Romany (romanyg) wrote,

Thoughts: Smallville 7x10, "Persona"

Here is yet another episode that may seem a little melodramatic at the surface but which is actually pinned together with a deeper thematic element. And that element? Frankenstein. We have creation and destruction, hubris and rebellion.

Lex, Julian, Grant and Lionel

Not having found love and family in normal human relations, Lex seeks to create, or rather re-create it by cloning Julian, his long-dead brother. But like all creators of myth, he seeks to control that creation because he hasn't learned how disastrous that attempt at control became with Lana and, in some sense, Clark. We can't entirely blame him for that since controlling everything and everyone around you is something that he learned at Lionel's knee. So when Lionel accuses him of hubris, that Lex is morally lost and therefore lost to him, Lionel is denying his own creation, his own responsibility.

And like all creations, and Luthor sons, Grant Gabriel rebels - choosing Lionel and rejecting Lex. He can't conceive that Lex would take the creator's prerogative and destroy what he made. But Lex does. In ultimate cosmic irony, he completes the murder of which he had falsely been accused so many years ago. He kills his brother in jealousy. He finally becomes a true Luthor, as both Lionel and Lillian did before him, destroying his own blood.

Which brings us to the offhand remark that Grant had been cloned from Julian's cord blood. Although cord blood banking didn't become instituted until the mid to late 90s, the Luthors were certainly powerful enough to afford new and early technology. And why did the Luthors bank the blood in the first place? I'd have to say that it was for Lex. It's the only answer that makes sense.

Eleven years is a long time between children. Lillian clearly didn't want any more, but Julian wasn't an oops either. In essence, Lionel and Lillian decided to baby bank. Lex had been clearly affected by the meteor shower. Even then, I'm sure he had an elevated white count. For all they knew, Lex was slowly dying from odd radiation poisoning. If nothing else, Julian would have been a replacement for the Luthor heir for Lionel. For Lillian, he would have been a donor to save the son that she already had. Bone marrow, most likely. But cord blood is most often used for an older sibling with a known blood disease or cancer. Julian would have been conceived for parts. Ethically murky, yes, but desperate parents do do this. And this casts Julian into more of a role of creation rather than child. Lillian, suffering from post-partum depression, destroys that creation, having never felt that bond, even prenatally.

Really, did Lex ever feel that brotherly bond with Grant? He probably tried. But he says, "If it weren't for me, you'd be slime in a petri dish." To him, Grant isn't really human, isn't *Julian*. He's a copy.

And he isn't Julian. He's Grant, someone else entirely. And someone that Lex can't control except by destroying, as Dr. Frankenstein did with his monster.

How reminiscent is it that Lex stands shouting in the rain at the end, after the deed is done? It calls to mind not only those scenes from "Hourglass" and "Memoria", but also that scene from the classic Frankenstein movie, or the frigid arctic from the book, the ill elements, chastisement from heaven. Man railing against God for allowing him to steal fire from heaven, to use it not only for creation but destruction, to create imperfectly, to allow not only love but murder in his heart.

Dax-Ur and Brainiac

On self-banishment from Krypton, Dax-Ur chooses to live a quiet life on Earth. He eschews his potential to be the servant of mankind - Clark will only later take up that mantle, not an easy decision - and chooses to be human himself, with family and a blue-collar job in a place even more isolated than Smallville.

But he himself is a creator that denies his creation. And that very creation comes back to destroy him.

I have to give Marsters credit for the understated moment in the garage. Brainiac isn't supposed to be an emotional creature, merely a thing gone terribly awry and dangerous. But there's that moment of hesitation. Brainiac doesn't quickly step out of the shadows and take what he needs. No, he confronts, explains, *asks*. "I'm broken," he says. "I need to be fixed."

Dax-Ur, in disgust, refuses. He denies responsibility toward that which he created. And that creation destroys him for it.

Bizarro, Jor-El, Clark and Lana

It's difficult for me to cast Bizarro as the villain here, and therefore difficult for me to agree that he had to be destroyed. True, he's a killer, having torn through host body after host body searching for a final home. He's tried to kill Clark so yes, he's a danger.

But when he escapes his wherever prison, he doesn't go on a rampage. He merely becomes Clark, taking over his life. And he doesn't do away with Clark, imprison him, he only takes advantage of his absence. In the previous episode, he even saved Chloe and Jimmy, the whole Daily Planet.

He's selfish, but not irredeemable. So why does he need to be killed? Because he's a copy of Clark? He even goes to the Fortress, in an attempt to fool the AI into giving him what he needs, playing at Clark. Jor-El is not pleased. "You are not welcome here."

"You're a disembodied voice," Bizarro says in amusement. "What are you going to do? Lecture me?"

Which is funny, but sad if we take into account Bizarro's origin. I can't remember, but didn't Jor-El have a hand in the experiment? If not, he certainly banished him, something created out of pain. According to J'onn, he'd never known love, only cruelty.

So how astonishing is it that he finds it? That he's *better* at being what Lana needs than Clark is? And meaning every word that she says both to Bizarro and Clark, she destroys him.

"Make me a mate," the monster said to Dr. Frankenstein, "So that I can know love."

In the novel, the doctor attempts it but abandons the experiment due to disgust. In the movie, "The Bride of Frankenstein, he succeeds in creating her but the mate rejects the monster.

"You're a monster," Lana hisses, more in disgust for herself for having accepted him, for being fooled, for actually loving him.

Even with the creepy background music, the morning scene is sweet. They're both nude, the implication of sex. And she crawls back into bed for more. Bizarro gives her what Clark can't. Or won't. Because Bizarro has all Clark's powers, even more with the power of flight, and he's obviously not hurting her. Clark and Lana *can* be together when they're uneven physically. This proves that.

And the two of them are so much more of a *team*. I'm sure that some in fandom are laughing at how Lana is so easily fooled, but there have been problems in the Clark and Lana relationship for some time. They're not good at talking with one another. They don't physically fulfill each other. They have different needs, expectations of one another. It's quite tragic really.

So when those issues magically evaporate? I don't think a good deal of us would look at the reason why that closely. It's so human to be happy when you get what you want.

Is it so awful to leave Smallville? Go find a life somewhere else? It's no less than Dax-Ur did, leaving Krypton and finding happiness in an auto shop. It's no less than Clark is doing, choosing to stay on the farm.

But the monster, who is capable of love after all, is destroyed. Clark and Lana return to the sexless bed, sleeping back to back and not communicating.

So what we're left with: a man become monster screaming in the rain, a man masquerading as human so as not be found a monster, a woman who found love with a monster but who destroyed it all the same.
Tags: episode commentary, sv
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