Romany (romanyg) wrote,

Thoughts: Smallville 6x20, "Noir"

Oh show, your homage to film noir is so delightfully over the top with its fake car chase scenes and rain machines and Hayes Code tongueless passionate liplocks. And it gives us a chance to see the relationships, the story, from a different perspective.

As a photographer, Jimmy plays the part of participant/observer. He's not part of the group, but only slightly outside it. He has an eye for the detail that the others miss. Well, except for Lois, who also sees the cigarette case as important. They both key in on the same thing, a foreshadowing of their partnership to come.

He also notes the craziness of Chloe's life, something she takes for granted. How larger than life it is, so like a movie.

And so he directs his own, dream sequence, casting all of them—as well as himself—in it. As it's his dream, he should be the hero in it. And he attempts to be. But instead he becomes the Trapped Man, seen so often in noir, driven by circumstance, and a story that he has no way of controlling.

Rather, it's Clark who's the hero here, blindingly beautiful, confident, the Romantic Lead. Such a contrast with the real-time Clark, who has still not realized his full potential. Clark—as much as the noir genre will allow—is Superman. Although we see him first in his press room disguise, Jimmy—not quite immersed in the dream yet—can't believe it. "What's with the glasses?" he says.

And when we see Clark step from the shadows in the Talon, wonderfully recreated as a gin joint, Jimmy's role in the dream shifts. He's no longer the confident reporter but someone who is way out of his league. He goes first into the bar, but it's Clark who ends up leading. "Eyes back in your head, Olsen," Clark says as he turns to confidently stride up to the bar, with so much presence and power that he practically floats there.

"Relax, I'm one of the good guys," Clark says, half in light and half in shadow. As much as he's drawn to him, Jimmy remembers the Clark from "Crimson", inexplicably assholish, dangerous and philandering. He doesn't quite trust this Clark. And certainly not with Chloe.

For in the dream, he casts Chloe as his Girl Friday—a reversal of their actual power dynamic at The Planet. Sure, she's witty and quick, but there's evidence of some of his unease in their relationship. Here she adores him. Here she chooses him over Clark, giving him evidence that might damage Clark in order to save Jimmy. Because this Clark means nothing to her and Jimmy everything.

All the other women in the dream are fair game. Clark gives Jimmy a look of suave bemusement as they watch Lois in all her Gilda glory perform. "If that's what you're after, get in line." Although Lois and Clark never interact here, the foreshadowing is there. And it's not like Jimmy doesn't see it. He tried to set them up in Crimson because he likes them. Plus a single Clark is a dangerous Clark, and he wanted to eliminate the competition. In a nice way, of course.

But the only liplock we see from Clark is with Lana—who turns out not to be the damsel in distress but the Lady MacLana that she's so dangerously becoming in real life. Working with Lionel to get rid of Lex.

And how funny is it that Clark, in his wifebeater, comes out of the bathroom with a towel, to wipe not only his hands but his mouth. Oh Clark, you dirty boy! Fun aside, this is only the first oblique reference to cunnilingus. There's another one, and it's important.

The showdown between Lana and Clark at the end is tragic. "Why'd you make me do it?" he says. "It was all for you," she replies as she dies. He chooses his job over love, to be the hero at great personal cost. And this may well be a hint that the final Luthor showdown will be between Lana and Clark rather than between himself and Lionel or Lex. In the hospital, in real time, she tells Chloe that what she's doing, she's doing to protect Clark. But at what cost? Will she hurt people to do it?

In the dream, she attempts to kill Jimmy and the cigarette case stops the bullet. "Gardenia..." he whispers, hysterically reminiscent of Citizen Kane and "Rosebud..." And of course, an angry William Hearst and Welle's public outing of Hearst's pet name for Marion Davies' clitoris. Yes, the second oblique reference to cunnilingus.

And why is this important? Because Jimmy sees Clark as a ladies' man. He wants to see him as such because the hero worship that we see just the beginnings of here has nothing to do with sexing Clark up himself—whether he can't imagine it or simply doesn't work that way is subject to interpretation.

Jimmy Olsen is destined to be Superman's Best Pal, the sidekick. He's the fanboy creation for fanboys to identify with, his original purpose. But he's a hero in his own right, as we've seen throughout the season and later in this episode. Sure Clark does the actual work in this one, giving a gift to Chloe and Jimmy by letting Jimmy take the headline. But Jimmy doesn't know that. He throws himself at the gunman regardless. He's brave not because he has powers or a destiny but because he has a good heart.

And if the Superman mythos teaches us anything, that's the best kind of heart to have.
Tags: episode commentary, meta, sv
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