ComicsAlliance Recaps ‘Smallville’ Episode 3.22: Covenant
Love it or hate it, the Smallville TV show has been one of the most popular mass media adaptations of a comic, reaching millions of viewers each week with stories of what Clark Kent’s life was like before he became Superman. Now, we’re marking its passing by having ComicsAlliance’s Chris Sims and David Uzumeri, two guys who have never actually watched the show, watch and review every single episode of the tenth and final season.
Chris: Welcome back to the very last installment of Smallvillains Classic, as we enjoy the final week of re-runs before Season 10 comes back to finish out the series with what we can only assume will be complete insanity. Our original plan to tackle Jeph Loeb’s introduction of Red Kryptonite was once again derailed when we realized that Adrianne Palicki, the star of the upcoming Wonder Woman TV show, guest starred in the finale of Season 3, snagging the coveted role of Fake Supergirl.David: I’m glad we watched this one, personally. It wasn’t very good, but it was very entertaining, and continually barraged me with ideas I never saw coming, especially the … ending, which we’ll get to when we get to it. There’s an argument to be made that everything terrible about Smallville (Clark being a douche, meteor freaks, DC characters ‘introduced’ and then faked out) and everything good (John Glover’s hair, that “I can’t believe this was broadcasted” feeling) was in this episode.
David: This week we’re tackling “Covenant,” by showrunners Alfred Gough and Miles Millar (no relation to Mark). It kicks off with the rural edition of the beginning of the “Supergirl” arc in Jeph Loeb’s Superman/Batman, a book I believe hadn’t come out at this point. In short, a blonde, naked Kryptonian walks out of the woods and a car hits it and gets flipped over in what’s probably the most effective special effects sequence I’ve seen in this entire show so far.
Chris: At this point, Loeb was still the “Consulting Producer” on the show, and I just have to say: That dude sure does like to be involved in stuff where Supergirl walks around naked.
David: It’s really the same scene, just in the woods instead of the middle of Metropolis.
Chris: The comic actually would’ve come out at around the same time. It’s cover dated for May 2004, so maybe two months before this aired. It was a good time for fans of Naked Supergirl, not even counting the start of convention season and the number of creepy sketches they were about to ask for!
David: In any case, she shows up at the Kent farm and introduces herself as Kara, except since we know Laura Vandervoort plays Kara later, we are immediately clued in to the fact that this lady cannot actually be Supergirl. There’s also the fact that she tries to give Clark the entire “you’ve gone native” schtick.
Chris: You know, saying that she can’t be Supergirl because the “real” Supergirl shows up later would make a lot of sense in most shows, but c’mon, Uzi: This is Smallville, where we have seen two Jimmy Olsens and a completely unrelated pair of Cats Grant.
David: I still maintain the show will end with Clark dying and then, in a totally unrelated Smallville, a totally unrelated rocket from an unrelated planet called Krypton will land in the fields of a totally unrelated Jonathan and Martha Kent.
Chris: Either way, I have to give it up to Clark in this scene. Despite having a naked Adrianne Palicki on his doorstep, he manages to make eye contact almost the entire time.
David: It’s that mole, man. It’s so distracting it even intercepts male gaze.
Chris: I honestly didn’t even notice it until you pointed it out. Obviously one of us has an appreciation for the female form.
David: Lex shows up now to I guess deal with some long-running season plots involving Clark knowing that Lionel killed his own parents and that he had Lex sent to an insane asylum (!) for electroshock therapy (!!) to make him forget that fact. This is all some pretty heinous stuff, and Clark apologizes for not telling Lex sooner, but says he did it to save his life. Lex gets all pissy but they eventually bro it out.
Chris: The best part about that scene is that Clark opens the conversation with “Hey, your dad’s in prison. That’s great!”
David: Well, I mean, empathy’s never exactly been his strong suit.
Chris: It’s also worth noting that Lex is mad at Clark for not being honest and helping him put a murderer behind bars. One more time, that’s Lex Luthor being so devoted to the cause of justice that he’s willing to put his own safety at risk, and Clark Kent completely refusing to share what he knows to get a murderer locked up in prison. Smallville, everybody!
David: I got the feeling from that scene that the entire witness thing was something Clark didn’t know about, to be honest with you. Like, I don’t think Clark knew the full situation at that point, or at least that was the feeling I got — because he offers to help pretty quickly, doesn’t he?
Chris: Yeah, but prior to this episode, he clearly lets Lex go for a while without going “Oh hey, by the way, your dad killed your grandparents.”
David: To be fair, we didn’t see that. This is billed as a part two, so maybe that was last episode? Lex Luthor electroshock. Man, once again that hack Grant Morrison has to steal ideas from Smallville. There’s apparently also been a subplot with the FBI investigating Pete Ross for his ties to Clark, and there’s some douchey agent by the name of Loder, who I will pretend is Kurt Loder moonlighting from MTV News from here on out.
Chris: He meets with Lionel in prison, which is the most truly ridiculous set we’ve seen in this entire show.
Chris: Everything in there is bright white and completely spotless. It’s the kind of prison that Adrian Monk would put criminals in.
David: Lionel’s actually been captured by the aliens from 2001. And I assure you, we’ll come back to 2001 references later, when we get to the hilarious, hilarious, hilarious ending. Loder meets up with Lionel to tell him that he can’t help him, he’s pretty much screwed, but Lionel oddly selflessly seems more concerned about Clark. Maybe just for his own purposes.
Chris: Yeah, I think Lionel’s interest in Clark is less concern and more wanting to get some leverage on the impressionable, wishy-washy teenager who can bench-press semi-trucks.
David: Lex visits shortly thereafter and Lionel tells him he has incurable liver cancer, and gives him the medical records to prove it since Lex’s immediate response is to think that Lionel is BSing. By the way, in all of these prison scenes, every time the camera is focused on Lionel, his face and hair take up something like 75% of the mise-en-scene.
David: Lex and Chloe are still wanting to get Lionel held without bail, so they’re like, nah, son. And yeah, at this point the entire show feels like a gigantic practical joke centered around Lex, which in my mind completely justifies his later … insanity.
Chris: I get the feeling that at this point, everyone on the show knows what Clark’s deal is except for Lex, and they are all just constantly lying to him. Like, at this point everything Lex does is completely justified. In trying to make him a sympathetic character, they’ve succeeded at making everyone else in the entire show a raging a-hole.
David: I really hope Lex just beats the living hell out of Clark in the finale. Just brutal. It won’t happen, but god, I hope so.
Chris: And it actually gets worse later.
David: In any case, we go back to the farm, where Kara continues to whine about how Clark’s never going to be happy with people and is being overheard by Kurt Loder, on an MTV News assignment with a directional microphone.
Chris: How else do you hear it (Peace Sells riff) first?
David: Well, nobody’s going to hear it at all, because Kara comes out and uses the little-known Kryptonian power of atomizing stuff with your hands for no reason.
Chris: This is our first indication that “Kara” is not actually Kara Zor-El, Clark’s cousin, which is handy because she’s been flirting at him for the entire show. And yet, when we get to the end of the episode, it’s still not going to make ANY SENSE AT ALL.
David: J-Kent is understandably creeped out by the Incest Queen suddenly showing up and trying to repopulate the Kryptonian race with Clark, so he …. puts a cup she was holding in a nearby evidence bag and takes it to the local high school newspaper office to get it dusted for fingerprints. SMALLVILLE, EVERYBODY.
Chris: I laughed my ass off at Chloe in this scene. “I’ll have my guy take a look at it.” The boys down at the crime lab are workin’ in shifts to verify the findings of the Smallville High newspaper!
David: I get that they’re trying to sell her as Nancy Drew with all of these really esoteric contacts and favors she can call in, but it’s just hilarious here that a grown man comes to her for help like this, especially considering it’s a situation involving a woman who can vaporize people.
Chris: Jon also reveals that he made some deal with Jor-El — who has been dead for 17 years but is somehow still involved in this show — in order to bring Clark back from Metropolis. This is apparently a big deal in episodes we haven’t watched, but the way they talk about it, it seriously sounds like Clark got lost on a field trip or something and Bo Duke immediately started making deals with dead alien scientists.
David: It’s not an actual deal, it was just him in the middle of a cornfield raising his fists to the sky asking Jor-El for absolution. Which would be bizarre, since I have no idea why he even knew who Jor-El was. Hell, I have no idea what Clark was doing in Metropolis.
Chris: Not much of anything, if the rest of this show is any indication.
David: Like, they’re really screwing with the entire Moses aspect of the Superman mythos.
Chris: Hang on. Are you saying that the producers of Smallville screwed up an intrinsic aspect of the character? How exactly did you come to this bold, heretofore unmentioned conclusion?
David: WITH MY MIND. Clark gets a key in the mail from Lionel, which unfortunately does not kick off a sequel to The Game but rather leads him to Lex’s Completely Understandable Room of Trying To Figure Out Why Clark Kent Is So Weird.
Chris: And this is, without question, the biggest example of Clark being a massive dick on the entire show.
David: Clark completely freaks out about this, continues to lie to Lex after basically being caught red-handed, and then says, straight up: “This friendship is over.” This must be American Bandstand, because you’re a dick, Clark.
Chris: The crazy thing is, there is absolutely no malice at all in what Lex is doing. He literally just wants to find out why his life got so screwed up and weird after he met Clark, which is understandable since EVERYONE IN THE ENTIRE SHOW IS LYING TO HIM FOR NO REASON.
David: Clark Kent is the worst friend you could ever have. Like, I wanted to punch the television. They honestly should have just ditched the Superman mythos with this show entirely and turned it into the Clark & Lex Super Bro Hour. Because the only way they were able to make Lex tragic was to make Clark a terrible human being and a terrible Kryptonian. This guy couldn’t inspire a teenage boy to have sex with a supermodel, never mind a nation to help each other.
Chris: Seriously! Lex even has a computer simulation of his car accident running constantly, and maybe I’m reading into things because I hate Clark so much, but I got the impression that he’s clearly trying to find an explanation for the events that isnt’ “my best friend spent the last three years lying to my face every single day.”
David: My inexplicably six years younger best friend. Why is Lex even treating this guy like an equal? He’s a freaking high school kid! Is Lex that developmentally arrested?
Chris: Clark, how the hell are YOU going to get mad at someone else because YOU’RE lying to someone? I’d want revenge too. Lex has the patience of a saint.
David: Yeah, he continues to be the protagonist of this show, although he does get his revenge where it counts: with Lana, in a hilarious scene where Clark fails to say goodbye to her as she leaves for France because he sees her with Lex and drops his rose in the middle of the sidewalk before running off.
Chris: I was going to mention the plot with Lana and her insanely bad hair earlier, but it was boring and I don’t care.
David: Yeah, I forgot everything about it other than the actual departure. She’s just insanely boring. I presume this leads to the entire witch thing next season regarding her trip to France, but at least we were spared Jensen Ackles.
Chris: I mean, I’m sure there’s some reason in the story for why she looks like a young, hot version of your neighborhood crazy cat lady, but the amount of interest I have in finding out is so small that it can’t be measured by conventional means.
David: Only Superman could measure the microcares that make up your apathy. And Superman is nowhere near this show.
Chris: Point being, Clark isn’t there to see her off to France or tell her that he cares about her even though she does everything but literally beg him to, which is kind of creepy on her part. I’m used to Clark being the stalker, but apparently Lana’s just straight up into dudes who are emotionally maladjusted. First the guy who tries to murder Clark in the pilot, then Clark himself, then Lex, who is becoming more justifiably paranoid every day.
David: In any case, at this point I thought Clark would actually get so upset that he bails on testifying at Lionel’s trial just because he’s mad at Lex for being upset at Clark wanting to end the friendship because Lex was investigating his own life. But he doesn’t, he shows up, and he puts Lionel in jail, but not without being a passive aggressive douchebag par excellence the entire time.
Chris: His frat-boy shoulder-check on Lex as he walks into the courtroom made me want to join a Revenge Squad.
David: But guys, you have no idea how crazy this is all about to go. Readers who haven’t seen this episode, you might be thinking we’re coming up to the denouement, and it can’t get any worse. You are so, so, so, so, so wrong.
Chris: And it starts with Kara slowly, gently stroking Clark’s head.
David: The plot point I’d forgotten about during this entire Lex/Lionel affair — Adrianne Palicki’s Incest Queen — comes back full force, as she tells Clark that she’s taking him to Lara, his “birth mother.” Meanwhile, the Smallville High Forensics Club gets the fingerprint results back, and it turns out she’s not Kryptonian at all, but a girl who got hit by a meteor during the crash.
Chris: I like that Chloe says that this is weird “even for her,” when she has no idea that the girl in question is floating around, vaporizing dudes and trying to get Clark to make a one-eyed baby or whatever. Really? Is getting fingerprints from a girl who was thought to have died 14 years ago really that much weirder than Amy Adams becoming a fat vampire who dislocated her jaw like a snake to eat people?
David: Well, the show would completely break apart if the implications of previous seasons were followed to their logical conclusion — the FBI wouldn’t have just Kurt Loder there, Smallville would be surrounded by electrified barbed wire fence.
Chris: Speaking of implications, let’s not forget that before the big reveal, “Kara” is obviously meant to evoke Clark’s Kryptonian cousin. So of course they spend some time making out, which actually gets even worse later.
David: So yeah, Kara takes Clark to the Kawatche caves (I assume), and summons… what I can only describe as the Glowing Cave Vagina. Which is a metaphor that this show carries out to its logical conclusion, brutally.
Chris: But before Clark can be unbirthed back to Krypton, or whatever the hell is on the other side of the cave wall that makes absolutely no sense, Jonathan shows up to stop them.
David: So yeah, apparently Jor-El managed to ‘possess’ this girl with the spirit of his existing cousin who was also for some reason on her way to Earth. And got her to bring him to the cave, and then when Jonathan shows up to go “hey, uh, what are you doing with my son,” he gets put into a stranglehold by a tendril of energy that comes out of the cave wall vagina. This is so damn bizarre.
Chris: That’s right, everybody! In case you were worried about Clark making out with his cousin, it was actually just some random girl possessed by his dad. Nothing to worry about.
David: “Lois, I’m sorry. But to… yeah… I need you to… talk like you’re my dad. It’s the only way.”
Chris: I’m not sure that even Erica Durance’s acting skills are up to the task of pretending to be a glowing hole in the wall that speaks with Terence Stamp’s voice and then shoots out tentacles that vaporize teenage girls.
Chris: What in the actual hell is going on in this show?
David: I have no idea. In any case, after Clark goes through the ferrous birth canal to free Jonathan from the Kryptonian energy tendril that was straight-up going to kill him — and already killed the girl who was ‘possessed’ by Kara, because she “outlived her usefulness” — we cut to Lionel’s lustrous mane being shorn, which plays simultaneous to Lionel poisoning Lex and killing the entire Sullivan family in a bombing.
Chris: As dumb as this show is, I like that it realizes how important Lionel’s hair has become, which is why his buzzcut is shown in slow motion set to classical music as an event on par with the presumed death of two major characters.
David: Well, two of the best characters on the show and a cut-rate Nancy Drew.
Chris: And that’s how Season 3 ends.
David: No, it isn’t. You’re forgetting about the reveal that not only did Clark enter the glowing cave vagina, it actually brought him to a mysterious GLOWING WOMB. They were insanely committed to that metaphor.
Chris: Oh right, for some reason I forgot about seeing Tom Welling naked in the fetal position. Can’t imagine why I didn’t want to bring that up.
David: Jor-El claims Clark will be “reborn,” as Clark is folded up in a fetal position in a blue triangle. I kept expecting the zoom-out to show it orbiting Earth, and then he’d become the baby from 2001.
David: Palicki wasn’t awful considering she was given a pretty bad role with a pretty bad script that basically asked her to emote as little as possible. I hear good things about her on Friday Night Lights, so I assume she’s a more talented thespian than this episode would imply.
Chris: As much as it pained me to watch Jon Glover being shorn of his magnificent Mane of Power, I liked that the producers understood that it was basically the defining element of his character, and that cuting it off was a really big deal. It’s almost like they’re in on the joke, even if it does come in this completely ridiculous scene where a burly dude in a wifebeater comes into the cell and Lionel goes “do it” as the classical music kicks in. For all our jokes, it does feel like a huge, crazy moment of change.
David: It was a pretty dope scene, to be 100% honest. I can see why people talked it up in the comments. If I’d been watching this show for three seasons, it would have been even more satisfying. Honestly, it’s a great moment worth stealing for the comics in some form or another at some point. Because here’s the thing: that scene feels like it should belong to Lex.
Chris: Exactly. Like you half-expect Lionel to just go ahead and start calling himself “Lex” next season and start plotting to kill Superman. The hair was really the only thing separating Lionel from the Lex of the comics.
David: You’d get genuinely chilling if you’d established three seasons of Lex Luthor’s sweet-ass long hair, and then you watch him become what you’re afraid he’s going to be, simultaneous with him pulling these dick moves on all of his friends. And it’s funny, because we know that soon after this he’ll be cured of his cancer by some kind of Kryptonite and end up turning into a pretty solid dude.
Chris: Yes. “Funny.”
Chris: I don’t even know where to being with what was wrong with this episode, but I think I’m giong to go ahead and go with the Double Incest Fakeout. What the f—, man?
David: Clark Kent. I mean, this is becoming a permanent fixture here, but Clark Kent is the worst Clark Kent to ever Clark Kent.
Chris: Oh yeah, he’s awful. Clark getting mad at Lex because Lex is smart enough to understand that Clark’s been lying to him constantly is just petulant and ridiculous.
David: He’s an awful person, and I hope Lex comes back and tells Lois all about this, and she’s like “wow, Clark, you’re the worst,” and she bails on him completely and they restart the show starring Michael Rosenbaum just sciencing out Superman villains. Because he’s an infinitely more sympathetic character.
Chris: The final twist is that Smallville has taken place entirely on Planet Lexor.
David: I can’t wait for my birthday. And the end of this penance.
Chris: This was it, folks. Our final look back at previous seasons, assuming that the CW doesn’t drag out the suffering again somehow. The end is in sight, and it’s starting to make me wonder what we’re going to do once Smallville‘s over. Besides me never speaking to you again since you made me watch this show, I mean.
David: We’ve got time to consider the future of this, but I think it goes without saying we’ll continue. We’d ask you, the readers, what you wanted us to watch, but we’re going to be honest this time: We really don’t care.
Chris: All of Lois & Clark is on Netflix Instant. Just sayin’, at least we’d get costumes and fights, even if they were with Howie Mandel.
David: Who’s the worst Millar, Chris: Miles or Mark?
Chris: Those two reallly need to team up. You know, I’ve always wondered about how Kick Ass and Nemesis got started…