Smallville (Season 1, Ep 12): Leech

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.


On a class field trip, Clark and his friend Eric Summers are struck by lightning while Eric is holding a meteor rock. The result is that all of Clark’s powers transfer to Eric. Initially Clark enjoys the changes, however, he sees that the abilities are not being handled well by Eric – who is becoming increasingly destructive and scared.

He concocts a plan to get his powers back by holding Lana’s necklace while he and Eric get simultaneously electrocuted. The plan works and Clark gets his powers back with a renewed appreciation for the responsibility and a greater sense of how lucky he is to have his parents to help him deal with that responsibility.


Clark’s class is on a field trip collecting various types of rocks. Lana approaches Clark wearing her meteor rock necklace, causing Clark to feel sick and back away from her. Chloe finds geology to be more pointless than algebra. Clark’s classmate Eric Summers finds a meteor rock and offers to share his find with yet another classmate, Holly. She declines having already found one of her own. Just then Holly’s boyfriend approaches Eric and warns him against hitting on his girlfriend. We soon learn that Eric’s father is the teacher of this class and is overtly mean to his son, in front of the rest of the class, warning him that he better find every rock the class is in search of. Pete mutters to Clark that he is glad Mr. Summers is not his dad.

We see a storm approaching while the class is still outside. As the class waits on the bus to return to the school, Mr. Summers asks the students on the bus if any of them have seen his son. Clark offers to go find him. Clark finds Eric on the edge of a dam, listening to music loudly, and with his hands in the air as though he has a death wish. Eric is holding a meteor rock in his right hand, causing Clark to pause. Eric falls over the side. Clark speeds to grab him, and as he is holding on, Clark is struck by lightning. He gets Eric back over the side of the bridge though Eric himself does a lot of the work to get over. Clark reaches to touch the other boy, where his clothes were singed by lightning, and Clark burns his hand and yanks it back in pain.

♫Somebody saaaaaaavvee meeeee♫

The following morning, Clark attempts to lift his father’s truck out of the mud puddle he is stuck in. Clark fails add hurts himself in the process. Jonathan finds him lying on the ground and Clark does not know what happened. Martha brings him a coat as they discuss what it means that Clark has lost his strength, and that he now bleeds. While they are talking, Clark misses his school bus and realizes that he no longer has his super-speed, either.

When Eric Summers wakes up, he finds that he no longer needs glasses. At the breakfast table, his father chastises him for being five minutes late to breakfast. He says he will not wait the extra time that it takes him to eat, to take him to school. Eric’s mother offers to drive him. After she goes to get ready, Mr. Summers lambasts Eric for the stupid and selfish stunt he pulled the day before, noting that it almost cost another student his life. Eric argues that he can only apologize so many times. When his father attempts to backhand him, Eric’s hands move too quickly and block the blow. His father asks how he did that and Eric replies that he is a science teacher so therefore he can be the one to figure it out. Despite his words, though, Eric seems stunned by the speed of his own reflexes.

We find Clark after he has struggled through his P.E. class. He limps toward Eric to ask him how he is feeling after the incident yesterday. Eric tells him that he feels great. As Clark is talking, Eric points out that Clark’s nose is bleeding. After Clark leaves, we see Eric performing the maximum weight limit on the school’s bench press machine. He is lifting the weight with ease.

Whitney gives Lana a ride to Nell’s shop. We learn that Whitney’s new obligations at his father’s store, which started with his father’s hospitalization, have left him unable to train for football or to complete his homework. He tells Lana that he thinks he can kiss his football scholarship goodbye. She offers to help him do his homework. Just then they notice that Nell’s shop is for sale. Inside, after saying goodbye to Whitney, Lana asks Nell why she did not tell her about the plans to sell the store. Nell says that she only decided this morning to do it and adds that she finds it strange that Lana is upset when she has never shown any prior interest in the store.

Lana is particularly upset that Nell will be selling the movie theater – no longer in use – which is part of the building. Nell explains that if she made business decisions based on sentiment she would have gone bust a long time ago.

At the farm, Clark is adjusting to how much longer it takes to do his chores.

Clark: Dad, how do you find the strength to do this every day?
Jonathan: Years of practice.

Lex is meeting with Roger Nixon, the reporter at the Inquisitor who attempted to blackmail him previously. Roger is showing Lex a computer simulation of Lex’s car accident with Clark. Lex wants to verify Roger’s experts personally as Roger replies that this will make an amazing story. Lex tells him that nobody will ever know about this and he threatens that if the story is accidentally leaked the two of them will have a serious trust issue.

Clark is attempting to fix a fence for his dad after dark but he hammers his own thumb instead. As he winces in pain, Lex pulls up. Lex expresses surprise about Clark asking for help lifting a wooden post – causing Clark to explain that he has been bailing hay for two hours and can barely lift his arms. After he helps, Lex asks Clark to tell him what really happened that day when he hit him with his car on the bridge. Clark looks at Lex with exasperation and tells him that he dove into the water and pulled him out. Clark asks Lex what is wrong, which leads to Lex replying that he does not think Clark is being honest. He tells Clark that he thinks he knows why.

Lex: I think I hit you at sixty miles an hour then your ripped open my roof pulled me out and saved my life. You’re the closest I’ve had to a real friend in my whole life. You don’t have to hide anything from me.

Clark hands Lex a hammer and tells him that if he really believes Clark is hiding something, that Lex should hit him with the hammer to find out what will happen. LEx tells him that he will not hit him with the hammer but Clark eggs him on. Lex tells Clark that he just wants the truth.

Clark: The truth is that I’m just a guy who tried to do the right thing. Isn’t that enough?

Lex stares intently at Clark as he walks away.

Sometime later, Eric is standing on the sidewalk sipping a coffee as Pete and Chloe walk by, discussing how strange Clark has been later. As they recount how tired he has been, a man tries to steal Chloe’s purse. Eric super-speeds in front of the mugger and tells him to give the purse back. The mugger stabs at Eric with his knife, causing the knife to shatter like glass against his hand. Both men are shocked. Angry, Eric throws the mugger. He is shocked to learn that the man flies twenty feet, crashing into a car’s window as it drives by. Numerous students witness this and thank him.

Martha sees an article in the newspaper about “Super Boy” and tells Clark that they now know what happened to his powers. Jonathan notes that Clark had said Eric was holding a meteor rock during the lightning strike and he surmises that this causes the transference of Clark’s powers. Clark mutters that he has been hiding his abilities for years and yet everyone is fine with Eric displaying them openly. Jonathan tells him that life is good for Eric but only for now. He adds to Clark that he does not think Clark’s powers are coming back. Clark says optimistically that perhaps being normal will not be so bad. He asks his parents if they feel any differently about him now.

Martha: Clark, you’re our son, whether you can bench-press the tractor or not.

Jonathan tells Clark that his abilities were a part of him but that they did not define him. Martha adds that there is a bright side – he does not have to hide anymore. She suggests that he try to have some fun. Clark walks off and Martha notes that Jonathan seems relieved. He does not deny it saying that Clark always wanted to be normal and that it seems he got his wish.

At school, Chloe and Pete are going on ad nauseum about Eric and she tells both of them that the incident allowed her to get her first by-line in the newspaper. Eric sees them, approaches, and asks Chloe if she is the one who came up with “Super Boy” and she tells him that it was her. He smiles saying that he likes it. After he goes, Clark tells the other two that Eric needs to be careful, causing Pete to accuse Clark of being jealous.

Chloe: You know what Clark, as soon as you start throwing people thirty feet I’ll write nice things about you too.

A few minutes later, Lana approaches with Whitney. Clark braces to feel the effect of her meteor rock necklace and notices that it has no effect on him at all. Whitney is there to put together a pick-up game in basketball. Pete is surprised to see Clark volunteer to play.

During the game, Clark plays… normally. He seems to revel in it. After, Whitney tells the two of them that there is a pick-up game a couple of times per week and invites them. Pete asks Clark why he is grinning.

Pete: We lost.
Clark: I know. Pretty cool, huh?

In Metropolis, Lex meets with Victoria and her father, Sir Harry. Lex is upset that the father and daughter are late to their meeting. Lex suggests that if this how they plan to treat their business partners, perhaps he will choose not to go through with the deal. Sir Harry tells him gleefully that the deal is off. Lex asks how Sir Harry plans to take over LuthorCorp without his shares and the older man asks if Lex has heard of Cadmus Labs. Lex replies that he has been researching the lab for a year. Sir Harry then explains that he bought the company an hour ago, causing Lex to conclude then that with the profits from the lab’s patents Sir Harry will be able to buy LuthorCorp outright. Sir Harry gets up and leaves after advising Lex to tell his father that he said hello. Lex then leaves also, whispering a congratulations to Victoria, before also saying that he hopes it was worth it.

As Lana wanders through the abandoned movie theater in Nell’s building, Clark asks if she is trying to find the last box of jujubes before the place is sold. She replies that those things could survive a nuclear winter. Clark asks if she has a thing for bad sound and stale popcorn. Lana replies that her parents met at the theater. Lana tells that while watching “Close Encounters” her mother got bored and talked to her father who was working at the concession stand.

Clark: How can you get bored watching “Close Encounters”?
Lana: I don’t know. Maybe she had a thing against aliens.

Lana looks around the room and tells Clark that whatever tangible evidence she has of her parents’ existence is slowly being chipped away. Clark suggests that sometimes letting go is the only way to move forward. She replies that there is nothing she can do to stop this, anyway, before asking Clark how he found her. Clark explains that Nell told him she was here and that he was hoping to borrow her English notes because he dozed off in class.

Lana: Have you been feeling okay lately?
Clark: Yeah, great, why?
Lana: Nothing, you’re just less… Clark Kent-like. It’s kindof nice. You seem more relaxed.

Clark smiles and says he woke up and realized his life has changed. He explains that he decided to kick back and accept that he cannot control everything. Lana suggests that maybe she should adopt that philosophy herself.

Eric goes home, excited over his newfound fame, but finds that his parents are concerned and afraid over his newfound strength. Mr. Summers tells Eric that he has set up an appointment with Dr. Litvak. His dad continues saying that once Eric has a clean bill of health, he has an old colleague in Metropoliswho wants to meet him.

Eric: You mean study me? I’m not one of your d*** science experiments, dad.

Mr. Summers tells Eric that he may be special but adds that Eric lives under his roof and will do as he says. Eric picks his father up, pushes him against a wall, and says that he will not be going anywhere. Mr. Summers asks Eric to put him down but Eric tells him that he can do whatever he wants and that nobody can stop him. He then puts his dad down and super-speeds out of the room.

Eric finds a group of students gathered by a parking lot. He approaches Holly and asks her out in front of her boyfriend. Her boyfriend then asks Eric if he is suicidal. Eric responds by punching the window out of a car. The terrified boyfriend tries to hide from Eric but Eric continues chasing him and getting to him. Clark observes this and tries to intervene, warning Eric that he might kill someone by accident. Eric then throws Clark thirty feet whereupon he lands atop someone’s car. Everyone who previously looked at Eric with awe and wonder is now staring at him in fear, anger, and terror. Holly calls him a freak and tells him to go away. He super-speeds away.

Jonathan and Martha find Clark in a hospital getting a bandage wrapped around his chest. The doctor tells them that nothing is broken and that Clark should feel better in a couple of weeks. He suggests an X-Ray but Jonathan says that they will just take Clark home. The doctor tells them that he wants Clark back to visit in a week. Martha asks Clark what happened and he explains that Eric flipped out. She ways she wishes Clark had not gotten in the way, causing him to explain that even though he does not have the abilities anymore, he still thinks of them as his own.

Lex finds them in the hospital hallway and tells Clark that he just heard. Clark asks if Lex came by to be sure that he was really hurt, and Lex replies that he just wants to be sure Clark is alright.

Clark: Yeah, never better, maybe we can go out in the parking lot and you can hit me with your car.

Lex apologizes, causing Clark to ask if this means he will stop snooping around his back now. Lex pleads temporary insanity and asks for forgiveness. Clark asks if it is only temporary and grins at him, causing Lex to relax.

Eric returns home, panicked, and tells his mother that he really messed up. She is clearly terrified of him and tells him that she knows what happened. Mr. Summers enters the room holding a golf club. He tells Eric that he needs to take responsibility for his actions. Just then, we hear police sirens approaching. Eric looks betrayed as his mother says that he needs help.

Eric: So you called the police? You’re my dad you’re supposed to protect me.

Later Jonathan and Clark talk about Eric. Jonathan tells Clark that he spokes with Eric’s parents and says that they are afraid. Clark asks him if he was ever afraid of him. Jonathan tells Clark that he threw a few tantrums as a kid but was a good kid. Clark tells his dad that he thinks Eric is a good kid too. His dad agrees but says that he thinks Eric is in over his head. Clark admits that when this first happened, he was freaked out by the loss of his powers, but lately he is enjoying not having them. Martha rushes into the room to tell them that something happened at Eric’s house. She says the police tried to detain him but that they were unable to stop him. Clark stands up, holding his injured ribs, and says that he has to stop him. Jonathan warns Clark that Eric could kill him. Clark notes that if Eric has his strength, he may have his weakness, too. He tells his parents that he has to do this. Martha asks Clark where he has a meteor rock but Clark answers that he knows how to find one.

Lex meets with Victoria and Sir Harry, the latter two of whom have called him in for an urgent meeting.

Sir Harry: How’d you do it, Lex?
Lex: Do what?
Sir Harry: Cadmus Labs… it’s worthless.

Lex comments that he knows, leading Victoria to state that she saw the research saying otherwise on Lex’s computer. Lex tells them both that Victoria read a work of fiction and adds that Sir Harry’s company is now ripe for a hostile takeover. Sir Harry is angry with Victoria. As the other man storms out, Lex tells Sir Harry that this is what he gets for trusting family. He also tells him that he and his father will make an offer on Sir Harry’s company in the morning.

After Sir Harry goes, Victoria asks Lex how he could do this to her. Lex replies that she thought she could make her bones with daddy by taking him down. Victoria says that it was just business.

Lex: You call sleeping with me business? I hate to think what that makes you.
[Victoria slaps Lex]
Victoria: We could have been great together.
Lex: I plan to be great all by myself.

He advises her to check on her father as he did not look well when leaving.

Clark finds Lana in the abandoned movie theater. He comes in and tells her that he was just driving by, saw lights on, and figured it was her. Lana tells Clark that she called his house and was scared for him after the incident earlier. He tells her he is okay. She asks Clark what he thinks it would be like to wake up one morning with powers. Clark responds quietly that it is scary. He then points out to Lana that having powers hsa not helped Eric.

Lana: That’s true, but I’ve still always wished I could fly.

Clark stares sadly at her necklace and tells her he never noticed how beautiful it was until now. He then asks if he can borrow it. She takes it off and their hands touch as she hands it to him. She asks why he needs it and he replies vaguely that it is complicated, adding that whatever happens to him he promises that she will get this back. Lana tells Clark that he is scaring her and asks what is going on. Clark kisses her on the cheek as an answer, before saying goodbye.

He drives to the Summers house and finds police surrounding the residence. A police car has been thrown into the roof of the house. Clark finds Eric’s dad and asks where Eric went. His dad says that he does not known, but that before Eric left, he was talking about “getting rid of it.” Clark finds Eric on top of the damn where their powers transferred. Eric jumps off. Clark has to travel all the way back down to the bottom of the dam. When he finds Eric, the boy tells Clark that he was testing himself to see if he has limits. Clark tells him that he can adjust to the abilities but adds that he needs to give himself some time. Eric does not believe it. He throws Clark into and through chain length fencing, asking Clark what he would do if he had powers like this. Clark – getting the necklace out – tells Eric that he would use his powers to stop people liek Eric. The other boy says that they will see about that. He pulls a large power cable free and walks toward Clark with it. He uses the cord to electrocute Clark, just as Clark gets free the necklace. Both of them scream out as power surges through the two of them. When Clark wakes, the meteor rock is effecting him so he puts it back into its box. Eric wakes up muttering about how cold it is.

Later, Eric is placed into an ambulance on a gurney as Jonathan shares with Clark that his family had problems long before Eric acquired his abilities. He asks Clark how he is feeling and Clark replies that he is feeling normal, for him. Jonathan telsl him that his gifts are part of him but says that they do not define him.

Jonathan: You see how destructive Eric got… that just reminds me of how special you really are.
Clark: That’s because Eric didn’t get my two strongest gifts- you and mom.

Lex calls his father and asks how business is. Lionel tells him that The Planet will run a story tomorrow about their takeover of Sir Harry’s business. Lex asks if he merited a mention and Lionel replies that he will be mentioned in the third paragraph.

Lionel: That’s what happens when you trust your family Lex. I’m proud of you.

After the call, Roger enters the room with Lex, and he is told by Lex that his experts are wrong about Clark Kent. He adds that he saw it with his own eyes that Clark is just a regular kid. Roger asks Lex how he can explain what happened and Lex replies that he cannot but that he is putting it behind him now. After Lex tells Roger that the Kents are off-limits, Roger tosses Lex a bunch of photos. We see that Lex is looking at pictures of Lionel and Victoria kissing.

Clark returns Lana’s necklace to her in the lead box gifted to him by Lex weeks before. She tells him that the box is beautiful and asks where he got it. Clark tells her that he got it from a friend. Clark explains that the box is made of lead armor and that it can protect her memories. Lana asks if this is Clark’s way of telling her not to wear her necklace. Clark says he does not want the necklace to hold her back. She smiles and repeats Clark’s line from earlier in the episode, saying that sometimes letting go is the best way to move forward.

Lana notes that Clark has the weight of the world on his shoulders again. He says that he guesses he does. He offers to walk her home but she says she is meeting Whitney at the store. She offers Clark a rain check and he accepts.


Is High School geology a thing? Mr. Summers seems to take himself pretty seriously for a high school science teacher. He acted like he was in the faculty at MIT.

Shout out to guest star Shawn Ashmore – who you might remember as Iceman from the X-Men movie franchise.

This is one of the best episodes of the show thus far. Shawn Ashmore’s Eric was well executed. He is likeable and his descent is relatable. Eric did not become a psychopath. He just did not know how to balance his emotions and his abilities. In this way, the show makes Clark’s abilities a character almost unto themselves here and we see Clark really begin to explore in greater depth is relationship with them. He enjoyed not having them but he sees and understands now how important it is that if anyone has them, it had better be himself than someone else.

Lana unknowingly describes them as a weight that Clark carries and that becomes clear here, especially to Clark. The sacrifice he makes to end the episode is a heavy one.

This episode also thankfully ends the Lex vs. Victoria subplot. Lex outmaneuvers her and finally earns praise from his father. However, that moment of catharsis is ruined as Lex learns moments later that his father engineered his own romantic exploits with Victoria. Eww.

Lex finally confronts Clark with his suspicions and a combination of providence and plot armor protected Clark’s secret from him. I suspect that Lex still believes that Clark is special – after everything that happened in this episode – but he also knows that he overplayed his hand. He also has no idea how or why Clark can be injured sometimes but not others. In the confrontation dialogue, I think the following line is particularly important:

Lex: I think I hit you at sixty miles an hour then your ripped open my roof pulled me out and saved my life. You’re the closest I’ve had to a real friend in my whole life. You don’t have to hide anything from me.

I believe that Lex is sincere here – or at least that he believes himself to be sincere. I suspect that as his suspicions of Clark grow again in the future, he will think back on this and resent what amounts to a rejection of that friendship (at least from his own point of view.) Is Clark wrong though? No. Lex is a bit insincere, inasmuch as he would never be content to leave Clark’s powers alone if Clark ever confirmed them to him. Clark senses this in Lex, I think, and that keeps Clark quiet. I suspect, too, that Lex would grow to resent Clark’s unearned abilities, as he views himself as supremely great because of his difficult upbringing. As a result, there is some really enjoyable mixed feelings at work in this scene and Michael Rosenbaum plays it perfectly.

I wonder what Lana thinks of Clark after this episode. He certainly acted like he was about to die when he borrowed her necklace. He was back to normal when he returned it. She is likely to eventually be as obsessed with him -and in just as unhealthy a way – as Lex.

All in all, this is back to form as was really good all around. If this show could just stay away from the poorly written teen angst, it would be consistently pretty strong. Alas, we know that is not to be.

2 thoughts on “Smallville (Season 1, Ep 12): Leech

  1. I remember really enjoying the times I recognized the guest stars. I was a huge Xmen movie fan and so to see Ashmore was just so “cool”.
    And like you mentioned, it was actually nice to see him not descend into a full on psycho.

    The whole Lionel/Lex relationship was just so twisted. I remember enjoying it back then but I suspect if I were to watch this now I’d either roll my eyes right out of my head OR get angry that such a twisted thing could exist

    Another great post!

    1. Thanks. I am sure that there is a limit somewhere to what I can tolerate with this show but so far I haven’t hit the wall, yet. That said, the creepy photo of Lionel kissing Victoria was pretty close.

      You just see how sad and alone Lex is and it makes him both sympathetic and also a little broken beyond repair.