RECKONING REVISITED How Clark has Learned from his Greatest Mistake
This essay and others are available in OSCKMagazine Issue #1. Remember to tune in today to the G2 Factor BlogTalk Radio show that will revisit “Reckoning.”
By Erika Blake
Even though Clark Kent might not be flying, he has, thankfully been growing up by leaps and bounds over the past season, a feat that many fans never thought would happen.
Episode 100 marked a turning point in the series, which for us at OSCK signalled a downward spiral that it has taken four seasons to recover from. In RECKONING Clark Kent allowed his heart to overrule his reason when he demanded Jor-El to bring Lana back from the dead and when time got reversed his decision resulted in his adopted father’s death.
Johnathan Kent served as Clark’s moral compass throughout the beginning of the series. Any time that Clark was faced with a moral dilemna he would goto his father for guidance. It was from Jonathan Kent that Clark’s moral “Black and White” view of the world was born. This moral code is a vital component to Clark’s becoming Superman. Superman cannot see the world in shades of gray, not when weilding the powers that are available to him. He must only go after the most corrupt individuals and use his powers otherwise to help those who cannot help themselves.
When Jonathan was taken away from him, Clark was left with his mother for guidance. Martha Kent always believed that the best parenting method was to allow her son to come to his own decisions and make his own choices. It was apparant, quite often that she knew the correct answers, but she didn’t lecture him, and allowed Clark to find his own path on his own.
What we discovered in the wake of Jonathan’s death was that Clark existed as a man without a center. That moral center was gone when he was faced with the magnitude of the cost that his reckless decision resulted in. Clouded in grief and blanketed in guilt, the ghost of his decision haunts him still.
Without Jonathan there to lecture him about always taking the moral high-ground, Clark’s heart guided him into situations that were completely contradictory to what we would ever expect to see Superman getting in the middle of. Clark chased for a married woman and used his personal strength to punish the guilty. Clark forgave people for crimes that he should’ve been horrified at.
Jonathan Kent had to be rolling in his grave; this was not the son that he had raised. These were not the kinds of actions should’ve ever resulted out of the values that he had instilled in his son.
Once Martha left for Washington, Clark no longer had a home and was set adrift, desperately trying to make sense out of his existence. He spent years in this emotionally twisted dance with Lana. Both of them desperately wanted to be together, but at their core they were incompatible as a couple. Both relied too heavily on their hearts and not their heads. Both sunk into dark moods and that blackness fed off of each other slowly eating away at whatever good feelings they might’ve ever really had for each other. Factor in Lex and his machinations to tear them apart and Clark was on a one man crusade into a battle that he had no chance of ever winning. Clark had saved Lana’s life without her knowing it and he spent years trying to get her on the path of righteous living and failed. Clark still has to learn that sometimes you can’t save someone until they make the decision to save themselves first.
Enter Oliver Queen. In the murk of the mess that Clark had made of his life arrived a man who didn’t understand black and white and only saw gray. Oliver was a stark contrast to Clark. In many ways they were similar people – both were orphaned as children; however, Clark found a loving home with warm, real parents as his support system. Oliver? Oliver was left on his own. He was shuttled off to boarding schools, got lost on an island, and became a self-made man at too young of an age. Oliver had wealth, he had the correct values, but had an innate issue with trusting other people because he had lived on his own for so long.
The two butted heads. Whenever Clark was around Oliver, Jonathan’s values always overroad whatever else was going on in his life. Oliver and Clark clashed over how to go about handling things. The one line that Clark would never intentionally cross was to kill someone. Even Lex Luthor, he believed was worthy of being saved. Oliver however, never saw this and took matters into his own hand, killed who he believed was Lex and framed another man for the crime.
Even through Season 8, Clark still punished himself for his father’s death. His path was beginning to become clearer to him, however, he still didn’t feel that he was worthy of being a great hero and leader. The last thing that he ever wanted was to be seen as a God.
Trust waged back and forth between Oliver and Clark until their team became completely fractured and turned against each other. Oliver’s decision to break the team away from Clark resulted in Jimmy getting killed.
The Death of Clark Kent at the end of Season eight was a turning point in his life. Clark broke away from his human ties and focused entirely on being Kryptonian – be the hero his birth father always envisioned him to be, all of the while ignoring the pain in his heart of a new loss that he just couldn’t face.
In SAVIOR we found a new man overseeing Metropolis. Clark Kent who always used to wear bright colors now wore his family crest on his chest and sported more Kryptonian style dark apparrel.
Once Lois returned from the future, Clark was even more wary of time-travel. Time after time again, even though it often saved him from horrible fates (INFAMOUS) or helped to restore balance on Earth (sending Brainiac to the future in LEGION) overall, time travel brought nothing but grief.
When Clark refused to turn back time for Chloe and he informed her “I am not a God” we got to see that Clark was finally coming out of this black hole that he’d dug himself into four years earlier. Clark’s moral center burned brightly inside himself when faced against his father’s greatest nemisis, Zod.
Clark spent season nine trying on the cloak of his Kryptonian heritage to see if it fit him or not. Clark realized that everything that meant the most to him in life existed because of his Earth heritage. In the end he learned the harsh lesson that Jor-El made him face, that the biggest mistake of his life was ever believing that he was a God and could play God with other people’s lives. Clark is not here to rule but to guide and inspire.
With Jonathan Kent returning for the season 10 premiere of LAZARUS, we can only hope that Clark will finally get the final closure that he needs to move on. Perhaps we’ll get a “between worlds” encounter where Jonathan will finally tell him that it’s alright, he can stop punishing himself for his death.
If Clark can finally receive forgiveness from Jonathan, I believe that he can finally learn to forgive himself and the weight that he’s been carrying on his shoulders for all of these years can finally be lifted. And perhaps he’ll finally feel free enough to fly.