Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Smallville: Questions And Trepidations

So here we are two episodes into season seven and suddenly we discover that somewhere back in the chronology of season six Lex cloned Lana.

Exactly when during the events of season six did Lex clone Lana? Exactly when during the events of season six did Lana find out about the cloning?

This cloning business raises some interesting issues and it answers a troubling question.

(Of course, we’re talking about TV here—it may raise interesting questions. It may answer a troubling question. It takes a lot of people to create twenty-two hours of a television show every year. Some of those people are very smart. Some are very stupid. Some of the Smallville people are very smart and carefully plan ahead—remember, one of the very first images of the series in season one episode one was Lionel reading a headline about Queen Industries and Oliver didn’t actually appear until season six. But some of the Smallville people are idiots—just recently we had Supergirl’s spaceship with a ‘self-destruct’ mechanism designed to go off if anyone tampered with her ship. Only it didn’t self-destruct immediately, it self-destructed after about half an hour, after bad guys were able to ransack the ship. And although the self-destruct mechanism was designed to keep the ship away from strangers, the self-destruct blast wouldn’t have been powerful enough to destroy Supergirl’s ‘crystal,’ the most valuable part of the ship. Idiots.)

So somewhere during the chronology of season six Lex cloned Lana.

Is the cloning why Lex pumped Lana full of the weird hormones that made her think she was pregnant?

Throughout season six, there always had been a strange conflict: If Lex really loved Lana, why did he do such horrible things to her? If Lex didn’t really love Lana, why did he put up with so much trouble from her? We [we fans] just assumed this was part of Lex’s general schizophrenia. We saw season six as an elaboration of the Clark-Lana and Lex-Lana triangle.

But this cloning angle suggests a whole new interpretation.

Very possibly the entire story arc of season six wasn’t about the Clark/Lana/Lex triangle, but rather was just an elaboration on Lex’s wild crush on Clark. It’s really been an unstated subtext ever since season one, episode one when Clark rescued Lex from the river and saved him with mouth-to-mouth. Lex is ‘mad’ about Clark.

The cloning business suggests that Lex’s whole purpose of getting Lana to move into the mansion was to prepare his trickiest plot yet against Clark.

Was the fake pregnancy not a ploy to get Lana to marry Lex, but just an off-shoot of the cloning procedure? Was the marriage itself not Lex’s goal, but was the marriage just a convenient way to keep Lana close at hand for the cloning?

Remember, Lex beat Lana’s doctor to death with his bare hands to keep him silent. That suggests the doctor might have been set to reveal more than just a fake pregnancy.

Why was the Lana clone so important to Lex?

Because a Lana clone would be Lex’s ultimate weapon against Clark.

Lex knew Clark would never tell him the truth. But Lex knew that Clark was in love with Lana. Lex knew that Clark—given the right circumstances—would tell Lana anything and everything.

So Lex cloned Lana.

And in the circumstances of the season six season finale, Clark did tell Lana everything. Or did he?

At the end of season six, when Clark confesses to Lana in the barn, when Clark finally tells Lana his secret, was Clark talking to the real Lana, or was that Lex’s clone Lana? Was the Lana Clark confessed to the same Lana that then went to fake her own death using a Lana clone (one of the Lana clones?), or did the Lana Clark confessed to go and report back to Lex with everything Clark said?

It’s worth remembering indirectly Smallville has a long history of people finding out about Clark’s secret only to have the revelation become null-and-void because of some cheesy plot device like amnesia or a time reversal. A Lana clone certainly is a cheesy device (but they’ve explicitly said such things exist, even though most fans just groan).

The preview teaser says the Lana that comes back isn’t the Lana that left. How many Lana clones are there? Who knows about them? Does Lionel? In the barn, after Clark confesses, that Lana tells Clark about Lionel. And Clark almost kills Lionel. That’s what Lex would have wanted. In the barn, was that a Lana clone working for Lex? Does Oliver know about the clones? Someone with a strong arm helped Lana stage her own death. Was that Oliver? If Lana knew about the clones and Oliver was well-versed on Lex’s 33.1 work, then Oliver must know. If Lana and Oliver both know about Lana clones, would they leave Clark in the dark?

Are there other clones? Lex had Chloe in 33.1. He extracted her DNA. Lex knows Clark kinda/sorta loves Chloe.

I’m dubious about how all this is going to play out. I don’t think any fans wanted to see clones injected into the Smallville storyline. There are so many ways things can go bad and so few ways things can work out smoothly that I don’t hold out much hope season seven will be a return to the high quality of season four and most of season three. Certainly the Supergirl stuff so far has been written by idiots.

Still, it’s TV. You just never know. Even in the middle of awful stuff, sometimes you get episodes produced by a really good team.

For the memory of all the great episodes of Smallville past, I hope they handle season seven properly.

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