Smallville 8.14: "Requiem"

Sometimes the desire to repair a less than ideal situation can lead to unexpectedly unfortunate results. Giving Clark and Lana better closure than the strike-induced video departure at the end of the seventh season was a good idea. Setting up a good explanation for Lex's extended absence due to Michael Rosenbaum's departure was another good idea. Twisting an already great eighth season arc completely out of proportion? Not so much.


Fans of the Clark/Lana relationship will no doubt love this episode. Instead of the nuanced conversation that marked their reunion in "Bride", Clark and Lana revert to the super-emo "my entire world is you" mentality that was played out seasons ago. All of Clark's personal growth is erased, and not one other character seems to notice.


And that's the problem: there is no acknowledgment of context. This story seems to take place in a vacuum, where only elements from previous episodes that tie into the needs of this story are mentioned. Whatever happened to the threat of Doomsday? There was some good progression of the Oliver/Mercy plot thread, but it was still shoved too far into the background.


Most importantly, what about the growing attraction between Clark and Lois? As it was handled, Clark was choosing to move on from Lana to Lois, as people always must do in their lives. It's great that Lana chose to take control of her life and find her own power, but why did that force Clark to drop everything, as if the rest of his new life and Lois were a collective second prize?


This is all the result of how the story was handled. It could have easily been reframed to give Clark and Lana the chance to recognize that they were no longer right for each other. Imagine if Clark and Lana, after working together, came to the realization that they were no longer quite so compatible. Not only would it have been in keeping with "Bride", but it would have given both characters considerable growth and maturity.


Instead, the two are forced apart. Leaving aside the rather ridiculous idea that Lana wouldn't know that Prometheus was designed to absorb the properties of kryptonite as a weapon against Clark, given her supposed research into the project, the entire situation is contrived to force Clark and Lana apart against their will. Which means both of them have their lives and choices made for them.


At once, the entire point of giving Lana a true sendoff is rendered moot. Lana doesn't pay some personal price for her decision to grab artificial power rather than develop it on her own through training and hard work. She's forced to be apart from Clark. She completely loses agency of the choice to stay or go.


This is not confined to Lana, of course; Clark is forced to accept that he cannot overcome this situation through force of will. That particular moment is relatively effective, and had Lana left Clark broken on the floor, it might have been even better. But the point is that Clark is being forced to abandon what he really wants, thus implying that whatever comes next is merely a concession to a no-win situation.


This also brings no resolution to the fact that Lex knows everything about Clark, and is now truly presumed dead. Since Lex isn't supposed to know everything about Clark in the future, how does that work? The only possible way to solve this problem is to take the series far enough down the road to demonstrate just how different this version of Superman's formative years will be. (Which is not necessarily a problem, considering how "Smallville" has always been in a world of its own.)


Ultimately, this episode confirmed all the fears of the fans who hated the previous episode, let down the fans who were willing to give this twist a chance, and threw a surprisingly strong season into total disarray. The writers are going to have to work overtime to work their way out of this hole.

Comments

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Feb 7, 2009 1:00AM EST

Call me w/e, but I liked this episode and the ones leading up to it, which is a bit strange because Lana used to annoy the hell out of me. My like and dislike for her was/is a bit of a rollercoaster. I would rather Clark be with Lana than Lois because I honestly don't feel a connection between them and I'm sorry all Clois shippers, but she's not my cup of tea maybe if it was a different actress. I don't know. I just find her voice annoying.
Now on to the "holes." She only knew as much as that doctor man told her and obviously he didn't tell her since she believed that the chip she found "de-glowed" because she removed it's power source. As for the whole OMGCLARKDIDN'TULIKELOIS, well like in real life if your first love kinda leaves on unfinished business you kinda forget about everyone else because you're in yer own little world with them. I mean it's happened to me before and I'm sure other ppl have a person they would drop just about everything for especially when the one you had yer eye on suddenly disappeared. [Where did Lois go btw?]
And this show is BASED on Smallville it's not supposed to be exactly like it...otherwise there would be no Chole, Lana would have red hair, Pete would be white, Johnathan and Martha would be dead based on some stupid disease or Johnathan would've been dead after the heartattack and last but not least...Lois would be attractive...I mean...
So yes, as you said Smallville is a world of it's own due to all those differences which is why you should probably view the comics and the show as two different entities. In the show Smallville, it makes sense that he would try to learn all he can about the man he believes stole his father from him and probably forced him to kill him. He was after all after the whole idea of controlling Clark.
Again I loved this episode and it kinda sucks that they're forced to be apart, but it makes sense. Why else would they leave each other's side if not to protect one from the other? It shows that even though Lana had the best intentions she kinda screwed up for the both of them. I still find it strange that they can't find something to absorb the kryptonite but meh...at least now all the clois shippers can be happy...maybe she'll grow on me...
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Feb 7, 2009 10:37AM EST

I agree completely with Elena01 this episode was not a totally out there piece of storytelling. Clark and Lana accepting that they have obligations outside of the love for each other i thought was great saving the city and then having to deal with the consequences of those decisions. The reason why Lana left was that she could not handle being near the guy she loves and never be able to touch him, and probably knowing he would do all he could to the exclusion of others to be with her. I consider her actions to be selfless in that aspect and a significant price paid by her, and as for Lois and Clark, well as Elena01 says you don't just forget your first true love. Plus why do you have to show that Lana and Clark are not right for each other, just because Lois is in the picture? the show is Smallville they have and i really hope they will follow there own path, not some obligation to tell it how it is in the comics. As a Show it really does work that they do there own thing, one of which being that Lois and Clark don't just have to be together, why can't Clark care for someone else. Well at least we now know Lana won't be hooking up with Clark anytime soon, so maybe Lois has her chance to be with Clark , or maybe some oen else might get in there!

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Feb 8, 2009 9:25PM EST

I completely agree with this post, and don't think i could have said it better myself. this was a season-defining episode, and i agree that it was not handled very well at all. obviously this clark/lana thing has been dragged on and on for too long, and after everything, it was not their personal growth and differences that pulled them apart, but a very contrived and forced plot item that ended their relationship.

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