Fan Fiction Defense
Smallville: Random "Fever" Musings
The advantage of being thoroughly spoiled before you get to see the ep is that one can set phasers for Unintentional Humor, cuddle up on the sofa with the Future of Fandom and the Distant Future of Fandom, and have a great time. Knowing in advance to fast-forward through the Talon Mix pimping is a particularly big help.
1. This would have been an outstanding ep, I imagine, if the writer had been able to convey the ideas that I think are in there. Ideas?!? what ideas?!? you may well ask.
What I think this ep tried to be about? First, that the Kents can't take care of Clark's secret themselves. What gets the ball rolling is Martha burying the key, an example of the standard Kent family way of dealing with the problem of Clark's alien nature. Note that, unlike other eps, the action isn't driven by an outside force which the Kents must deal with, or someone else (e.g. Nixon, Phelan, Lex) they could blame. Martha's effort to hide the key instead kicks up the alien dust. She goes to hospital, and the DCA heads to the house. Now, if the Kents had any elementary skills at self-protection the spaceship wouldn't just be sitting there in the storm cellar for all to see, but they don't, so Clark has to scurry it away. FoF hoped they would just put it in the living room, stick a few knick-knacks on it, and say it was "a postmodern coffee table -- Clark made it in shop class, he got a B+." And then when Pete said he'd hide it in the shed next to the Betamax, no-one would ever find it there, she suggested the he should just keep it in his room. Under his socks.
2. Continuing in this vein (heh. a joke), Jonathan could have stopped Helen from poking needles into Clark, but didn't. Why? Because he trusts her? Because she told him Martha's going to have a baby (and he hasn't thought through the "alien baby" thing, because we Kents don't think about things like that, we put them in the storm cellar where thank goodness no-one goes, because there are no tornados in Kansas)? Or because she's a woman, and he can't grab the arm of a woman doctor as he would that of a man?
Is Helen's emphasis on doctor/patient confidentiality duplicitous, or just bad writing? I vote for the former, because having public health officials already in the ep emphasizes that there *are* limits to confidentiality -- if Clark is a threat to public health, Helen *must* tell his secret.
But the upshot is -- they, the Kents, with no help from Lex or other Luthors, have let their big secret out to just the sort of person they're most scared of, the kind with a burning desire to Know, who'll drag Clark away to do stupid experiments under the Blue Light of Science. In that final scene between the Kents and Helen, Ma&Pa are all misty-eyed and trusting, but Clark looks almost like he did when Desiree was around -- he *knows* this was a bad idea. Look at the problems they've had just with Pete knowing.
3. Although the stupidity & contrivance of Jonathan's break-in at the DCA warehouse had us alternately rolling on the floor with laughter and pleading for X-Files crossovers, there was (I think) an actual, albeit failed, attempt at moral something-or-other there. When Clark knocks out the guard, that was only the second time he's hurt someone solely to protect his secret (the first being Lex, in "Nicodemus") and the first time he's done it to someone who is just doing his job. The guard is *in the right*, completely, and I think TW tried to show that by looking back at him uncertainly as the Kents go feloniously running away.
4. I find Lex's behavior in this ep quite easy to understand if I make a single, radical assumption: we are *supposed* to remember his behavior in other eps. Whoa, continuity?!? Smallville?!? As I say, a radical assumption, but here's how it works for me:
Lex says in this ep that the Kents are like family, more than his own, and that he is getting Martha's chart because she's a friend. We know from "Prodigal" in particular how true this is. As others have pointed out, when one of the Kents has been hospitalized in other eps Lex is always there, offering specialists, etc. He mentions seeing the Kents in the hospital more than once in this ep, even though these scenes aren't shown, and I think we should assume that he is doing his usual thing, trying to take care of them. But then why is he talking to Helen? Heh. See point 2 above. Lex is perfectly correct to assume that *anyone* who looks at the Kents too closely is a danger to them.
5. Like most viewers, I found the Lex/Helen scenes bizarrely lacking in sexual chemistry, in contrast to their original encounters in "Dichotic." What I do see, though, is fencing: in particular, the way fencers will feel each other out with little taps of the blade just as the match is beginning. Research is my first love, tap, tap. Don't miss opportunities, tap, tap. And not a word of, like, *affection* on either side, and the kiss filmed without showing the kissing. With the Continuity Assumption, we remember last week and *know* how Lex looks when he's happy to be with someone (. . . twoo wuv . . .) and Helen isn't it. No, this is creepy and I lurve it. Let the corps-a-corps infighting begin!
6. I had to restrain the FoF from breaking the TV screen so she could drag Lana out through it and strangle her. Now, some people have tried to excuse Lana's behavior by saying "she's 16, she's naturally self-centered" -- but the FoF resents that remark *exceedingly*. And in truth, one of the characteristics of teenagers is to be both self-centered and romantically self-sacrificing. I could easily see a basically decent teen reading the love letter her friend & roommate threw out, thinking "wow, Chloe really does love Clark, and she expresses it so well" -- and then giving the letter to Clark, dramatically making The Big Sacrifice of Love on the Altar of Friendship. It would still be all about her, but in a different way. What she does in canon is just, well, skeevy. I would love to see someone trace Lana's thought processes from finding Chloe's letter to talking to Clark in a way that doesn't make Lana out to be a total bitch, because frankly I cannot imagine it (and FoF isn't helping any, she wants to get a Lana doll & stick poisoned pins in it).
Ha! I lie. I *can* imagine one reason for a semi-decent person to act this way. When we first see Lana in this ep, she's sitting in the Talon talking to someone. Look at the glow of relaxed happiness in her face. Then she looks up & sees Clark walk in, and she gets all blank and tense. So, who is Lana in love with? Looks like whoever she was talking with in the first place, to me: Pete, or . . . Chloe. Now, if Lana is really much more in love with Chloe than with Clark, I can see how a basically decent but confused and unhappy girl could read that letter and then be inspired to make a play for the guy, because her heart has just been broken to bits by the writer.
7. The ship's behavior makes perfect sense to me . . . if Martha's carrying a Kryptonian baby. Why did the Brave Little Ship "heal" Martha in "Vortex"? That was no healing, that was implantation. Why hasn't she been "showing"? Kryptonian gestation is not the same as human. Why did the BLS heal only Martha in the hospital? Because the BLS's mandate is "save those Kryptonian babies," i.e. Clark and (if you ask me) "Supergirl," his step-sister and intended mate, species, for the propagation of. Ooo, lookit the angst -- "But she's my *sister*!" "The Pharaohs did it, you can too!"
The whole setup is quite logical if we assume that the cost of interstellar travel goes up exponentially with weight. If Jor-El & Lara wanted to rescue their *species*, not just Kal-El, it makes sense to pack him up with a bunch of zygotes, to be implanted in human hosts later.
8. FoF thinks that a major problem with the ep isn't just bad writing, but bad acting by TW. "There's more to acting than just being pretty!" says the future star of serious drama. But we agree that he is indeed *very* pretty when he's a total woobie. But that bit about calling out Lana's name while unconscious -- how cheezy. I mean, when *I* call out words in my sleep it's always things like "ketchup". Clark is probably just worrying about how he fell on his head in front of Lana -- "I can explain! Really!" -- but TPTB just couldn't resist the opportunity to stomp on Chloe's heart. We now want Chloe to end up as a supervillainess, with stiletto-heeled boots, red satin bustier, and a whip. Lex and Clark will alternately vie for her favors and try to thwart her plans for world domination, which, curiously, always involve tying Lana up.
updated November 6, 2002
all material on these pages copyright 1999-2002 Mary Ellen Curtin, except where otherwise noted