Smallville: Promise (Review)
Smallville: Episode 126 (Season 6 Episode 16): “Promise”
The best episode since “Reckoning” (Episode 100, Season 5). This show has all the odds stacked against it, with the exception of the fact that it is a Superman series. The only Superman-related series ever to bomb without ever achieving success was Superboy, which is still being released on DVD, and purchased by Superman fans, so that goes to show you what a legacy this show represents.
We know from the pilot episode what happens to Clark Kent, who he becomes, and that with the presence of some characters, what he must go through and who he must lose to become Superman. Keeping that in mind, from inception, it would theoretically be hard to be surprised in any conceivable way by this show. But the writers have us from the get-go, always wondering what is around the next corner.
From the movies, we know that Jonathan Kent is dead, that Clark Kent and Lana Lang once had something and it just never worked out, that Clark moves to Metropolis and works at the Daily Planet, where he falls for star reporter Lois Lane, and that Lex Luthor becomes his mortal enemy. But in Smallville, we question the validity of how any of those things can be achieved. We find ourselves rooting for Lex, devastated by the loss of Jonathan Kent, truly believing that Lana and Clark have a chance to truly be happy together, confused by the possibility that Lois could EVER be a reporter and wondering how Clark finally finds it in himself to leave home.
This season is a complete deal-breaker for those questions. Finally we are seeing the gears in motion, the machine that makes Superman. This episode was a giant mile marker in that transformation.
This episode was shown in the context of a single day, unlike the traditional episodes which could span days or weeks.
Lana wakes up, after having a dream in which she remembers being trapped in her truck during a tornado, and remembers seeing Clark save her. This stirs up her questions again, so she goes looking for answers. In this episode, she manages to manipulate everyone in order to get her way, and ends up discovering the basics of Clark’s true identity. She decides that she does need to get away from Lex (and all this manipulation on her part speaks volumes of what Lex’s influence on her has been) and decides she wants to be with Clark.
Now, this is something that confuses me. Through the 5th season, Lionel Luther discovers Clark’s identity, falls in love with Martha Kent, and saves and aides Clark in keeping his identity a secret from others (including Lex) and in several instances sides with Clark to defeat Lex (in one instance to even kill Lex). Why in this season has Lionel Luther gone back to being antagonistic towards Clark without any cause or explanation? Lionel finds out Lana’s intentions to ditch Lex at the altar and run away with Clark. Knowing Clark’s secret, he threatens to kill Clark with kryptonite if Lana does not go through with her marriage to Lex.
So Lana marries Lex. She tries profusely to apologize to Clark, unable to explain why she’s suddenly decided she definitely loves Lex and could not be with Clark.
I find this especially to be an interesting dynamic, because through the series and especially after season 5, Clark has kept his secret from Lana to save her life. He knew from experience that she would be unable to keep his secret from others enough to keep his identity secret, and that any hint that she might know would cost her her life. So telling her became absolutely verboten. So she leaves Clark because she knows he’s hiding something. This fact drives her to Lex in the first place, so for her to turn around and do the same thing to Clark is actually quite ironic.
I love the imagery of the wedding, especially the departure from the church altar to the waiting car. Lana looks absolutely sick with grief over her sacrifice.
My question is: WHAT IN THE HELL DID LEX DO TO LANA? We only have 8 more episodes this season to find out, and still time to discover the following:
-When does Clark move to Metropolis?
-When does Lois officially begin working as a reporter for the Daily Planet?
-When does Clark begin working for the Daily Planet?
-What happens to Chloe?
-What is Lana’s baby?
-What drives Lex and Lana to divorce?
-What secret is Lionel Luther hiding?
-When does Martha Kent’s term as senator for Kansas end?
-When does Clark fall for Lois?
-When does Clark decide to become “Superman”?
The birth of the Luthor baby could be the final season arc, which would leave us on quite a cliffhanger, considering the time we have left this season. I’m absolutely sure we’re in-store for a 7th season as well.
Amazing episode. Absolutely heartbreaking. Beautiful.