Smallville (Season 1, Ep 16): Stray

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:

Ryan is a boy who can read minds. His stepfather and his new wife use Ryan’s abilities to commit crimes – including murder. When Ryan runs away, he is accidentally hit by Martha Kent’s car. After he claims amnesia, the Kents take him into their home while they figure out where to place him. While they live together, Ryan learns about Clark’s abilities and vice versa. Ryan’s stepdad and his criminal wife track Ryan down, while Clak is not home, and she pretends to be from child services to take Ryan back. She quietly threatens to Ryan that she will murder the Kent family if he tells them who she really is.

Meanwhile, Ryan’s stepdad poses and Lex’s limo driver and kidnaps Lex. After getting Ryan back from his wife, he uses Ryan’s ability to steal a password from Lex’s mind. Ryan refuses to give up the password, though, and then turns the two adult kidnappers against each other. He warns his stepdad’s wife that his stepfather intends to kill her after getting the money. When she pulls a gun, the stepdad shoos her first. Clark figures out that Ryan is kidnapped and tracks them down just in time to save Ryan’s life. As the episode end,s Ryan is placed with an aunt in Edge City. He promises the Kents that he will not share Clark’s secret – something he has learned from his ability while living with them.

THE EXTRA DUSTY RECAP:

As the episode begins, an unknown boy, about twelve or thirteen years old, is trying to sell a small angel figurine and is told by the pawn shop purchaser that he will give him fifty dollars. He replies that it is made out of gold, causing the shop owner to smile and ask him who told him that. The boy says that it was his mother.

Owner: Tell her it’s a fake.
Boy: I can’t. She’s dead.

The store owner seems to soften toward the boy and offers to give him sixty dollars instead. He bends down and opens a safe in which to place the angel.

The boy runs out of the store, after, and jumps into a car with a man and a woman to tell them that he’s done. He complains that he does not want to do this anymore and the man tells him that they are all he’s got. The man asks the boy what the safe combination is and the boy gives it. The man and woman wait for the store to close before getting out of the car. As they go, the boy instructs them not to forget his angel.

As they go inside, the boy is reading a comic book titled “Warrior Angel” and abruptly jumps out. He runs to the storefront window in time to see the shop owner, who is still inside the store, getting shot by the man now robbing the place. He runs away as the woman asks the male robber why he did that and that she believes the man is dead.

As they emerge from the store, the see the boy, Ryan, running and they give chase. Ryan eventually runs out in front of an oncoming car and is hit. The driver of the car gets out, horrified, and we see that it is Martha Kent. She finds Ryan on the ground and he is alive and well enough to get up. She shuffles him into her car, telling him that she is taking him to the hospital. They leave just as the store robbing man and woman get to the road and watch them go.

♫Somebody saaaaaaavvee meeeee♫

At the hospital, a nurse tells Jonathan and Martha that Ryan checks out okay but that other than his name, Ryan claims to have no memory. Martha asks if he has amnesia and the nurse replies that it is most likely post-traumatic shock and that his memory will likely return in 24-48 hours. Clark is there also and asks what happens if it does not return. The nurse pulls Jonathan and Martha aside to tell them that it is unlikely all of Ryan’s cuts and bruises were caused by the accident. Martha asks if she thinks Ryan is being abused and the nurse replies simply that Ryan may not want to remember. Martha asks what will happen to him and the nurse replies that juvenile services were called but will not be able to come out until the day after tomorrow, meaning that Ryan will need to stay in juvenile services at the Sherriff’s station until then.

Clark asks why he can’t come home with them. Martha and Jonathan agree and ask if that is possible. The nurse replies that she will make some calls.

The following morning, Ryan is at the Kent Farm and has made breakfast for the family before they wake up. He tells Martha, who is shocked, that he could not sleep. Jonathan is surprised and asks about the occasion.

Ryan: I wanted to make myself useful. Thanks for letting me stay here.

Jonathan tells him that he can stay as long as he wants and says maybe some of him will rub off on Clark. Ryan starts guessing what the two Kent parents wants and demonstrates his prescience. Both Jonathan and Martha are impressed. Clark comes down and is told that Ryan did all of this himself. Clark tells the newcomer, with a smile, that he is making him look bad. Ryan asks Clark what he wants and is unable to guess. He seems confused about not being able to read Clark’s mind as Clark helps himself to some pancakes.

Jonathan asks him if he can remember yet anything about the night before and says it is unusual for someone to be out on that road at ten o’clock at night. Ryan somewhat defensively says he cannot remember and adds that he is not hiding anything. Clark reminds him that nobody said he was but Ryan excuses himself and goes outside anyway. A little while later Clark finds him outside and Ryan guesses to him that his parents want him to leave now. Clark asks why he would think that and Ryan replies that they do not believe him.

Clark says that they just want to help him get home but Ryan asks him about the possibility he does not have a home, or that he did bad things he cannot remember. Clark changes the subject to the comic Ryan is reading and asks why he likes Warrior Angel. Ryan tells him he likes it because he protects people who cannot protect themselves. Ryan then tells Clark that he likes being around him and says it is peaceful. Clark suggests to him that he get his head out of the comic and play basketball with him.

The man and woman who were with Ryan to start the episode arrive at the hospital asking about the boy from the paper who lost his memory. The man identifies himself as a private detective hired by Ryan’s parents. The administrator at the desk promises to fetch Dr. Harden who she says will want to talk with him.

At the farm, Martha and Jonathan watch Clark playing basketball with Ryan and discuss whether they made a mistake not adopting another child. Martha suggests that maybe having a younger sibling to share his secret with might have made Clark’s life easier and she adds that Clark really seems to like Ryan. Jonathan points out that Clark is not the only one and says Martha always had a soft spot for strays. She tells him that the last one turned out alright.

Lionel enters Lex’s office at the mansion and Lex says he thought his father was still in Monaco.

Lional: Ah, the backbone of surprise is fusing speed with secrecy.
Lex: Von Clausewitz, “On War.”

Lex asks him if that quote is a little 80s, even for him, and Lionel laughs and replies that he never gives plant managers a heads up before spot inspections. Lex asks him what he could possibly be here to complain about now and reminds his father that the plant is doing well and that the company’s stock is up. Lionel tells him that he is not here to complain and says Lex’s performance lately has been more than adequate – words that sound like highest praise coming from him.

Lex smiles and says that sounds dangerously like a compliment. Lionel replies by saying that he does not deny that he pushes Lex and says greatness is a rarified air that one must be taught to breathe. Lionel tells Lex that Philip of Macedon raised his son among lions to instill fearlessness in him. Lex asks if Philip did not also later try to impale the kid with a spear. Lionel laughs, acknowledged the coup attempt, and then reminds Lex that history remembers Philip’s son as Alexander the Great. Lex asks if his father came all this way to lecture on Greek history and Lionel tells him no, that he came here to tell Lex he wants him back in Metropolis to hold the position of Special Advisor to the Chairman Emeritus. Lex quips that at least the title sounds important.

Lex tells Lionel that he will think about it, causing Lionel to laugh and ask if he wants to keep him dangling so that it looks like he is doing him (Lionel) a favor instead of receiving one.

Lionel: We don’t need to play games, son.
Lex: Dad, games are all we’ve got.

At the school, Ryan is looking at Chloe’s “Wall of Weird” and she tells him that he is like a modern day Kasper Hauser. Ryan asks her who that is and Clark tells him not to worry as Chloe is the queen of obscure and irrelevant references. She explains that Hauser was a kid who had a famous amnesia case in Europe during the 19th century. Ryan asks if he ever found his parents and Chloe pauses before saying yes.

Chloe: He founds his parents and lived happily ever after.
Ryan: Why didn’t you just say he was murdered?

Chloe asks how he knew that and Clark changes the subject to ask her about taking a picture. Ryan asks what picture and asks if they are putting him on the freak wall. She corrects him to say it is the Wall of Weird and that he is not going on the wall – the picture is for missing persons. After Chloe leaves to download the picture, Ryan tells Clark that Chloe likes him and that she wants to be more than just friends with him.

Ryan: I think she wants you to ask her to the prom.
Clark: Chloe? Yeah, right.
Ryan: No, really. She already picked out a dress. It’s pink.

Clark points out that Chloe hates dresses and is not the prom type. Ryan suggests that she might have a romantic side that Clark does not know about. Clark suggests that maybe his mom hit him harder than he thought.

Later at The Talon, Lana asks Clark how it feels to have a little brother figure in his life. Lana shares that she always dreamed of having a little brother or sister to talk to and help to fill the silence. Clark agrees and adds that it could be someone you could totally trust to be their for you. Lana tells Clark that this is exactly how she sees him.

Lex enters The Talon and comments on Ryan’s “Warrior Angel” comic, adding that he is a fan himself. He starts to introduce himself but Ryan cuts him off and shares that he already knows his name. Ryan is cold toward Lex and tells him that Clark already told him about Lex. Lex starts to talk again about the comic but Ryan says what Lex intends to say first – that he has an original first edition of the comic at his house. Lex asks how he knows that and Ryan covers by reminding Lex that he is rich. Clark joins them and Lex tells him that he and Ryan are both Warrior Angel fans. Clark expresses surprise and Lex shares that when he was young, Warrior Angel was his idol because he is a strange visitor from another planet who protects the weak.

Lex; Not to mention, he was bald.

Clark suggests that they could come by later and check out Lex’s collection but Ryan acts indifferent to the idea. Lex can sense Ryan does not like him so he leaves. After he goes, Clark tells Ryan that he was being rude. Ryan replies that he should not worry about Lex as he is bout to leave because his father offered him a new job. Clark tells him that he does not know Lex and his father and that Lex’s father would never do that. He puts a hand on Ryan’s shoulder and tells him that he has to stop making up stories about people.

Clark excuses himself and Ryan suddenly senses someone else in the room with him. When he turns around, he finds the man who had been forcing him to help with robberies. Ryan runs out of the building, Lana notices, and the man follows. When Clark comes back to where Ryan had been sitting, Lana tells him that he abruptly ran outside and that he looked scared.

Ryan is hiding inside a trash dumpster. When Clark calls for him, the man who has been searching for him runs away. Just then, a trash truck picks up the dumpster in which Ryan is hiding, and pours him and the trash inside of itself. As the truck begins to compact the trash, threatening to crush Ryan in the process, the boy calls out for help. Clark hears him and then finds him using X-Ray vision. He speeds to the trash truck and rips apart the mechanism compacting the trash. He then rips apart the metal casing of the truck to find Ryan. When an astonished Ryan sees him, Clark tells him that he is safe now.

Later Lex visits Clark in the Kent family barn. Lex points out that Ryan is growing on him and Clark agrees and asks Lex if he ever wished that he had a sibling. Lex replies that he did have a sibling and tells a story about how his mother became pregnant when Lex was eleven.

Lex: I’ve never seen my father happier. The day Julian was born was the only time I’ve ever felt like I was part of a real family.

When Clark asks what happened, Lex explains that on the day of Julian’s baptism, his mother found him in his crib not breathing. He says she was never the same after and that his father became even more distant. Lex expresses a belief that his father saw Julian as a second chance to have a son he can truly love. Clark tells him that he is sorry and Lex explains that it is in the past and that he and his little brother would have ended up hating each other anyway because Lionel would have seen to that.

Seeing the sadness on Clark’s face, Lex tells him that he is not visiting to recount his family’s tragic history, he is here to share news. He tells Lex that his father offered him a job in Metropolis. Clark smiles before asking if he told Ryan about that. Lex replies that he has not told anyone. When Clark reminds him that this is what he alwasy wanted, Lex tells him that it used to be but that now he is not so sure.

Lex: I was a different person there. A different person around my father. He wants an answer tomorrow night.

Clark tells him that if anyone can choose who they want to be, it is him.

Later, Jonathan and Ryan visit Lana at the Talon. He tells her that Ryan has been helping him with chores all day and that he thinks Ryan deserves somethin for his efforts. He tells Ryan to get what he wants and says he is going to go call Martha to see what she wants. Left alone with Lana, the first thing he asks her is if she thinks it’s okay that her friends have secrets. She says that this is a strange question and asks why he is asking. Ryan tells her that he thinks Clark is hiding something from him. She tells him that everybody has secrets and he asks what hers is.

Lana: [smiling] If I told you then it wouldn’t be a secret.

Ryan laughs in agreement. Just then a waitress named Skye walks by. Ryan frowns at her. Lana asks him about the frown and he tells her that Skye is not a good person and that she should fire her. Lana asks why he would say something like that and how he knows. He just tells her that it’s a secret.

When Ryan and Jonathan return to the Kent house, we see that the man and woman who made him help with robberies are outside. The man says that it looks like Ryan has found himself a new family.

Clark and Chloe walk on the road where Martha hit Ryan with her car. Clark thanks her for helping with the clue hunt. Clark tells her that he is starting to think Ryan does not have amnesia and that he is running from somebody. Chloe finds a backpack in the ditch. They find comic books, Twizzlers, and a picture of Ryan with a woman inside. Chloe notes that now the mystery deepens and she says that she cannot figure out how he knew that Kasper Hauser was murdered. Clark tells her that she was not exactly wearing a poker face when she told that story. He concedes to Chloe though that Ryan says weird things and mentions that Ryan told him that Chloe wants him to ask her to prom and that she has already bought a dress.

Chloe stops walking when Clark tells her this. When it is obvious that Ryan is right, Clark asks her if the dress is pink. She tells him that she was just looking at it but has not actually bought it. Clark asks how Ryan would know and she suggests that maybe he is an alien or maybe he called Miss Cleo.

Sometime later, Ryan watches Martha peel an apple and says aloud that Clark is the best thing that has ever happened to her. Martha says that he is and Ryan asks if that makes up for not being able to have her own kids. She answers again in the affirmative. Next, Ryan asks if Clark has always been so strong and she asks what he means so Ryan tells her that Clark ripped off the back panel of the garbage truck to save him. Martha tells Ryan not to be silly and that Clark could not do that. He stares at her in the way that he stares at people who are lying and says “if you say so” as a reply. Ryan asks her what her greatest fear is and she replies that it is not getting the pie done, that they are working on, before Ryan has to leave. She suggeststhat he go outside and play basketball.

Clark finds the cellar door open and goes inside. The spaceship’s tarp has been removed and Ryan is down there. Ryan tells Clark not to be mad and when Clark asks how he knew about this, Ryan shares that he heard about it in Martha’s mind. Clark looks worried and then intrigued.

Clark: Can you hear everything that people think?
Ryan: Only what’s on the surface. What they’re thinking at that moment. Except for you. I can’t read your mind.

Ryan suggest to Clark that he will keep his secret and that Clark can keep his in return. He points out that he can be really useful to Clark, letting their family know if someone is getting close to learning about Clark. He then reminds Clark that he told him about Chloe and he offers to tell him about Lana. Clark tells him not to share about Lana. Clark tells him that he cannot do this and Ryan replies that Clark does not know what it’s like to be different and to hide from people who think he is a freak. He says that everywhere he goes, he hears people’s thoughts and says he cannot block it out anymore.

Clark pulls the picture he took from Ryan’s backpack and asks if that is his mother. Ryan nods and says that she died. When Clark asks why he did not tell him, Ryan says he was hoping Clark’s family would adopt him so that he could start over with them and so that he could be safe. Clark asks who is chasing him and Ryan tells him that it is his stepfather and his new wife. Ryan tells him that they have been using his abilities to steal. Through tears he says that he wanted to stop but that they threatened and abused him. He tells Clark that he has to protect him from them. Clark gives him a hug.

Later, the new wife of Ryan’s stepfather knocks on the Kent family’s door. Ryan opens the door and tries to close it on her. She warns him that if he says anything, she will kill all of them, and she shows him the gun she is carrying. When Jonathan approaches, her tone changes, and she introduces herself to Ryan as if they are just now meeting for the first time. She tells Jonathan that she is from Child Services and that she is here to pick up Ryan. He points out that she is an hour early and instead of explaining, she smiles and tells them that they cannot be thanked enough for taking Ryan in. Martha asks if Ryan can wait a few minutes for their son Clark to return home but she tells Martha that is impossible. Ryan tells Martha that it’s okay and they tearfully hug each other.

When Clark arrives home, Jonathan tells him that Child Services took Ryan about fifteen minutes ago. Clark asks why they did not wait and Jonathan replies that she told them that they were in a hurry. Just then another car pulls into the Kent’s driveway. It’s Lex in a limousine. Clark asks if he is on his way to dinner and Lex says yes, but that he wanted Clark to have something before he leaves. He tosses it to Clark.

Clark: It’s a sword?
Lex: A foil, Clark. Every hero should have one.

Clark tells Lex that he guesses this means Lex is taking the job. Lex replies that he has not made his mind up yet and Clark asks why he is giving a going away present in that case. Lex tells Clark to keep it away fromthe kid and Clark replies that the Ryan is already gone. Lex tells him that he’s sorry before going. As he gets into his car, we see that Lex’s driver is Ryan’s stepfather.

A short while later, the limo pulls over. When Lex asks the driver what is going on, Ryan, his stepfather, and his wife get into the back with Lex. The stepfather hits Lex causing him to double over as his wife takes over driving. The stepfather asks Lex about a password and Lex replies that he does not have it. Ryan tells his stepdad that Lex is lying. A moment later, despite Lex having not spoken, the stepfather asks Ryan if he’s got it and he nods affirmatively.

Clark is swinging his new foil in the barn when Chloe arrives and correctly guesses that it is a gift from Lex. Clark tells her that Lex is thinking of moving back to Metropolis, which causes Chloe to awkwardly tell him that she is still here and not going anywhere. After a pause, Chloe tells Clark that one of her sources at the police station gave her some information about Ryan’s stepdad. Clark is surprised that she has sources and she replies that he is a cute officer who called her plucky when she talked her way out of a speeding ticket.

Chloe: Maybe I’ll ask *him* to prom.

After an awkward pause, she tells Clark that Ryan’s stepdad is a real catch and a career criminal. When she shows Clark his mug shots, Clark tells her that this is Lex’s limo driver.

Elsewhere, we see Lex flying from the moving limo and rolling on the road after landing. Inside the limo, the stepdad asks Ryan for the password. Reluctantly, Ryan tells him the password is Julian.

Clark finds Lex on the road and verifies that he is okay. Lex tells him that they have Ryan and that he needs to get some help. Clark asks where they went, verifies that Lex is not looking, and then speeds away.

The limo parks and everyone gets out with a laptop. The stepdad types in Julian and it does not work. He grabs Ryan and menacingly tells him to give the real password. The wife points the gun at Ryan and tells Ryan that she will drop (i.e. kill) him right now. Ryan tells her that once his stepdad gets the money he is going to kill her. The stepdad nervously tells her not to listen to Ryan and says he is trying to tear them apart. She replies that the kid has always freaked her out.

Woman: But the one thing I’ll say about him, he never lied.

Dramatically, the stepdad slams the laptop shut and grabs something. He turns around pointing a gun at her and tells her that’s true and then shoots her. Ryan runs away and into the bowling alley in front of which they are parked. Ryan runs into someone as he enters and yells for the man to call the police. The bystander does not get a chance and is killed by Ryan’s stepdad seconds later.

As Ryan hides, his stepdad taunts him and tells him his mother really hated him and could not stand having a freak for a son. He adds that come to think of it, he is not that fond of Ryan either. When Ryan moves enough, from a position behind bowling pins at the end of an alley, for his stepdad to see him, the older man begins shooting at Ryan.

Clark arrives outside and sees the woman dead on the ground and hears gunshots inside. He scans the room with his X-Ray vision and sees the stepfather with a gun pointing directly at Ryan and about to shoot. Clark grabs a bowling ball and throws it so hard that it crashes through a wall and hits the would-be shooter in the abdomen, driving him across the room and against a wall. When Ryan sees him, Clark calls out to him that it’s okay.

At some point later, Clark takes Ryan by to visit Lana at The Talon. He tells her that Ryan is going away to live with an aunt in Edge City. Lana thanks Ryan for his advice on Skye, the waitress, and she tells him that she was stealing from the till. Lana then kisses Ryan on the cheek causing Ryan to beam. Clark whispers to her that he thinks she just made his year. The two boys go to sit down after and Clark asks Ryan if he has recovered from the kiss yet.

Ryan: I don’t know but I’m definitely in love.
Clark: Join the club.

Lionel visits Lex at the mansion and asks if he should not be packing. Lex says that he is not going and that he knows why his dad wanted him in Metropolis in the first place. He points out that for the first time he is on track and that this fact scares his father. Lionel tells Lex that he is making a mistake.

Lex: You know what those emperors that you are so fond of talking about were really afraid of? That their sons would become successful and return to Rome at the head of their own army.
Lionel: You think you can find your future in Smallville? I’m your future. Join me, Lex. Join me in Metropolis.

Lionel asks him how long he has waited to hear him say those words and Lex replies that he has waited to hear other words for a lot longer. Lex tells him that he’ll return to Metropolis when he is ready. Lionel asks him if he’ll do so at the head of an army and Lex just smiles at him.

At the farm, the Kents tell Ryan how much they are going to miss him. Ryan tells the older Kents that he knows what they are worried about but that he will keep Clark’s secret. He adds that he knows what it is like to have to hide who you are from the world. Ryan’s aunt pulls up and gets out of the car. Ryan tells Clark quietly that she is a nice person and is just as nervous as he is.

Before he goes, Ryan warns Clark to be careful of Lex. He acknowledges that Clark likes him but tells him that Lex has a lot of darkness inside of him that he keeps from the world. Clark accepts this and then tells Ryan that he likes to believe in people’s best. Ryan gives Clark a gift – his “Warrior Angel” comics. Clark tells him that he cannot take them but Ryan replies that he does not need them anymore because he has Clark. They hug and Ryan leaves.

REACTION:

Most of the time on Smallville, it’s easy to ignore that Tom Welling is in his mid 20s playing a 15 year old. However, when the co-star is a 12 year old playing a 12 year old, the casting/character circumstances become really funny.

This is not a horrible episode but it’s a lot schmaltzier than I would prefer. It also felt kind of like a backdoor pilot episode for a show starring this Ryan kid. It’s probably a good thing that the WB never actually tried to run with that as a spinoff because I cannot imagine that it would work.

The best thing to happen in this episode is Clark’s take-down of the evil stepdad. Can you even imagine Superman – an angry Superman – throwing a bowling ball at you hard enough that the ball passes breaks through a wall without slowing down before it hits you in the stomach? Even if he lives (and we have no idea what happened to him), that guy will never be okay again.

Ryan is I think the first person we’ve met with powers that seem to be unrelated to meteor rocks. We do not learn the source of his powers in this episode, though. Given the ending, it is safe to assume we will meet Ryan again.

There’s not much to say about the main plot. The most significant thing that happens is that Clark now has a very good reason to think Chloe likes him romantically. He also knows that Lex is harboring a lot of darkness – such that it might not be a good idea to trust him. Neither of these are big revelations to the audience or to Clark.

In the B plot, Lex gets offered a job by his father – in Metropolis – and turns it down. Not only does he turn it down, he implies that he wants to use Smallville as a launching pad for an eventual war with his dad. I’m sure Lionel had ulterior motives but I think his driving motivation is turning Lex into Alexander the Great. He gave him the name when he was born and he literally refers to Philip and Alexander in the episode. In his own twisted way, Lionel loves Lex, but Lex is unable to see it for what it is. This job offer was an olive branch showing that love. Lionel even compliments Lex in this episode. From what we can tell, he offers this job less than a year after sending him to Smallville (i.e. he offers the Metropolis job as soon as possible) and lest we forget this is after giving Lex a job running the Smallville plant that he probably did not earn on merit. Lex rejects the olive branch – probably because his father never directly tells him that he loves him. Their story is compelling. Lex cannot see Lionel’s tough love for love. Lionel does not know how to give him anything else. Lionel also seems just ever so vaguely disturbed by his son and maybe that drives his tough love.

I would prefer that this show just be something starring the Luthors with Clark stories occupying the B plot.

It’s an okay episode but the show seems to have peaked with the “Zero” episode. We’ll see if it can get back to form before the season is over.

2 thoughts on “Smallville (Season 1, Ep 16): Stray

  1. And here’s another episode I have zero recollection of.

    I realize it is a while away (with 6 or 8 more episodes to go I believe), but do you know what other show you’ll be replacing this with after this season?

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