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Smallville “Cool” Review (S1E5)

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So, fun fact, this is one of the few Smallville episodes I can remember seeing, and may well be the first time I ever saw the series. Other than that? Well… “Cool” wasn’t the most thrilling hour of television. It’s an episode that continues the show’s trend towards the more generic freak-of-the-week focus that defines its early seasons. That’s not to say none of the storylines moved forward this week, but it was a lean episode that didn’t really offer much new information.

Clark pining over Lana, Whitney being a jerk, Lex attempting to get more control of the town’s financial state: it was all material we’ve seen in some form or another before. In fairness, this is a show from 2001; audiences weren’t expected to watch every single episode, so certain beats were repeated by necessity in the middle of a season. Still, it would’ve been nice to get a few new wrinkles this week.

Alright, Lex offering to help the Kents with their farm was probably a big deal; sure, Jonathan turns Lex’s offer down, but it’s still out there, and it’s likely only going to take one complication to push the farm into a direr situation. And it is a fairly interesting episode for Lex, as it’s still not clear how noble a person he is at this point. We know the man he’ll end up, but we don’t yet know if he’s on that path yet.

Still, Lex as an actual businessman is nowhere near as interesting as Lex the matchmaker. Lex’s interest in Clark extending to his love life is one of the best parts of the show, and it’s pretty hilarious watching Lex bring his skilled manipulations to such a low-stakes situation as a high school love triangle. It paints him as a guy who just can’t turn it off, and he’s all the more entertaining for it.

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Also, I will admit that it was good to finally see Chloe get to take on more of a leading role. She’s mostly existed in the background up to now, so seeing her fall in the crosshairs of meteor freak Sean Kelvin – somehow a worse ice-pun name than Victor Fries – was nice. Plus, the visual effects work was solid this week, one obvious green-screen scene aside.

Getting to Sean, though, I think the weakness of this character is what truly hurt the episode. With previous meteor freaks, there’s at least been some reason or another to sympathize with them, or at least explain why they’re so villainous; Sean’s just a womanizing jerk who uses and loses women as fast as he can. The way his ice powers work makes that treatment towards women literal, but at no point does he seem all that bothered by the killing he has to do to survive.

So this wasn’t a great episode of Smallville, unfortunately, and it leaves me worried with what I’ve got ahead of me in the coming weeks. Hopefully this represents an outlying low point and not a first season norm.

Random Asides:

– Seriously, Sean has no personality outside of horn dog. Even when he’s shivering with a deathly chill in the nurse’s office, he still takes time to ogle her butt.

– I gave Sean Kelvin a hard time above, but I love that even though this show isn’t using recognizable DC characters, it’s keeping up the tradition of way-too-on-the-nose names.

– Not sure why Clark didn’t just tell Lana he was going to check on Chloe. He didn’t need to mention his superpowers; he just knew a friend was on a date with someone they’d just heard on the radio was a killer.

Final Score: 5.5 out of 10

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