Smallville 9.4: "Echo"

With Clark back on the job as a reporter and his budding romance with Lois now heating up again after a bit of a detour, it seemed as though his Kryptonian instruction had come to an abrupt close. As it happens, it has simply changed its form. Instead of mental challenges and enforcement of a cool detachment, Jor-El is challenging Clark in the field.

This seems unnecessarily problematic, as Clark is forced to adjust to his new telepathic ability, only to have it ripped away at the most inconvenient moment possible. The point is not even particularly clear; Clark has already been shown to have a certain intuition and perceptive nature when he’s inclined to use it. Jor-El’s intervention didn’t seem to add much to Clark’s arsenal in the end, so it just seems like a bit of an odd waste of time in terms of the danger to Oliver.

On the other hand, it seemed like the ability was mostly brought into play to foster the advancement of Clark and Lois’ relationship. Clark was finally able to do the one thing a lot of men would love to be able to do: read the mind of the woman they want to make happy. Poor communication is a constant source of strife in relationships, so why wouldn’t Clark want to have a sure means of giving Lois what she wants?

As usual, it’s never that simple. If Clark was ever introspective enough to think about it, he always knew what Lana wanted out of him: honesty. His decision to keep things from her for years effectively derailed their relationship until it was too late, and matters took the choice out of his hands. Several episodes over the past couple of seasons have explored the notion that Lois and Clark would be better off if the cards were all on the table.

Of course, that’s not how the mythos works, so that’s not going to happen anytime soon. And so Chloe’s anger over the situation effectively sums up how unfair it is for Clark to know everything that Lois is thinking. The scales are already balanced in Clark’s favor as it is. If anything, over time, such an ability would have given him the perfect means of keeping Lois in the dark indefinitely. Every time she came close to the truth, he would know it, and he would have the chance to adjust his cover story.

While Clark momentarily seems to gain some insight into how to handle Lois by the end of the episode, it’s not really such a surprising approach to take. More importantly, Clark doesn’t seem to get much insight into his friend Oliver’s current plight. Both Clark and Tess have been hitting pretty close to home of late, but neither one seems to work out the obvious. Oliver has been on a path of self-destruction since he “killed” Lex, and the moment of truth is rapidly approaching.

Some might quibble over the time spent on Oliver’s personal journey, but given that Oliver was a big part of Clark’s recent heroic development (both as a positive and negative example), it makes sense. Not only does this provide a continual contrast between Clark and human heroes, it also allows Clark to approach the issue of his own thoughts on how to be a hero from a new perspective. If nothing else, Clark is now in the perfect position to remold Oliver, and for that matter the League, into something closer to his ideals.


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