Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Episode Seventeen: Livewire

Shock jock Leslie Willis hates Superman and uses her radio program "Livewire" to rant against the Man of Tomorrow to popular acclaim.  In just her third year, she is a media sensation in Metropolis.  However, during an outdoor event, Leslie refuses to yield to both the police and Superman's advice to shut down the party due to a dangerous thunderstorm.  She's struck by lightning despite Superman's efforts and transforms into Livewire, a being of pure energy (maybe?).  She drains power from the city and sets herself up as the Queen of Media, but Superman defeats her using a burst of water from a hydroelectric dam.  Leslie is jailed, but under the funding and eye of Lex Luthor.  So that's clearly the end of that.

Evan:  I foolishly had high hopes for this episode early on due to its roots in the 90s shock rock boom and the rise of women comediennes and social commentators.  Leslie was interesting, because she was the first media figure we've met that hated Superman.  Also, this was the first time that public opinion seemed to be divided on Superman, or at least some dissent was heard.  I thought this was important because this is the same basic constituency that Luthor plays to, although in a much more intelligent way.  There was probably a good episode about the media, the fickle nature of the public and Superman's attempt to deal with not being universally loved.  Instead we got an extremely annoying woman who shot lightning out of her hands.

This was only the seventeenth episode of this series, and already this felt by the books.  The ending was a direct lift from the Parasite episode, although with the fun bonus that Lex was footing the bill and thus has co-opted Livewire for a future gambit.  The story itself, a fight throughout multiple acts, was done better in the previous episode.  We got the now standard "brief look at the newsroom coping with the new rule of a villain" shot in the final act.  Basically, this was a flat episode.

There was a small win in this one, which was that every main cast member actually bothered to put in an appearance.  Granted, Jimmy never spoke and Lex only smirked approvingly at the anti-Superman ranting while being driven to work.  The point is that the characters that were completely gone for a stretch of what felt like ten episodes in the middle of this season are at least occupying the series instead of Dan Turpin.  (As a side note, would Luthor really be listening to a shock jock in the car that repeats what he likes to hear about Superman?  Isn't he busy?  Or is this simply a sign of how much he's let things slide since Superman stole his girlfriend?)  Also, Mercy managed to justify her uniform by actually driving a car!

Overall, I liked the interaction between Clark and Lois, as well as Lois defending Superman to Leslie.  I just wish there was more of it.  I also wanted more out of Lex, but if he's just going to be in the periphery of these new weekly villains, scheming in the shadows, that's fine too.  For now I can accept Lex Luthor as staying out of the limelight.  I just need to see him actually do something soon or I don't honestly see how his character can be seen as a puppet master in Metropolis.

Ok, I was lying.  I want to see more of Dan Turpin and less of the old sailor that seems to show up now and then.  Fuck that guy.

Kristin: I realize that this episode was trying its hardest to present a rebellious female media personality, but I think it failed in making her someone anyone would actually like. Granted, I am told that people like Glenn Beck, so an abrasive and ignorant media personality is certainly not unheard of. However, Leslie came across as a man-hating, me-versus-the-world, puppeteer who used the public to feed her oral masturbation fixation. To top it off, all of her advertising consisted of her posing in her punk-grunge cutoffs. Because in Metropolis, a woman can't be successful unless she's shocking and half-naked. Did I mention that she was a complete attention whore? All women are. Fuck women.

I think that's what unintentionally came through in this episode. I don't believe that it is what the writers had in mind but from the interview with Lois onward, it was all I could think about. I wish there were more smart, self-actualized women in the show. If Lois were ever fully in the show, I could maybe count one.

Also, nice vocal choice again creators. She sounded like a whinier Joan Rivers.

My last point that stands out in this episode for me is that while we see Luthor looking rather like a smug pug when tuning in to Livewire's anti-Superman radio show, we see none of his ugly mug when she proceeds to drain the entire city of power. I mean, obviously LexCorp would have a backup generator or be linked directly to the Earth's core or something like that, but can't we at least see him look... less smug? Irked? Peeved? Inconvenienced? Amused? Maybe all that Superman hate-rallying put him in the mood for a sexy yacht party!

Final Thoughts: If she was pure energy... why did she have bones?

Evan's Episode Rating: 5/10 (Lois Lane Ratio: 0 incompetent / 0 insane) - I feel like Luthor would be a "partition up" kind of guy.

Kristin's Episode Rating: 4/10 - This episode definitely made me feel anger... but not in the way that it wanted.

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