Saturday, October 16, 2010

Episode Seven: The Way of All Flesh

John Corben (who piloted the LexCorp Battle Suit in the premier's climatic fight scene) is informed by the prison doctor that he has a rare and fatal virus.  As a reward for keeping his mouth shut about the whole treason thing, Luthor uses his resources to break Corben out of prison and replace his biological structure with one made made out the nearly indestructible metallo element.  Powered by a hunk of kryptonite, Luthor unleashes Corben on Superman.  Corben trumps Superman in two seperate fights, but after Superman reveals that it was Luthor who infected him with the virus to set in motion Corben's transformation, Corben turns on his benefactor.  Superman has to save Luthor as Corben is lost at sea... more Metallo than man.

Evan:  I was happy for the flashback, because while that smug face and completely unidentifiable accent was familiar, I would never have been able to place John Corben as a character from earlier in the season.  I really enjoyed this episode.  Metallo has never, ever been interesting to me.  Let's face it, there really isn't a more basic Superman villain concept than "powerful entity with Kryptonite lodged in his chest".

See: Giant gorilla with kryptonite eye beams

Also: muscle man with body radiating kryptonite
The episode overcomes this problem by trying (and I think succeeding) in giving some depth to John Corben, never truly called Metallo in the episode.  Corben, though a smug bastard, was never given a real choice due to his impending death.  Luthor forced him to become a robot without feeling, something that tortures him.  Corben is manipulated by Luthor at every stage of the episode, until finally seeing through the ruse and turning on his boss.  Corben was shown to be a true physical threat to Superman, much like Parasite except Superman wasn't acting like a huge moron.  Superman never really manages to do nay sort of damaged to him in any of their fights, and in the end Corben is only stopped because he sank to the bottom of the ocean after falling off Luthor's sinking yacht.  I'm actually interested in seeing his next appearance.  He's the first character in the series with a legitimate grudge against both Superman (and Lois) and Lex Luthor.  That makes for some interesting dynamics, such as in this episode when Superman has to fly Luthor to safety after the destruction of his yacht in shark infested waters.

There's a critical difference in The Way of All Flesh compared to Feeding Time.  In this episode, even though he's getting his ass kicked most of the time, Superman is a total bad ass.  One memorable example came during a fight with Metallo on a busy freeway.  After Lois Lane stopped her car to see why Superman suddenly fell out of the sky onto the road, she's accosted by Metallo.  In order to save her while weakened by the kryptonite, Superman RUNS OVER METALLO WITH HER CAR.  This was a Superman that wouldn't allow himself to be tortured in a basement by a janitor for a week.  He was also a solid super-power aided reporter, using his skills as a journalist to learn the true story behind Corben's disease.  

Lex Luthor was also at the top of his game in this episode.  A long-term plan coming to fruition in the transformation of John Corben, Luthor very nearly accomplished his goal of destroying the Man of Steel.  We got to see the indignant Luthor as the plan failed, and now Luthor has a non-Superman enemy lurking under the ocean, slowly walking back to exact revenge.  In trying to destroy Superman, Luthor created a near immortal killing machine that hates him.  While this would be a problem to most, Luthor's puppet master status in this episode makes me think that may not bother him.  I also really enjoyed that we ended up on the yacht in the first place because Luthor was hoping to take a woman out for a "private cruise".  Nicely done.

Lois had a smaller role because we followed Corben so much, but she got to slap a killer robot in the face.  So she made the most of her five minutes.  Maybe we'll see more of her in the coming episodes as she tries to make enough overtime pay to get her car fixed...

Kristin: Talk about going from one end to the other! If the last episode was an empty corpse pretending to live once more (and not in the cool zombie way), this episode was... not... that. I'm going to start this conversation with the backbone of any worthwhile entertainment: the villain.

Metallo is arguably the most complex character in the series so far. He emerges from a life of decadence in prison, thanks to the generosity of a grateful Luthor, to an existence without pleasure which is clearly a driving force in his nature. This creates a conflict that has not been present in any of the characters so far. Even Superman has less depth than Metallo, who is currently at the bottom of the sea! I even loved his implacable accent, which I'm fairly certain might be an affected mid-Atlantic. Which he might have affected because he loved the sound of his own voice... perhaps another example of his decadence in order to widen the gap between his humanity and his lost senses? Just a thought.

The lord and master of this glorious addition to our cast is Lex, resplendent this episode in a navy blazer and white turtleneck. Classic. Possibly Ralph Lauren?

Like this! Except older and balder.

If he looked less like a retired pro wrestler and more like a dangerous mastermind, I would be spewing his praises all over this blog. However, I will have to limit myself to saying that I found him particularly despicable today. Being willing to utterly crush another person's entire life without actually killing them, simply deadening all of their senses to make them a living instrument of your own evildoing is pretty awesome. I mean, that's cold. It takes something to take away someone's humanity without taking away their life. Hardcore, Luthor. Hardcore.

Lois kicked ass again today, which was nice to see. She comes speeding up in her hilarious little sports car, slaps an indestructible robot right in the kisser (literally!) and then jokes about insurance after Superman epically uses her vehicle to ram Metallo off a bridge! And again, I like the implication that she will be saving Superman's ass in this show as much as he will be saving hers. How very modern of you, writers.

Superman himself seemed determined to do his job better this episode and I think the improvements show in more than just how cool it is that he hit someone with a car. While it is remarkably stupid that he does not use his handy dandy anti-kryptonite suit the second time around with Metallo, it is admirable that he came in with a psychological game plan instead of a physical one. The complexity of Metallo's character gave us another dimension in Superman, in that it allowed the viewer to see our hero at his most crafty. If Lex Luthor gets to be a bodybuilder, I guess Superman has to be able to beat Lex at his own game too. Maybe one episode will feature the two matching wits in a thrilling game of chess.

So, with Evan still excited about Lex's party-time in international waters I end my comments on this one. Excited to see Metallo emerge from the ocean on a beach somewhere. I wonder if metallo itself is magnetized so he knows which way north is... then he can find his way to Metropolis instead of Thailand!

Final Thoughts: A very good episode featuring revenge, turtlenecks and sexy yacht parties! Also, (and we cannot emphasize this enough) Superman hit someone with a car.

Evan's Episode Rating: 9/10 (Lois Lane Ratio: 0 incompetent / 1 insane) - A hopeful 9. I really wanted to give it 10 but seven episodes in feels too early.

Kristin's Episode Rating: 9/10 - This had almost everything I want... except for more Lois. I still need the girl to represent.

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