Smallville (Season 1, Ep 15): Nicodemus

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 LuthorCorp employee steals an experiment from Dictor Hamilton’s lab and unleases it on the community. The stolen item is a flower called a Nicodemus, which when it sprays its pollen on a person, causes them to act completely without inhibitions before eventually catching a fever, falling into a coma, and then dying. Jonathan interacts with the flower when he helps the LuthorCorp employee after a road rage induced accident. Lana and Pete are also subsequently effected by the flower as they investigate what happened to Clark’s dad with Chloe.

Lex and Doctor Hamilton are able to find a cure for the effects of the flower in time to save Clark’s father and friends, but Lex lies to Clark about his own role in funding Doctor Hamilton’s work.

THE EXTRA DUSTY RECAP:

James Beels is driving very fast down the highway while on a cell phone. A flower is in a pot in the passenger seat. James tells someone that Lionel Luthor is expecting his phone call and then he screams at the person he is speaking with that he does not care if he (Lionel) is in a meeting and to get him out. He screams at the person on the line to tell Lionel that he found something – as he looks over at the flower – and then he screams that he will not hold. He hangs up and then slams his cell phone on his dashboard so hard that it breaks.

He then accelerates right up onto the tailgate of Jonathan Kent. Jonathan is listening to Good Ol’ Boys by Waylon Jennings. As he screams from his truck at Jonathan to get out of his way, he begins attempting to push Jonathan’s truck off of the road. He fails to do this and accidentally drives himself off of the road, flipping his truck upside down in the process. Jonathan stops his truck to check on the other driver. He finds the man unconscious and pulls him through the open window of his upside down truck. Jonathan carries the man some distance away and turns around in time to see the other man’s truck explode.

Jonathan checks on the driver again and asks if he is okay. As he asks, a flower in the field next to them turns to him. It’s petals contract before blowing pollen into his face. Jonathan sneezes.

♫Somebody saaaaaaavvee meeeee♫

Lex is in his office when Dr. Hamilton drops in. Lex reminds him that part of their arrangement is that Hamilton never comes by. Hamilton replies that one of his experiments was stolen by one of Lex’s employees. Lex asks him why anyone at LuthorCorp would know about his work and Hamilton answers that the employee was helping him to install new equipment. Lex asks what the man stole and Hamilton answers that it was a flower. Lex is visibly irritated that Hamilton is conducting experiments on flowers rather than finding out the effects of the meteor rocks on people. Hamilton explains that the flower is a Nicodemus and that it has been extinct for over a century. He continues that the meteor rock radiation’s effect on the dormant seeds caused them to grow. He tells Lex that the first step in understanding the effects on people involves testing with plants.

Hamilton grows angry while explaining to Lex that science is a process and begins to storm out when Lex asks him the LuthorCorp employee’s name. Hamilton tells him that the man is named James Beels, adding that he just found out he was in a car accident but was saved by another driver.

Lex: Don’t tell me it was Clark Kent.
Hamilton: Actually it was his father Jonathan.

Clark returns home to the Kent Farm from school and finds his father aggressively kissing Martha in the kitchen. He turns around quickly and says that he did not need to see that.

Jonathan: Oh hey, son, just getting the old hero’s welcome, you know what I mean? ::slaps Martha on the butt::

Clark asks Martha what is wrong with his dad and she, looking concerned, says she does not know and that Jonathan has been acting strangely since he got home. Jonathan returns from the fridge, with beer, and asks Clark if he wants to watch the football game with him. Clark asks if he has work to do but Jonathan scoffs and says that chores can wait. He adds that he earned a rest. When Clark says that it’s good to see this whole hero thing did not go to his head, Jonathan smirks.

Just then, Lex knocks on the door and comes inside. Martha and Clark greet him but Jonathan angrily confronts him asking what he wants. Lex – taken aback by the tone – calmly replies that he heard Jonathan pulled one of his employees from a car wreck adding that he wants to see if Jonathan is okay. Mr. Kent angrily replies that Lex’s true intention is to find out whether Jonathan is going to sue him. Martha tells Jonathan that is enough but he tells her sharply that it’s not enough. He tells Lex that he does not like him, his father, and says that if all the Luthors were to dry up and die that he would not shed a tear. He caps off his point by belching in Lex’s face and then walking away to take a nap. Martha stares at Lex and Clark, silently begging apology and confusion, before following Jonathan. Lex almost seems amused as they leave.

At school, Clark tells Pete about what happened. Pete laughs and congratulates Clark for his dad regressing back to being a teenager.

Clark: I mean, he’s been under a lot of stress lately but I’m seriously wondering if he’s beginning to crack.

Pete laughs again and says that he still likes the part where Jonathan dissed Lex. Clark asks Pete what he has against Lex and Pete replies that Lex screwed his family out of the creamed corn factory. Clark replies that was twelve years ago and that Lionel was responsible, not Lex. Pete says again he has never been crazy about Lex. Clark asks why Pete never said anything before, causing Pete to reply that he has been hoping Clark would sooner or later realize on his own that Lex is bad news.

Just then Chloe runs up and asks both Clark and Pete what their deepest desires are and what they would do if nothing was holding them back.

Clark: Hello Chloe, it’s nice to see you too.

She explains that their principal told her that she needs to get more in touch with the student body, therefore she has decided to conduct a poll. Pete answers Chloe’s poll by pointing out an attractive girl down the hall and saying that he would go over to her and make out with her right now. Chloe tells him that every answer she has gotten thus far has been either sex or violence related.

Pete: That’s human nature, Chloe.

Pete takes off leaving Clark and Chloe alone. Clark asks Chloe if she knows that Pete does not like Lex. She answers yes and says Pete is jealous of Clark’s friendship with Lex and that Pete feels like he and Clark are not as close as they used to be. Just then Lana walks up and reads Chloe’s survey question. She tells Chloe that she would climb the windmill out in Chandler’s field. Chloe sarcastically asks her if that is really her deepest desire but Lana doggedly points out that you can see the Metropolis skyline from there. She says she does not have the guts to climb up. Chloe purses her lips as she writes, causing Lana to suggest she can make something up instead, but Chloe tells her that it is good and that she likes it. Lana sees that she is being made fun of and leaves.

Chloe asks Clark about his deepest desire as he is watching Lana walk away. He takes a while to turn away from Lana so Chloe reminds him that it is a PG-13 poll. Clark explains, somewhat apologetically, that every since Whitney’s father has been in the hospital Lana has been a no fly zone. Chloe replies that there are other girls out there who do not require the crossing of an emotional mine field. Clark says that he cannot just turn off his feelings for Lana.

Chloe: You know… the choice is yours. You can either sit in your loft and play with your telescope or you can move on.

Back on the Kent Farm, Jonathan grabs Martha and suggests that they go up to the hayloft and half a little fun. She puts him off by saying someone has to do some work around here and suggests that maybe Jonathan could call Lex Luthor and apologize. Jonathan asks her why and says he only told Lex the truth. She tells him that he is taking the notion of letting his feelings out too far. He replies that he feels free. Martha tells Jonathan that he does not look well and when she touches his face she comments that he is burning up. She suggests he go lie down so that she can make him some soup. He makes another physical advance and suggests there are better ways to break a fever. Martha breaks away and goes outside just as the phone rings. Jonathan does not answer but listens as the bank manager tells his answering machine that they are turning down his loan.

Abruptly Jonathan picks up the phone and begins yelling at Jim the bank manager.

Jonathan: I have done nothing but give back to this community and all anyone has ever done for me is screw me over.

He then tells Jim that he is going to the bank to make him turn down the loan to his face, so that he can see whether Jim has a pair or whether Jim’s wife keeps them in a drawer. Jonathan then slams the phone down.

Clark is on the sidewalk as he sees his dad driving by wildly, with the door open, shouting at people as he goes. Clark then uses X-Ray vision to see his dad carrying a rifle. He speeds over to him to stop him. Jonathan tells Clark the same speech he told Jim on the phone. He then tells Clark to get out of his way. Clark grabs the gun and pulls it away from his dad, but not before the gun fires into Clark’s chest. Jonathan finally looks horrified by what he’s done. Then he collapses.

At the hospital, sometime later, the doctor tells Martha and Clark that Jonathan’s symptoms indicate a severe anaphylactic shock but that they cannot detect any known antigens. The doctor goes on to say that had prior to this morning, he had never seen anything like this before. However, he adds that a car crash victim – James Beels – admitted earlier in the day shows identical symptoms. Clark tells the doctor that Beels is the guy his dad saved and asks how he is doing. The doctor admits Beels fell into a coma an hour ago.

That night, Lana and Chloe visit the crash site where Jonathan saved James Beels, with Chloe reasoning that this is the only location the two men have ever interacted, thus the location must hold the key to what happened to the two of them. Lana finds a hula dancer dashboard ornament and the Nicodemus flower with her flashlight before calling out to Chloe. While she waits, the flower spits pollen in her face just as it did to Jonathan earlier. When Chloe arrives, Lana apologetically shows her the hula dancer ornament. She takes it with her, leaving the flower behind, and the two girls leave the scene. Lana sneezes multiple times as they go.

Lex visits Doctor Hamilton and tells him that he has been researching the doctor’s unauthorized botany experiment. He then gives a priest’s account of an incident from the area that occurred in 1871, wherein a community began acting out of character and then two hundred people died overnight. Lex finishes by saying the priest blamed a local flower and then Lex reds from the priests notes about the incident.

Lex: “On God’s green earth, this flower was the thief in the temple, the silent temptress that, with a single sneeze, brought out the basest instincts in men and drove them to violence.”

Hamilton tells Lex that those stories are counted as folklore in scientific circles. Lex then threatens to lift the sealed lid on one of the flowers before stopping and asking him why he brought the flower back. Hamilton replies that the flowers were believed to have toxins that while deadly might have other applications. Lex tells Hamilton that he is not here to bankroll pet projects, he only wants to know about the meteors. Hamilton counters that Lex wanted to know what the meteors can do and now he knows that they can bring back an extinct plant species. Lex tells him that putting people in the hospital was not part of the agreement and then he orders Hamilton to pack up a flower so that a team of researchers he has waiting in metropolis can get to work looking for a cure. He also tells Hamilton that if Jonathan Kent dies that he will lose more than his tenure.

The next day at school, Whitney looks up from a drinking fountain in time to see Lana entering through the doors in full makeup and a small tight black shorts, tight crop top, with almost knee high black boots. When Lana reaches Whitney, he sheepishly asks her what the occasion is as she circles him like a lion might circle its prey. She tells him there is no occasion and says – with a hallway of people watching – that she thought they might blow off class today. Whitney very reluctantly tells her that he cannot and that he can barely keep up with school given his obligations with work and seeing his father in the hospital. Lana gets suddenly angry and tells him that she is tired of his excuses.

Lana: Every since your dad got sick you haven’t been any fun at all.

She walks off and Whitney follows, apologizing, but angrily saying that his obligations are kind of a big deal. She replies that she feels as though she is locked in their relationship out of guilt. He asks her what is wrong with her and she tells him that she is fine, just not keeping things inside anymore. He says that maybe they need to reconsider their relationship and she seems almost happy with the turn of events when she tells him fine. She tells him it’s over and then walks off.

Sometime later, Lana finds Clark sitting by himself with his back to the doorway. She asks if he is not going to class. He turns to tell her he does not feel up to it and as he does he notices what she is wearing. She asks him what is wrong and he asks her about the change.

Clark: I think the operative word is “gulp.”

Lana comes close to Clark and sits beside him on the couch. [Note: I have no idea what room this is supposed to represent at their school.] Lana tells Clark that she knows things are rough but says he should not let them keep him down. Clark tells her that it is hard not to and she replies that the key is to take his mind off of it. She breathily tells him to let his friends be his friends and to let them distract him. Lana then tells Clark to follow her, before grabbing him by the hand and leading him to the school swimming pool.

She disrobes as she walks out onto the diving board, telling him that he thinks too much as he protests that they should not be doing this. Clark watches her, smiling, and then tells her that right now she does not seem like herself. As he says it aloud, he seems to realize what has probably happened to her.

Lana: Or maybe I’m more me than ever.

Lana then takes her shorts and shirt the way off. Clark leers at her as she walks around in red underwear and then does a backflip into the swimming pool. She emerges from the water and asks if he wants to come in. Clark has completely forgotten his realization from a minute ago about her condition but tells her through embarrassment that he does not want to jump into the water. Lana comes out of the water, slowly, and tells Clark inches from his face that she knows he wants her. She tells him to stop holding back. The two begin making out. After a long while, Clark tells Lana to wait. She asks if he is tired of waiting. Clark falls into the pool just as Lana hears a sound and runs away. When Clark emerges from the water, Principal Kwon is staring down at him.

Later, Clark tells Chloe about what happened. She suggests that now he will have something to think about as he serves detention.

Clark: It was weird, she said everything I ever wanted to hear but it didn’t seem like she knew what she was doing.
Chloe: Well, what do you think made Lana Lang go soft-core?
Clark: First my dad, now Lana.
Cloe: Yeah, and don’t forget that Beels guy.

Clark tells Chloe that she must have missed something at the crash site and she reminds him that she was there and is fine. Clark is not convinced. They are looking through pictures Chloe took that night and notice that Hamilton is in the distance in one of the photos. Clark wonders what the meteor freak was doing skulking around in the woods and Chloe replies that she doubts it is a coincidence that he is there. Chloe says she is going to talk to Hamilton. Clark says he is going to find Lana because he thinks whatever happened to his father is about to happen to her.

Lana arrives at the Talon. As she walks by Lex’s table, we hear him telling someone on the phone that he expects faster results because “they are getting worse.” One of the waitresses grabs Lana and asks where she has been and then explains to her that Monique called in sick and that they have no one to cover. Lana asks why this is her problem and the waitress tells her that Nell is in Metropolis and Lana is the assistant manager. Lana then tells her bluntly that she is taking the afternoon off and that she guesses they will have to close the Talon early. Lana then whistles loudly, getting the attention of everyone inside, and tells them that they are closing early thus coffee is on the house. She tells them to drink up before walking off.

Lex notices Lana’s odd behavior and gets off the phone. He finds her eating whipped cream off of her fingers and tells her that The Talon closes at nine. She replies that today it does not. Lex tells her that she is not impressing him with her attitude and adds that he set the bar himself for adolescent rebellion. Rather than accepting chastisement, Lana leans toward Lex and exclaims that she remembers hearing he was quite the bad boy before joining them here in Smallville. He tells her that he’s not proud of that. She replies breathily, leaning closer to him, that she knows he does not care about The Talon. She says he only invested because she asked him to. She puts her hand on his chest and asks why he would go and do a thing like that. She then puts whipped cream on his lips with her finger.

Lex pulls her hand from his chest, says sarcastically that he is not sure what this is, and then adds that it is not her. He asks if she is feeling alright. Lana pivots her seductress act and tells Lex in his ear that she is nervous and needs some guidance from someone a little more experienced. Lex pushes her away and asks her where she has been in the last twenty-four hours. This makes Lana angry. She rants that no one seems able to handle her honesty and she adds that she is sick of the little girl always talking about her dead parents. She throws a coffee mug at Lex, missing him slightly, before running out of the building and grabbing Lex’s keys as she goes.

Outside the Talon, Clark sees Lana in Lex’s car driving dangerously and he follows after her on foot.

Chloe storms into Hamilton’s lab and asks what he was doing in the woods the night before. He tells her that he does this most nights and that he is looking for meteor samples. He explains that he finds the sample to be easier to spot with a flashlight. She asks if he was not there looking at the accident scene and he replies by asking what accident she is talking about. Chloe looks down and notices a book on the Nicodemus flower and apologizes to Hamilton, saying that she must have been mistaken.

Lana parks her car in an empty field next to a tall windmill. Clark speeds up to her and asks what is going on. He tells her that he thinks something happened to her and that she needs to get to a hospital. Lana tells him that she feels free and that he is one to talk about not being himself. She adds that she sees how he looks at her and asks if he is in love with her. Clark pauses instead of answering and she calls him a coward, turning toward the windmill. She climbs most of the way to the top before falling. Clark catches her as she passes out for good.

Martha sees Clark with Lana as she arrives at the hospital. Clark tells his mother that she has the same symptoms as Jonathan and Beels. Seeing the sudden concern on his mom’s face, he asks how his dad is and she replies that he slipped into a coma and that the doctors do not know how long he will last. Lex arrives as she is telling him this. He tells Martha that he has doctors flying in from Metropolis and that they will do everything they can for Jonathan. Lex tells Clark that he is sorry, causing Clark to reply that it is not Lex’s fault.

At school, Chloe tells Clark and Pete about the Nicodemus flower and what it did to the settlement in 1871. Pete adds that it is nice to know Smallville was still whack before the meteors got there. After explaining what the flower is said to have done, Clark asks what Hamilton has to do with that. Pete shows Clark an article they found, written by Hamilton, wherein he postulated that meteor rocks could be used to bring to life dormant plant cells.

Clark: So you think Hamilton pulled a Jurassic Park and brought back the Nicodemus.

Clark says he wants to talk to Hamilton but Chloe tells him that there is more. She says Hamilton did not check out the Nicodemus book from the library – Lex did. Pete shouts that he told Clark all along that Lex is bad news.

That night, Clark finds Lex outside the Talon. Lex gets off of the phone to tell Clark that the doctors believe that they have isolated the problem. Clark asks if he has anything to do with the Nicodemus flower. He then tells Lex that he knows he checked out the book. Lex admits to doing it and says that his property is built onthe original settlement. He adds that he always thought it was an interesting story and says that when he heard about Jonathan’s symptoms he tracked it down to find out whether it could be any help.

Clark asks Lex why he did not tell him about it and Lex replies that it is a crackpot story and that he was grasping at straws. Clark asks him about Hamilton and Lex asks him who that is. Clark grabs Lex by the arm and tells him not to lie to him. Lex in turn tells Clark to calm down before adding that he is doing everything in his power to fix this despite not being at fault.

Pete and Chloe break into Hamilton’s lab. While they are inside, Pete pulls on a tarp that is covering a glass encased Nicodemus flower. He accidentally breaks the case and becomes infected. A few moments later he is telling Chloe how beautiful she is. She tells Pete that he is infected and needs to get to the hospital. He suddenly becomes angry and tells her that she thinks of him as a funny guy but only has eyes for Clark herself. Chloe tells him that she is going to call Clark and he says that Clark is probably hanging out with his new best friend Lex Luthor.

Just then, Pete finds a pistol that Hamilton has hidden among his books. He roughly tells Chloe to give him her keys. She asks why and where he is going. Pete points the gun at her, cocks it, and tells her that he is serious. He shouts at her and she hands over the keys.

Clark joins his mom at the hospital and asks how Jonathan is doing. She tells him it’s not good and adds that Mr. Beels died half an hour ago. Clark says that with all of his abilities there is nothing he can do and asks what they are going to do if his dad doesn’t make it. She shakes her head and says she does not know. Martha tells Clark about the first time she met Jonathan. They were in a finance class together at Metropolis U. She said she saw him in denim and flannel and asked to borrow his notes, even though she was the note taker for the class, because he was so cute. Martha then tells Clark that Jonathan handed over his notebook without even asking her name. She says that when she asked him why he can be sure that she’ll give it back, he replied that he prefers to believe in people. Clark says that sounds like dad. She admits through tears, as she tellsthe story, that she was embarrassed at that moment because she was thinking in that moment that she hoped Jonathan would marry her. As she cries telling Clark the story, she says that every day there is a part of her that still hopes he will marry her. Martha is sobbing on Clark’s shoulder as Chloe knocks on the hospital door. Martha motions her inside.

Clark steps outside of the room and Chloe tells him about what happened with Pete.

In the Luthor Mansion, Hamilton shows Lex a book that he uncovered in an old museum, which purports to contain antidote to the flower developed by Native Americans. As Lex says that they will get the book to his team, Pete enters and says nobody is going anywhere. Lex stands up and asks Pete what he is doing here. Pete then fires the gun causing Lex to dive down. He shouts that he knows Lex is behind this and says that Lex pretends to be Clark’s friend but is not.

Pete fires the gun again at Hamilton and the book with teh antidote flies into Lex’s fireplace. Lex creeps toward the fireplace to get the book, distracting Pete with conversation, as Hamilton creeps toward Pete. Hamilton hits Pete’s arm with a fire poker, giving Lexan opportunity to fetch the book from the fire. Lex then hands the book to Hamilton and tells him to go as Pete starts shooting again. Hamilton is able to escape just before Clark arrives.

When Clark enters, Pete tells him that Lex was lying and that he just saw Hamilton in here. Clark takes Pete’s side and approaches Lex, shoving him against a wall. As Pete is elated, Clark takes the gun away from him and then hits Pete on the head, knocking him out. When Lex gets up, Clark checks on him and apologizes, Lex acts if that was an act and Clark says he did not know what else to do as he was worried Pete was about to shoot him. Lex accepts this but admits Clark had him going. Clark asks if Hamilton was really there and Clex asks him what he thinks.

The next morning, Clark is asleep next to Jonathan’s bed when the older Kent puts his hand on Clark’s head and greets him good morning. Clark hugs him and Martha runs into the room and does the same. Clark asks how Pete and Lana are and Martha tells him that they are already up. Clark asks Jonathan if he remembers anything and he says no. Lana and Pete also have memory loss and Martha says that the doctors believe it is because of the fever. Lex watches them greet each other from the door but does not say anything. He just turns and goes.

Later, when Chloe visits Hamilton’s lab – inside a barn – the entire lab is gone with no evidence visible that it ever existed at all.

In Lex’s mansion, Hamilton is angrily asking Lex where his lab went. Lex replies that he destroyed it. Hamilton is angry but Lex tells him that he is lucky no one can remember how they were infected. Hamilton asks if this means their working relationship is over and Lex replies that it is not. He adds though that Hamilton needs closer supervision and tells him that he plans to hide him at Cadmus Labs just outside of Metropolis. Hamilton warns Lex that he is the one opening Pandora’s Box and Lex replies that he is just the key. They shake hands and part.

On the top of a tall windmill, Clark uncovers Lana’s eyes to show her the view of the Metropolis skyline in the distance. She tells him that she cannot believe they are up there and Clark notes that getting down will be the interesting part. Clark tells her that it is good to have her back and she laughs and says she spent the entire day apologizing to everyone and wishing she could remember what happened.

Lana: It sounds like I got a little out of control there.
Clark: You spoke your mind and you did what you wanted. Kind of an Alpha Lana.

She laughs and says she cannot believe what she was weraing an dClark gives her side eye and says he kind of liked it. Lana suddenly looks alarmed and asks if she said or did anything embarrassing to him that she should know about. Clark smiles and says no. She looks around and asks how it feels beting on top of the worl and he replies that he feels free.

REACTION:

I remember not liking this episode and that feeling held up quite well over 20 years.

Before I get into that, I want to think on the name of the flower – Nicodemus. The next couple of paragraphs are probably going to come off like the ramblings of a madman banging on a typewriter in the woods but bear with me. As some of you might know, Nicodemus is the Pharisee who met secretly with Jesus during his ministry. Their conversation is recounted in the gospel of John Chapter 3. I really struggled to connect a flower that throws off inhibitions with that character. The quote from the notes that Lex reads make the connection even fuzzier:

“On God’s green earth, this flower was the thief in the temple, the silent temptress that, with a single sneeze, brought out the basest instincts in men and drove them to violence.”

Is the historical Nicodemus well described as being “the thief in the temple”? What are the writers getting at here?

The conversation in John 3 is the one wherein Jesus says one must be “born again.” Perhaps the intended connection here is that losing all inhibitions is like being born again and set free from the burden of the law. Most of the characters infected make reference to “feeling free” while infected. Throughout the episode this “feeling free” is presented as a negative – despite us as the audience knowing that their feelings are authentic. Interestingly, the only time where “feeling free” in the episode is a positive is when Clark says he feels that way at the end. Is the message that freedom is not suitable for fallible human beings but is instead better left for those who are gods?

I’m probably reading too much into it. I’m mostly just trying to avoid talking about the episode itself. This episode delivers the first of several Smallville episodes which 1) give the audience an implausibly dark Smallville hospital, and 2) rely on the premise that ____ causes ______ to act out without any inhibitions at all. We get to see the worst version of three main characters. Jonathan is lazy, horny, self-pitying, and kind of gross (he belches in Lex’s face.) Lana reveals that normal Lana is knowingly manipulating the men of Smallville with her looks. “Alpha Lana” just takes it up about 10 steps. Pete gets a gun and starts threatening and then attempting murder. So… Jonathan is hot for Martha and does not like the Luthors. No news there. Pete had already told us he was jealous of Clark’s friendship with Lex before the flower got him. Nothing new there, either, except the way that the writers present his feelings felt frankly really racist. The one black character on this show went from zero to violent murderer without the ramp-up time that Jonathan or Lana got. Unlike either Jonathan or Lana, he was effected immediately. Unlike the other two, he threatened to murder a friend. It’s like the messaging is that Pete does not have much beneath the surface except rage so he is extra susceptible to the flower. Big yikes there.

What we get from Lana is icky. Keep in mind that Lana is supposed to be a high school freshman… so the character is probably fifteen years old. It was extremely creepy to see her so hyper-sexualized. The subtext of this episode’s premise is that this version of Lana is just beneath the surface all the time, too. We are told that she knows – but represses – the fact that she uses her looks to get what she wants in Smallville. The whole thing just has the feel of being written by a pervert.

The best “moment” of this episode is Martha’s recounting to Clark the first time she met JOnathan. It was corny but sweet and very fitting of the Kents.

There are important bigger story things that happen here. Lex really screws up and gives Clark a reason not to trust him. Clark knows – even if he won’t admit it out loud – that Lex lied to him in this episode about knowing Doctor Hamilton. He knows that because Lex’s book was in Hamilton’s office. He also knows that people effected by the flower do not hallucinate – so Pete saying Hamilton was at Lex’s mansion later has every reason to be believed. Going a step farther Clark is going to make something of it that Hamilton’s barn lab completely disappeared after all of this and he’ll infer motivation on the part of Lex in taking such an active role in finding a cure.

Basically this episode gives us the biggest seed of doubt yet for Clark regarding his bald friend. That said… I just did not like the story. The Pete and Lana treatments in particular were big misfires for me.

4 thoughts on “Smallville (Season 1, Ep 15): Nicodemus

  1. Yeah, the Clark/Lex friends/enemy thing got almost as old as the Clark/Lana thing. I don’t remember this particular episode at all, but from your description, I’m not surprised. I do remember that the frenemies thing between Clark and Lex felt like many episodes happened in a vacuum. No friendship could survive what Lex put it through so many times. But if each time only relates to itself, well then, carry on Mr Lazy Script Writer!

    1. Yeah. This show feels as though they have a lot of good story-telling concepts but not a lot of ideas for how to write realistic relationships. I’m probably going to take a long break after I finish Season 1 before jumping into Season 2. It’s hard to sit through. Or maybe I’ll jump ahead a few seasons. I’m not sure.

      I would love to get an honest interview from Kristin Kreuk re: how she felt about this episode. Maybe I’m getting old but this whole thing felt very exploitative. BTW, on the topic of honest interviews, Michael Rosenbaum (Lex) has a podcast (“inside of You”) where he talks a lot of Smallville. It’s pretty entertaining. One thing they talk about a lot is how underslept Tom Welling was throughout the early run of this show – so much so that he nearly crashed his car driving to set one morning. When I was watching this episode, I really noticed it.

  2. Welling was only working on one job but as the lead he was on set more or less the entire time he was awake. Allegedly other members of the cast had to get involved to speak up on his behalf about getting a driver when the risk of him dying on his drive to work started getting scary.

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