Episode: Smallville 9.02 – “Metallo”
Original Air Date: October 2, 2009
Screencaps from Home Of The Nutty
Last week introduced us to John Corben, brought back Lois from the future, and established that, in order to complete his training, Clark has to say goodbye to his Earthly connections, especially Lois. We also saw that Lois will be the show’s primary tool for ominous foreshadowing, with her hot, steamy montage-style dreams.
We start this week’s installment with Lois acting totally in character, which means being nosy. She shows up at the Kent farm to find the place almost completely abandoned. Well, almost completely because somebody is feeding the dog. But besides the dog being taken care of, there’s a lot of dust on the counter, which is TV show shorthand for “this place has been abandoned.”
John Corben calls Lois on her cell phone to tell her how much he hates the Blur. Lois responds by talking about how dreamy she thinks he is. Classic first act setup. I wonder if they will come into conflict in the third act? Hmm..
Anyway, John hangs up with Lois just in time to get hit by a truck. The ensuing montage shows us that someone in a dingy basement is operating on him with rusty equipment, and he wakes up in a dingy old Frankenstein-looking operating room. He’s completely alone, but discovers that half his body has been replaced by cyborg implants. He will later learn that the implants are being powered by kryptonite.
But first we have to check in on Lois and see another one of those freaky dreams. Mostly it involves random shots of her and Clark acting horny, contrasted with shots of a dead Chloe. But before we can think of a Freudian joke, she awakes, revealing that she’s crashing on Chloe’s couch and she has brought the dog with her. Chloe covers for Clark by saying she’s the one taking care of the dog. In the ensuing conversation, Lois reveals that (1) she’s totally whipped for the Blur and (2) the Blur is still in contact with her.
Chloe realizes that (1) all Clark’s hogwash from last episode about having to abandon his old life was a bunch of hooey and (2) Clark likes Lois a lot more than Chloe. This is pretty harsh, when you think about how much crap she’s had to take from Clark over the past nine years. For the first five or six seasons, he lies to her about his powers. Then, he reveals his powers but doesn’t bother to save her fiancé from being killed. And now what does he do? He not only falls in love with Lois instead of Chloe (which she is getting used to by now anyway), but Lois is edging her out as Clark’s sidekick.
But Chloe is used to being Clark’s doormat, so she takes the dog back to the Kent farm and gives Clark an earful about how he’s supposed to be leaving his human past behind. “You say you are turning you back on all your human attachments, Clark, but apparently only when it suits you. We both sacrificed a lot so that you could become the hero you’re meant to be. Commit to what you started before more people get hurt.”
If I were Chloe I’d be pissed. Of course, I’m not Chloe, and I know the producers have to come up with a reason for Clark to maintain a secret identity, so I’m actually pretty excited to see how this all pans out over the rest of this season.
But enough of that. We now have to check in on Dr. Hamilton. Last episode, I thought he was a scientist type of doctor — maybe a PhD in physics or nuclear engineering or something, who looks after Oliver’s estate on the side. Apparently I was wrong. It turns out he’s a medical doctor, because when John Corben shows up in the emergency room, Dr. Hamilton is on staff to help him out. It could be that Dr. Hamilton is one of those Buckaroo Bonzai type doctors, who is an expert in almost everything. Either that, or the actor that plays Dr. Hamilton was really popular on Battlestar Galactica, so his contract specifies a certain number of minimum scenes per episode.
The point is that Dr. Hamilton informs John Corben that somebody has turned him into a kryptonite-powered cyborg against his will (Metallo in the comic book, who first appeared as a villain in the late 1950s). The bad news is that the cyborg implants heighten Corben’s adrenaline levels, which basically makes him a raging maniac all the time! Corben isn’t too keen on this idea, and shows his displeasure by beating up a bunch of orderlies and running away.
Lois heads over to the Luthor mansion and blackmails Tess into reinstating her at the Daily Planet. In last season’s finale, they had a hardcore fist fight just before Lois disappeared. Tess is ready for a rematch, but she says it in a really sexy way. The double entendre is unmistakable as she asks Lois, “are you here to get physical?” Lois’s blackmailing idea is totally lame and stupid, but we have to find a way to get her back to the Daily Planet, so we dig deep and reboot our suspension of disbelief.
Clark shows up at the hospital where Dr. Hamilton works. Dr. Hamilton informs Clark that the guy flipped out and ran away before anyone could figure out who this guy was.
“But check this out,” says Dr. Hamilton, “the dude left this keychain behind.”
“Oh,” responds Clark, “That’s the keychain that’s given to all new Daily Planet employees. I’ll call Lois and ask if anyone is missing their keys.”
“What a great way to get Lois in the middle of things and get her kidnapped,” says Dr. Hamilton.
“Thanks!” says Clark, and leaves so he can get the second act started.*
This, of course, goes against the whole thing about leaving behind Clark’s earthly past so he can complete his training which was the whole point of the previous episode. But more on that later.
Corben heads back to his secret lair (now that’s he’s a villain, he gets to have a secret lair) and decides to get his revenge on the Blur. Revenge for what, you ask? There’s more on that later, too.
So Clark calls Lois with his voice-altering cell phone. Disguising his voice as the Blur, he asks Lois about anything “out of the ordinary,” and whether there are any new employees that are behaving strangely and don’t have their keys. Clark just wanted to ask her a simple question, but that’s not how it works when you are dealing with Lois. Lois interprets Clark’s simple question as an invitation to start digging around and get captured by the bad guy so he has to rescue her at the end of the episode. Clark is like “No, don’t get involved,” and Lois is like “What’s that, you want me to get involved? I’m on it.” I’m not sure what he sees in Lois. It can’t be her super hotness. This is a CW show. Everyone is super hot.
Meanwhile, Tess has a new super genius wonder kid helping her out. They have tracked down some missing LuthorCorp technology and found the place where John Corben was turned into a cyborg. They speculate that perhaps it was Zod, trying to figure out a way to get their powers back. Corben must have been a test.
When we check back in on Lois, she gets herself kidnapped by Corben (which we didn’t see coming). Clark tells Chloe about his plan to use an electromagnetic pulse to disable Corben’s cyborg implants. Will it work on kryptonite-powered technology? There is only one way to find out.
But Clark’s conversation with Chloe serves more purposes than to telegraph how Clark is going to fail on his first attempt to stop Corben. Chloe drops a line about how she is better than Lois at this sidekick thing (which is true, and highlights how Clark is totally whipped for Lois and totally a jerk to Chloe). To prove how much better Chloe is as a sidekick, she surfs the Internet for just under two seconds and locates Corben’s secret lair.
Clark arrives just after Lois gets knocked unconscious so that he can have a showdown with Corben without revealing his identity to her.
A nifty conversation ensues in which John Corben explains his motivation: the Blur saved a bus full of violent prisoners from certain death a few months back. One of them escaped and, instead of being killed in the traffic accident, went on to kill Corben’s sister.
“What right do you have to interfere with people’s lives?” demands Corben. Of course, Clark doesn’t have an answer to that. He tries the electromagnetic pulse, which does disable Corben, but only temporarily. Luckily for Clark, he spots a random metal panel made from lead. He melts the lead with his heat vision and sticks it on Corben’s chest, shielding Clark from the harmful radiation.
Corben rips it from his chest, but since the molten lead has fused itself to the kryptonite, he pulls out his power source in the process. Once he drops dead, Lois starts to wake up, so Clark stands against the wall, obscured by the shadows. Lois totally wants to get it on, so she asks him to reveal his identity. Instead, Clark chickens out and hightails it out of there like the skinny shy kid at the high school dance.
One last scene tells us that Corben didn’t die. Instead, since he is now more machine that human, he was simply “deactivated.”
This was not the best episode, but Brian Austin Green did an excellent job as Metallo/John Corben. Also, the show did a good job of advancing what appears to be the over-arcing theme of this season, which is the conflict between Clark’s Kryptonian heritage and his American midwestern upbringing. I suspect this will be the psychological motivation for Clark to take on a secret identity in the end. If so, this serves as a good bridge between Clark trying to reject his human side in the previous episode and learning through the rest of this season that eventually he has to embrace both sides.
* Just in case you couldn’t tell, those weren’t the exact words of the conversation.