Monday, February 14, 2011

Lois & Clark, Episode 8: The Green, Green Glow of Home

Netflix Synopsis: Lois and Clark investigate a strange green crystal found in Clark’s hometown that depletes Superman of his powers.

Now you, too, can own the means to destroy Superman!

So here we have the introduction of Kryptonite. Some quick backstory: back in the ’40s, there was a Superman radio show. It was a daily show, and it ran for a really long time, and at one point the actor who played Superman, Bud Collyer, wanted to take a vacation for a week or two. They couldn’t very well play reruns of the show, so instead the writers came up with something that would take Superman out of the picture for a little while. A scientist in Metropolis discovered a strange metal that he believed to be alien in origin, and whenever Superman came near it he would weaken/fall terribly ill. It was called K-metal, and after a long exposure to it Superman was knocked unconscious and Bud Collyer got his vacation. The Superman radio show was so popular that the comic picked up on the k-metal idea (I’m sure it didn’t help that it finally gave Superman a weakness, too). They renamed it Kryptonite, and it’s been a staple of the Superman mythology ever since.

Any questions?

As the episode opens, Superman is flying over Metropolis when he hears a woman scream that her car has been stolen. He tracks down the thief, driving his new car recklessly through the streets, and lifts the car to keep the thief from escaping. The terrified crook flees from the car, but Superman circles around him to stop him. The thief pulls a gun and fires half a dozen shots at Superman, who catches the bullets with ease. At this, the thief puts his hands in the air and quips, “Man, don’t nothin’ stop you?” Superman smirks and says “Not so far,” and then there’s a CRACK OF OMINOUS LIGHTNING. I would like to point out that this sequence is the most exciting display of Superman’s powers that we’ve seen so far. He uses flight, super-strength, super-speed, and invulnerability all within a one-minute span, and it’s really kind of cool. And then they ruin it with the ominous lightning. Wait, did I say ‘ruin it’? Because clearly I meant ‘made it AWESOME’.

Apparently it’s lightninging in Smallville, too, as we cut there and a nervous-looking guy named Wayne Irig in flannel and a trucker’s cap has arrived at the Kent farm and OMG IT’S DEEP THROAT. He’s probably looking for aliens! Run! Jonathan greets him at the door, and Deep Throat asks to talk to him outside. He says that a storm a few days ago blew over one of his trees, and that he found something underneath where the tree had stood. He sent a sample of what he found to be tested, and the next day federal agents were contacting him requesting what he had found. Jonathan asks him what it is, and Irig opens a case to reveal a glowing green crystal, which Jonathan looks at with concern. Has he seen it before? It sure seems like has. Or maybe he’s just gassy from Martha’s meatloaf.

The truth is right in front of you, Deep Throat!

The next day, at the Planet, Jimmy and Cat are looking at Jimmy’s new watch. Well, Jimmy is trying to show it to her, but she’s not all that interested. He says that it’s a STAR Labs prototype that emits a hypersonic signal, and he wonders if they might not be able to use it to contact Superman. Jimmy pushes the button on the watch to activate the signal. Meanwhile, in Perry’s office, Clark, Lois, and Perry are discussing the situation with the Feds in Smallville. Perry thinks they should go to investigate and do a story about it, but Lois is adamant about not doing it because “It’s Smallville”. And not in a ‘Forget it, Jake, it’s Chinatown’ way. Perry says something about Love Canal, and how some reporter there won a Pulitzer, and I don’t know what he’s talking about so I’m just going to move on, but apparently it’s enough to convince Lois to go. Clark, meanwhile, is distracted by the high-pitched noise being emitted by Jimmy’s watch. He finds Jimmy and Cat, and tells Jimmy that maybe he should only use the watch in a real emergency. Also, when the high-pitched noise was being emitted, Jennie, who was in the other room at the time, came into the room and asked what that noise was. Jennie = Supergirl?

Jennie Supergirl
Well, obviously.

Clark and Lois are in the car, on their way to Smallville. Lois is completely put out that she has to do this, apparently forgetting that it’s her job. Sorry if you’re too good for your job, Lois. Clark says a bunch of stuff about how city slickers like Lois have trouble adjusting to being out in the country. They’re probably too busy looking for Curly’s gold. Lois bitches some more, and Clark says that she’s lucky because this weekend Smallville is holding its annual Corn Festival. A festival of corn. Let’s just let that sink in for a moment. I’m going to name all of the corn products I can think of: corn on the cob, creamed corn, corn bread…that’s it. Man, that’s going to be a pretty damn exciting festival. Lois sure seems thrilled about it. Apparently there’s a Corn Queen Pageant involved in this festival. Lois is going to win. I’m calling it right now.

Having arrived in Smallville, Clark and Lois head to Deep Throat’s farm which is crawling with feds. There they are met by Rose from Lost, who tells them that there’s been a plane crash and that Superman needs to go to the island to rescue the survivors. Seriously, how awesome would that have been? Actually she works for the EPA in this timeline (a result of the detonation of a hydrogen bomb, no doubt) and she explains that they’re digging up this poor guy’s farm because they’re testing for ground water contamination from pesticides. Lois asks to speak to the property owner, and Rose tells them that they gave him relocation money but he didn’t say where he was going. They say that they’ll check back with her and leave.

”I’m sorry, but I’m afraid you’ll have to go back.

Meanwhile, Irig is being interrogated by HOLY CRAP it’s the military guy from episode 2. Remember him? He pushed Lois and Clark out of a plane? He’s totally incompetent? That guy? I forget his name, too. He wants to know where the crystal is, but Irig’s not saying. At this point Rose enters and OH MY GOD they’re in the tent on Irig’s farm. If Clark had used his x-ray vision to look around like he usually does, he would have seen them! Of all the times to not use your powers, Clark. You play ping pong with yourself at superspeed, but you don’t investigate properly. Sigh. Rose is surprised to find Irig there and is just generally unhappy with military guy’s methods (his name is Trask, I just looked it up). She asks why the EPA is interrogating people, and Trask says that they don’t but that Bureau 39 does. Rose apparently didn’t know that she was working for Bureau 39, and Trask gives her the option of staying or leaving, but not before he threatens her daughter’s life. Rose and Bernard have a daughter?!? Rose agrees to stay, and tells Trask that she just talked to Lois & Clark. Trask says that Superman can’t be far behind, and Irig continues to flop sweat with nervousness.

It’s Corn Festival time! I could not be more excited. Lois and Clark stroll amidst the literally tens of people who have showed up for this exciting event. Clark runs into Rachel Harris, Smallville’s sheriff, who happens to be a friend of his from high school. They talk all southern and country-like (do people in Kansas have Southern accents?), and it’s a darn tootin’ good time. Clark asks Rachel if she knows where Irig is, and she says she doesn’t know, and then she’s called away for…some reason, it doesn’t matter. Lois and Clark continue to mill about, and Clark says that Lois just can’t stand how normal it is here. Yep, everybody in town getting super-excited about corn is totally normal, Clark. Lois scoffs at him and points to a man standing at a nearby grill, telling Clark that she bets he’s a cross-dresser. Except that man is Clark’s dad, so Lois feels like an ass when Clark introduces her to his Pa and Ma. This whole Corn Festival sequence reminds me strongly of the festival scene from Back to the Future, Part III, except ZZ Top doesn’t make an appearance. Which is a shame, because they could really have livened things up. How how how how!

Now, ladies, there’s plenty of old Clark Kent to go around.

Later that evening, the Kents, Clark, and Lois arrive at the Kent Farm. Clark tells his parents that they’re expecting a fax (why don’t you just check your email on your Blackberry, Clark? Oh, right, it’s 1994), and when Martha says “Fax?”, Lois explains in minute detail what a fax machine is and how it works. At which point Martha uncovers theirs and says she’ll need to check the paper. Could Lois be more of an ass in this episode? Man, I hope so, because it is dynamite television. Also, apparently Lois and Clark are staying with his parents, probably because the Daily Planet is too broke to put them up in a hotel because Perry spent half their yearly budget on Elvis memorabilia for his office. It’s an important work expense, of course. Martha says that Lois will be in Clark’s room, and Clark will be on the couch, unless they’d rather share a room. Lois says that they won’t be doing that, and everyone looks mortified. Jonathan and Martha leave, and Clark ribs Lois about how much fun she’s having, which she flatly denies. It strikes me as Clark just being a dick here, because clearly Lois is not having any fun at all. It’s like when your parents take you somewhere you don’t want to go and then insist that you’re having a good time. They’re really just doing it to make themselves feel better about how miserable you are. Ma and Pa come back after having gathered some bedsheets, and Martha leads Lois back to Clark’s room, leaving Clark and Pa to talk. Jonathan tells Clark that the real reason that the Feds are hassling Irig is because of a rock that Irig found, and that he left at the Kent Farm. Clark and Pa head out to the barn where the rock is hidden in its lead case, and when Pa opens it to show to Clark, Clark winces in pain. Pa asks if it might be because of the meteor, but does nothing to cover it up as Clark collapses, passed out.

Sorry, Pa, I’m just feeling a little…constipated…

Jonathan and Martha help Clark into the house, and he’s still in obvious pain. Martha feels his forehead and puts a thermometer in his mouth, but it’s so warm that the thermometer bursts. He tries to lift a jug of water but is too weak to do it, and Jonathan asks how something that came from Clark’s home planet could make him sick. This is an excellent question that Martha shrugs off, saying that the rock is poison and that’s all they need to know. Meanwhile, Lois was awakened by the fax machine. They’ve received a list of all current EPA clean-up sites, and Smallville isn’t on the list. She tells Clark that he looks awful and touches his face, and millions of shippers swoon at their physical contact.

The next day, a still-weakened Clark and Lois return to Deep Throat’s farm. Lois shows Rose her EPA list, and Rose shows them a bunch of EPA certificates and an updated EPA list. Clark tries to use his x-ray vision on the tent (about time!), but is too weak to get it to work. Lois and Rose are snotty to each other and Rose walks away. Inside the tent, Rose tells Trask that Lois and Clark came back and that they want to see Irig. She asks for more information about what they’re working on, and Trask explains that they’re looking for a meteorite. She asks why, and he uncovers Clark’s space ship and explains that it was found in Smallville, and that he thinks the meteor could be used to harm Superman. He spouts his conspiracy theory about how Superman is just the first of a group of aliens who are going to enslave mankind, and Rose doesn’t seem terribly amused.

At a local outdoor restaurant, Clark and Lois are bickering about how Clark has been treating Lois. He’s been telling people not to mind her because she’s from Metropolis, and apparently he told his mom that Lois is writing a romance novel. Lois asks the waitress for some dirt on Clark, but she can’t come up with anything. Clark flips open his menu and is shocked to get a paper cut on his finger. Lois tells him to put it in his mouth and suck on it, and I giggle because that’s dirty. The Zach Morris cellphone on the table rings, and Lois grabs it, spilling a drink on Clark’s lap. She answers, and it’s Irig. He tells her that he think he’s in Salt Lake City, and we cut to Irig reading a prepared statement with Trask standing over him. The best part of this is when Irig looks up at Trask and rolls his eyes at what he’s been written to say. Lois puts Clark on the phone, and Clark asks how he can get in touch with him. Irig stalls horribly until Trask tells him to end the call. Lois doesn’t believe the Salt Lake City story for a second, and she suggests that they wander around and “see what we can see”.

And what they can see is a corn-shucking contest! Damn hell, it don’t get much more exciting than shuckin’ some corn! The guy that wins the contest is also the guy with the best mullet, so I think that must be a subcategory of the contest. Lois is interviewing the onlookers, and Clark talks to his parents about how he’s normal now. I guess I missed the part where he lost his powers, I thought they were coming back. The rules of Kryptonite in this universe are clearly different from the rules in other universes. Clark decides to show his parents that he’s lost his powers, and he heads over to the strength contest (you know, swing the hammer, hit the plunger, ring the bell, win a prize). The teller at this station is the math teacher from Saved By The Bell, and I laughed out loud when I saw him. Good to see the guy getting some work. Clark swings the hammer and the doesn’t ring the bell, to which Lois, who has changed into a nice country dress and maybe seems like she won’t be a total downer anymore, tells Clark that he should stick to corn-husking. Later, Lois and Clark dance to some good old honky-tonk music, and it’s nice to see them bond but it’s otherwise embarrassing for both of them as characters and as actors.

After the dance, Lois and Clark wander back over to the strength contest. Clark swings the hammer again, and the little weight goes up a little higher than before. He tries again, and it goes higher still. He tries a third time, and finally he rings the bell. The math teacher gives Clark his choice of prizes, a stuffed bear or a stuffed Superman, and Lois, after much deliberation, takes the bear, which surprises Clark. Lois remarks that she’s never seen him so relaxed, and Clark smiles, probably because his powers are back and possibly because he thinks he might get lucky tonight.

Maybe Clark should talk to his agent about the sweatshop conditions
under which his merchandise is obviously being produced.

Back at the Planet (FINALLY), Jimmy walks in on Perry doing some sort of meditation to jungle sounds in his office. Jimmy asks if Perry is trying to de-stress, and Perry snaps at him like the ticking time bomb that we all know he is. Clark’s on the phone, though, so Perry calms down to talk to him. Clark had called Perry to ask that Lois be sent back, as he doesn’t think this is much of a story. Lois calls at the same time, though, and tells Perry that she thinks they’re on to something big. Perry bounces back and forth between them until he eventually says he has to think about it. He decides to take a chance and send Jimmy to be a photographer for whatever story is developing. That ‘developing’ thing wasn’t meant as a photography pun on my part, so I’m sorry if it came across that way.

Back in Smallville, Lois & Clark once again go to the Irig farm. They’re planning to wait and see what’s really going on there when they are ambushed by fatigue-wearing goons. They’re taken to Trask, who bellows about how he tortured Irig into talking but Irig never cracked, so they let him go. Rose (I guess her name is actually Sherman, but I’m still going to call her Rose) comes out of the tent, and Lois yells at her about how she’s just a goon and this is surely not what she wanted out of her life. You can tell it’s getting to Rose, and I’m sure before the episode is over she’s going to turn on Trask and sic Vincent on him. Lois is taken away, and Trask tells Clark that he’s convinced there’s a connection between Superman and Clark. Rose enters again and tells Trask that they’ve tracked Irig, and that he’s on his way to the Kent farm. Oh no! Clark’s parents live there! Trask seems pleased that now he might have some leverage over Clark, and he has his goons haul him out of the tent and into a van. From out in the woods, Jimmy photographs the whole thing.

At the farm, Jonathan and Martha are worrying over what to do with the crystal when a harried Irig arrives. He tells the Kents about the government people, and Jonathan says that the crystal is dangerous and they can’t take it to the police. He says they need to destroy it, when suddenly Trask and his government goons bust in. Outside, he tells Clark that he’ll trade the safety of Clark’s parents for Superman. Clark makes Trask promise not to hurt his parents, then confesses that he is Superman. BWHAAAAA?!? Trask doesn’t seem to buy it, so he pulls a gun and threatens to shoot Clark, who freaks the fuck out. But Clark, aren’t your powers back? Trask sees Clark’s fear and puts the gun away, telling Clark he wants to see the real Superman.

In town, Jimmy has gone to find the sheriff and he finds Rachel and tells her what he knows about Trask and how Lois & Clark are in trouble. They get in her car and head off to try to get in touch with the government. Meanwhile, back at Deep Throat’s farm, Lois convinces Rose to free her. Rose tells Lois that Trask is planning to kill Deep Throat and Clark’s parents by burning the farm down, and that he’s planning to keep Clark around because he’s still convinced that Clark can get in touch with Superman.

Inside the van where he is cuffed, Clark can’t break his chains, which I guess answers my question about whether he has his powers or not.

Sheriff Rachel and Jimmy are on their way to Deep Throat’s farm when they get a call from Lois, telling them to head to the Kent farm. Lois tells Jimmy that she thinks Superman might be in danger, and she wishes they had some way to contact him. ENTER: SIGNAL WATCH! Jimmy activates the watch.

LCSignalWatch = signal-watch

At the farm, Trask sets the gasoline ablaze. Inside the van, Clark suddenly hears the piercing sound of Jimmy’s watch. He tears his chains off and bursts out of the van. He puts out the fire with his super-breath while Trask watches. So now Trask knows that Clark is Superman, which pretty much means that Trask has to die. Clark rushes at Trask at superspeed, but is dropped when he gets near him because Trask has the crystal. He kicks Clark in the face, and then turns to leave. HE LEAVES. This just in: Trask is a Republic serial villain. Before he can leave, though, Clark struggles to his feet, grabs the crystal in agony, and hurls it across the farm, where it explodes on some rocks. Trask pulls his gun and prepares to kill Clark’s parents, but Clark gets up and fisticuffs ensue. Clark overcomes Trask, and Trask tells Clark to kill him, but Clark refuses to do so. The authorities arrive, and Clark turns his back on Trask long enough for him to draw a gun. There is a gunshot, and Rachel has shot Trask, killing him. Lois and Clark embrace, and it seems like Lois actually cares about someone other than herself.

Back at the Planet, Perry is reading Lois’s story about what happened in Smallville. Jimmy is disappointed that his watch didn’t work, but Lois tells him not to give up on it. Perry makes sure that Clark doesn’t want his name on the story, and Clark says that it should be Lois’s story because he’s too close to it. Perry then asks Lois what this rock is called, and she suggests that they call it Kryptonium, which Perry likes. Clark chimes in that it was a meteorite, so why not call it Kryptonite. Lois bitches, but relents. Jimmy asks Clark how he feels now that he’s back from all the action in Smallville, and Clark says that he’s feeling super. And then there is an uncomfortably long shot of Clark looking off into the distance, presumably while Lois and Jimmy look at him and wait for him to say something else. He never does, though, and the episode ends.

Goddammit, Clark, what are you looking at now?
Is Cat wearing some crazy outfit again?

Review: For an episode with no Lex Luthor whatsoever, this one was actually pretty great. Trask is officially our first recurring villain, although he dies at the end of the episode, so oh well. He’s such a broad character, though, maybe it’s for the best. I know that all of the episodes are Lois & Clark-centric, but this one felt especially so, as there was very little of any of the Planet staffers in the episode. It was fun to see Clark and Lois interacting so much without Lois sniping at everything he says, and to see Lois completely out of her comfort zone. The episode isn’t perfect by any means – it’s incredibly predictable (Trask discovering Clark’s identity was something of a surprise), and most of the characters are pretty cookie-cutter – but it was really enjoyable. If I were in the business of recommending episodes, I would recommend this one.


Eric said...

I coulda sworn Trask invented the Sentinels to kill the stinkin' muties.

Joe G. said...

This is Bolivar Trask's cousin, I'm pretty sure. But man, Sentinels would have really livened up the episode.

kat said...

i've gotta be honest here; i'm really disappointed that when they mentioned EPA you didn't photoshop my head on rose's body :(

Joe G. said...

I appreciate the implication that that photo of Jennie as Supergirl was done in anything other than Microsoft Paint.

Jennie said...

I can't believe Rose AND Deep Throat are in this episode. Also, remember when you said Rose was in this episode and I was all, "Rose Tyler?" Doctor Who has overshadowed Lost in my mind. I know. I KNOW.

Ashley said...

Actually, corn is in a lot of places, just hiding there.

Just ask Leslie Knope.

Corn's a fruit! Syrup comes from a bush!

Anonymous said...

Will there be more reviews any time soon? I'm really enjoying these.