But! Smallville. I haven't posted much episode commentary this season. For some reason, I'm not very articulate these days. That said...
We're not defined by our parents, Kara.
--Clark Kent, "Lara"
So much irony in this statement, because that's exactly what this episode is about: parents and how they define their children.
In the opening, we see Kara remembering her flight from Krypton and her separation from her father as Krypton starts to crumble around them as later her idllyic version of him shall crumble. And soon after we see the warmth as Lionel greets Clark in his office, extending his arms and Clark, awkwardly, returning that hug.
And I haven't had the opportunity yet to read the other reviews, but I'm sure some of you probably thought, yuck, Clark/Lionel, since 'hugs' in previous seasons have been code for Clark/Lex. But I didn't pick up any strange incesty vibes here (as opposed to other ones that I'll discuss in a bit). This scene reflects just how much Lionel has managed to work his way into the Kents' lives, the hug paternalistic. "I shall love him as my own," Zor-El says later to a struggling Lara, touching her pregnant belly, as Kara watches from the doorway, reminiscent of young Lex in another doorway watching his parents argue about Julian in "Memoria". (And really Lara, you're a Kryptonian on Earth, you could just kick his ass.)
For Jor-El is the absent rival here, much as Jonathan is the absent rival. Whatever his reasoning may be, Lionel treats Clark as the favored son, deserving of the fatted calf. And it's Lex who's the prodigal, the rival, the age-old struggle of Cain and Abel. "Which son would that be?" Lex says. "You spend about as much time protecting Clark as you do pushing me away. Exactly, whose father are you?" The well-worn coldness of this scene such a keen juxtaposition with the awkward warmth of that between Lionel and Clark.
And it's not as if Lex himself hasn't sought the role of brother with Clark. That's been true since the beginning. Yet he didn't want Lionel to play the father role, but rather Jonathan. As wary as Jonathan is, there is awkward warmth there too with Lex happily cleaning out the stable, sleeping in Clark's room. The wedding gift of the compass, a Kent family tradition. The compass which was Lex's touchstone during his island sojourn. I wonder if he still has that, keeps it close but untouched like his Warrior Angel collection?
But of course Jonathan rejects him. Lex is Caliban and Clark is Ariel. Jonathan has as much a hand in that as Lionel does.
Lionel accuses Lex of pursuing Kara, likening her to Lana, saying that the common point here is Clark. And maybe that's not so far off. Canon-wise, Lex shows a preference for brunettes, but Lex/Supergirl is comics canon. And there's subtext there too, a sexual mastery of Superman, since Lex prefers her in costume. Seriously.
And I guess this is where I should segue into the weird incesty vibes I mentioned earlier. Because as much as this show pushes the theme as Clark and Lex as brothers and rivals, it pushes the subtext along with it. Also, I joked in an earlier post about cousins maybe not being a Kryptonian taboo, but I had to wonder why the camera lingered on Kara's breasts and, ahem, posterior during her familial conversation with Clark at the farmhouse, Clark stressing how beautiful his birth-mother was. And man, Kara looks a lot like her. Add that with Clark holding up the blue phallic crystal and talking about his mother's DNA - which Zor-El had put in there so that he and Lara could be together *sexually* - with an oh-so-wrong gleam in his eye. Just really Oedipal as all get out and really reminiscent of Lex's fake-baby scam and Lana clone. And this just stresses how *lonely* Clark really is, and bereft, because Jonathan's absence permeates that house and Martha's just a picture. Lana is off doing her secret things and there's so much distance between them. There really isn't as much of difference between the Luthor mansion and the Kent farmhouse as there used to be.
Speaking of lonely, can we just stop with the emotional smackdown of Chloe already? Unless they're trying to emphasize some parallel with Clark, I don't get it. And for those of you saying Clark's an idiot, doesn't see a good thing when he has one and they should get together already and solve each other's problems in a hot, nice sex way, then I should say that maybe that they don't is a good thing? Because any romantic involvement with Clark means death or exile, anyone that isn't Lois. That's the future set in stone and there's no way around that. We like our stories open-ended and branches of possibility, but that's the opposite with Smallville. This is how they get to the point that we know. This is the Once Upon a Time.
Someone jokingly accused me of liking to whore Clark out, and maybe that's true (and funny considering that he's basically a celibate character), but I like the possiblity of Chloe/Clark too. It's just not going to happen. And hey, at least they get to deal with that on-screen, it's not like I'm ever going to see a startled kiss in one of Clark and Lex's shoving matches. So.
And the fault with it not happening goes both ways. Part of Clark is always going to be that blinking, rejected fifteen-year old in the woods. And yes, he was mean in his Kal-holish fashion in "Crimson" with saying, "It's not like I haven't thought about it." But there's always going to be that uncertainty. And it's going to be the what-if relationship of their lives. And that? That's kind of human. Most people have one of those.
Plus it saves Chloe from becoming that Warrior Angel comic panel of doom: "When you're destined to save mankind; you're destined to be alone." So there's that.
And wow, that was a jump to the left of the parent theme. Like I said, I'm not feeling terribly succint or articulate these days.