Well, I can’t believe that I’m starting a Smallville thread. But it’s been Michael Rosenbaum (as Lex Luthor) and the inimitable John Glover (as Lionel Luthor) who have kept the show interesting, and last night was all about Lex.
I’ll do a second post to avoid spoilers in the OP.
Thought it was a really strong show last night. Highly derivative, of course, but what do you expect? And with a neat twist at the end.
Once again, Clark and Lex mirror each other: they’ve both tried to choose an ordinary, happy life instead of extraordinary power, and they’ve both had to give up on an ordinary life because they couldn’t accept its limitations. They both ran into something that happens in everybody’s life: being helpless to save somebody you care about; and they both chose power and the burden that comes with it.
That’s why Lex is working out to be a tragic figure and a potentially great villain: every step of the way, he believes he’s aiming for the greater good. He never does anything thoughtlessly or out of sheer self-indulgence. And he must be one of the loneliest guys around.
(The secondary story, with Clark and Santa, was a bit gushy.)
I liked the final shot, with (I think) a glimpse of Lex’s mother in the window reflection.
I thought the episode was somewhat stupid, to be honest.
Clark as Santa was humorous but the whole real life Santa story was so sugary it would have made the Peanuts characters go into diabetic shock.
Also, let me understand this correctly.
Lex can choose to become good and if so this means his wife, Lana, is going to die. This doesn’t take into account that during the intervening 8 years, Lex can
Not get Lana pregnant a second time
Get her pregnant and take the medical or financial steps ahead of time to prepare for the problems in the hospital
Form a better relationship with his dad during the intervening years. One where, at the very least, Lionel won’t abandon Lana when she needs his help the most.
Any number of a billion other things. This episode was about choices, right?
Not to mention the facts that
By going down the road Lex chose at the end, he’s basically walking the path his dad wants him to walk. This is a man who would cold heartedly leave Lana for dead out of spite (and don’t tell me you bought the “you chose this life Lex so now it’s all your fault.” Lionel’s choice was as cruel as they come).
I doubt Lionel could “take away Lex’s Platinum Card” and suddenly Lex is without money. Lex certainly must have money ferreted away somewhere. He owns a portion of LuthorCorp! He’s supremely intelligent. Are you telling me he didn’t prepare for that eventuality?
Making the choice Lex does at the end won’t guarantee to save Lana! That’s what he’s doing this for anyway, right?
I thought somebody would raise this objection. You’re missing the point: the specifics of the situation don’t matter. Yes, with foreknowledge he could have avoided that particular event, but there’d always be something else. The choice is between the risks and vulnerability suffered by all ordinary people, or an obsessive quest for enough power to protect everything you care about. As Lex says at the end, “Power and money: once you have those, you can secure everything else – and keep it that way.” An impossible goal, perhaps – but that’s the stuff of supervillainy.
What’s up with Lionel anyway? First he was evil. Then he had some sort of epithany or something, turned good and wanted to make up for his past misdeeds. Lex didn’t believe him, pretty much treated like crap until Lionel finally became evil again.
But I’m not super clear exactly what made Lionel evil again. In any event, I can’t believe Lionel is so evil he’d let Lana die. Rather, he’d have saved Lana, but leveraged it to force Lex to compromise his ideals, and start him back down the path towards evil.
The Santa bit was okay. I wonder if Santa was truly despondent about the state of the world, or he engineered the whole thing to keep Clark on the right path, one super-being to another. I almost thought they’d reveal Santa to possibly be an ancient Kryptonian.
I was certain the whole thing was Braniac messing with Lex – really. But that last shot of his mother in the window was really nice – her reaching out to save her son from the life his father would have him live.
While Schmaltzy, the Santa thing, as has been noted, has a history in the comics and as such was kind of nice to see.
I still haven’t figured out why everybody wants Lana when Chloe is right there – a much better character and a prettier actress. (end grumpy old guy tirade)
If I recall, there was an episode when Lionel was in prison and he used one of the mysterious Kryptonian stones to switch bodies with a visiting Clark. They ended up getting switched back, with Lionel having no memory of what happened – but having Clark’s lifeforce in his body had two remarkable effects: it cured his incurable terminal disease; and it took away his lust for power and vengeance, leaving him with a soft gooey center of goodness and niceness.
Lately, they’ve been showing Lionel in an ambiguous way; his actions could be motivated by pure self-interest or by nobler feelings. Hard to say.