Final Season: Smallville & Heroism

I really do not think very many people would argue with me that the final season of Smallville is proving to be its best in terms of plot lines, advancing the characters forward, and bringing us ever-nearer to that epic moment when Clark Kent will become Superman. The last two episodes have been fantastic in my opinion — but primarily because they focus on Lois and Clark’s increasing love for one another. That has always been the bottom line for me, and it’s nice to see it unfolding with so much power, passion, and emotion. I did not hate Lana in the first several seasons but it always bothered me that “she” was portrayed as being so important, as the love of Clark’s life — and that’s not what the original stories tell us. Now that she is out of the way, we can get down to the all-important business of Lois. I have to hand it to the writers, from the moment she stepped onto my screen six years ago and said, “Heya, Smallville,” she was far and away the show’s selling point — Lana or no Lana.

Big things happened in the last two episodes. The secret is now out. So let’s recap and explore the meaning…

 

The Story Last Week: Cat Grant has returned to the Daily Planet with an ongoing bee in her bonnet about Metropolis’ heroes, but finds her intention to work with Clark thwarted by Lois, who is attempting to figure out how to address the elephant in the room… she knows Clark’s secret and wants him to be honest with her. What she does not know is that having visited the future and seen what happiness can be found with Lois, Clark is trying to figure out how to tell her the truth. Both their plans go amiss when Lois is possessed by the spirit of Isis, an ancient Egyptian goddess who desires to rise the spirit of her lover from the dead. Her attempts are witnessed by Cat, who believes Lois is secretly the Blur and hopes to out her in an expose article.

Meanwhile, Tess Mercer has taken little Alexander into her home and hopes to raise him to be a “good” leader. But his accelerated growth both concerns and frustrates her, and she cannot be certain if he simply retains Lex’s memories… or if he is Lex Luthor. Clark and Ollie team up to defeat Isis and prevent her from releasing Hell on earth. Her spirit is returned into the imprisonment from which it came. When Cat stabs Lois in the hand with a pencil, she discovers she is NOT the Blur. Clark takes Lois upstairs to bandage her hand and tells her the truth about his secret identity. Instead of the astonishment he anticipates, Lois says, “About time, Smallville!”

The Story This Week: Desperate to keep Lois away from the anti-hero rallies in Metropolis, Clark manipulates her into taking a cross country trip to follow a newspaper lead. Lois discerns the truth and when both their tires blow out on the road, decides to make her own way home — Clark runs into town to get the tire fixed, while she takes off in a wagon with a little girl in a bonnet. It doesn’t take long for Clark to discover the community is populated with blue kryptonite, which takes away his abilities… and Lois has unintentionally stumbled into the midst of an arcane ritual that intends to use her as a living sacrifice to appease “God.” In attempting to escape, Clark is “killed” and put into a shallow grave, only to recover and rise again to save Lois. He super-speeds her away to the astonishment of the cult members, who are left wondering if he is in fact a god. Once back in Smallville, Lois and Clark consummate their love.

Tess is desperate to save Alexander’s life, as he is rapidly aging and within six weeks could be fully grown, but indications are there that he is retaining Lex’s memories. Locking her in his room and escaping, Alexander flees to the Kent barn, where he remembers his conversations with Clark and their promise to be friends forever. Tess is horrified to discover that he does not merely retain Lex’s memories, but is in fact Lex. With her scientists, she plans to allow him to perish if she must, in order to protect the world. Little Lex shuts himself up in his room and shaves off all his hair, signifying his transition between innocence and evil.

The Symbolism:

The themes for this season seem to be life, death, rebirth, and eternal love. The season opened with Clark and Lex both rising from the dead — in far different ways. Clark was sent back for a purpose, to fulfill his ultimate goal of saving mankind, and Lex is nothing more than a clone, a scientific response to immortality. One good, the other evil. We spoke of the theme again when Lois encountered Carter Hall, who is doomed to live, die, and be reborn over and over again in an eternal quest to find his beautiful wife. “Isis” went on to explore whether or not love can be eternal, as the Egyptian goddess attempted to reunite with her long dead lover by bringing him back from the dead. (In her case, it would have torn a rift between the underworld and humanity, thus destroying all life.)  Now we have “Harvest,” in which Clark for all intensive purposes rises from the dead once more in order to save Lois, and against all reason — out of a grave, no less.

I’m not sure if all this symbolism is intentional or not but wow, am I intrigued by it, since whatever its intentions, the essence of it lines up with everything I believe… that love can be eternal, that love can provide salvation, that there is One who did rise from the dead. I have said in the past that Clark is in many ways symbolic of Lois’ salvation — that she is saved “through” him and his love for her, as we are saved through Christ’s love and intervention. In “Isis,” we see her awakening and acceptance, her returning his love, and in “Harvest,” we see her turn aside from him for a time out of anger, because she is insulted that he wants to protect her. But Lois is learning that while she is strong, she cannot ultimately take care of herself. She needs him. It does not make her weak, it does not diminish who she is, but Clark improves on and strengthens her true self — which is what I believe Christ does in my own life. Needing a savior, accepting Him, does not make me less strong, but humbles me to admit that I cannot do it on my own. And as independent as I am, as feminist as I can be, it comforts me to know He will be there when I need him — even if I do turn my back on Him from time to time, and try and make my own way in the world.

Last week, the underlining message was one of Clark learning to be who he truly is, to be completely honest with Lois even in the fear of rejection. I think that is something all of us struggle with — not only who we are and who we should become, but in learning to trust that others can accept us in spite of our failures. It’s very hard for me to be honest with others about myself. I want people to like me, so often I am not true to who I actually am, because I have a secret fear that the genuine me will not be liked. I have been in a number of relationships in the past in which I could not trust the other person and so learned to bottle up the true me. In fact, you could say that the only people who truly know me for who I am is God. Oh, others are brought into inner circles of confidence, but I am only brutally honest with Him. He knows everything about me, all my fears and failings, my strengths and talents, the earnestness of my heart, and my hopes, dreams, and aspirations. It is incredibly difficult to trust someone with your secrets, with who you truly are, so I found it quite touching that Clark could at last tell Lois his secret.

Sharing secrets brings about intimacy, and it is natural that honesty would lead them to a place of total comfort, of complete surrender to one another. If you want to look at Lois as symbolic of humanity, and Clark as symbolic of Christ, then a marriage of minds, bodies, and souls is also symbolic of the union between Christ and the Church.

Immaterial Thoughts:

On a purely shallow note, I really loved the scene that last week ended on with Lois and Clark in the filing room… I darn near cried when he told her his secret… and then laughed when she leaped into his arms and sent them both crashing to the ground. That is so… expressive of their romance, because it is all happiness and joy. They don’t have the angst that Clark and Lana did, and that is tremendously refreshing. And although I cannot approve of premarital sex, I think the love scene at the end of “Harvest” was exquisitely done. It was beautifully filmed and lit, and was truly romantic and meaningful instead of being simply there for the sake of shock value. It far and away surpasses any scene of its kind in the history of the series (and fortunately, there have not been many).

I can see how some might be offended by the depiction of a religious community in “Harvest,” but I wasn’t. This was not a condemnation on your typical Bible-readers, but on a cult community. It is a sad fact of life that a great many people are led astray by cults, who take just enough truth, taint it with legalism, and then impose sexist and legalistic rules on their membership. Even the most peaceful religious cults (such as the Amish) are still cults. I thought it was a really nice touch that the writers had Lois reference reading scripture, and that she thought their insane theology was not what she had read in the Good Book. I would like to think that was a polite nod to the Christian audience that, “Hey, we are not slandering you here.” Then again, I have always wondered where the religion was in this series — as my dad used to say, “The one building most missing in Smallville, and the one they need desperately, is a Church.” A small town without a Church? Not likely.

Not that I am nitpicking but… where exactly was this little cult community? Granted, the audio was garbled for a couple of minutes at the start so I didn’t hear where they were supposed to be, but if an express train could get Lois back into Metropolis in time for the evening rally, it could not have been that far from Kansas… and that wasn’t Kansas. There are no mountains in Kansas and it certainly did not pass for Colorado! It was beautiful but… wow, tourists are in for a shock if they really think that’s what the Midwest looks like.

Which brings me to … Lex. (Admit it, you knew that was coming. Isn’t it always about Lex for me? Yes, it is.) I LOVE this plot line. Not so much that Tess is seeking redemption because to be perfectly honest I have never liked the character and if she winds up not making it to the end of the season, I might just pop a bowl of popcorn to celebrate… but I love that they are introducing Lex as a child with all of the older Lex’s memories. And I have to hand it to that kid actor — he is amazing. I cannot stress that enough. He either has tremendous natural talent or can mimic better than almost anyone I have ever seen, because it’s almost like he is channeling Michael Rosenbaum. The expressions on his face, the look in his eye, that partial sneer that turns up one corner of his mouth. I was not staring at an impostor looking down on Tess in the barn… I was staring at Michael’s Lex reincarnated. The resemblance between them is downright uncanny — and if Michael is not returning, I say we stop growing Lex up right now and go with this actor, because no one can improve on that performance.

Going from Lois and Clark’s romantic interlude right into the ominous sight of Lex dropping the clippers and staring into the mirror gave me chills in a profound way. Yes, ladies and gentlemen… this is Smallville, and they have saved the best for last.

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