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Smallville Reviews

Pic of Clark and The Martian Manhunter from "Labyrinth"

"Labyrinth" By Chad

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.

“Mind Games”

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 had any.

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 emotions.

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 around?

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.

“In Conclusion”

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.


Photo courtesy of Kryptonsite.

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Updated 4/21/07  

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