Look, it’s hard to care about a Whitney episode of Smallville. Hell, “Kinetic” doesn’t even really bother to reveal it’s a Whitney episode until a third of the way in, so what does that tell you? Though I poke fun at how little Pete has appeared so far, that’s because I want him to have a bigger role as Clark’s alleged best friend. Whitney, though? He started the series as the generic pretty boy standing between Clark and Lana, and this season has made no effort to give him much more depth, sick dad aside.
As such, this episode tries to give that depth while also asking us to care about Whitney’s struggle to get there, and it doesn’t quite succeed in that goal. Basically, this episode becomes about Whitney losing his scholarship and facing the idea that he may never make it out of Smallville. It’s a pretty familiar narrative for shows set in small towns, with the big difference being that the rough crowd Whitney falls in with have the ability to walk through walls.
Maybe this would all work better if the thugs Whitney hooked up with were interesting characters, but no such luck. I’ve complained about the show having dumb villains before, but at least those people left an impression. The trio of crooks here are just sort of there for most of the hour, hitting the necessary beats but never developing recognizable personalities. At best, they serve as the perfect embodiment of early 2000s alpha male, from the aggressive rock songs that play in their scenes to their video game and TV-filled lair.
There’s just no tension to the plot. However much we can understand Whitney’s frustration, there’s never a moment where we think he’ll actually join up with the thieves permanently. The second he realizes they’re criminals, he’s ready to do the right thing and help Clark take them. At the very least, we could’ve had a scene or two of Whitney considering a life of crime, if not the outright murder he’s first introduced to.
Moreover, the show barely seemed to know what to do with the supporting cast this week. If nothing else, it would’ve been nice for Chloe to have an arc of some sort after being thrown out of a window at the top of the hour. And for a Whitney episode, Lana was surprisingly sidelined, not playing into his story in any real way. This episode made a genuine effort to expand on one of the show’s weakest characters, but it failed to do right by just about anyone.
– Pete Watch: Played the skeptic role and helped Chloe get on the internet. Can we please get a real Pete episode soon?
– A brief subplot had Lana convincing Lex to save the theater. Not much to say other than it does bring Lana and Lex more into each other’s orbit.
– One of the thugs calls Lex the poster boy for Rogaine. Wouldn’t they want someone with hair to be the poster boy? Maybe he’s the before picture, I don’t know.
– Nobody famous in this episode, though you may recognize Kavan Smith – the leader of the thieves – from recurring roles on Stargate Atlantis and Eureka.
Final Score: 6 out of 10