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on Lex. and the Bros. Winchester

Watched Smallville. Watched the whole episode. I believe this is the first episode of this show I have watched straight through with no fastforwarding. Entirely not coincidentally, this is the first episode with no Lana whatsoever! Anyway, it was fun. Not so fun as to get me regularly watching the show, but fun. I love Lex, and I love evil, so, yeah, great tastes that taste great together. The ponytail line killed me.

Except that it's also sad, because we've been watching first and second season SV lately. And TPTB made this tactical error with Lex. Now, Lex (other than the movie interpretations) has always been the coolest of the cool, the most kick-ass supervillain, because he's ruthlessly ambitious enough to do anything and brilliant enough to be able to do it. He's got brains, wealth, power, and charisma, and Smallville went and gave him the one thing he was lacking, which was The Sexy. Bald is beautiful: Smallville's Lex can seduce the white off a cue ball. And that's cool. The appeal of Hot Evil is something anime cottoned onto a while ago and it's always been a matter of great regret that Hollywood is behind on that particular curve.

But Smallville didn't stop there. Nor did Smallville stop with the one-time melodrama of Superboy and Lex Luthor's broken friendship. Instead, they went on to make Lex himself a sympathetic figure. More than sympathetic; they made him tragic. In fact, they made him so tragic that rather than finding his future crimes reprehensibly unforgivable (if deliciously entertaining), a whole bunch of us find him totally forgivable no matter what he does. The problem? Well, it's hard to be rooting for the hero when you're spending much of the time shrieking at him, "You asshat! This is all your fault!"

In some of the original Superboy comics, Superboy and Lex were friends, of a sort. Lex was a social outcast due to his untreated Science Related Memetic Disorder. Superboy, being both a super-nice kid and also a genius in his own right, and feeling sympathetic what with the whole stranger-in-a-strange-land thing, befriends Lex, builds him his own lab and such. This backfires when one of Lex's experiments goes awry, Superboy saves Lex from it but ends up destroying the lab and the experiment, which accident incidentally causes all of Lex's hair to fall out. He's a little bitter after that.

I rather like how Smallville keeps Lex's hair loss being indirectly Clark's fault. Not that Lex knows or especially minds this. (Who would? The exoticness is a crucial part of his Sexy). His character is pretty different otherwise, because it's mainly based on the '80s/'90s business tycoon Lex Luthor. Except for the whole sympathetic thing. Because young Lex, Smallville style, is definitely flawed - he's spoiled, he's selfish, he's got far too much pride and arrogance and too few boundaries. But he's not evil.

Except that every single person in the town of Smallville has read the comic books, and therefore knows that he is going to be, someday. Which sets up this crucial tragedy of the series, except it arranges it in a way that leaves one bitter and ticked off with the so-called good guys. Because Lex isn't evil, and doesn't want to be evil. And spends most of the first four seasons of the show trying not to be evil, trying to reach out to people, all but begging for someone to save him because he doesn't know how to save himself. By fourth season he is begging - "There's a darkness in me that I can't always control..." "We all have a dark side, Lex." "Yeah, but I can feel mine creeping over the corners. Your friendship helps keep it at bay. It reminds me that there are truly good people in the world." And Clark...lies to him, as Clark has been lying to him from the beginning. He doesn't make any real effort to preserve this friendship that is the only thing keeping Lex from becoming, well, a supervillain, as it turns out.

And yes, there are extenuating circumstances. Clark doesn't tell his secrets to anyone, not willingly, and doesn't even see it as a betrayal. I blame that on Ma and Pa Kent, who somehow missed out on the "Truth" part when they were instilling in their boy "Justice & the American Way" (then again, given the current administration, the first and last are pretty much incompatible anyway...) Clark's lies about his identity are so natural to him that he's almost incapable of seeing beyond them to how they might hurt people. This gets him in trouble with a lot of people, but Lex worst of all, because Lex has been betrayed and lied to so many times by everyone he's ever been close to (his father, his mother, Pamela); and also because Lex's greatest flaw, more than any other, is his curiosity. He can't let anything go; he always has to know - not just about Clark, but about himself, about what the meteors did to him, about how he lived when he should have died; but all of that is inextricably bound up in Clark. He can't investigate one without the other. And Clark takes that insatiable need to know as a betrayal, as much as Lex takes Clark's refusal to admit the truth as one. Lex lies back to Clark, true - but only after Clark lies to him, repeatedly and obviously. And still trying to be friends, all the same, because he needs Clark's friendship, even with the lies he knows Clark is telling.

And yes, it's unfair to Clark - unfair for Lex to put the heavy burden of his soul on a teenage boy only just coming to terms with his own dark sides. Clark is unprepared to deal with Lex's darkness - most people are; Lex's scars run frighteningly deep. If Clark were an ordinary kid, he couldn't really be blamed for cutting and running. Except Clark is not an ordinary kid. Clark is supposed to be a young superhero. The greatest hero, Superman, whose indomitable physical strength is supposed to only be outmatched by his strength of character. If anyone in the world could help shoulder Lex Luthor's darkness and walk him into the light and warmth he so desperately wants, it would be Superman.

Except Smallville's Clark doesn't. Clark turns his back; Clark runs away and lets Lex descend. And his parents - support him all the way. Don't get me wrong. I love Martha and Jonathan Kent, I really do. But when it comes to Lex, they're cruel. Time and again they slap him down, and it's not even totally clear why. They say it's because he's too much like his father. Except they give Lionel a chance. Everyone gives Lionel a chance! (Which, well. It's hard to blame them for. This is Lionel Luthor we're talking about. He's nothing if not entertaining.) Even when they do give Lex a chance, it never lasts more than an episode or two, and then they're back to the mistrust. They're terrified of Lex learning Clark's secret and they let that fear blind them to any other possibilities.

The worst part of it is, their fears are pretty much for nothing. One, because one truth about Lex Luthor is that he will do anything for his friends. Lie, kill, accept a murder rap (see "Zero" and "Memoria"), whatever it takes. Lex is someone you want on your side, badly; as dangerous as he is to cross, if you can get him as an ally there's none better. And also - because Lex does find out. "Asylum" has to be Lex's most tragic moment. Drugged, institutionalized, tied down, tortured, and Lex keeps Clark's secret. He could use it to possibly buy his way out with his father, but the possibility doesn't seem to cross his mind. And when Clark comes to save him - when Clark gets in trouble - Lex's only thought is saving Clark.

And, after all that, when he loses his memory, Clark doesn't remind him. Doesn't give him those secrets back, and while I do believe that at the time, Clark was genuinely worried about Lex's safety - later, he could have told him. He should have known, he should have understood, but he didn't, either too blind or too scared. Some Superman. That was probably Lex's most noble point, his apex, the closest he came to salvation. It's pretty much downhill from there.

Even so, Lex still tries. As late as fourth season, Lex's worst nightmare - is becoming exactly what he becomes. "Scare" is an awfully bitter episode. Clark, proto-Superman, is still so petty that his greatest fear is rejection from his high school crush (admittedly rejection of the stabbing him through with a kryptonite shard variety. Still, it's such a personal, closed thing. I'd've thought it would be failing to save someone, but Smallville's Clark is much more hung up on getting Lana-laid than helping people or anything dumb like that.) Lex is the one with the epic terrors; he dreams of smiling as he ends the world. This is his nightmare. He doesn't want his future, but he doesn't know how to avoid it.

Part of the problem is that no one sees how trapped Lex really is. "If anyone can choose who they want to be, Lex, it's you," Clark tells him back in first season, but he's dead wrong. The mistake is understandable, because the Luthors are infamous for making their own rules. Lex's teenage rebellion never had any legal repercussions; he's calmer now but still so spoiled that he throws a temper tantrum when he gets a parking ticket. And that's all that the citizens of Smallville see (when they're not paging through their comic books comparing the bald present brat to the bald future terror): a kid who never had any boundaries or brakes put on him, who thinks he can get away with anything because he always has. What they don't understand - what only Clark sees, and that's vaguely, because he's too young and inexperienced to really grasp it - is that Lex has lived his whole life under an incredibly rigid and oppressive set of standards, those laid down by Lionel Luthor. A paternal dictatorship so extreme that his mother murdered her second son rather than see him endure the same; but almost no one can see that law, because it's a code so different from the usual legal or moral strictures that it's unrecognizable to the regular honest down-to-earth folk of Smallville. Even Lex's teen rebellion was following Lionel's law; it's only in coming to Smallville that Lex is mature and strong enough - with the help of new examples to follow - to break away from the Luthor code. And by then it's too little, too late; no one bothers to step in and try to teach Lex other ways, so try as he might otherwise, he inevitably ends up following the path his father set him upon. Only because he's the greater man, he ends up proceeding further down that path than Lionel ever dared tread.

In the end, maybe it's no one's fault, just the way it had to happen, which is the greatest tragedy of all. Someday, when Superman comes into his own, maybe he'll see, maybe he'll realize his culpability and be ashamed of the chance he missed. Meanwhile, it's painful to watch, irritating to see the hero being so unheroic, failing so miserably and not even noticing; agonizing to see Lex becoming his own nightmares. And all the viewers are left shouting, like the audience at a slasher flick, "No, don't go down that hall, don't open that door!" but Lex can't hear anyone, and no one comes to stop him, not until it's too late...

More thoughts here



But enough of that depressingness. There's always Supernatural. Which is still apparently confusing its show bible with Mama BNF's Great Big Book of Yummy Fanfic Cliches. (When it's not being creepy as hell. Have I mentioned I hate horror? I hate horror. The trick with SPN is that I always forget I'm watching horror, being too distracted by the beautiful brotherliness, up until the point it has freaking creepy dolls - dolls! dolls are worse than clowns, even! - and swingsets moving by themselves and I wig out, because I'm a total wuss.)

Seriously. Does this show have a 'must break the fangirls' hearts at least once an episode' requirement or what? I'm running out of vocabulary to describe how much I'm loving it. I mean, random drunken confessions and extracted promises. And then Sam, even totally hungover, so neatly sidesteps the question of what he remembers that you know he does, even before he springs it on Dean. I adore Sam this season, I really do. He's letting himself depend on his brother because it's what he has to do, and Dean can take it. I love how these boys operate. Dean is so much better now, after he's come clean to Sam, he's really seeming himself again for the first time this season. And naturally, since he's got it together, now Sam can afford to go totally to pieces. Co-dependent, much? Hey, whatever gets you through your terrible monster-slaying lives. And makes the fangirls squee. Because oh yes, we totally are.

Squee, I tell you! Squee!

Comments

( 29 comments — Leave a comment )
yma2
Jan. 19th, 2007 09:51 pm (UTC)
Mmm... I must watch this Supernatural...

As for Smallville... the thing about Smallville is it's kinda like a greek tradgedy. In that half the fun/angst of it is that you KNOW what happens to the charcters. You know and can do nothing but sit back and watch.

I've only just recentally got properly into it. And (oddly enough) I'm more or less 'starting' (as in coherently watching) from series 6, which is being put up on YouTube at the moment.
The thing that made me interested in it was hte dynamic between Clark and Lex, which really is facinating.
But the problem with the dynamic is that Clark suffers from having to become Superman for more than Lex suffers from having to become Evil.
Because, let's face it, Superman is dull. He's Very good, Very Nice and we, as viewers, immediately hold him up to pretty high standards.
I hope that, at the end of the show, they DO show how Clark regrets his actions, because I think (I hope!) they are awear that he is being a bit of an idiot. But hell, he's a teenage kid, he messes up, I suppose it happens.

I think the thing that the Kents suffer from the most, (and this includes Clark,) is a tremendous sense of paranoia.
They just can't trust anyone, or they don't feel like they can. And Lex is an extremely difficult person to trust.

Even if you put all his 'Evil Family'(tm) aside, he's a pretty powerful individual who's not always moraly perfect.
He's constantly under fire, surrounded by equally dangerous people, has a bit of a temper, can get himself in LOTS of trouble and has the power and resorces to make life SERIOUSLY bad for Clark.

And all it would take is ONE ill-thought word, ONE mistake, ONE slip up. If, say, Clowie (I'm sorry, I'm actually not entirely sure how to spell that name...) let it slipped then there's a good chance people would just laugh at her. If Lex let's it slip... well, he's surrounded by enuogh people who respect his inteligence and/or sanity enough that they'd take action and BANG, there goes a proper life for Clark.

Even Clark knows this.

Not that I'm making massive excuses but I can kinda see why the show creator did this. It's a fun show. Not a great show, but a fun show.
xparrot
Jan. 20th, 2007 04:02 am (UTC)
Yes, seriously, if you call yourself a fangirl, you owe it to yourself to watch Supernatural. I can pretty much guarantee you won't be disappointed!

And Smallville. Yeah. I'm not a huge fan of tragedy (I'm more into comedy/happy endings myself. Eternal optimist when it comes to human nature & destiny!) but it does make for really gripping drama. Really Smallville's biggest problem (IMHO) is that it doesn't have nearly enough of such epic drama, and way too much romantic melodrama. I can't stand the romances on the show, they're so cursory and meaningless, everyone falling in love with the idea of being in love and never really bonding with the other person at all, shallow teenage crushes dragging on for years & years without resolve...it's a whole essay in iself that I'll spare you. ^^;

You have a good point about how dangerous Lex could be to Clark. And that Chloe isn't nearly as great a threat (though with her newspaper connections she's becoming one. But it would take a deliberate act of betrayal on her part, while Lex could potentially screw it up by accident.) The one counter to the danger is that Lex really is psychotically loyal to his few loved ones. Even if he got Clark in trouble, he would do everything in his not-inconsiderable power to get him out of it. And Lex could be a huge help to Clark; he has the resources to manage cover-ups. Let's face it, Clark is lousy at keeping his secrets. Anyone who seriously suspects him usually manages to find proof in about 24 hours, just by hanging around the farm snapping telephoto shots of him lifting tractors. The only reason everyone close to him doesn't already know is because he's either really lucky, or they're really stupid. Or, in Lex's case, are inflicted with a dramatic curse that guarantees that every time Lex does get hold of the truth, he either loses his memory, or Clark has conveniently lost his powers and can prove him wrong. (this happens two or three times in the show. I mean, damn. Poor Lex. The universe's dice are stacked against him.)

And yes, it is true that SV gets much of its drama out of humanizing Clark Kent, showing how mortal he was before he donned Superman's red-and-blue mantle. I do enjoy that part of the show. Some of the problem is just that it's gone on for too long, getting dragged into its 6th season. This isn't just about Lex, either. When Clark was a kid his mistakes were excusable, sympathetic. But he's growing up now - he's 20 or 21 by the present show canon, and he ought to be maturing into the hero we know is coming. And he's not; he was a more generous, kinder, caring person first or second season, for all his youthful mistakes. Now we're on track to get a Superman who's a pretty major asshole...and that's wrong! I think a lot of the appeal of Superman is that he does have such high standards - an uncorruptable being does make for less interesting storytelling, but at the same time there's a fundamental appeal in the existence of such a hero, in a secular savior. And Smallville's messing that up in ways that don't quite satisfy me.

--Oops, really went off there. Sorry - serious love/hate relationship with this show, I've got ^^; Ultimately, just as you say - it's fun. Not great, but fun, and what else can we really ask of our TV?
yma2
Jan. 20th, 2007 12:56 pm (UTC)
You have a point about the romance issue. Then again, I generally find romance far less interesting than relationship, in fanfic as much as origional stuff. There's only so far you can go with a 'romantic' interaction, but with a 'relationship' (e.g. Clark and Lex) you can go so much further.
Smallvillie is pretty much a perfect example of this.
But, to play devils advocate with you a moment (if you don't mind) perhaps what they're doing with Clark is like... what they did with Spiderman.
Hero is good.
Hero gets bitter.
Hero makes big mistake.
Hero realized mistake and feels Angst.
Hero gets better and learns from mistake to become perfect person he is now, by repenting FOR previous mistake by doing good things.

It's a firly common arc. A theory (and it's just *a* theory,) is that this is what's happening with Clark.
From what I've seen of season six, he does seem to be getting more... mature. Considering the Super Hero aspect, seeming to be a bit more willing to let Lana go, all that stuff.
I think (I hope!) what we may see at some point is Clark realizing what he did to Lex, realizing he's screwed up and can't make it better, all he can do is damage control.
Which is still a bit sucky but...

Don't worry about going off on one. I quite like it. I love a good debate, it's fun!
And yeah, it is good fun. For me that's enough.
xparrot
Jan. 20th, 2007 03:32 pm (UTC)
(Devil's advocate is always welcome - I love a debate as well! ^^)

Heh, we're in agreement about relationships vs romance. I've never been one for romance. Heck, I wasn't into slash for years, and really got into it mainly because I love smarm - extreme, though platonic, friendshipping - which can slip into slash pretty easily. My favorite pairings (het or slash) are those based in friendship...or in some other intense connection other than lust. Clark & Lex being a classic case.

Seriously? If this is really where SV is going, I'd love it! I would love to see Clark trying to reach out to Lex, and failing, and suffering for it. It would be incredibly tragic, but it would be a classic hero's test, definitely compelling. What bothers me so much about SV now is that (from what I've seen, and I really haven't seen much of 5th or 6th season at all, just have read recaps here and there, so feel free to correct me!) Clark doesn't see to be moving onto that drama. He's still pining for Lana; he's accepting Lex as enemy without much angst and no guilt. And it bothers me that it takes all these other superheroes running around to start Clark considering such an occupation himself. Especially after watching first season, when Clark is so eager to help people, like how I usually picture Superman. They've changed his character a lot over the past six seasons, and while it's maybe not unrealistic development, I'm not sure it's satisfying...

(There's also kind of a problem here that Lex Luthor is now poised to be Superman's creator; Clark very well might don the cape to take him on personally. And while the Clexer in me appreciates this bond of fate, I'm vaguely troubled that they're putting the cart before the horse - the supervillain before the superhero!)
naye
Jan. 19th, 2007 10:29 pm (UTC)
Supernatural? Watched it - now. Five minutes ago. I'm not recovered. When will I recover, and how the hell will I be able to watch any OTHER show now that this one has totally ruined me?! Ruined, I tell you. It delivers EVERYTHING. Even when written by a guy, it's total fic! Fic, fic, fic. GOOD fic. Except for the no hug. Bah! I want my hug! ...though touching and cradling and putting to bed UM. Yes. I'm still - I don't like the Wincest myself, but see where it comes from, I do. Really. And I was only surprised that the boys were surprised at someone taking them for a gay couple! It's happened before in the series, and they HAVE to have had it happen to them before.

Oh, Sam. Oh, Dean. Oh, boys. *glomps show and does not let go*
xparrot
Jan. 20th, 2007 04:13 am (UTC)
I know. I know. I know! I swear, this show is making me question some of my fundamental assumptions about the differences between female and male fans, because, yeah, they're getting men to write these eps (unless they're all pseudonyms??? has anyone actually SEEN Kripke? Maybe the guy in interviews is an actor and he really IS a 15 year old girl!!) I mean, I knew guys could do physical h/c, but this intense emotional kind - and with as much if not more c as h - I just. Wow.

And yeah, the Wincest, only it's to the credit of the show that I don't usually consider it at the time, just after the fact. Even if they are making the gay couple jokes (I just love the show for acknowledging it. Even as a joke, it's always handled non-offensively and it seems to me that Dean isn't perturbed by being called gay, just because Sam's his brother. And apart from the fanning and slash nods, it's just nice to see homosexuality acknowledged on TV, there's a couple shows which bother me - hello, BSG? - for never considering it at all...)

I could go watch the putting-to-bed scene again right this instant. Oh, this show <333
naye
Jan. 21st, 2007 10:03 am (UTC)
I meant to say - did you notice last ep wasn't just written by a woman, but directed by one as well? I'd say it's still unusal to have female directors, isn't it?

Anyway. Yes! I've seen Kripke! He's a little guy in his thirties (possibly; I'm bad at guessing age) who gestures a lot when he talks. Unfortunately I've only seen him in clips, so I guess he could just be a hired actor... Have I mentioned recently I love Kripke? I love Kripke.

My brain sort of avoids thinking about the Wincest as far as possible, but there were a couple of moments there when Dean was putting Sam to bed and Sam grabbed his face that - uh. Shall I put it this way - I also sort of see where the RPS is coming from. Those boys have chemistry! And most of the time they come across as very much brotherly, but you can't spend ten years in fandom and not go sort of subtext on those kind of moments. At least I can't. Then I can dismiss those thoughts and watch it over and over again and just think of the brothers, and the promise, and how they love each other and would do anything for each other and that it's without any sex involved makes it that much better. Because as much as I love the yaoi, I'm still a smarmer at heart. I could try to analyze or explain it, but for now, let's just call it a fact. (Again, all of my favourite pairs and couples are the ones where there is love and tension and yeah, they probably should be doing each other, but we never see it...)

Yes! The gay jokes, and how it's handled well, and none of them are upset about ewww, we don't have the GAY, but - uh, no, that's my brother, thank you. (And YES about BSG. Grargh!)

The promise, the way Dean looks after - he looks almost exactly like he did after he heard Meg had their dad. It's. Wow. Show. And Sam, I'm loving Sam so much more this season, and - wow. Oh, show. ♥
xparrot
Jan. 22nd, 2007 02:20 pm (UTC)
J-chan says if Kripke's a little guy, maybe he's really a teeny-bopper woman in disguise XD

(which ep was written by a woman, btw? the most recent ep was written & directed by guys, but I thought I did mark one recently as directed by a woman, can't remember which, but femme directors definitely are more unusual...)

Yeah, there's definitely some subtexting going on there. (oh yeah, I can totally understand the RPS for this fandom. Because the actors have chemistry and it would be RPS, but not incest, that way...don't know which line is the more morally discomfitting to cross ^^;)

And yeah, I'm a smarmer...with them, it's not even that it makes it better that there's no sex, just that...it's unnecessary? Because they have the blood ties, and the dependency...BanGin I need to slash, because it would make me sad if they got together with anyone else. With the Winchesters, if they found appropriate partners, it wouldn't bother me (if it makes them happy, hey...! heck, I think that Ava chick would be adorable with Sam...) because...they're still going to be there for each other, always.
(Deleted comment)
xparrot
Jan. 20th, 2007 04:20 am (UTC)
I'm not a big fan of tragedy, either, but sometimes it grabs me anyway. And this 5 AM ranting - lo! You have witnessed one of the great alchemies of the fangirl heart, that we turn brass to gold by the sheer power of our obsession! Which. Well. Is not to say that the show isn't entertaining, or that you wouldn't see everything I wrote here if you watched it. But it takes some reading between the lines and I wish there were more lines of it to read. Man, if Smallville were the "Luthor & Son" show I would never miss an ep.

I suppose to get that contract I actually have to write a book, don't I *sidles away, blinking shiftily*
without_names
Jan. 20th, 2007 07:31 am (UTC)
you've just single-handedly made me start downloading Supernatural, you know? and it was close call with Smallville. you are daaaaangerous -))))
xparrot
Jan. 20th, 2007 03:01 pm (UTC)
You won't be so~rry! (well, if you go for SV you might be. But SPN, if you like cute brothers, you cannot go wrong there ^_^)
without_names
Jan. 22nd, 2007 12:26 pm (UTC)
well, saw SPN's pilot. it looks like one of your fanfics, which is always a good thing, but it's also a horror film, which is baaaaaaaad think when you watch it alone in the dark -) but i like it a lot, so thanks!
blue_gold
Jan. 22nd, 2007 05:27 am (UTC)
Hey, I was actually looking to see if there was a second part posted of according to plan. I was just so stunned to see Static SV fic my brain fried for a moment and misread the post date. Great work by the way and hmmm vortex kidnapping.

Now on to this post. First the fun...Ahhh Sam and Dean...I see wincest and I go eh? Then this episode comes on and I just go these writers are trying to kill me. Then: can they go write for smallville?

I was reading and I have to agree with you on so many points. I remember refusing to watch the first episode because I knew how it ended and how could this strange 'Lex Clark Friendship' thing be anygood. Then they did two things...cast Micheal Rosenbaum *swoon* and replayed the first ep a couple times and I gave in.

Fell in love with lex and was prone to Clark bashing. After watching justice I can see the hero he's becoming some what. The concern the building is clear before it blowing up etc...

But yes so much of what Lex is is due to turning points when Clark pulled away and lied. The thing is I wonder if it wouldn't have been worse if they had remained as close as season 1. Lex always being the one person Clark couldn't save. I feel they needed to draw them apart and making Lex a 3-D villian for the firt time is what kept me watching as Clark sank into the abyss of self absorbed farm hick.

For his growth I have the feeling Clark can't do it alone. He's been built to be somewhat short minded which does work for Superman in the comics though there is more thought in this series. He actually has to deal with shades of grey. Something Clark barely grasped in his friendship with Lex.

Sometimes i fee the only way superman will emerge will from the matrix in the fortress of solitude.He need perspective and to see the bigger picture, Oliver was the first to point out how he uses his powers for friends and family but what about everyone else.

Also ever notice that Clark is willing to give criminals, liars, theives, random powered people the benifit of the doubt and show more superman behaivor but Lex he goes in shouting and blaming? IE a few episodes back he showed his powers to an illegal immigrant working for a farm co-owned by Lex. There was no need for superspeed...

You can see Lex harden just a little more each time those double doors at the castle slam open and Clark starts with his accucastuions. I think Clark is at his worst when it comes to Lex and as time progresses he is actually right more often than not these later seasons but he just can't approach a situation with Lex with a clear head which tends to cause more harm than anything else.
xparrot
Jan. 22nd, 2007 02:06 pm (UTC)
Glad you're liking the fic, thanks!

And Supernatural...oh, yes. I'm not into Wincest, but I can see where it comes from. And I continue to be amazed by how determined the writers are to slay we fangirls with our own heart-melting cliches!

As for Lex. Yes, I think you're right that they had to force Clark and Lex apart to make Lex's descent to villain-hood at all believable. I just wish they had found a way that made Clark a little less of, hmm, an asshole. At least later on. Some Clark-bashing I think is unjustified - the first few seasons especially, he's quite young, easily swayed by his parents' insistence that he must preserve his secrets at all costs. And they're in turn motivated by love and understandable fears of losing their precious son. But it gets more and more frustrating as the show goes on, and Clark continues to be so short-sighted and small-minded.

And yeah! I too get frustrated by the way Clark is willing to trust all the random people who fall into his life, but not Lex. It's especially annoying for all us viewers, because really, the way that Lex is written the first couple seasons - it's hard to see how it would've been that bad, if he had told Lex the truth. Lex is so protective of his friends (and protective of Clark's secrets even when he doesn't know what they are - shooting Nixon and such) that it seems like he'd be a great ally, if only Clark and his parents could see it. Now, it's too late; he's never going to win Lex's trust back, and Lex is out to exploit all meteor mutants and metahumans--now, Lex really will use his secret against him. But in the beginning, it could've been so different...
trienne_hovus
Jan. 22nd, 2007 06:17 am (UTC)
Lex, Tragic Anti-Hero
This comment is coming a bit late, since I only came here today after reading your first part of the Lex/Static/JLU story (which I also commented on).

I won't bore you by climbing onto my soap-box about how Lex "can't" be evil (it's a long soap-box oration about moral agency and choice, and how Lex hasn't had enough of either, and therefore can't be 'evil,' though he can definitely do evil things). But I completely agree, and have since S1 SV, that Lex can never be "Luthor" to me now. Because I know what shaped him, and basically think he's pretty justified in becoming what he becomes, and a lot of that is precisely because of the Kents. It's pretty much ruined me for Superman altogether, and is one of two reasons I didn't see "Superman Returns" (the other being that Chris Reeve is forever Superman to me).

What I love about your story - and I already said it - is how you present "Lex" and "Luthor," showing the ambiguity in a way that conveys a wonderful understanding of it. There are quite a few fanfic writers who do Lex proud, but Rivkat is among the best at reconciling Lex the Tragic Anti-Hero with Luthor the Supervillain: not excusing him, but understanding him (the way she can crawl into his head is astounding). Your Lex characterization reminds me of hers, and I hope you take that as the compliment I mean it to be.

xparrot
Jan. 22nd, 2007 11:10 am (UTC)
Re: Lex, Tragic Anti-Hero
While I'd not really thought about it in those terms, I totally agree with your point that SV's Lex can't be evil, by way of never having a 'good' path to follow. Free will matters little when your destiny is dictated by 60-odd years of infamous villainy. It hasn't ruined Superman for me so much because with a canon this varied, I feel comfortable pretty much picking & choosing what I like of SV and discard the stuff that rings false...

It is very interesting to be watching JLU at the same time as SV (and not merely because JLU, though a cartoon, is rather the superior show...) JLU has probably the ultimate incarnation of what you call "Luthor", the master supervillain. He's compelling not because he's at all sympathetic but because he's so outrageous that it's a thrill to watch him in action. He's the smartest man alive (excepting maybe Bruce Wayne) and is always so far ahead of everyone that you end up cheering him on simply because it feels like you're supporting the winning side! Trying to reconcile that Luthor with SV's Lex is...an exercise in imaginative psychology, to say the least, and not just because SV's Lex seems to lack the genius mad scientist gene that is a significant part of Luthor's makeup, along with the financial acumen. (I have to confess that despite initial appearances, my SS x-over is not really such a reconciliation at all, but rather me sidestepping the issue to the point of parody; still I hope it'll entertain you! I'm contemplating another story which would have a more serious take on the matter, because I'm very curious if I could make it work...)

And wow, I'm honored to be compared to Rivkat - while some of her stories give me the chills, she's a fantastic writer. I also think astolat's Lex is a marvelous interpretation; she's one of the few writers who manages to make me believe the Clex can still be ultimately, well, sweet, even in the comicbook future...
sholio
Jan. 22nd, 2007 10:17 pm (UTC)
SPN - I loved it! The boys are back! This is *exactly* what I wanted -- a chasing-monsters episode with goofy humor and a fairly light touch to make up for all the heavy and dark that we've been getting lately.
xparrot
Jan. 23rd, 2007 03:33 am (UTC)
I know! and yet still, they did not neglect the fanfic angst...oh man, I love my fanfic-show ^_^
jakrar
Jan. 23rd, 2007 01:22 am (UTC)
I agree with you completely regarding the sheer tragedy of SV's Lex Luthor and the extreme asshattery of SV's Clark Kent. Lex PROVED himself loyal in "Asylum," just as you point out (and as I have been muttering to myself ever since the episode aired), yet Clark still refused to trust Lex after he got out of Belle Reve -- refused even to tell him the truth about Lionel (which Lex not only had the right to know, but actively NEEDED to know), lest Lex somehow recall what he'd seen of Clark's powers. And in "Memoria," when Clark claims to be worried about Lex being harmed by Dr. Garner's memory treatments, STILL he refuses to tell Lex the truth about his missing weeks, even though that's the simplest and most obvious way to get him to quit risking himself. Instead, Clark goes to Lionel -- the very same Lionel who fried Lex's brain in the first place -- and trusts HIM to find a way to stop Lex. For all Clark knew, Lionel might have decided to repeat his earlier actions, complete with the drugging and the brain-frying, or he might simply have decided to cut his losses and order Lex killed outright. Yet Clark preferred to risk either of those possibilities rather than tell Lex the truth. Clark Kent -- the future Superman, the icon of selfless heroism -- was willing to risk both Lex's sanity and Lex's life in order to keep Lex from possibly remembering what he'd seen Clark do, despite the fact that Lex had already kept Clark's secrets, even under extreme duress. And that's not even getting into the other unforgivable things Clark has done to Lex. In short, SV's Clark Kent is NOT my idea of a hero, any more than SV's Lex is my idea of evil.
xparrot
Jan. 23rd, 2007 03:04 am (UTC)
The first time I read the recap of "Asylum" (this is the first time for me to see much of the show; I was TWoPing it before this present Lex-obsession resurgence) I was furious at Clark. Watching the episode itself, I honestly don't blame him. It's an incredibly tough position he's in. He knows firsthand how incredibly dangerous Lionel is, so much so that he's not sure how to save Lex from him; he's grateful that Lex's brain didn't get totally fried, and terrified that next time it might be. Not to mention, he's only 16 or 17 years old, and mental illness is scary. Especially when it's your suave, reliable older friend who has always only ever been in control of every situation. Even knowing it was initially drug-induced, it's still beyond Clark's understanding, far beyond the limits of his strengths. I honestly believe Clark doesn't tell Lex the memories then because he's worried about Lex, and not his secrets at all.

"Memoria", though, is pretty unforgivable. Going to Lionel...it doesn't even make sense. Except that Clark Kent has apparently read the comic books like everyone else, and knows Lex will be his enemy.

Ultimately? The biggest tragedy of Lex is that the SV writers wrote themselves into a corner. In the very beginning, they wrote Lex quite ambiguous - maybe he was a sincere friend or maybe he was just using people. But then they made it clear that Lex's emotions went beyond slick sociopathic manipulation, and ultimately damned themselves. They developed a Lex Luthor with such a strong heart that he would not walk away from Clark Kent - and left themselves no choice but to write a Superman who would walk away from Lex Luthor, even when he reaches out begging for help.
attaccabottoni
Feb. 7th, 2007 03:24 pm (UTC)
*waves* Hi, pretty late for this marvelous meta party that most of what I wanted to say was commented already, but I really love any Lex discussion.

And Clark takes that insatiable need to know as a betrayal, as much as Lex takes Clark's refusal to admit the truth as one.
This really goes with my reporter/scientist hero/villain juxtaposition of double standard ethics idea, which I haven't put down in intelligible sentences yet, so I hope you don't mind if I quote you on this. :D

Everyone gives Lionel a chance!
Yeah, what is up with that? I get that his very entertaining ambiguity in Seasons 4-5 can be hard to resist, but he FRIED HIS SON'S BRAIN AS AN ACT OF LOVE and tried to kill a lot of people too. It's mostly season 3 stuff, but a few months' stay in prison and seemingly benevolent gestures as Jor-El's temporary avatar DOES NOT EXCUSE ABUSE AND MURDER WTF PEOPLE! I really don't get it. Is magnificently bastardous brainwashing Lionel's Krypto-power? Or he just truly is Zee Deveel? I can't explain Lionel myself, but the Kents' and Chloe's behavior with him is just utterly baffling (do they all have a crush on him or something? Jonathan Kent would be rolling in his grave!).

Really Smallville's biggest problem (IMHO) is that it doesn't have nearly enough of such epic drama, and way too much romantic melodrama.
Yeah. There are a lot of shipping meta due to the OT3-ness of Season 6, but I don't know if I could credit the writers with subtlety, so I would have dealt better with grandly symbolic actions of the characters, but after seasons of repetetive Clark/Lana barn scenes, I give up expecting anything epic from that end (Lana really is gearing up to be that 'childhood sweetheart' footnote).

if Smallville were the "Luthor & Son" show I would never miss an ep.
Oh yeah, WORD. They could repeatedly show as much Lex-in-the-plant and Lionel-on-the-phone scenes as they want, but we know he has interesting cars, interesting residences, interesting secret labs, and even more interesting extracurriculars, interspersed with Lionel terrorizing subordinates, frequent and daily drinking, and friendly father-son spats.
xparrot
Feb. 8th, 2007 06:00 am (UTC)
Welcome, welcome! I adore any Lex discussion myself (wish I had more SV'ers on my flist!), so yes, better late than never! ^^

my reporter/scientist hero/villain juxtaposition of double standard ethics idea

Hmm, I'd be interested in hearing more of this; I'd noticed the double standard but hadn't thought of it in terms of reporter vs scientist. It does explain why Cloe is consistently let off the hook easier than Lex, for asking the same questions (albeit with less Shrines to Clark. But then obsession is part of Lex's charm...)(also is the trouble that scientist!Lex isn't exactly in the SV canon, unfortunately. Which is why I like bringing JLU's Lex into futurefic...)

Re: OT3 - I haven't watched much of S5 or 6, but quite honestly a lot of the earlier canon makes much more sense if Clark & Lex really had been lovers. Which isn't canon, I know, but their bitchiness now is not the breakup of any male friendship I've ever seen, but rather familiar as lovers-still-carrying-a-torch-and-wishing-they-didn't.

Oh yeah, WORD. They could repeatedly show as much Lex-in-the-plant and Lionel-on-the-phone scenes as they want, but we know he has interesting cars, interesting residences, interesting secret labs, and even more interesting extracurriculars, interspersed with Lionel terrorizing subordinates, frequent and daily drinking, and friendly father-son spats.

Hee. Best. Show. Ever. The opening could just be a montage of them walking grandiosely through double doors... (I could do any essay all on its own about Luthor alcoholism. Lex starts drinking more and earlier in the day as the show progresses...)
attaccabottoni
Feb. 8th, 2007 07:41 am (UTC)
It does explain why Chloe is consistently let off the hook easier than Lex, for asking the same questions (albeit with less Shrines to Clark.
It's all about truth-seeking methods and motives and power, and it's just annoying that I haven't found a way to articulate it as of now.

scientist!Lex isn't exactly in the SV canon, unfortunately
Yeah, he tends to delegate a lot even with his Level 33.1, so it's more of a hobby right now than a vocation, but then, Clark hasn't shown reporter inclinations yet too. I can't tell how they plan to go with that, which kind of prompted me to think of that idea.

Which isn't canon, I know
*snorts* Their deep-seated feelings for each other is canon. And since Tom Welling had commented on the "homoerotic overtones" in the DVD commentary, I'm already taking it as canon. They are SO exes.

The opening could just be a montage of them walking grandiosely through double doors...
Heh, someone should do a vid about that, with the drinking and the fencing and the gun-wielding and the creepy (bad)touching.
xparrot
Feb. 10th, 2007 06:53 am (UTC)
Yeah, he tends to delegate a lot even with his Level 33.1, so it's more of a hobby right now than a vocation, but then, Clark hasn't shown reporter inclinations yet too.

I've never really thought about Clark Kent being a serious reporter - he is in some versions, but in half the Superman canons Clark's just the cover story anyway, and a reporter is a convenient job to explain why he's always showing up in risky spots. Now, Lois not being a reporter, that confuses me...
But I do miss scientist!Lex. He seems to have an interest in science, but I'm way partial to the JLU-style 'Lex Luthor is the smartest man on earth, at everything, from finances to advanced physics' so...

And since Tom Welling had commented on the "homoerotic overtones" in the DVD commentary, I'm already taking it as canon.

He did, now!?! *suddenly needs to see the commentary, post haste* Has Michael Rosenbaum ever copped to it? Because 1st season especially, I have a hard time believing he's not deliberately playing Lex as gay/bi/pan/Very Very Interested in Clark in More Than a Best Friends Way.

(incidentally, the latest ep? Had like the Clexiest ending ever, if you include 'bitter exes' as Proof of Clex. I went on about it for some time in my latest post, but, yeah. OMG they are so still-in-love-and-trying-too-hard-not-to-be. Eeee.)(truth be told I like fluffy happy romance the best, but hey, I OTP Clex, I already know they're doomed, I'll take whatever I can get...)
attaccabottoni
Feb. 15th, 2007 12:45 pm (UTC)
Given the promoshots of Clark in the Daily Planet, I was kind of hoping the show's writers would start working on Clark and Lois' respective motivations to go to reporting in this season, but I have a feeling they're only setting up the future reporting dynamic duo and their connection with Chloe as leverage of sorts. I'm too enamored of the idea of them teaming up on scientist!Lex to stop hoping they'd work on that angle.

I haven't really heard the actual commentary (my DVDs are *cough*bootleg*cough*) but I've read about it here. And I've read your review of the episode and all I could say is WORD. I heart the OTP and HoYay SO MUCH, it's mind-boggling. :D
myownghost
Feb. 10th, 2007 08:58 pm (UTC)
hello. i followed the link from the sv_ledger. you're saying very well what i've felt about SV for a long time -- that it's a genuine tragedy.

>Because Lex isn't evil, and doesn't want to be evil. And spends most of the first four seasons of the show trying not to be evil, trying to reach out to people, all but begging for someone to save him because he doesn't know how to save himself.

oh yes, and the self-righteousness abounds as people pre-judge him and refuse to cut him any slack.

>If anyone in the world could help shoulder Lex Luthor's darkness and walk him into the light and warmth he so desperately wants, it would be Superman... Except Smallville's Clark doesn't. Clark turns his back; Clark runs away and lets Lex descend.

yes, and as you say, it's very painful to watch. i keep wanting clark to see what's happening and to care, instead of flinging accusations and judgments. it's not for nothing that some of my favorite fanfics are AUs in which clark, and often the kents, DO save lex from falling. even as i enjoy rosenbaum's flashes of greatness in playing evil lex, i want lex to reverse course. it's not going to happen.
xparrot
Feb. 11th, 2007 05:28 pm (UTC)
oh yes, and the self-righteousness abounds as people pre-judge him and refuse to cut him any slack.

The self-righteousness is, to an extent, in character for smalltown midwest America, but that we're supposed to think these people are right, are the good guys - that disturbs me. It only makes sense to me if, like I said, everyone read the comic books.
--which only makes it more tragic, really, in the way of classic Greek drama, the self-fulfilling prophecy: Lex becomes evil only because everyone already knows he's going to turn out that way.

it's not for nothing that some of my favorite fanfics are AUs in which clark, and often the kents, DO save lex from falling.

OH yes. My favorite SV fic is the Identical series, which is the ultimate take on this theme (I adore it when the whole Kent family gets involved...) Some of my favorite stuff, too (that, and future fic which manage to convincingly heal the rift. I love happy endings. ...Why am I in this fandom again? *sigh*)

Though at this point, canon-wise, I'd just be happy to see Clark realize his mistake and guilt or otherwise grieve over the loss of a friendship that might have meant great things for the world. Only he can't yet; it's too soon. Lex can still be saved. Clark isn't going to stop being an asshat and start caring and understanding his culpability until Lex has passed the point of no return...
myownghost
Feb. 11th, 2007 05:50 pm (UTC)
>Lex becomes evil only because everyone already knows he's going to turn out that way.

exactly, and that's just so sad. i keep wanting to FIX it.

i adore the Identical series! clark as the cricket, lex coming while shouting about pink socks, oh yes. when bo kent makes sacrifices for lex and treats him like a son, i'm undone every time. that's the way i want life to be, and particularly so for lex.

do you think the shows makers see clark as right in acting like an asshat? it's disturbing to me to think that they mean for lex to be seen as inevitably evil, as if they're not seeing what rosenbaum has given to the role -- his lex could clearly have been saved.
myownghost
Feb. 11th, 2007 05:52 pm (UTC)
errrrr, please read: the show's makers. i didn't proof my comment before sending.
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