I continue on my journey through Smallville. While I called season two the awkward teenage years, you can see season three maturing a little.
Sometimes season three tries a little too hard and focuses a little too much on melodrama, but there are moments where Smallville‘s potential shines underneath all that, and you hope its about to blossom.
1. More Superman History I Don’t Like
I really don’t. It’s just an excuse for the cast play “different” characters and dress up.
Something about Jor-El actually being on Earth in 1961 and falling in love with a Lana look-alike, mixed with some kind of weird flashback, murder-mystery-solving-I-don’t-know-what-I-stopped-paying-attention. Tom Welling (Clark) plays Jor-El in the flashbacks and Kirsten Kreuk (Lana) plays the Lana look-alike and they’re in love, but still shouldn’t be together and blah-blah, blah-blah, blah-blah.
I can’t talk about it. It upsets me.
2. Lex Cray Cray
Either Lex is on a deserted island seeing things, or he’s in an insane asylum, or he’s experiencing repressed memories.
I’m trying to think of a good reason they did this storyline. It’s always a good idea to give characters a personal conflict to work through and it’s interesting to see Lex as a more vulnerable person, I guess?
I think that’s part of what they were trying to do with this storyline, but for the most part it simply doesn’t work.
3. Lana and Clark
Nothing intensifies ill-fated love like having it and losing it. Clark breaks up with Lana and the whole season is a Lana/Clark forlorn, lovey dovey extravaganza.
Lana gets a new boy. Clark gets a girl. Jealousy intensifies.
I enjoy melodrama, but this is too much.
4. Alicia, Alicia, Alicia
BEST. EPISODE. EVAAARRRRRRRRRRRR.
This episode introduces Alicia Baker who is beautiful and has secret powers she’s trying to hide, just like Clark!
Clark reveals his secret to save her and so she reveals her secret (teleportation) to save him and it seems like Clark finally has found a girl he can tell the truth.
Alicia is sweet. She appears to be even more vulnerable than Clark is when it comes to hiding from people and the actress portraying her (Sarah Carter) strikes just the right endearing note. So when Alicia turns out to be crazy obsessive and starts putting up pictures in Clark’s locker and trying to kill Lana, somehow we forgive her a little. Carter and Welling work well off each other. It’s funny to watch Clark be polite and evasive while Alicia is being bubbly and flirty and crazy and stalky.
There’s a mix of comedy and heart in this episode that is special. It may be the best of Smallville and is something we see more of in season four. And I think it’s due entirely to Sarah Carter.
5. Let’s Talk About Pete
Maybe this is inappropriate to say, but sometimes I wonder if Pete’s character is on the show just so the cast isn’t devoid of black people. Historically, Clark is white, Lana is white, Jonathan and Martha Kent are white, and Lex is white. How do we address this? Black best friend Pete.
And he’s never fit on the show. Learning about Clark’s secret gave him some new dimensions, but primarily Pete is positive, upbeat, jokey, and unnecessary.
There’s an episode this season that encapsulates the Pete problem. Out of nowhere, Pete gets into drag racing. When Clark tries to stop him, Pete becomes oddly defensive and angry. While it’s good that Pete has (and displays) other emotions and make mistakes, it’s so unusual that it just feels alien.
Sure enough, Pete’s character leaves this season as if to say, “See? we had black people on the show. Can’t say we didn’t.” Maybe that’s reductive, but that’s how it feels.
6. Better With Emotions
While season two had more complex story ideas with no feeling behind them, season three is much better at establishing emotional purpose behind characters and events.
For example, even though the ongoing story of Lex’s mental instability is stupid, it concludes with a concrete memory that tells us exactly why Lex and his Father, Lionel, fight so much. Which is then furthered when Chloe gets temporary truth-telling powers and Lex admits the only thing he wants from Lionel is love. Also, when Clark gets a memory flash about his real Mother, Lara, he admits to Martha that he wishes he could remember her and Martha tells him that Lara was his first word.
These are small details, but crucial to make an audience care, and season three finally starts to get it right.
7. It’s Still Growing
While the show is better with tension, emotional foundations, and overall structure, it still feels a bit young. The Lex insanity storyline is almost desperate and Pete’s character flounders. There’s also a concluding montage where dramatic character cliffhangers/changes are played against Mozart’s Requiem Mass as if to say, “look at my big boy pants.”
Season three is nearly grasping adulthood, but hasn’t fully matured. But you can see that it’s figuring itself out. You can see the promise in there. All you can do is hope it realizes its potential.