Evan: Can I start by saying just how much I missed the cast? Even though this episode did not have a big role for Lois, the interaction in act one between her and Clark on some sort of weird co-worker date covering a fashion show made me really excited for this episode. Especially compared to the Lobo episodes, this felt organic to the series as it felt like this was established early in the pilot when we saw Lana's awareness of Clark's powers. Her appearance wasn't jarring, as it might have been without some set-up. The other major L.L. in Superman's life is an interesting adidtion ot the cast, as her knowledge of Clark's double identity and obvious attraction to him makes her unique anbd a nice counterpoint to Lois. While it isn't clear how much more we'll see Lana, I feel fairly certain that she'll turn up at least once more, as there's simply too much there for it not to be interesting.
Reflecting on Lana, I really wasn't sure how I felt about her character as she was introduced. I don't know anything about Lana Lang in Superman comics, outside of her rivalry with Lois in the silver age when everyone was Lois Lane-style crazy. Making her a sexpot fashion designer with an appetite for danger wasn't what I was expecting, but does introduce a new element to the series. I was just happy we didn't have a fourth reporter. This opens some new doors, and I liked the contrast between Clark and Lana when their starting point was the same. It helped to drive home Superman's value system, and show that he stayed closer to his roots than most. Lana, on the other hand, has moved beyond Smallville in a way that Clark isn't interested in, and has found international success.
Lana's relationship with Lex was also very interesting to me. I remarked to Kristin early that it was a solid bet Lex had a plan to turn her into a radiation spewing monster, or blow her up but in the end he simply did not. Lex was clearly infatuated with Lana and underestimated her intelligence. He appeared to be in legitimate distress after deciding that she had to be eliminated for knowing too much, and his exchanges with Mercy (I finally heard her name correctly this time, having heard "Percy" every other time she appeared) were quite revealing. While Lex is usually many steps ahead, here he seemed quite content to stare at Lana's ass. Lex was human, rather than playing chess with people's lives. The show has carefully taken steps to flesh out this side of Luthor, from a past dating Lois, to his sexy cruise a few episodes ago, and now his relationship with Lana.
That leaves me with one problem. Was it not Luthor's plan that Lana be robbed early in the episode? Was that a red herring? I was sure that the robbery was the first part of a set-up, but we never got the payoff unless I was missing something. It seems impossible to me that Lex would allow such a thing to happen without his consent, as he certainly would have had security on the ground. Added to that the exotic nature of her abductors, it seemed like a way for her to meet Superman. However, the rest of the episode gave no indication this was the case, and his seeming emotional response to his decision to have Lana killed would suggest that he didn't have a plan, or at least didn't put it in action. It's possible I missed something, but it was a confusing loose end for me.
I could have done without the business at the lead factory, as I was a little confused at the temperature of the lead, it seemed hot occasionally, but other times there didn't seem to be any heat to it at all. However, it was a suitable action conclusion to the arms dealing plot, and it was a nice change to see Superman fighting a regular guy instead of a lead-based monster. This plot was fairly grounded overall, which was a relief coming out of the Lobo fiasco.
I was hoping to see a reaction from Lois as to the attention that the beautiful Lana payed Clark and/or Superman, but it wasn't to be. I thought that was a missed opportunity, but maybe that's being saved for a later show when our protagonists are willing to have a real date, not a strange dinner watching a fashion show as dual reporters to a non-news event.
I really enjoyed this episode because we came back to our characters. I feel refreshed and excited for the (ahem...) rest of season one. I think that I'm ready to see Luthor at his top form trying to kill Superman again. He's been in some strange roles lately, from Superman's ally against Brainiac to comedy character to a romantic rival, that I'm ready to see him at his best. This show is keeping their rivalry very interesting, and I'm excited to see what's next.
Kristin: After our little foible the other night, it feels as though I'm revisiting a season I have already mourned. While I am glad that we didn't have to end on a note as horrible as that 90s monstrosity, it is tricky getting back into the mindset. Let's begin with the fact that I was very pleased with the developmental aspects of this episode.
I feel that this episode, of all the ones so far, had the least to prove and so we were really allowed to move at a pace that made room for focus on the characters and those relationships that I was so harping on. While Lois Lane was limited only to bookmark charming cameos, Superman, Lex and Lana Lang all received a great opportunity to grow as people instead of one-dimensional archetypes.
Superman was definitely more Clark Kent, which was great to see. I think the more personal nature of the plot disarmed him a little and gave us greater insight into his personality. While we were still treated to his "witty" banter, including such gems as:
Weapons Buyer: I think it's deer season!
Superman: Sorry, it's only open season on terrorists.
We got legitimate awkwardness in front of Lois as he explains his past liaisons with Lana Lang (and Lois awesomely proceeds to slam him) and a touching moment when he rejects Lana's advances followed by well wishes for both parties. I feel like we cared more about what Superman was doing in this episode because the fact that he had a relationship established with other characters involved raised those stakes.
Lex Luthor definitely had some time to shine in this one too and I loved every minute of it. My favourite part of the episode was when Mercy, reveling in the destruction of Lana as Lex's love interest, is shut down by a slighted and jealous Luthor. Great. It was exactly what I wanted and at that moment I felt more empathy for him than I have felt for any of the characters so far! It was such a human moment to have this monolith (thanks to the animation, literally as well as metaphorically) get a crack in his defenses. The Lex of this episode was not just a power-hungry executive out to show Superman who's boss. He was a jealous boyfriend who was threatened by another man. That is watchable, exciting, and relatable storytelling.
Lana was a little less annoying this episode. I don't know what the hell was up with her voice acting in the first episode, but it only seemed a little forced this time around. So that was something.
Final Thoughts: It's nice to come home again. Although we disagree on whether Lana should show up sooner rather than later...
Evan's Episode Rating: 8/10 (Lois Lane Ratio: 0 incompetent / 0 insane) - This is the show I want to watch.
Kristin's Episode Rating: 9/10 - I need to look up who they're hiring for voices... but overall this is definitely the direction they owed me after that Lobo shit.