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Luthor Review – Through the Mirror Darkly

December 9, 2010

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By Kate Blake- admin OSCK

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Smallville season 10 is counting down toward an inevitable finale and along the way to Superman Clark keeps running into more obstacles to his destiny. In Luthor, Clark gets a look into a dark mirror and more. Luthor was written by Bryan Q. Miller and directed by executive producer Kelly Souders. The episode opens with Tess receiving a delivery from Lionel’s estate. As his last remaining heir she is the new owner of a strange shiny box with Kryptonian symbols on it. She gets a call from Clark to meet her at Cadmus Labs and drops it in her shoulder bag as she heads out to meet him- you never know what things we women will have in our bags do you? Clark is worried about the one final missing Lex clone. He realizes Tess knew about it and gets ready to rip into her about how evil Luthor blood is when he looks down and sees something in her bag. He pulls out the artifact- asks what is this- gives it a twist and BLAM! Clark, Clark, Clark- always touching things before knowing what they do. Don’t you know by now that Kryptonian artifacts are dangerous?

Clark wakes up in a room that is not familiar- in a situation that is definitely not familiar. He has two nubile ladies draped over him as they share one big bed. The room is dark and everything is lit in shades of black and white and grey. Clark gets up and is standing in front of a mirror getting dressed- the t-shirt he pulls down over his bare chest has an unfamiliar symbol on it. His shield is upside down and his S has been replaced with a U. As he is standing examining the shirt and the room around him- a voice calls out to him telling him that clothes make the man. It is Lionel! Lionel has been dead for three years yet he stands in front of Clark in this altered world- and begins berating him and calling him son.

Cue the credits. This is a trip to an alternate view of Kansas Dorothy. We come back from break to Clark and Lionel having a heart to heart with father fencing with son using blades and wits. Lionel’s blade glows blue so that it may hurt when Clark is hit with it. Not one to train with weaponry Clark fails at deflecting Lionel’s skills and learns that Lionel believes Clark has failed him as a son as well. The resentment is thick in the air as he berates Clark for being careless with his actions under the guise of his Ultraman facade. He wounds Clark and wonders what would have happened if some farmers had found Clark instead of himself- they wouldn’t have a clue as to how to harness his power.

The alternate world is shown from Clark’s point of view almost exclusively. The episode has a bit of a Christmas future Scrooge type feel at times as Clark sees how destructive Lionel’s influence over his children is. Tess has disavowed her father and Lionel calls her his red headed bastard, Lionel allowed Clark to kill Lex, Tess and Clark Luthor have been plotting to use the mirror box and leave as living with Lionel is untenable. Clark learns that Tess and his doppelganger are lovers- her calling him brother and then kissing him freaks him out but not nearly as much as it creeps out Tess when  Clark Luthor walks into her life in our version of Metropolis.

On our sunny side of the mirror Clark Luthor walks into the Daily Planet and leans in the doorway watching Tess. “I love seeing you in my office like you run the place”. Tess is wondering where he has been- last time she saw Clark was when he twisted the box. When Clark comes over and leans in to kiss her- Tess’s Checkmate secret agent training goes into high gear. She plays along. He sits down and call’s her “sis” and asks where Lionel “father” is. When she tells him he has been dead for years that Lex killed him he is relieved. His primary agenda is destroying the box so they can’t be sent back. Most disturbing- besides Tess learning that a version of herself is screwing her “brother”- she learns that this Clark is a murdering monster. Tom Welling is chilling when he delivers the line “Doesn’t feel right- not having blood on my hands before lunch.” He is creepy and scary- his body language and every posture and move is calculated to emanate power and it works. Tom brings the same level of threat and menace to Clark Luthor that Callum Blue delivered last year with Zod. Both are dark, dangerous men. When Clark leaves- Tess goes into high gear.

Lois is made aware of the situation in a silly scene where Tess manipulates things to get her attention when Lois ignores her call. It is not worth much as a scene except that from now on Lois needs to realize that if Tess is calling- she should pick up. She heads to Watchtower where Tess is in panic mode. She tells she can’t contact the team and she hopes Lois will be safe here. Lois asks “safe from whom?” Tess replies “Clark”. At which point Clark whooshes up the outside of the building and drops in through the roof. Yes- again- someone else flies and Clark Kent cannot. Big Bad Dark and Creepy Clark knocks Lois across the room and tells Tess to give him the box or die.

Note- both versions of Tess figured out there was something up with Clark very quickly….remember it took Clark showing up in person and confronting Blahna before she realized anything was wrong with him during the Bizarro story arc in season 7.  Score one for Tess.

Back in the darker world Clark Kent is meeting up with alternate Lois and Oliver. He is dismayed that Lois hates him- ok it is his evil twin- and she is engaged to Oliver. Clark heads to the fortress to find answers and finds Lionel there. Clark learns that Lionel took over the fortress, destroyed all things Kryptonian and wants to know why Clark is looking for the mirror box. Clark tells him it is to destroy it. Lionel tells Clark that Queen has it – but won’t give it up. Clark knows how to get to Ollie and heads back to the city.

Lois and Ollie are on the patio at the Ace of Clubs celebrating their engagement, Ollie is asking why she is with him- it is pity party. She tells him it is because he is the best man she knows. He says there are better- she replies “I haven’t met him then.” Yeah- in a world without Clark Kent – Lois Lane is settling for Oliver Queen. Only with Lois Lane would anyone consider a handsome, brainy , brawny billionare as settling. Mid reassurance- WHOOSH- she is swept away.

Ultraman in this world is no Blur. People fear him. He is a murderer. He is hidden in shadows and looms as a dark force over his world. When he calls Oliver telling him to bring the box or Lois dies- Oliver responds quickly. Of course Clark has no intention of hurting Lois. She does not know this- but she doesn’t whimper in fear either. She tells Clark that he won’t succeed – she backs toward the rooftop edge- looking like she plans to jump instead of letting him kill her. Clark puts his hands out and pleads for her to believe him that he is not who she thinks he is. In his world she always has his back and she is everything to him, she sees through his lies like nobody else. He can’t live in a world where she hates him. She asks who he is and when he replies “Clark Kent” she looks hard at him. He gets the word from Ollie where to meet him and takes off- Lois drops the piece of metal she had been weilding for protection and has a look of awe and confusion on her face.

Clark heads to Watchtower to meet Oliver who promptly activates a big green K iris over the round stain glass window- it looks like he borrowed from the Stargate SG-1 command center- I wonder if it can control worm holes too? It brings Clark to the floor. Oliver talks some- telling him he has traps everywhere for Ultraman and can’t believe it is his old schoolmate Luthor. Clark tries explaining that he is not who he seems when Lionel busts in and knocks down Oliver. Clark realizes this was a trap- being a bad guy Lionel must show his cards and pulls out the box. Lionel berates Clark for trying to take him out with a coup- and then in the next breath says a decent son of his would not let him live. Lionel beats on Clark with his fists, kicking him and then even pulling off his belt and lashing him like a prisoner in a third world country. Ollie comes around and turns off the iris so that Clark can recover. Clark gets up, tosses Lionel across the room and grabs the device, before he gives it a twist he tells Ollie to be ready for the other Clark. His final words to Oliver are that he and Ollie do work together in his world and have each other’s backs. As he gives the box a twist we see Lionel get up and run toward him.

Clark comes through and is in the Watchtower with Lois, Tess and Oliver aiming Green K arrows at him. How did that happen? What was going on there? We don’t find out though Lois immediately sees that Clark is her Clark and not a threat. After break we see the couple at the hospital. She has her arm in a sling and Clark has brought her flowers apologizing for his evil doppelganger from another dimension trying to kill her. She forgives him. They have a cute little quiet moment as they head into the elevator with Clark drinking her in. Clark was driven by every bit of his being to get back to her- and he is happy to be home.

Next shot Clark goes to see Tess. She is sitting on the floor in the mansion library with Alexander’s items. Clark tells her he apologizes for saying Luthor blood is evil. He realizes how much is determined by environment and how much of what Lex became was Lionel’s doing. He reaches out and touchs Tess’s hand- that is all the contact the ice queen will accept in compassion and tells her she has friends and is not alone.  Cassidy knocks it out of the park with her softness and vulnerability. The hard unyeilding edges are softening as she lets people in. Will this be her undoing? We will have to wait and see. In the alternate universe Lionel told Tess she was just not special enough for him to care about her. In this world Lionel gave her away and purposely placed her first with Granny Goodness and then with the family that abused her. With her background Tess responded to Alexander. She wanted to give him what she had not received and now that he is out on his own- that she cannot.

Final scene. Once again we end the episode with a villain reveal. Lionel Luthor has jumped into our world. You know this means trouble! He is dead so he will have to be careful initially but I am sure he won’t remain hidden long. This Lionel is every bit as evil and terrifying as he was during the first three seasons of the show when the Kents eyed him with nothing but suspicion. Lionel’s most vile acts before his character’s redemption in season 4 included having Lex drugged so he could have him committed and undergo electro-shock therapy to erase Lex’s memories. Lex had learned that Lionel along with his childhood buddy crime boss Morgan Edge had murdered Lionel’s parents. When Lionel was charged with the murders later he had Lex poisoned and tried to blow Chloe up in his bid to keep out of jail. In prison he lured in Lex planning to do the big Black K body swap with him- that of course backfired and he swapped with Clark instead. It was after that when Lionel had his transformation- the process cured his incurable liver disease and Lionel decided to become Clark’s protector. Of course he was not completely redeemed- he did threaten Clark if Lana didn’t go through with her marriage to Lex. Lana got back at him with some nasty torture later. Lex did ultimately kill Lionel for showing favoritism for Clark and seemingly everyone else but Lex himself. Lex did fulfill the destiny Lionel in Earth 2 tld Clark he would expect a true son of his to follow- afterall Lionel killed his own abusive father. What goes around comes around.

Lionel Luthor as evil Lionel
Tess protects Clark in every ‘verse
Lois is Lois- pure of heart and takes no prisoners in every realm

How did things get turned around in watchtower?
What havoc did Ultraman wreak on Metropolis?

Overall impression– I liked the episode. The good world vs bad world is always fun. It was fun on Charmed and luckily Clark didn’t have to be like Leo and kill an elder to set things right. Tom Welling got to show us a side to his abilities we had not seen before. Directing was effective- I liked that the two worlds were lit so differently it set things apart nicely. I would have liked to see more of Ultraman in our world – but when an episode is almost all Clark I can deal with some holes in the story. The holes in the narrative I blame on the first person point of view that the story was told from. This always weakens the overall experience for me- it takes really good writing to pull it off and this week’s episode fell a little short on that level.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Preview for Icarus– a proposal, a meeting of heroes and the statement that throughout history whenever a darkness has arisen to threaten the earth, a force for good has met them and defeated them. Clark’s voice over “we  are that force.” Big hero moments ahead as Hawkman and Stargirl return along with big bad Slade.

Spoilers and speculation– What happens if the darkness “Darkseid” finds Lionel Luthor? What happens if Lionel or the Lex clone find each other? I am excited to see the twisty road that the show is taking to bring Lex back as the ultimate opponent that Brainiac warned Clark about in Homecoming. I am hoping we get a big surprise for the finale with a certain actor with the initials of M.R. making an appearance. Stay tuned!

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