, after all these years, give Clark that kick in the butt he has needed to act on his feelings. First she reminds Clark that he doesn’t hesitate to run into burning buildings or jump in front of bullets, because nothing can penetrate his “iron flesh.” Then she gets him where it counts. “The one time saving Lana means putting your heart on the line, the Man of Steel is nowhere to be found!” Chloe declares.
(By the way, is this the first time anyone in the Smallville universe has called Clark by the name his adult self is often referred to in comic books, movies and other Superman television series? It might be.)
Clark is already lost in a mope of memories and regret, all centered on the woman he is about to lose forever, so Chloe’s words have more impact than they might have on a better day. It isn’t giving anything away to reveal that this exchange with Chloe leads to scenes with Clark and Lana that will once again make clear that they are the sexiest, deepest and most romantic couple on television–even though they have never actually been together. They are definitely in the running for the most star-crossed would-be lovers in the history of the medium, having been kept apart longer than Luke and Laura, Bo and Hope, John and Marlena or any daytime drama super-couple you care to mention. Their chemistry feels more authentic and more urgent than that of any other couple in the top relationship-driven primetime dramas of the day, perhaps because the looks that pass between Tom Welling and Kristin Kreuk, the actors who portray Clark and Lana, say more than any dialogue ever could. They make magic every time they are together. That’s something that can’t be planned. It just happens. That’s one reason why Smallville is still so hot in season six.
Tomorrow night’s episode isn’t only about the arrival of Lex and Lana’s wedding day and Clark’s response to it — even if that is the storyline everyone will be talking about on Friday morning. In fact, as wedding episodes go on prime time series, this may be one of the darkest ever. There is savage fight that leads to disaster, a death threat delivered with palpable menace, and more heartbreak than fans expect. Also, Lex has a dream about his unborn child that is straight out of a horror film, and there is more information revealed about Lana’s pregnancy that suggests a massive nightmare to come. (If I have a complaint about Smallville this season it is with the baby story, which threatens to devolve Lana into the ultimate victim and undercuts the many fine scenes in which Lex has declared his love for the mother of his child. The apparent depth of his love for Lana has made Lex a more interesting villain than ever before, and the idea that it is all an act of some kind — which it will have to be if the baby story continues to go where it seems to be going — is potentially character-destroying. The writers are crushing themselves into an increasingly small box. They are headed toward a story reveal that nobody wants to see, including the most ardent Smallville fans. Trust me on this. And believe me when I say that I hope I’m wrong.)
Given that fans might look back on this episode as the one that forever changed Smallville, I would have liked a bit more action in the hour–perhaps in a sub-plot involving Oliver Queen and Lois Lane, or a member of the Justice League, who are all off somewhere busily trying to contain the global spread of the ugliness that is LuthorCorp. But I’ll accept the episode as it is because one of the things that is most appealing about Smallville is that it isn’t the same show every time. Next week’s episode, for example, shifts gears and picks up another big story of the season, the invasion of the Phantom Zoners, with Clark doing battle to contain still more of those monsters. I hear it contains some of the best action scenes of the season.
SoundOff to MediaVillage about Smallville.
Click here to read more about Smallville and the other 2007 Midseason Series.