Welcome to Smallville. I am doing an episode-by-episode watch, recap, and reaction and blogging about it here. There will be no spoilers for the series beyond the current episode. You can find my prior recaps HERE.
For those of you that don’t want to read the long plot recap, I provide a quick episode summary here at the top. You can read that and just scroll down to the “REACTION” heading below.
THE QUICK AND CLEAN SUMMARY:
Clark attends a museum gala in Metropolis. While there, he steps outside and witnesses a bush veer off the road. Clark intervenes and jumps in front of the bus to prevent it from hitting a homeless man on a bench. His heroism is witnessed by dirty cop Sam Phelan who tracks Clark down and blackmails him He threatens to expose Clark’s secret if he does not cooperate by using his abilities on Phelan’s behalf.
Phelan wants Clark to help him steal a safe from the apartment of Metropolis’s head of Internal Affairs. Clark agrees but double-crosses him. He calls the police and drops the safe on Phelan’s car. Clark then speeds away thinkin that Phelan is dealt with. The next morning though, Phelan is free and his father is being charged with murder. Phelan has planted a body in the Kent barn and a gun in Jonathan’s truck. He then tells Clark to help him steal from the Metropolis Museum Clark complies. On his way to Metropolis, we see that Lex is following them. At the museum, Clark helps Phelan steal an expensive item. However, after bagging it, Clark tosses the bagged item to the police outside. He points out that Phelan’s fingerprints are all over it. Phelan tries to shoot Clark. Clark avoids the bullet and speeds away. Phelan then tries to shoot his way out of the encroaching police and is shot and killed himself.
After, Jonathan is released from prison with apologies. Lex has surveillance footage from the museum that shows a blur on the camera speeding away.
THE EXTRA DUSTY RECAP:
The episode opens with Clark attending an upscale event in Metropolis. The party may be at a museum as he is staring at a decorative breastplate with a snake, in the shape of an S, on its chest. Lex approaches Clark and tells him that it belonged to Alexander the Great.
Lex: They say the design symbolizes strength and courage.
Clark: Can’t exactly see myself going into battle with that on my chest.
Lex tells Clark that darker times called for darker methods adding that his opponents thought he was invincible. Clark tells Lex that he did not know he was such a history buff. Lex replies that he is not, he is merely interested in people who ruled the world before they were thirty. Just then Lana walks up, tells Lex not to worry, and says he has a few years left to go.
Lana asks Clark how it’s going and he replies that he is feeling underdressed. She tells him that Whitney is feeling just as uncomfortable and asks Clark to join them. She motions him toward where Whitney is sitting and says that she is going to retrieve her Aunt Nell, too. Instead of going to Whitney’s table, Clark starts to walk outside. He is stopped by Lex. Lex tells Clark that he will never get Lana if he keeps running away from his enemy. Clark replies that Whitney is not his enemy but Lex insists that he is.
Lex: Keep your friends close and the quarterback closer.
At that moment, a very beautiful woman approaches and teasingly calls Lex a hopeless romantic. Lex, astonished, says her name – Victoria. After introductions, Clark whispers to Lex.
Clark: How close are you going to keep her?
Lex: I’ll catch up with you later, Clark.
As soon as Clark is gone, Lex offers her a private tour and she quickly accepts.
Outside, Clark stands on the steps of the building. Across the street, a police officer beats up a man and tells him that he has twenty four hours to get into the IA and retrieve files. Clark is looking around outside when he sees a bus start to veer out of control. The driver seems to be having a heart attack. As the bus speed toward a bench, where a homeless man is sleeping next to his dog. Clark jumps between them. The bus crashes into Clark, but stops short of the sleeping man. Clark speeds away as party-goers move outside to see what the noise was. After he is gone, we see that the police officer from earlier saw what happened and looks more than a little intrigued.
♫Somebody saaaaaaavvee meeeee♫
Sometime later, Clark helps his dad in the barn. His mom walks in, too. They ask about his night out at the Metropolis Museum. Clark reports that the museum was great but that something happened. He then shows them the newspaper article about the bus crash. They ask if anyone saw him and Clark says that everyone was inside. He reports that nobody was hurt, either. Martha and Jonathan both tell him that htey are proud of him.
The corrupt police officer from earlier meets with another man. He has used the other man’s unreported previous criminal record to procure photos from the museum party the night before. He smiles widely when he sees a picture of Clark with Lex.
At the Luthor mansion, Lex asks Victoria what she thinks of Smallville. She replies that it reminds her of the village where her grandparents live in Wales. She says that it is quain, safe, and the last place she expected to find Lex Luthor. He tells her that his father plans to bring him back to Metropolis in a few years. When Victoria replies that Lionel is lying, Lex says that he knows. She then tells him that he deserves better. We learn that Victoria is now the executive Vice President of her father’s multinational corporation. Lex asks how Sir Harry is and she replies that he is distant, inaccessible, and rich. Lex asks Victoria what her father wants with him. She tells him that her father believes Lex may have certain negative feelings toward his father.
Lex: Sir Harry has always had an incredible grasp of the obvious.
As Victoria sits on Lex’s lap, she says her father would like Lex to reconsider his position at LuthorCorp. Lex comments that he sent her as an incentive, which sparks a reply from Victoria that she missed him. Lex asks if she has a proposal. They begin making out.
At a computer at The Torch, Clark is sitting next to Chloe when Lana enters and asks where he went last night. Clark tells Lana that he was not feeling well. Next, the school principal enters, holding up a paper copy of the newspaper, and asks if it is her idea of a joke. He tells her that concerned parents have been calling all morning. Chloe asks him what he has been telling the parents and the principal replies that he has told them what the EPA and environmental groups have said for years – that meteor rocks are harmless.
Chloe: People have a right to know about the strange things that happen in this town.
Principal: The Torch is a school paper. It’s not your own personal tabloid.
Chloe asks if he is censoring her. He responds that he is requiring her to do her job – which is to report on relevant school events. He then tells Chloe that he is relieving her of her duties saying that the Torch is suspended until he can appoint a new editor. After he goes, Chloe turns to her friends and asked what just happened. Pete answers candidly that she was fired. Clark says that he is sure there is something he can do. Lana asks Chloe if she will let her talk to Principal Kwan. Chloe asks Lana what she thinks she can do. Lana says she does not know but she asks to talk to him anyway.
Elsewhere, Lex walks past the corrupt Metropolis officer. The officer greets Lex familiarly and Lex addresses him as “Phelan.” Lex asks him if Smallville is not a couple of counties outside of his jurisdiction. Phelan tells Lex that you do not need jurisdiction to visit an old friend. Lex responds coldly that they were never friends. Phelan, in turn, asks Lex when it happens that he turns of the people who helped him.
Phelan: How many times did I pull you back from the ledge? You’d be dead right now if it wasn’t for me.
Lex: You were on my father’s payroll – his go-to guy in the department. You got paid to fix situations so don’t try to pretend it was anything else.
Phelan: You have a good life here, Lex. I’d sure hate to see that get compromised.
Lex: You can’t touch me and you know it.
Phelan tells Lex that he is looking for a witness to the previous night’s accident in front of the museum. He shows Lex a picture of him with Clark. Lex lies and tells Phelan that he does not know who is in the picture. Phelan replies and says he would have pegged the two of them for buddies. Lex says he must be losing his instincts and suggests that he consider retirement.
Later, Clark wanders through his barn looking for his parents. He does not find them. He does find a Metropolis Police badge on the floor of the barn. When Clark leans down to pick it up, Phelan drops a flat holding a generator right onto Clark. When Clark catches it and tosses it aside, Phelan then walks down the stars from the loft, clapping. He says that was pretty impressive, though not as exciting as last night.
Phelan tells Clark that he is his new best friend. Clark asks him how he knows his name and Phelan replies that he just asked around. He notes that in a small town, everyone is eager to help. Clark asks what he wants and Phelan replies that he is in a battle he cannot afford to lose. Clark angrily replies that he will not help when Phelan points out that Clark has a secret he does not want people to find out about. He says that he suspects that is why Clark did not hang around for the television cameras the night before. He then says that if Clark wants his secret to remain a secret he will cooperate. Phelan leaves but on his way out of the barn he instructs Clark to meet him at the local coffee shop tomorrow afternoon to discuss their future together.
Clark tells his parents about this ordeal later. Clark shares that he is a Metropolis Police Officer and that he saw Clark stop the bus the night before. Jonathan tells Clark that he did nothing wrong in stopping the bus. He says he will meet with Phelan in Clark’s stead and he also tells Clark to live his life like normal. When Clark leaves the room though, it is clear that Jonathan and Martha are both quite worried.
That night when Clark is in his barn loft, Lex interrupts him by saying that he looks as though he is carrying the weight of the world. Lex then apologizes for startling Clark but also points out that there is no place for him to knock.
Lex: Your first visit to Metropolis and you’re involved in a police investigation? That has to be some kind of record.
Clark: How did you know about that?
Lex: The detective in charge came to see me first.
Clark asks Lex what Phelan told him and Lex replies that he did not say much and that this is what is bothering him. He points out that the Metropolis Police typically do not send detectives to investigate traffic accidents. Lex continues. He explains that he made a call and learned that the official investigation is already closed.
Lex: Clark, you really don’t want Sam Phelan in your life.
Clark asks Lex about knowing him and Lex replies that he had his share of legal troubles when he lived in Metropolis. Clark asks if the problems were serious and Lex answers that they were expensive. He tells Clark that Phelan was his father’s go-to person to get things done. Clark asks if Phelan is a dirty cop and Lex replies that he will do anything to get a job done. He then warns Clark that if Phelan has anything on him that he will use it. Clark smiles and says that he just wants to talk. Lex does not seem to believe him but replies that Clark then has nothing to worry about.
Jonathan meets with Phelan. When Jonathan complains about dropping the generator on Clark, Phelan says they both know it wouldn’t hurt him. He winks at Jonathan and motions for him to sit down. Jonathan asks what he wants. Phelan says that Clark has a gift and that he wants Clark to help him do his job. Jonathan replies that he will not let him exploit Clark. Phelan shifts the conversation and says that he has spent the morning going through local police files. He points out hat Clark’s name comes up quite a bit. Phelan points out that Clark has no arrests but he has been around a lot of crime scenes.
Phelan: Now maybe that’s coincidence or maybe it’s just his natural instinct to get involved.
Jonathan tells him that he will give him whatever he wants so long as he stays away from his family. Phelan shakes his head and says that he wants Clark. Jonathan tells him no. Phelan stands up and tells Jonathan that he will be in touch. As he walks away, Phelan tells Jonathan that if he does not agree, then he will tell the world what he knows.
Phelan: Best case Clark’s under a microscope. Worst case he’s a freak in a jar. Either way, his normal life is over.
Jonathan grabs Phelan, throws him onto the table, and tells him not to push him. Phelan diffuses the tension as a crowd gathers by telling him to go easy and saying to everyone that they were just talking. He tells Jonathan that he should get his temper in check or that it could get him into a lot of trouble.
At The Torch, Clark is researching Phelan on the internet. Chloe walks in and asks him if he has heard anything about Lana’s meeting with Kwan. Clark tells her that he’s sure it will work out just as Lana walks in.
Chloe: Bottom line it, when can we send out the next issue.
Lana: The day after tomorrow.
Chloe: Except, uh, Kwan made me the new editor.
Chloe asks Lana to rewind and say the last part again. Lana explains to Chloe that after she made her case, Kwan told her that if she has that much passion, she should be in charge. Chloe is obviously hurt and angry. Lana tells her that this was the only way Kwan would reopen the paper.
Chloe: So what? Cheerleading is not enough? Maybe the editor of the school newspaper looks better on a college application.
Lana: That isn’t it. I just figured you could ghost write until we got you reinstated.
Chloe complains that she would work for Lana and Lana replies, beginning to become angry herself, that the paper would still be Chloe’s paper. Clark jumps in attempting to deescalate their argument by telling Chloe to think about it because it’s not a bad idea. Chloe tells Clark that she figured he would side with Lana. When he tells Chloe that he is not taking anyone’s side she sarcastically replies that he is completely objective. Clark is now upset and he says that he is going to go. Lana again tries to tell Chloe that this is not what she thinks it is. Chloe tells Lana that for a millisecond she almost thought Lana was her friend.
Clark is walking down a Smallville sidewalk. Phelan pulls his car up next to him and orders him to get in. He tells Clark that his dad met with him. He says his dad seems like a good man, always putting family first. He then tells Clark that if he were Clark, he would start thinking more like his father.
Lex and Victoria are having a fancy dinner at Lex’s mansion. She asks him if he has read her father’s proposal. He tells her that he did not need to read it. She asks if he has added mindreading to his many abilities. Lex explains that he knows Sir Harry wants to take over LuthorCorp. Lex says that he knows her father needs his shares to take over the company.
Lex: Your father didn’t ream up this little plan, did he?
Lex: Do you think that if you take over LuthorCorp daddy will finally give you the respect that you deserve? He won’t, Victoria.
She asks what Lex is suggesting. Lex tells her that she came to play on his hatred of his father. He says that now he is going to play on her hatred of her father. He asks her why she should take one company when she could take two. She tells Lex that their fathers would probably kill them.
Lex: Probably. But that’s what makes life interesting.
Phelan has driven Clark to Metropolis. Clark asks what they are doing there. Phelan tells Clark that the biggest obstacle to his job is not the perps, it is the bureaucracy. He asks Clark how he is supposed to fight the bad guys with one hand tied behind his back. Clark says that he thought they were going after bad guys. Phelan says that they are and that they are called Internal Affairs. He tells Clark that the head of IA lifves on the fifth floor of the buildign they are parked beside. Clark shouts angrily that he will not hurt anyone. Phelan tells him to relax and says that he only wants to retrieve files. He explains that there is a safe that the head of IA keeps in his house, which is hoee to the IA’s most sensitive case files. He tells Clark that if he brings down the safe, and retrieves all of the files inside, that he will never trouble Clark again. Clark tells Phelan that Lex Luthor told him what he is about. Phelan smirks and tells Clark that Lex is not exactly on the side of the angels. He then tells Clark that he needs to go to Apartment 517.
Clark sneaks around in the apartment before finding the safe. When Clark locates the safe, he throws it from the building’s window onto Phelan’s car. Just then, we hear police sirens approaching. Phelan asks Clark if he called them in. He tells Clark that he is making a big mistake just as Clark super speeds away leaving Phelan wondering where he went.
The next morning, Clark enters the kitchen of his parents. They asks him what time he got in the nigh before. He tells them it was late and that he was helping Lana at The Torch. Jonathan asks Clark if Phelan has tried to contact him.
Clark: Dad, don’t worry, I think he’s out of our lives forever.
Just then, the Smallville police arrive with a warrant to search the property. They tell Jonathan that they got a tip from the Metropolis PD. A moment later, we see that they have recovered a body. The man they found was shot in the heart. A minute later, another officer comes in with a gun that he says was hidden beneath the seat of Jonathan’s truck. Jonathan says that it is not his gun and that he has no idea how it ended up under his seat. The police tell Jonathan that they are going to have to place him under arrest. Clark starts to say something but Jonathan interrupts him and tells him to call Bill Ross so that he can meet him at the jail.
Jonathan tells Clark that he needs him to stay at the farm and that he needs him to stay strong. Martha tells Clark that she will follow them in the car. Angry, Clark goes back inside. Phelan is in the house. He tells Clark that this is what he gets for trying to be a hero. He asks Clark if he really thought he could double-cross him. He explains that his life is about planning for scenarios. He then screams at Clark that he did not leave him with a lot of options. Clark grabs Phelan and throws him against the wall. He orders the officer to call now and tell them what he did. Phelan asks Clark if he wants to kill him. Phelan tells Clark to stay close as he will be in touch. He says he does not want any more surprises.
Clark goes to The Torch. He finds Lana there. She asks what he is doing there and he replies that he is hiding out. She admits that she heard about his dad before adding that she knows he didn’t do it. Clark thanks her and asks how she is doing. Lana tells him that she is completely in over her head. SHe says she just wanted to help Chloe out but she has instead just screwed everything up.
Lana: Guess that’s what you get when you try to be a hero.
Clark tells her that he knows the feeling. He then asks if she ever wonders if she thinks her aunt’s life would be less complicated if she had not adopted her. Lana asks him what is going on. Clark replies that sometimes he feels like all that he does is complicate his parents’ lives. She tells him not to blame himself for what is going on with his dad. Lana then tells a story about how when she was ten, she tried to run away to Metropolis. She says Nell found her at the bus stop and that it was freezing outside.
Lana: I asked her in the car if she ever regretted adopting me. She stopped the car. I remember because it was snowing. She looked me in the eye and said it was the best thing she had ever done. She didn’t love me any less about me because I was adopted. She worried about me more.
Something seems to occur to Clark and he tells Lana that he has to go. As he goes, she tells him not to worry and she says that it will all work out.
Clark goes to the jail. Jonathan is already in orange. They talk to each other through plexiglass via a phone. Clark admits to his father that he lied to him. He then explains the story about going to Metropolis and he also shares what happened after the arrest. He seems particularly bothered by how close he came to killing Phelan. Jonathan tells him that he knows all that there is to know about losing one’s temper. He adds that Clark in particular cannot afford to do it. Clark says that he will not let anyone hurt him or their mother. Jonathan replies that he knows that and that so does Phelan. He explains that Phelan will use that against Clark to manipulate him. Clark seems to understand.
Later, Clark is walking down a sidewalk. Lex is inside a coffee shop and sees him. He runs outside to meet Clark and tells him that he just heard about his dad. Lex tells Clark that he knows Jonathan did not kill anyone. He offers to get the Kents the ten best lawyers in the state in five minutes. Clark replies that he does not think lawyers are going to help. Lex intuits that their situation is related to Phelan. He asks Clark what Phelan has on them. Clark asks him to please stay out of it. Lex pleads with Clark to listen to him. He says that Clark may think he understands how a guy like Phelan works but he would be wrong. Clark says that Phelan told him that Lex has secrets. Lex replies by saying that there are parts of his life that he is not proud of. He adds though that he does not want to see Clark or his family get hurt. He again asks Clark to let him help. Clark tells Lex that he can’t and then walks away. Lex watches him go with a look of frustration and anger.
That night, Phelan shows up to meet Clark in his barn. Clark tells him that he does not care if Phelan tells the world about him. Phelan repines that Clark may not care about himself but he should think about his parents. He points out that even if Jonathan beats the murder charge, he will lose their farm paying legal fees. Clark realizes he is right just as Phelan tells him that he can make all of this go away. As they leave the Kent farm together, we see that Lex has been hiding out in his car not far away. He watches Phelan’s car leave and follows.
Phelan and Clark pull up in front of the Metropolis Museum. Phelan says that since he cannot get his files, he wants to pick up his retirement package. Clark asks if he wants the breastplate. Phelan replies that he does not car about the breastplate. He says he wants the $10 million in jewels on it. He leads Clark around to the back of the museum to a junction box through which the building’s security system runs. Clark forcibly breaks the box and turns off the cameras. Clark asks Phelan about the guards. Phelan then calls in a bomb threat to the building.
We shift focus and see Lex touching the hood of Phelan’s car in front of the museum. As he does this, the museum begins to hurriedly evacuate.
Lex finds a package which is said to be the bomb He opens it and finds that there is an old alarm clock inside. He tosses it to the police.
Inside, Clark removes the metal security barriers around the breastplate. As Phelan puts the breastplate into a bag, he tells Clark that they are going to be a great team. Clark uses his X-Ray vision and sees that the bomb outside is a fake. He tells Phelan that they will never be a team. He takes the bag that Phelan has placed the breastplate in and tosses it through the building’s glass facade right in front of Lex and the police outside. Clark tells Phelan that he will never be able to explain away his fingerprints being on the breastplate. Phelan pulls his gun on Clark.
Phelan: You may be strong but you’re not bullet proof.
He fires. Clark sees the bullet moving in slow motion. He gets out of the way. It crashes into another exhibit. When Phelan looks around, Clark is gone. He asks aloud “what are you?” as the police storm inside. As they do, Phelan begins shooting. He is shot. As he is dying, Lex approaches him and asks him where Clark is. He says that he knows Clark came with him. With his last breath, Phelan tells him to go to h***.
Back at home, in the Kent kitchen, Jonathan finds Clark inside and announces that all of the charges have been dropped. He adds that he received profuse apologies from the state and Metropolis Police. Martha hugs him and celebrates that it’s all over. Jonathan somberly says that it is over this time. He points out to both of them that there is more than one Phelan out there. Clark suggests that he could stop using his gifts. He says that this would solve all of their problems. Martha tells them that it would not and she says also that his gifts are part of who he is. Jonathan says that a little caution would not hurt, though.
Martha asks if he is sure that nobody saw him last night. Clark says that he is positive.
At The Torch, Principal Kwan enters Lana’s office and asks her about a headline that reads “Kwan Crushes Free Speech.” She tells him that it is a news story. He replies that it is totally unacceptable.
Lana: Why? It covers all of your criteria. It deals with student and a school sponsored club and there are no mutants in sight.
He asks if she did this because she thought he would reinstate Ms. Sullivan. She replies that she did it because it is the right thing to do. Lana tells him that Chloe was born for this job. Kwan says that he admires Chloe’s passion before saying that her reporting lacks accuracy. From the doorway, Chloe says that she can work on that. He ells Chloe that if she wants her job back, not to print what she cannot prove. He asks if they have a deal and Chloe says yes. She thanks him and he replies by telling her to thank Ms. Lang.
After he goes, Lana congratulates Chloe and tells her that she deserves it. Chloe apologizes to Lana for flipping out at her. She adds that this is the only thing that she and Clark do together. Lana asks Chloe if she thought that she was trying to cut Clark out of her life. Chloe answers by saying that nobody ever said she was rational. Lana tells her that she wants to be friends and that she does not want to stand between her and Clark. Chloe tells her not to worry, that there is nothing between them, and that they are just good friends. Chloe, in turn, asks Lana about her relationship with Clark. Lana says that she and Clark are also just friends.
At Lex’s mansion, he watches security footage from inside the museum. He watches a blur flash across the screen, rewinds, and watches it again. Victoria asks if he is coming to bed. The episode ends as Lex pauses the video. All that he can see on the screen is a blur.
This was probably the best episode of the series so far. Lex’s interest in Clark deepens substantially. He finally has some new hard evidence – though it’s not great evidence. The stakes were really high throughout the episode and not because a mutant posed a threat to Clark but because a smart bad guy did.
Lex’s split interest in Clark is probably the most fun part of this series and this episode played on that really well. I really do think he genuinely wants to be friends with Clark and to help him. He also has an increasingly unhealthy (though understandable) interest in Clark’s abilities. It’s an unspoken subplot that Clark intuits that trusting Lex completely is a bad idea. Lex can feel that intuition from Clark and it really frustrates him.
Usually I like the LuthorCorp subplots. I was only so-so on this one, though. I enjoyed that Lex has a frienemy-with-benefits. Their dynamic is a fun chess match / alliance. But I never got the feeling that the actors took this corporate banter too seriously. Usually I buy in when Lex is climbing the corporate ladder. Maybe the problem was with the unseen “Sir Harry.” Maybe if we meet him at some point that will help him feel like a serious Lionel-ish mover and shaker.
My favorite moments of the episode were both instances of Clark outsmarting Phelan. Both instances had a true “Superman” feel. In particular, I enjoyed Phelan panicking at the end. “What are you!?” Ah, alas, the guy with all the contingency plans did not do his due diligence.
I cannot help but think that if I were in Clark’s shoes I would have gone to a very Bane from The Dark Knight Rises place with Phelan.
I feel like Clark could have, uh, frightened Phelan into backing off. But if he had, he would not be Superman.
My biggest gripe with this episode is that Clark and Phelan did not wear masks during the museum heist. I mean… Phelan should have thought of that. I also feel like Phelan was fully insane to think he could steal those gem tones and then sell them without being caught. However, maybe he had a buyer lined up? That seems unlikely as all of this seems to have happened in about a two day span.
My other biggest gripe is Jonathan’s immediate exoneration. How did that happen? I guess we have to assume that investigating Phelan’s death led to learning – with proof – that he murdered the man found in the Kent’s barn and that he planted evidence. One line of dialogue to explain that “how” would have helped.
I cannot bring myself to care about the Clark Kent high school love triangle or Chloe’s job at The Torch… except insofar as I think Chloe might be a LuthorCorp agent planted to push the meteor rocks narrative / keep tabs on Clark.
All in all, flaws and all, this was really good (by Smallville standards.)