Smallville Review: Raised By a Luthor
I never liked the character of Lionel Luthor, especially the cozier he became with Martha Kent toward the end, and was not the least bit unhappy when Lex offed him seasons ago.
His return was not anything I was looking forward to, and expected for "Luthor" to be yet another diversion off the track of what, so far for me, has a been a somewhat inconsistent season of soaring peaks and plummeting valleys.
Imagine my surprise, then, when Smallville delivered us another one of the best episodes of its 10-year run, in no small part thanks to the writing of Bryan Q. Miller and his accomplished knowledge of the subject.
Wrapping a visit to Earth-Two around Tess' newfound Luthor heritage was a masterstroke in giving a nod to one of the greatest entries in the history of DC Universe. I didn't even care (for once) that Darkseid has still yet to fully manifest himself.
And if you've been reading my reviews this season, you know what a major feat that is. Well done, Mr. Miller.
Earth-Two Lionel was a mirror image of his arrogant, pontificating and vicious Earth-One self, which was not at all surprising. I was just waiting for Clark to ram him into a wall over making the "ignorant farmer" remark. It was tragic to see how different Clark was on Earth-Two simply for having been raised as a Luthor.
I recall learning back in the Veritas days that Lionel had also gone out to the cornfields looking for "the traveller," but that the Kents found him first. Hard to imagine something as simple as an extra bale of hay to load or fence post to repair could have been what prevented Clark from having a stable, nurturing Earth-Two upbringing.
When John Glover appeared to break the fourth wall during the final seconds with his remark that he returned just in time to see how it all ends, I came 'this' close to needing to change my shorts. He can play one intimidating bad guy, I'll give him that.
One thing the I'm curious about, though: exactly how did Lionel and Earth-Two Clark stifle Jor-El and what was that project in the Fortress all about?
Also eerie was seeing Oliver and Lois engaged, but nowhere near as disturbing as the news that Clark was engaging in conjugal visits with his step-sister Tess. Blood relation or not, that's just sick. Glad that was taking place in an alternate reality where, assumedly, Oliver took care of Earth-Two Clark.
I was absolutely captivated by Cassidy Freeman's performance, as I have been all season. She has been delivering stellar work as of late, stealing this episode right out from under Tom Welling, and I hope she continues to wow us right up until the very end.
The scene between Tess and Clark where they discussed the "poisonous" blood that runs through her veins was the highlight of the night.
Hearing her heartbreaking revelation that even though she knew the Luthors were a sick and twisted family, all she could help feeling was sadness that she'd been abandoned by Lionel, made me ache for her. Ms. Freeman can wrench the heart right out of you when she wants to.
I also appreciated Clark's retraction and admitting that it wasn't the bloodline, but the influence of Lionel that was corrupting, and Tess was all the better for having avoided the experience.
While Tess' intentions have always been murky, I really want to believe she is on Clark's side. Seeing the two of them bonding just feels right. I hate the thought of Tess double-crossing the heroes and being alone because of some misguided loyalty to the Luthor name. Let's hope her allegiance stays all along the Watchtower.
Welling was also on his A-game, playing the yin and yang versions of Clark from both worlds. As great as it is to have Clark be the sweet-natured guy he is - and telling Earth-Two Lois he couldn't live in a world where she didn't love him was pretty darn swoon-worthy - Evil Clark is such a guilty pleasure to watch.
I don't know about you, but I kinda wish I'd seen the battle that led up to the ridiculous shambles of a Watchtower Clark returned home to.
Once Smallville ends its run, Welling should seriously consider taking a role in an "American Psycho"-esque thriller. I have no doubt he'd kill in a role like that. Pun intended. The little we saw of Earth-Two Clark, brought back fond memories of his impressive turn as Clark's red kryptonite affected alter-ego Kal.
Jeffrey Kirkpatrick is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.