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After the excellent superhero adventure we had last
week, I was a little apprehensive going into this episode. I mean, how can
you follow up such a great episode without it being a letdown? Well, it
makes me happy to say that they pulled it off! Tonight’s was a wonderful
episode that put us in the mind of Clark Kent, and gave us a glimpse of what
life would have been like if Clark had no powers.
How did he get this way? Before we go any further, let me once again warn of
the inevitable spoilers that you will find throughout.
There have been several episodes this season that have taken some of the
focus off of Clark, and re-directed it toward other characters; most notably
Green Arrow. I am happy to report that “Labyrinth” fixes that problem. Sure
there are other characters present throughout, but the focus of the story is
on Clark. The episode really shows us his thoughts on the people and
situations around him.
The episode opens up with Clark in the barn fixing a tractor. The first
thing that catches my attention during this scene is Shelby! How I missed
Clark’s canine companion, and was starting to worry that the Kent’s had put
him down or something. Shelby starts growling and leads Clark up to the
loft, where he is attacked by an unseen phantom; causing Clark to be thrown
back out of the loft. Clark wakes up from the fall to find himself inside a
psychotic ward, without his powers, and with no one believing that he ever
Tom Welling proved beyond a shadow of a doubt the diversity of his acting
ability in this episode. He showed a wide array of emotions throughout the
episode, from confusion and fear to resolve and strength. Particularly heart
wrenching was Tom’s scene with the doctor toward the end of the episode,
when he seems to have been convinced that he really is crazy. The look on
his face when his world comes crashing down around him really played on the
Tom Welling truly has me convinced that this show would not have gone
anywhere had anyone else been cast for the role.
“The Other Patient”
One thing that I have been waiting for since he first appeared in “Static”
was the return of Martian Manhunter, and it finally happens. In the comic
books, telepathy is one of the many talents of Martian Manhunter, so who
better to help a guy who is trapped in their own mind.
In his first appearance Martian Manhunter was nothing more than a guy in the
shadows, so at the time there was no official actor in the role. For his
second appearance, they have hired Phil Morris to play John Jones AKA
Martian Manhunter. For those of you who follow DC in other media, he also
provided the voice for Vandal Savage in several animated Justice League
episodes. I enjoyed him in the role, and hope we get to see him return soon.
His part was rather important in the episode. He first appeared while Clark
was waiting in line for his meds. From the start we finally got to know a
little about this mysterious hero. He calls Clark Kal-El, and reveals that
he is from mars. Hmmm….so men really are from there! I kid of course.
Later in the episode we also learn of his aversion to fire. He and Clark get
to talk for a moment, and John Jones informs him of the Phantom Zone
criminal that has infected his mind like a parasite. He tells him that he
must gather the strength to fight it’s influence. About that time he gets
threatened by an orderly with a lighter and then dragged off so as to stop
him from conversing with Clark.
My only complaint is we didn’t get to see any real conversation between the
two other than in Clark’s mind. When they finally meet after they expel the
phantom, Chloe shows up and Martian Manhunter takes his leave before she
shows up. I would have liked to find out a couple of things, such as how
long has he been on Earth? How long has he been watching Clark? How did he
know about the Phantom Zone and the escaped criminals? Where has he been
living this whole time? Are there any other young heroes he is following
Hopefully we’ll get these questions answered in the near future.
“The Importance of a Supporting Cast”
Now we get to the major thing the episode touched on tonight, Clark’s
relationship to those around him. I have always believed that Superman is
defined by the people he keeps around him. Ma and Pa Kent helped him become
the man he is now, and I think the show has portrayed that immensely well.
Lana has taught him that life doesn’t always have a happy ending. Pete
taught him that you can put your trust in someone and not be rejected. Chloe
has taught him that true friends are a commodity that you can’t take for
granted. Lex has shown Clark that sometimes a person’s nature can’t be
denied, and finally Lionel has shown Clark that truly evil people do exist,
even Shelby has had an effect on Clark’s life.
We also can look at the comics and see the importance of his supporting
cast. Lois, Jimmy, Perry, Dr. Hamilton, Con-El, Kara, Batman, Wonder Woman,
and many others are there to help define who Superman is. He would be
nothing if not for his moral support.
Tonight we saw what would happen if Clark lost all of that support.
Clark decides to escape from the asylum, and follows a janitor into a
hallway. Clark punches the guy out in a hilarious scene, and takes his
uniform so he has a disguise to escape with.
He then starts an investigation to find out what’s going on, but what he
finds truly takes its toll on him. First he finds out that Lana and Nell
bought the Kent farm after Jonathan died, and that Lana is one of the ones
who put him into the asylum. He finds out his mother has married Lionel
Luthor, and didn’t tell him because she didn’t know how he would react. He
next finds out that when he saved Lex on the Loeb Bridge all those years
ago, it resulted in Lex losing his legs. In a powerful scene we find out Lex
has hated Clark for years because of that. Then to top it off Chloe gets
shot trying to protect Clark and dies in his arms.
This all leads to the scene I mentioned earlier where the doctor convinces
Clark that this is the real life, and that everything else is all in his
mind. A broken Clark unknowingly agrees to the treatment that will allow the
Zoner to take control of Clark completely. I absolutely loved the next part,
but mostly because it was Shelby barking that brought Clark to his senses.
This was a great and triumphant scene, and I loved that they made Shelby
that important to Clark.
This episode is completely worth watching if just for the character study on
the importance of Clark’s relationships to those around him.
Oh, and kudos to the prop department on showing so many little tidbits of
Smallville history in the psychiatrists office. Arthur, Ollie, and Victor as
mental patients; Jor-El as soap; and other things here and there made me
laugh quite a bit.
This is outright one of the best episodes of the season. It was a full on
character study on Clark, his relationships, and how those affect the person
he is and who he will become. It also showcased how strong of an actor Tom
Welling is and how much he has grown since the show started six years ago.
The way the episode ended, with Clark saying “I woke up” was a bittersweet
ending to the already gut wrenching episode. “Labyrinth” deserves no less
than a 5 out of 5.
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