The Complete Sixth Season
The only part of Smallville I had seen prior to this were a few random episodes from season one. But knowing where it began, and where the story will eventually end makes it easy to jump in.
Lana Lang, the former idolic love interest on Clark Kent is now dating Lex Luthor, who by this point in the series has definitively established himself as Clark’s nemesis. It’s suggested that what drove Lana from Clark was that he was secretive about his super powers (which Lana still doesn’t know about at this point). So, it’s ironic that she would run to the only person in the world more secretive than Clark, Lex, who has the added benefit of being mildly evil.
Their relationship doesn’t make a lot of sense. Lex does love Lana, at least as much as he is capable of loving someone. Perhaps ‘treasures her’ is a more appropriate term, as her life with Lex takes on a ‘songbird in a cage’ type of quality.
Lex is kind of a mystery. He’s engaging in a secret project known as 33.1, which seeks to harness the powers of meteor freaks and transform them into weapons. He tells Lana that he’s doing this to protect the Earth from the many threats that seem to plague it in the series. It’s hard to tell how serious he is about that. Certainly his research uses inhumane methods, but whether it’s a ruthless quest for power, or a true belief that the ends justify the means, I don’t know.
Lana motivations are largely unclear through out the season. She kind of reminds me of Al Swearengen from Deadwood. She, like Al, comes up with these ridiculously complex manipulation strategies that could be much more easily dealt with by punching someone in the face. She goes from having mixed feelings about him, to outright hating him; and yet it takes only a vague threat to get her to stay. All the while, she secretly investigates him, but to no obvious end, as she isn’t working with anybody.
Clark spends most of the season despondent over Lana leaving him. He’s confused by her motivations, just as I was. Clark is, for all intents and purposes, Superman. Most episodes deal with a monster of the week, and end with Clark rushing in at super speed, beating the enemy, and leaving before he’s seen. The emotional side is the only part of Clark that’s particularly vulnerable (though there seems to be convenient deposits of Kryptonite all over town to make him physically vulnerable as well), and he seems to be completely incapable of fight back on that front.
The whole thing feels very comic book-like. There’s a thin veneer of the ridiculous covering everything. Even something as simple as the fact that Clark is always wearing a blue shirt with a red jacket. Always. It’s just screams ‘look! it’s a toned down version of his Superman costume!’ Add to that the episodic nature, the revolving fiend gallery, and the deus ex machina solutions to all the conflicts, and you end up with a show that’s a little too cartoony to effectively sell drama.
Taken as an afternoon serial type show, Smallville is fun and entertaining but never anything more than that.