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Smallville “X-Ray” Review (S1E4)

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So far, Smallville has done a good job of giving me something to latch on to in each episode, but the closest I found to compelling material in “X-Ray” was the appearance of an actress who would eventually have a career, Lizzy Caplan, in the role of antagonist Tina Greer. It’s not that this was an outright terrible episode, but it was just sort of there in the grand scheme of things.

The problem, I guess, is that this was an episode ultimately dedicated to introducing Clark’s x-ray vision. It’s a fine enough concept for an episode, but the power is so inherent to the character, I honestly didn’t realize it was a new one until they specifically called it out as such. What followed, then, was a challenge that forced Clark to master his new ability to overcome the threat at hand.

And overcome it he did as, for the first time, it actually felt like Clark was integral to stopping a meteor freak. His battle with Tina wasn’t the most visually exciting, but it was good to see him putting up more of a fight for once. I’m kind of curious why her Kryptonite-laced skeleton didn’t seem to have any real effect on him, but I’m resigned to the show being wildly inconsistent in how it portrays Clark’s greatest weakness. More importantly, Tina served as a solid antagonist overall, even if her Single White Female motivation wasn’t the most original. Heck, she’s not even the first villain on the show with a Lana obsession, with that “honor” going to episode two’s Bug Boy.

Still, the stakes in the main story just never felt that high, a problem that extended to the rest of the episode as well. Lex’s manipulative battle with a reporter didn’t really offer much content, as it’s no surprise to anyone that he had a rough childhood and a shady past. That said, it’s clear he’s putting a lot of thought into figuring out exactly who or what Clark is, even as he keeps things friendly in his visits to the Kent farm. Lana’s journey to find out more about her mother, meanwhile, did at least manage to continue to build on the tension she has with her aunt introduced last week. However, nothing we learned about her mother here was all that revelatory.

Another weird note in this episode was the way it once again sidelined Chloe and Pete, despite this seeming like the exact sort of investigation they would be perfect for. Instead, Clark’s parents served as his investigative partners, which is just a bizarre choice when you have characters that seem to be around specifically for that purpose.

Random Asides:

– One moment that made me laugh more than it probably should’ve was Lex just popping into the doorway as Clark and his parents were talking about him. It was just so goofily well-timed, I couldn’t help but get tickled.

– I’ve taken a few potshots at the visual effects so far, but Tina’s transformations were handled pretty well. Though the less said about the veins and muscles Microsoft Painted onto Pete’s face, the better…

– I know that Chloe is a fan-favorite character, but she’s yet to be relevant to the plot in any real way.

Final Score: 6 out of 10

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