One can never be too ill-disposed towards any show that opens with the phrase "begin the transdermal evisceration," especially when it's delivered by a guy in a lab coat. Unfortunately, this week's episode of Smallville more or less goes downhill from there, focusing mainly on Lana Lang (Kristin Kreuk) and what happened to her after she cut that DVD for Clark (Tom Welling). Apparently, it involved beating the snot out of a couple of LuthorCorp thugs, ninja training in some Edge City basement, and time in a jury-rigged lab where said transdermal evisceration precedes a nanobyte transfer all over her fetishistically seared flesh. Clark pieces all this together through a number of sources, notably Chloe (Allison Mack) who apparently knew more about Lana's activities than she had previously let on.
Meanwhile, Grade-A sneaky girl Tess Mercer (Cassidy Freeman) trades Machiavellian comments with Lex's bodyguard (Ari Cohen) before deciding that his services are no longer required and kicking him to death on the office floor. Chloe and Clark find a secret safe at the Isis Foundation, containing a video conversation between Lana and Dr. Groll (Bill Mondy) in which she leverages him into giving her the "Prometheus Suit" nanotech skin graft. Apparently, she's doing it to keep the technology away from Lex, and despite Tess's attempted sabotage, the episode ends with Lana now possessing as much power as Clark.
Nothing beats a decent round of LuthorCorp shenanigans, especially when they involve someone getting beaten about the head and shoulders with a "Businessman of the Year" award. Mercer's head games are a constant hoot and that look on her face while splattered with her rival's blood is worth a viewing all on its own. Clark's bouts of anger--which appear in a few flashes here--make for must-see TV as well. The show never loses sight of his moral core, but it's delicious wondering if he might ever snap and mangle some hapless thug like Third World Postage.
The various LuthorCorp goings-on have a distressing way of upstaging whatever Clark is doing, and all the flashbacks in the world can't make his amateur sleuthing any less of a snooze. Chloe's constant plot exposition grates considerably, though Mack's rapport with Welling remains one of the series' better selling points. Smallville also has a way of fawning over Lana, which this ill-conceived super powers go ’round illustrates all too clearly. (Echoes of a dreadful episode of Lois and Clark--the one with Teri Hatcher in the pink tights--percolate dangerously to the surface here.) Of course, there's still the intriguing question of who's really controlling Lana's actions, and whether Smallville's girl-next-door truly instigated all of this or if someone else is living behind those pretty hazel eyes…
About par for the course. The show has rolled reasonably well with Michael Rosenbaum's departure, but eight long seasons have taken their toll and episodes like this one struggle to shake the feeling that they're nothing more than a stunt. How long can they reasonably maintain the notion of a super-powered Lana Lang before it becomes a joke? And how will they undo it in a way that doesn't feel contrived? At least we'll get some more Green Arrow soon.
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