I want to be a-squee about the Baby!Justice League. I do have things to say about the development of the League and the development of Clark as Hero. And also Oliver/Lois. Maybe I'll get back to that, but I'm stuck musing about Lex and Lionel and their relationship to Clark.
Pass The Potatoes Please.
As much as Lex has found his meglomaniacal mission in life as the protector of Freedom and Democracy, in some ways, it's still All About Clark Kent. And, of course, how Clark Kent relates, *is* related to him.
Lex: Just me and my shadow, Dad. Lana's in Paris with Nell...shopping for a wedding dress.
The smug look that he gives Lionel directly relates to this little exchange from ep 5x07, "Splinter":
Lionel: Last time I checked, Lana Lang had a boyfriend, and I don't think she's in the market for a spare.
Lex: I think you know the way out.
Lionel: This isn't about serving the greater good. Or even about power. It's about you changing the way people perceive you, isn't it? That's why you're running for office. Even if you were President of the United States, you think that's gonna make any difference? Because the people who are close to you will always know what is truly in your heart. That's why Lana Lang will never love you, son.
Well, if we're to believe "Static" and "Hydro", Lex has managed to convince Lana that what is truly in his heart is his love for her. She's willing to overlook all the rest in a way that she never did with Clark. So in that sense, Lex has bested Clark--because Lex still thinks of Lana as the shiny prize, something to be wrested from Clark, something to be displayed.
Of course, that doesn't mean that he *completely* disregards her as a person. He loves her, or believes that he does, but the "Clark Slept Here" bronze plate that's attached to her counts for a whole *heck* of a lot.
And Clark himself is still a prize, but not for the reasons that Lex once held. Now his purpose is much more sinister. Lex knows that Clark's Grand Secret has something to do with the space ship, the meteor shower and the caves. He's reasonably guessed some, if not all, of Clark's powers:
Lionel: What's this? [He picks up folder from Lex's desk containing 8x10 photos.]
Lex: A single frame picked off a security camera from one of the break-ins. [pause and omnious music as Lionel contemplates the photo of a streak of red] Whoever's responsible has the ability to move faster than a speeding bullet. Such a unique individual would make an interesting test subject to add to 33.1. Don't you think?
Lionel: What do you plan to do?
Lex: Protect our investment.
They both think that *Clark* happens to be that streak of red. And considering the iterations of "You're either with me or against me," that Lex has given Clark over the years, he's clearly decided that Clark is against him. So much of what Lex says has double, triple, multiple meanings that "investment" stands not only for 33.1, the most obvious meaning, but stands for Clark as well as Lex and Lionel's relationship.
Clark is now adversary and sought-after possession as much as he once was ally and sought-after possession. The trap that eventually captured Bart could have been meant for Clark--although how effective it would have been would have been not very, Lex doesn't know the extent of Clark's powers yet--and the torture that ensued could have been meant for Clark as well. Although Lex isn't prepared to go after Clark openly, he's almost thrumming with glee at the chance to ensnare him. And he would show him no mercy.
As far as the relationship between the two Luthors, Lex is testing that as well. Lex has known for a while that Lionel is protecting Clark, as Lex once protected Clark. Lionel and Lex have been adversaries for some time, and Lex finally feels that he's come into his own enough to risk an equitable partnership with Lionel. Lionel is nothing if not crafty and ruthless, something that Lex can use for power and advantage, his own betterment. But he bafflingly has one weak spot, one that Lex feels he's finally freed his own self from--the Kents. Although Lex probably feels that Lionel is playing his own game, the suspicion that Lionel might feel genuine concern, a filial *affection*, for Clark as he's never exhibited for him, would only fuel Lex's hatred.
He's admitted as much, the desire for Lionel's affection, under the duress of Levitas (3x13, "Truth"):
Chloe: Why do you keep doing this to yourself? Why can't you just walk away from your father?
Lex: Because he won't give me the only thing I've ever wanted from him.
Chloe: And that would be?
Lex: I want him to love me.
Lex fears that Clark might have bested him here.
And Lionel only proves that point near the end of the episode. When Lex claims that his security people saw someone with Clark's description inside the Ridge facility, Lionel gives Clark an alibi:
Lionel: Lex, it was not Clark.
Lex: How can you be so sure?
Lionel: Because I was having dinner with him last night when all this happened. Martha made pot roast with new potatoes and tiny little baby carrots. It was delicious. Clark...[laughs]...Clark had three helpings. [pause] Don't worry son, you still have plenty of enemies out there, plotting your downfall.
Whether Lex believes that his father is telling the truth or is lying doesn't matter. Each is equally damning and hurtful. Each tells of an alliance with Clark that excludes Lex. At one point, Lex wanted nothing more than to be welcome at the Kent dinner table, to have Clark say, "Hey, Lex, could you please pass the potatoes?". Lionel, once again, has succeeded where he has failed. And even if the dinner is a lie, it only means that Lionel knows Clark's secret, has somehow been entrusted with it, and is protecting Clark from his own son. Lionel has let Lex know that Clark is one enemy that he won't let Lex touch.
And what is it about Clark that makes him worthy of such protection? Lex would very much like to know because Clark inspires this in so many. People give themselves to him so easily. Even Lana cannot hate him fully, but still harbors a small ember of love.
Lex has only ever inspired the same from Clark, the one time such trust has been freely given, and now that's just gone, withdrawn and spat upon.
So in conclusion: Run, Clark, run!