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Smallville “Leech” Review (S1E12)

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Smallville delivered a firmly middle-of-the-road episode this week, giving us a solid enough weekly adventure, if not a particularly exciting one. “Leech” is the sort of midseason episode I expect to come up a lot in this retrospective, one that doesn’t do much more than was expected of television in the early 2000s. Fortunately, there was enough good here to make it an alright watch.

My main disappointment, really, is that this episode feels like it tries to do a little too much, meaning that no storyline gets the appropriate amount of attention. There’s two narratives that get mashed together here: Clark losing his powers and a normal human gaining those powers. The focus goes to the latter story – which features a fun guest appearance by Shawn Ashmore as a dork – but this early in the show’s run, I was so much more interested in the latter.

We get a few scenes of Clark talking about how much his powers define him, but there’s not nearly as much exploration of what the loss really means to him. Really, he’s too quick to adjust to the situation, happily adjusting to life without super strength and invulnerability. We still don’t really know what Clark’s powers mean to him, so I’d have appreciated a deeper look into our protagonist’s feelings on being different.

Also, it seems like the goal was for Eric’s story to serve as a cautionary tale for Clark, showing that he’s not entirely wrong to keep his powers hidden. However, things only go so bad for Eric because he acts like such a jerk once he has powers, and because his parents are nowhere near as loving and kind as the Kents. Honestly, all we need to know is that things will get bad for Clark if Lex learns his secret, which is what the show reminds us of with one of Luthor’s subplots here.

Lex’s main story this week, though, was the assumed end to his relationship with Victoria. Though this arc was fairly dull on the whole – Victoria stuck around way longer than I’d have expected – it was a tragic moment in Lex’s development; he was willing to commit to Victoria, but she betrayed him twice over, both by stealing his research and sleeping with his father. Granted, he never fully trusted her – he set the Cadmus research out as a specific trap – but the possibility for a happy ending was there.

Lana, meanwhile, didn’t have a whole lot to do, simply reminiscing about the theater where her parents met now that Nell is selling it. The big takeaway here is that through a few speeches about not living in the past, Clark convinces her to stop wearing her meteor rock necklace. A small step forward, but one that brings the two closer together.

Random Asides

Pete Watch: Not a substantive role, but it was good to see a lot of him tonight!

– Clark’s ability to lose his powers to someone else through Kryptonite seems like the sort of plot element that could return down the road. Could be too modern in my thought there, though, given this exact story came up on The Flash last season.

-Eric achieves peak jackass once he’s styled his hair and put on that ridiculous trench coat and gold chain.

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– For a better version of the “lost powers” story, check out the Supergirl episode “Human for a Day.” And if you’re not, just watch Supergirl in general

Final Score: 7 out of 10

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