Smallville 8.15: "Infamous"

The previous episode was controversial within the "Smallville" fandom, to say the least. While many felt that brining back Lana was the right move, the resolution of their relationship, to many, undermined the past, present, and future of the series as a whole. In particular, by introducing an external reason for their final separation, rather than sticking with the internal reasons held at the end of the seventh season by both Clark and Lana.

Inevitably, there was anticipation that this episode would address the fallout of Lana's final exit, especially once it was clear that Lois was coming back into the spotlight. So it was initially quite disappointing to see that almost nothing was mentioned. In fact, this episode could have aired after "Legion", excising the subsequent Lana/Lex subplot entirely, and there would have been no sign of missing time. That really shouldn't be the case.

This is especially true given that the episode addresses the growing attraction between Clark and Lois, and provides a reason for Clark to take a deliberate step back. Given his emotional state at the end of "Requiem", did he need more of a reason to reconsider his feelings? If anything, he seems just a little too well-adjusted given his sense of loss, and his displayed emotions for Lois don't quite fit. But this episode dismisses all of those implications, hinging his decision to put a relationship with Lois on hold on his experiences in the alternate timeline. It just doesn't quite add up.

Two other things didn't quite work, either. The consequences of Clark's decision to tell the world about his true identity feel less like a thoughtful exploration of the rise and fall of such a public figure than the simplified Cliff Notes version. The public embraces him too completely and too quickly, and the adulation turns to distrust and anger just as abruptly. Like so many plot concepts on "Smallville", this is something that could have worked far better over the course of a few episodes (perhaps in place of the recent Lana arc).

The other problem is Tori Spelling. Who thought it was a bright idea to bring her back? While "Smallville" is always a little over the top, Spelling takes it to a completely different level. Every time she appears on screen, the quality of the episode drops through the floor. While the character makes sense for the story, it almost would have been better to come up with someone new.

With so many issues with the story itself, between the details of the story and its place in the larger season arc, it's surprising that I was relatively pleased when all was said and done. The reason is simply this: Clark finally came to the conclusion that he needs to develop a secret identity, despite his previous refutations. One would think Oliver might have gotten this concept across at some point, but it's satisfying to see Clark come the conclusion on his own. (And it's also nice to see "Legion" have a point.)

I still don't think the problems created by the shift to the Lana mini-arc have been addressed, and the writers are going to have to work overtime to correct the course and get the season back on track. The presence of Doomsday is a step in the right direction.


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