Smallville: Labyrinth

Chloe: "Dangling the Lana carrot is a pretty tempting offer. But he clearly has never come across the steel will of Clark Kent."

Despite the fact that this was lifted almost entirely from the Buffy episode "Normal Again," this one was pretty good. Like the Buffy episode, the hook was that it made total sense. What is more believable, after all? That Clark is a victim of paranoid schizophrenia and confined to a mental institution, or that he's a superpowerful alien from another planet?

The alternate reality in which Clark found himself was a combination of dreams come true crossed with nightmares. (I love stuff like this.) The rather creepy retro Lana has always loved Clark; they were engaged since they were ten. Chloe was still his only friend and confidant. But Lex had lost his legs in the pilot episode accident on the bridge. And Martha was married to Lionel. I thought the Usual Suspects scene where Clark found references to his life in the people at the hospital and written on the all the props was especially clever. My favorite was "Jorel" as an antibacterial soap.

I certainly have to give the writers credit, because I didn't have a clue about what was really going on until the end. And it was a fun introduction to Martian Manhunter. I liked him a lot. More, please.

Bits and pieces:

— With "Dr. Hudson" dead, how many Zoners are left now? I thought there were six. Haven't most of them been neutralized?

— Why wouldn't Jonathan still be alive? He died because of Clark and his superpowers, after all. Maybe they didn't want to bring John Schneider back just for a brief scene in one episode.

— No Lionel. Too bad. I would have enjoyed seeing Lionel and Martha as a married couple, even if it was just for five minutes.

— Clark was incarcerated in the Fairview Psychiatric Hospital. Why not Belle Reve?

— Alternate Chloe had a Wall of Weird that had expanded, along with her paranoia, to cover the entire Talon apartment.

— The background score featured an irritating monotone (Martian Manhunter's beam?) with an additional growling sound now and then (which was clearly Shelby).

— No Lois this time. Lana's turn.

— Major Toyota product placement. I hate obvious product placement.

— Gold acting stars for Tom Welling, who got to do more of an emotional range than he usually does. And Michael Rosenbaum tore up the scenery while confined to a wheelchair.

Three out of four stars,

Billie
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Billie Doux had a love-hate relationship with Smallville, which is why some of her reviews are briefer than they should be.

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