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:
A gang of thieves who can walk through walls targets Lex. After stealing a hard disk from Lex, they learn that he has been skimming money from LuthorCorp. They use that knowledge to blackmail him to give them one million dollars in cash. Their abilities are derived from a tattoo ink made from meteor rocks. Unfortunately, for them, the effects on their body are slowing and necessitating that they add a new gang member on whom the ink’seffects will last longer.
The gang recruits Whitney. However, Whitney betrays them when he realizes their intentions. He and Clark attempt to steal Lex’s disk from their hideout but they are caught in the attempt. Lex and the police arrive after Lana tells him what Clark and Whitney are up to. Clark and Whitney are saved and one of the gang members dies.
Separately, Lana provides Lex a business proposal for the building Nell is selling to him and the proposal includes saving the theater her parents met in. Lex accepts.
THE EXTRA DUSTY RECAP:
The episode begins with a group of men putting on ski masks. One of them says that they have fifteen minutes to get in and get out.
Lex is giving an interview, on camera, to Chloe, with Clark serving as videographer. Chloe is aggressive in her questioning, causing Clark to chide her, but Lex telslhim that it is okay.
Lex: Our critics are our friends. They show us our faults.
Chloe notes, to Lex’s approval, that he is quoting Benjamin Franklin. Just then someone else enters the room to tell Lex that his father is on the phone. Lex leaves promising to resume the verbal judo when he returns.
The ski mask wearing burglars are outside of the gate to Lex’s mansion.
As Chloe and Clark look around in Lex’s mansion, Chloe suddenly disappears. After Clark leaves to look for her, the thieves suddenly appear in the room. One of them says that the vault is in the wall behind the bookcase. They walk through the walls and directly into the vault. As they raid it, one of them calls out how much time remains until they get to one minute left. One of the men is holding a hard disk as they decide to leave.
In the hallway, Clark has found Chloe and complains to her that she is snooping. They return to the library to wait for Lex and run into the thieves. Clark is weakened by meteor rock exposure as Chloe scuffles with one of the men. He throws her threw a second story window. Clark finds her on the ground and unconscious.
♫Somebody saaaaaaavvee meeeee♫
The next day, Clark is in Chloe’s hospital room. Lex enters and tells him that he has brought in the best doctors from Metropolis. Clark asks if she will be alright and Lex replies that he is not sure because the fall was so bad. Lex says that she broke her left arm and has a concussion. Lex says that the doctors are concerned about brain swelling.
Clark: I should have gotten to her.
Lex: I don’t mean to belabor the obvious Clark, but this isn’t your fault.
Clark tells Lex that he doesn’t know what happened saying that one minute the room was empty and that the next the group of men appeared out of thin air. Clark asks about whether there are any leads and Lex replies that the police have told him there have been over a dozen of these robberies all over the county. He adds that the gang somehow gets in and out without busting a single lock. Lex tells Clark that the gang attempted to steal from the local bank but tripped an alarm inside the vault. Clark asks him if the police can trace the stuff the gang stole from him, leading Lex to tell Clark that he did not report anything as stolen.
Clark: Why not? I saw them walk out with two bags.
Lex: I don’t care about that. I just want to find the people who did this to Chloe. When I do, I promise you they will be dealt with accordingly.
Lana finds Whitney on a street and asks him why he did not go with her to visit Chloe in the hospital. He says he forgot and asks how she is doing. Lana reports that she is doing better but not out of the woods yet, before asking Whitney what is wrong, and if it is his dad. Whitney says it is nothing and that he has to go do some work at the store.
Clark is in his barn spitting wood violently with his fists. His parents find him and remind him that they need firewood, not toothpicks. Jonathan and Martha tell Clark that what happened was not his fault. Martha asks him about the meteor rock effects he felt the night of the robbery. Clark says he does not know where it was coming from and that sometimes he wishes he could leave Smallville to get away from the meteor rocks entirely. Jonathan tells him that he will get that chance someday before also saying that running away from his problems will not solve anything for Clark. Martha suggests that he should make himself useful instead of sitting around in the barn and feeling sorry for himself.
Martha: Go. See what you can find out.
Lana meets with Nell as she packs up the things kept in storage in her store’s building. Nell tells her that she cannot believe Lana’s sudden interest in this place before Lana tells her that it is important to her because it is where her parents met. Nell replies that her one screen theater cannot compete with a multiplex and that she wants to be able to send Lana to whichever college Lana might want to attend. Lana asks Nell who the buyer is and learns that it is Lex Luthor.
Clark and Pete visit the Smallville Savings and Loan. Clark tells him that the gang has robbed dozens of places, except this place, because they triggered an alarm inside the vault here. Pete tells him that this is official police business and to leave it alone but Clark replies that the police have not done anything. Clark stares into the building, using his X-Ray vision, and he sees a severed arm inside the vault. Meanwhile, Pete comments about Clark’s thousand yard stare and reminds him that they are not cops.
At the hangout of the robbery gang, one of them says that he cannot believe Lex has not looked for what they stole from him, yet. Another of the gang members says that Lex has so much money that he simply does not miss it, and he suggests that there is probably another place inside the castle where Lex swims in a pool of money like Uncle Scrooge. A third member of the gang says that they could go back to investigate further except that their stuff does not last as long as it used to. The first guy says that they need fresh blood but does not know who they can trust.
Just then, the third member tells the other two that he thinks he knows why Luthor did not file a robbery report. He shows the other two, on their computer, that Lex is tapped into his father’s computer system and he speculates that Lex does not want anyone to know. The three of them decide to pay Lex another visit.
In Lex’s mansion, while he complains to a private security firm about the lack of progress investigating his robbery, the gang appears out of nowhere, wearing ski masks. He asks how they got inside and they reply that they did the same way as last time. When Lex says that he is calling the police, they tell him that they know he will not. One of the robbers tells him that they read his disk and know that he is skimming money from his father to fund a secret project in Smallville. Lex tells them it is for a methane plant. One of them punches him and tells him that methane plants don’t need particle accelerators. Lex asks what they want and they tell him that they want a million dollars in cash. Lex then asks how he can reach them and they reply that they will reach him. They tell Lex to turn around.
Lex: [turning] You have no idea who you’re dealing with.
The men vanish.
Clark finds Whitney at his store, telling him that he is there to pick up a microwave for his mom. Whitney tells Clark, in an unfriendly way, that he can pick it up at the back counter. Clark asks him what is wrong and Whitney tells him that he lost his scholarship. He tells Clark that he will spend the rest of is life in this store. As they are talking, another customer approaches Whitney. Clark notices that the man has the same tattoo as one he saw on a robber at Lex’s mansion.
Customer: [to Clark] You got a problem, bro?
Clark: [smiling] No.
Whitney leaves Clark to help one of the robbers and runs into another of them. The second guy gives his name as Wade Mahaney, and openly acknowledges knowing who Whitney is and tells him that he saw him go for three hundred yards against Topeka last year. He tells Whitney that he heard he was on track for a full scholarship to Kansas State. Whitney tells him that he lost the scholarship. Wade tells Whitney that his second year, he has a lot of scholarship offers, but was sacked, blew out his knee, and all of it went away. He asks Whitney what his plan is now and Whitney tells him that he doesn’t know. Wade invites him over for a party tonight. Whitney is hesitant but agrees.
Next we see Whitney drinking at their place and calling himself ‘the God of Quarters.’ Wade suggests that he might be able to bring Whitney on after the quarterback marvels at Wade’s place. Whitney asks him why and Wade tells him that guys like the two of them need to stick together. Just then, Wade’s girlfriend (uncredited Evangeline Lilly) walks over and they make out for a moment before she leaves. Whitney is impressed. Wade then offers to show Whitney where the real party is. They walk back to another room in the home.
Wade asks Whitney if he has ever been inked. Whitney tells him that he is not into tattoos and that they are kind of forever. The other two members of the robbery gang follow Whitney in and tell him that if he wants to run with the big dogs that he needs to step up to the bowl. Wade says the tattoo is an initiation. Wade shows Whitney the glowing green ink and tells him that it is like nothing he has ever seen before and that it will make him feel like a new man. Whitney sits for his tattoo.
Whitney: Just make sure it doesn’t say Smallville.
Later, the four men, drunk and somewhat disorderly, are walking down a sidewalk. When a truck approaches them down the road, they pick Whitney up and over his shouts and protests, they hurl him in front of it. The truck passes through Whitney without harming him. After he and Wade look at each other and Whitney seems euphoric.
Clark visits Chloe in the hospital with flowers. He explains that her dad called and told him that she is awake. Clark tells Chloe that everyone has been really worried about her. She nods toward the flowersin her room and says that it appears Nell’s flower shop has been stripped clean.
Chloe: I especially like the ones from Lex. They make me feel like I won the Kentucky Derby.
Clark apologizes to her for letting her get hurt. She tells him she is perturbed with him and is also mad at him for not putting out the Chicago Fire of 1871. Clark laughs and thanks her before asking if she remembers anything about those guys. She says the guy who grabbed her had a tattoo on his forearm shaped like an octagon. Chloe asks Clark what is going on and he says he doe snot know but tht he is looking into it.
Chloe: Clark Kent, Investigative Reporter. Has a nice ring to it.
Clark kisses Chloe on the forehead and leaves.
Lana meets with Lex, telling him how much the theater means to people in the town. He asks her why the theater is really so important to he rand she says that her parents met there and that she is looking for something to hold on to. He then asks if he is supposed to preserve it as a monument to Lana Lang’s sentimental memories. She asks if this means he is going ahead with a plan to turn it into a parking garage and he replies that she has not given him a reason to change his mind.
Clark goes into Whitney’s store asking about the customer who was in there the day before. When Whitney blows him off, Clark puts his hand on his arm to stop him. Whitney winces in pain and pulls up the sleeve revealing the tattoo. Clark asks where he got the tattoo and is told to mind his own business.
Clark: Did those guys give it to you? Whitney, they’re bad news.
Whitney: You spend all your time trying to steal Lana. Now, suddenly, you want to become my own personal Boy Scout.
Clark tells him that it isn’t true and that he should stay away from those guys. Whitney tells him to get out.
Lana visits Clark in his barn loft. Clark asks if she has seen Whitney today. She says that she did and that he told her he was out with some new guys last night. She relays that when she pressed him on who they were, he got angry, so she backed off. Clark tells her that Whitney lost his scholarship. She thanks Clark for telling her and says that he is a good friend. Clark shows her pictures of the guys Whitney is hanging out with, from pictures he found of the in The Torch. One of them is Wade Mahaney and the other is named Scott Bowman. Lana asks who they are and Clark replies that they were Whitney six years ago. Wade lost his scholarship due to an injury and Scott lost his because he got caught up in drugs. Lana bemoans that Whitney sees that scholarship as his only way out of Smallville and says that she wishes he saw himself the way that she does. Clark notes that he is lucky to have her.
Lana then tells Clark that she cannot seem to make anyone see things her way today and tells him that Lex shot down her pitch to save the movie theater, The Talon. After she says that the thing that makes her angriest is that Lex was right, Clark suggests that maybe Lex was not rejecting her, only challenging her. She tells him that her first challenge is Whitney but Clark tells her to let him work on that. She asks him why and he says that while he could not stop what happened to Chloe, there is still a chance for Whitney.
That night after locking up his store, Whitney’s new friends pull up. As he gets in, we see that Clark is watching them from a distance.
Lex is outside an old warehouse and on the phone with Wade, who tells him to go inside and wait inside an old meat locker. After he goes in, the door shuts from the outside and four ski mask wearing men walk through the walls to join him. Wade tells Lex to open the briefcase he is carrying. Wade phases his hand through the briefcase and learns that there is no money inside. Angrily, he begins to choke Lex. Whitney yells for him to stop it and that they never told him they were going to do this. Scott yells that there time is almost up so Wade tells Lex to bring the money next time. Just then, Clark opens the meat locker door. The meteor rock tattoos make him sick. One of the robbers hits him with a crowbar. However, the robbers leave Clark with Lex and go.
After, the gang returns to their lair, Whitney gets out of the car and yells that he did not sign on to kill anyone. They bully him and asks if he is trying to quit the team. Scott pulls Wade aside and tells him that they should not have brought Whitney into this. Wade replies that they need fresh blood to keep their dream alive. They seem to agree. Wade tells Whitney in moment later that he just went out on a limb for him and that he cannot let him down again. Whitney says that he won’t. He also tells the quarterback not to worry about Luthor as he thinks Lex will disappear for a long time after ponying up the cash.
As Lex drops Clark off, Clark asks why he was meeting with those guys. Lex tells him that they are blackmailing him and that he went there to make a drop.
Lex: You’re wondering if your father’s been right about me all along… they stole a computer disk that contains confidential information.
Clark notes that this is why Lex did not want the police involved. Lex says that he did tell Clark he would handle this and then asks Clark why he was there. Clark tells him that he was following Whitney, adding that Whitney has been hanging out with those guys and that he wanted to help him. Lex asks if this is because of Chloe.
Lex: Clark, you can’t save the world. All you’ll end up with is a messiah complex and a lot of enemies.
Clark: I saved you, didn’t I? That turned out alright.
Clark asks him what his next move will be and Lex tells him that the gang is about to learn that it does not pay to rob Lex Luthor. Clark asks about Whitney and Lex says that a man is measured by the quality of his friends. He says that if the quarterback is with them, he will have to face the consequences, too.
Clark finds Pete with Chloe and asks why they are meeting here instead of at The Torch. Chloe tells Clark that Pete updated her on what they have been up to and that she insisted they let her participate. She says that she has been doing research online and asks about the possibility that the tattoos are made from meteor rocks and are somehow accelerating the men’s molecular structure to hyper speed. Chloe then says that she doesn’t think their bodies will be able to handle that for long.
Chloe: You take the ultimate rush you pay the ultimate price.
Whitney finds Lana at The Talon and confesses to her that he is in trouble. He tells her that he is sorry and that he does not know what to do. Whitney subsequently meets with both Lana and Clark telling them both that after the gang gets the money, they are going to kill Lex and him for betraying them. Clark asks where they are now and about the disk they stole from Lex. Whitney says that the robbers are likely back in their loft sleeping offthe effects of their drug and that the disk is probably there, too. He tells Lana and Clark that he can probably sneak in and get it. Lana protests, saying that this is too dangerous and that they should call the police. Whitney insists that they not call the cops as he is already in enough trouble. Whitney and Clark together to retrieve the disk.
When they arrive, the gang is gone. Whitney says that they must be out looking for him. Clark says that they should find it before the game returns. He then scans the loft with X-Ray vision and finds it. As the two start to leave together, Wade and the other members of the gang arrive. Wade sees that Clark is holding the disk and asks for it back. Clark destroys it so Wade punches his fist through Clark’s abdomen.
The gang takes Whitney and Clark outside for further punishment. Clark sees a third member of the gang who only has one arm. Clark tells him that he knows about how he lost his arm in the bank vault. The robber replies that it is an occupational hazard, that he waited too long to leave, but that once they were outside the skin was fused at the shoulder. Clark tells him that they cannot keep doing this because it will kill them, but he yells back at Clark that if he had not screwed up their retirement plan, they would not have to. Just as he tells Clark that he is goin to pay, he collapses to the floor. Lex walks around the corner holding a taser. Lex tells him that Lana called, warning him about what they are up to. Clark says that he has to find Whitney. Lex looks down at his phone saying that he is calling the police, but when he looks up Clark is gone.
Outside, Wade is lecturing Whitney. He tells Whitney that he joined them by being thrown in front of a car and that he was going to leave them by having one dropped on him. Clark shows up and tells them to let him go. Clark notices that Wade’s tattoo is not longer glowing green, walks forward, and tells Wade and Scott that the cops are on their way already. Wade is holding Whitney at gunpoint beneath a car as Scott drops it on them. Clark races to push Whitney out of the way as the car crushes Wade who is no longer able to phase through it. Scott, realizing his mistake, tries to run, but he is met by police cars at the garage doors of the warehouse.
Later, Clark finds Lex and asks what he told the police.
Lex: The truth… that those guys broke into my house, that you and the quarterback figured it out, tried to be heroes, and got in over your heads.
Clark: What about the –
Lex: Walking through walls part? I don’t think the cops can handle that much truth.
Clark apologizes about the disk. Lex tells him that he did not come out here for that, he came because his friend was in trouble. Clark thanks him. Lex walks over to the squad car, leans his head inside, and tells the two remaining gang members that he will keep their secret for so long as they keep his.
Lex: And if you don’t, you’ll find out you’re not the only ones who can reach through walls.
Chloe is released form the hospital and praising her freedom. Clark comments that she was on the hospital and not Alcatraz, which leads her to start listing similarities between the hospital and prison. Finally she stops herself and asks Lana, who is with them, how Whitney is doing. Lana tells her that he is taking it one da at a time. Chloe leaves to investigate why the tattoo ink was not found at the loft.
Lex arrives to meet their group. Lana notes that he is early and Clark tells her that she has a good plan. She thanks him for his help and asks him to wish her luck. He tells her that she doesn’t need it. Inside, Lex expresses surprise that Lana wanted to meet with him again. She tells him that this time she came prepared and hands him her business proposal, including research on how buildings like the Talon have been used in similar locations around the country as part of downtown revival districts and how the building could be registered as a historic landmark for beneficial tax purposes. Lex asks her who will manage the place and Lana replies that Nell said she would be interested. She also volunteers herself, saying that she can train with Nell after school and in the summers.
Lex: How’d you come up with this?
Lana: Something Clark said. He told me you like to challenge people.
Lex: Well, you’ve definitely risen to the challenge.
Lana: So it’s a deal?
Lex: I need to look over everything, but yeah, it’s a deal.
Lex tells her that this could be the start of a very interesting partnership.
Lonely billionaire’s son makes friends in small town America. He shares his knowledge and business acumen. They share their hearts and show him a friendlier way of living life. Everyone ends up better off. Maybe he eventually meets a woman who starts out as an adversary and then they spend a few seasons falling in love. I would have watched this show. It’s like a mix of Ed and The Gilmore Girls with a touch of DC comics.
Obviously this aspect of Smallville was always going to be temporary but it works and it was a big part of the relationship dynamics that drew me in twenty years ago and still draw me in now on a re-watch. Lex is wrestling internally with pursuing that type of happy future for himself, or pursuing world conquest instead. I think for the fall into overt evil to really be felt emotionally, the picture of what might have been needs to be painted as the alternative. It’s an attractive alternative.
The episode is a little bit light on some explanations. How did this gang figure out this tattoo ink? Why does it work the same way on everyone (when meteor rock exposure usually has pretty wide ranging effects)? As usually though, I’m content to let that go, though I am open to theories that the meteor rocks are altering people through some type of high intelligence in order to challenge Clark’s developing abilities.
One thing that jumped out at me is that of the thieves, Whitney is the only one that seemed to have a realistic read on Lex. He is not the kind of person that one robs. He’s not a live and let live fellow. Honestly, I cannot imagine trying to rob / blackmail / anger *any* billionaire. I don’t think anyone becomes that wealthy by going easy on adversaries. Lucius Fox had it right.
The gang eventually decides that they will need to kill Lex. However, killing Lex means making LIONEL LUTHOR their enemy. All in all, there was never going to be a happy ending for these guys with the Luthor family as their target. They are never treated as being particularly bright, though.
Whitney Fordham almost murdered Clark in the pilot. In this episode, he joins a pretty dangerous gang that intended to murder Lex. Why did he join the murder gang? He is worried that he will never “escape” from his affluent suburban town that borders Metropolis – the largest and best city in the United States. Is it redeeming that he sought out help once he got in too deep? I guess. At this point, though, even Whitney knows he isn’t good enough for Lana. It will be the ultimate victory for Clark, in his effort to win Lana away, when Whitney just tells him that he surrenders.
I think that Whitney could have been an interesting character on this show but the writers clearly have no idea what to do with him.
After the previous episode seems to establish for Lex that Clark is all too mortal, this one seems to create in Lex a perception that Clark is a small town kid with a dangerous (to himself) hero complex. Lex sees Clark injured and knocked down by the gang when Clark shows up to the meat locker to help Lex. As far as Clark is concerned, that’s probably a relatively good place to be where Lex is concerned. “This guy isn’t special, he’s crazy and lucky.”
All in all, this was a decent episode. As a bonus, we got to see Evangeline Lilly’s television debut.