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Smallville: Mercy

Cole: "How does it feel to be helpless?"
Lionel: "I'll let you know if it ever happens."

Except for the fact that I hate this kind of plot, this was a really, really good episode. Of course, any episode that strongly features Lionel and/or Lex is always a winner.

Lionel showed some serious heroism throughout the entire episode. In the initial fire chamber scene, he was sad about the death of his limo driver, and showed calm bravado when facing a horrible burn-y death. He started getting upset when Martha was brought into the picture, but it was all related to her safety, not his.

That elevator scene was fabulous. How downright touching that Lionel was ready to die for Martha and Clark. Unless, and it's a big unless, he did indeed know that the gun wasn't loaded. Unless he was Jor-El. Jor-El would have known the gun wasn't loaded.

I kept waiting for some sign that Jor-El was still in there, but nada. We still don't know what's up with Lionel. There were some interesting clues, though. In the opening scene, wasn't Lionel looking for pills? Were they pain pills? (I missed the first minute of the episode; they didn't say what those were, did they?) In the final scene, after Clark's threat and subsequent departure, Lionel clutched his head as if he were in serious pain. He struggled to get to his desk, where he quickly wrote something down. Is Jor-El possessing Lionel periodically? Is it causing Lionel physical pain? If so, then who went through those trials? Who was in the elevator with Martha? Is it possible that we only saw Lionel in the last minute of the episode?

There was a great mother/son moment when Clark finally came clean about Lionel knowing his secret, and Martha finally told Clark about Lionel and the blackmail attempt. Martha coped pretty well with the whole drowning in Houdini's water torture chamber and getting smushed in an elevator thing. Guess you have to expect this kind of thing to happen when you're Superman's mom.

Moving right along... Lex told Lana that the key to chess was anticipating your opponent's moves. I think Lex was psyching Lana out, looking for a way in to her affections. He sees their relationship as a game that he is going to win. I can also interpret the chess lessons as Lex's attempt to make Lana more like him, to get her to "play the game" as he does. Interesting that Lex made another friendship-rekindling overture toward Clark, all the while concealing his new relationship with Lana. Was it a genuine overture? Is the old Lex even in there any more?

This episode gave me much food for thought. It's the kind that makes me want to go back and re-watch the whole season, looking for clues. Except I'm not going to do that.

Bits and pieces:

— Dan said this episode was a ripoff of Saw. I haven't seen Saw. I don't want to see Saw.

— When Clark caught the elevator, and he and Lionel looked each other right in the eye... that was one of those omigod moments. Definitely one of my all time Smallville favorite scenes.

— Why did the bad guy choose Martha as a hostage for Lionel, and not Lex?

— I really did think that Lex was behind the whole thing for quite a while. I also thought briefly that Lionel would revert to type and let Martha die in the elevator.

— John Glover is not only a gifted actor; he looks very good in a tank top, which I have probably mentioned before. He's got some serious muscles on him.

— This episode featured Lana. No Lois this time.

— Chloe did some impossibly amazing things with that surveillance device. Does she have a degree in electronics now?

— Lionel said he has known Clark's secret since the Fortress of Solitude/coma thing.

— Lionel said that he didn't kill his parents. We know he did, though. Right? Are they going to revisit this plot point?

— Lex was wearing a pink shirt. A pink shirt. Why was Lex wearing a pink shirt?

— Chloe has a new hairdo. I'm not sure I like it. It made her look like she should be snapping gum and speaking with an exaggeratedly bad accent.

— This week's Superman reference: Martha said, "It isn't enough to simply give when we can. Upholding the principles of truth, justice, and the American way isn't a matter of convenience. It's a matter of conscience."

— Clark: "It's too risky." Chloe: "And waiting for Darth Luthor to hatch his evil plan isn't?"

Has Smallville been uncharacteristically violent this season, or what? This time, it worked.

Four out of four stars,

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


  1. Fabulous episode, but then I love word games so enjoyed "playing" along.

    Both Lionel and Lex are getting very, very interesting as we come to the end of the season. I loved your analogy of the chess game -- I had missed that entirely, but wow does it make sense.

    And, I kind of liked the pink shirt. It takes a man certain of himself to pull it off! :-)

  2. As I continue to re-watch Smallville on Hulu, with no commercials, and realizing this show started in 2001, I am really impressed at how well this show was put together. Acting, visuals, plots, special effects, and homage to the Superman mythos, I am enjoying this much more then the first time around.

  3. My favorite line was Lionel's telling Martha that Clark was her "special boy" -- something he could only have known if he retained some memory of when Martha came to the prison to talk with "Lionel" (actually Clark in Lionel's body).


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