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22 November 2003 @ 02:12 pm
Dueling Computers and Jazz Concerts  
You know, oddly, I'm updating my LJ more now that I'm with Lyra than I would otherwise. It could be because we've both got our computers out (me, showing off my music and Lyra, busily making pretty icons and pictures -- yes, she is my photoshopslave, but shhh, keep it quiet).

Okay, first off, I make no pretension at these being organized or terribly coherent. *G* I leave coherent and thoughtprovoking analysis to latxcvi and lexcorp_hope, but some thoughts that occurred to me while watching:

1. Lex when he reverts to his 'taking care of Julian' mode for the first time does so only after seeing Lionel, so Lionel's the trigger for that. Also, he says to Clark "The baby's crying. My father woke him" or something of that nature. That's a quick and telling line, I think. Granted, it might be too easy in that kind of "Ohmygod Lionel's killed everyone he's related to" kind of way -- I'm not trying to say that Lionel maliciously killed Julian. I think that it was probably, as Lionel says, an accident. One that Lex was present for, and one that Lionel convinced Lex he was responsible for. I mean, after all - it's easy to forgive a ten year old for shaking the baby. The ten year old doesn't neccesarily know better....but the father does. Also, the dissociative quality of Lex's response to Julian's death while in boarding school tends to make me think that the death itself was more traumatic than a SIDS death that Lex just happened to find. I mean, those dissasociative repressions, and breaks are the heavy guns of coping mechanisms, right?

2. If Lex has already had one mental episode that ended in a psychotic, dissasociative break from reality -- how many times must he have begun to question his sanity and stability in Smallville? I mean, my GOD. From the first episode forward Lex is seeing things and that his rational brain must be telling him are bloody impossible not to meantion improbable. Consider it: hitting Clark but being told that he hadn't, Jude appearing in Zero...pick any instance that Lex's eyes give him information that isn't neccesarily logical, or rational. That must have been a continuous issue in his mind; is my sanity going? Is it going to happen again? Am I going to end up crazy again? It means he's been more on edge this whole time. And like in Hug, when his actions aren't neccesarily his own, and he doesn't remember them -- think about how that must upset him. I feel like it lends a new color to Lex in all the episodes we've already seen and loved.

2a. I wonder, was he institutionalized the first time, or just drugged to the gills? And wouldn't that first time probably coincide with when his mother started getting worse -- it would be a perfect way to set up more guilt issues for Lex. His brother dies - he convinces himself that he's responsible for that death -- he then is a burden on his parents, and his mother can't handle it, and gets sicker. Way to go Lex, you drove your mother into the hospital, and she never came out -- that's got to be his train of thought. It also gives his drugged clubbing a new complexion.

3. So, if Lex's "short term" memory is gone (and wow did they fuck that up if what they mean to say is that he won't remember any of what happened before being hospitalized), when he gets out of the hospital and hears what Clark did for him, he's going to feel like their relationship is closer than ever. He's going be so very *thankful*. And Clark, who knows that at the very end, he ran away, is going to want to die. He'll be overwhelmed with literally *crippling* guilt because he left Lex, because he let Lex get hospitalized (quick disclaimer: as much as Clark indicts himself for that, I don't -- from the day the Kents found him he's been conditioned against letting people know his secret). He'll also have this intense, tangible *relief* thing going on because...Lex doesn't remember his secret, and Lex still wants to be his friend. Lex still wants to be around him. So it'll be like he has a second chance, and I think it'll be interesting to see how that plays out. But the thing is, Clark will always be waiting for that second shoe to drop and when it does, it's going to drop hard.

I'm not neccesarily saying that Clark is going to be a prince amoung men and be suddenly the most honest and giving guy in the world when it comes to Lex. It's entirely possible that his years of conditioning against people knowing about him will make him even more isolationist than he already is. It's possible that he'll try to avoid Lex, because he already knows to much. It's possible that he'll push Lex away.

But then again...maybe he won't. Maybe he'll be very there, and grateful for the chance to be around Lex, his Lex, again. Which brings me ....

4. Clark, God, his faith in Lex in that episode. Everyone and their mother has said it, so I won't belabor the point, but he really does do more than 110 percent for Lex. He finds the strength to get up from a floor covered in Krypto-rosary-beads (Our bete noir, thou who art in Crater Lake...) and zoom out and stand in front of a car going 80 miles an hour. Shit, man. That's devotion...but what's even more telling devotion in my eyes is that scene where Lex begins to sing the lullaby and Clark stands there with him. What must that be *like* for Clark - this man he idolizes, his *best friend*, someone who's always entirely in control of every situation -- cool, calm, composed in the face of everything (murderous wives, ghosts from the past, madmen with guns, jonathan kent's duckbilled hair style) -- is *out of his friggin' mind* in front him. How much must that *hurt*? How much must that make Clark feel like he's getting older every bloody second? Man, oh, man. I love it. I love it, love it, love it.

5. Johnny Cash. I love Johnny Cash. And that is all.
Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative
Current Music: Alicia Keyes - Fallin'
Terpsichore's Lyreterpsichoreslyr on November 22nd, 2003 07:39 pm (UTC)
:snugs the nifra-analysis: Such good thoughts. I ache for both Clark and Lex in this. I love Clark in this episode. He stood by Lex more than anyone else. And I'm not even angry at him for leaving Lex... it just reinforces Clark's fears & his immaturity about some things. I mean, to watch someone you love fall apart mentally? At that age? Clark was in an untenable position and he did the best he could up until the end. And then he fell back on his conditioning - deny, deny, deny. Above everything. Even if that means running away. :hurt:
pure FORESHADOWING: LexCorp Legal Dept.nifra_idril on November 22nd, 2003 07:50 pm (UTC)
Running away is always going to be a coping mechanism for Clark. You see it from the very begining -- when things get tough, he runs. Maybe because he's so physically good at it, but also becuase he's scared that people will leave *him.* And the more he runs away, the less likely he is to watch the back of somebody leaving *him*.

Whoa -- sorry, didn't mean to hop onto my Clark!box there. *laughs*

But you're right -- watching something as heartwrending as Lex in Shattered at that age, especially if you have strong feelings for him/her (and even leaving the slash factor out, it's clear that Clark's feelings for Lex are very, very strong) is going to be nearly impossible. Running away/denying is a very natural, very *human* reaction to the stress -- especially given Slumber and what his obvious fears about Lex's reaction to finding out about him.

So I'm not mad at Clark either.
Teeny Gozerteenygozer on November 22nd, 2003 07:43 pm (UTC)
Heh. Someday, someone's gonna brandish some Kryptonite from across a room at Clark, and he's gonna zotz 'em with a quick touch of heat-vision 'til they drop the rock, and then he's gonna tell them if they pick it up, their hand's a goner. (I love seeing Clark channeling Kal once in a while.) Watching Shattered in that moment was not unlike when I used to watch Superfriends as a child, I'd be screaming, "Use your heat-vision, stupid! USE THE HEAT VISION!" at the screen. ;)

It occurred to me that if Julian had been born with an incurable or "unfixable" birth defect like mental retardation or muscular degeneration, Lionel would not have wanted him to continue living. So I don't have a problem assuming that Lionel outright killed Julian. And he'd have considered it all the baby's fault, "If Julian hadn't been born that way, I wouldn't have had to do this." I'm sure he'd have had no problem making sure Lex felt guilty about it as a bonus, too.

Not big with the Lionel love, am I?
pure FORESHADOWING: i heart dannifra_idril on November 22nd, 2003 07:53 pm (UTC)
It occurred to me that if Julian had been born with an incurable or "unfixable" birth defect like mental retardation or muscular degeneration, Lionel would not have wanted him to continue living.

...gah! That's so creepy. "Only those who can further the positive genes in the blood line can be permitted to live"? *shudders*

That's an interesting take on the situation. I'm not sure if I'm 100 percent on board with that explanation...but *pokes* it would make for an interesting story. *big grin*

And as for Clark and his heat vision...*shakes head* Boy, for all your powers, you're pretty helpless sometimes.
happyminion on November 22nd, 2003 11:43 pm (UTC)
These are all brilliant points, Nifra. I've been reading them thinking yes, yes! and ohhhhh, she's so right! A very good post and I'll wholly agree with all points except the first one, which we may not be so far apart on, when I think of it.

I'm pretty sure that Lex as a child would sneak out of bed and go and rock Julian at night. I wouldn't put it past him to have done this to comfort his little brother, have put him back to bed in the crib, then went back to bed himself, only to wake to a house in chaos, with his baby brother found dead in the crib. A young child would've felt responsible as kids often do in these situations, and would've immediately blamed himself as having been the one who was with Julian last. Lionel, hearing this and dealing with a possibly hysterical but definitely distraught Lillian, would've brushed it aside as nonsense and told Lex, you did no such thing, now go to your room and don't speak of this again.

After the funeral, he shipped Lex back off to boarding school, where the poor kid had a break down over it of his own, and was probably treated hastily and forced to endure therapy over grief, etc. Lionel, knowing that Lex had these feelings of responsibility as a child, *took advantage of that weakness, in Shattered. He played up to Lex's delusions, hoping to complete the psychotic break so that he could fully control Lex. Only Lex didn't break in front of him, but went on to Edge, where Lionel could send the Belle Reve people to pick him up.

I think Lionel played a very shrewd, cruel game with what he knew were a child's fears, and underestimated his son's mental fortitude, as he expected Lex to crumple completely when Lionel approached him with the soothing reassurances that Lex hadn't meant to hurt Julian.

Gah, what a bastard.

Some have suggested that Lionel had the school records planted for Chloe to find, but it's my bet that this was all a very real incident, and that when Lex asked his father a few eps back 'was I ever sick as a child?' and Lionel hesitated--that this was the hesitation. Yes, you did have a psychotic break for a short while, but we managed to have you treated and you seem to have repressed it. I can see Lionel keeping all of that internalized and saying no, only the asthma. What a deliciously fucked up family they are, and how *tragic* that this stuff resurfaces again and again. I fully believe that when Ryan told Clark that there was a darkness in Lex, that he was referring to deeply surpressed memories of a dead baby, memories of a dead mother, fear and guilt that he (Lex) had contributed to both their deaths--these would be *very* dark thoughts for Ryan to have tapped into, and I'd warn Clark, too, especially if I didn't understand the wealth of screwed up emotional history interweaving all those thoughts.

Anyway, brilliant entry! Thanks for letting me natter on!
pure FORESHADOWINGnifra_idril on November 23rd, 2003 08:21 pm (UTC)
Hey there! God, thank you for nattering on -- I honestly can't talk about this episode enough. I think it's eating my brain. No, seriously.

You're completely right - the Luthors are *deliciously* fucked up. I love the way you phrased that.

I hadn't really thought about Ryan before, but you're right; if I was Ryan I would have been telling Clark to stay far, far away from Lex, especially if I didn't have the context of Lionel by which to judge him. Becuase his relationship with Lionel is context for all of his actions -- just as all of SV is context for future!Lex that kind of justifies (though not exhonerates) him, and who he becomes. I've said it before, and I'll say it again SV is a love letter to Lex Luthor from AlMiles. Clark and Lana sell the show by being pretty and slickly packaged as the pairing you're supposed to fall for, but the show is really *about* Lex and who and what he becomes to Clark.

I agree that Lionel didn't plant the records. I think Lex probably *did* have a break from reality. And, frankly, I'm not sure Lionel would bother to plant records for the sake of Clark Kent and Chloe Sullivan. They're not worth the effort. Clark wasn't *supposed* to be so staunchly on Lex's side that he'd hide Lex from Lionel. He was *supposed* to hand Lex over. I see Lionel's anger toward Clark in the hospital scene as being very real; he fully expected to have Lex in hand by then.

I agree that Lionel did play a very shrewd, very cruel game with the pathologies that he *knew* lurked in Lex during that scene in Shattered between the two fo them. And you're right, he didn't expect Lex to be as tough as he is, but I think what really surprised him, what really threw his whole plan for Lex out the window was Clark. (Granted, the specs of his plan for Lex are pretty much sketchy at best as you only hear the details of it from two blatantly untrustworthy characters - Edge and Lionel.) If Lex was as alone as Lionel had anticipated him being, it's possible that the comments about Julian would, in fact, have broken him to the extent that he would have become malleable.

Your interpretation of the Julian situation's really interesting. And you're right -- that's entirely possible. Lyra was telling me over the weekend that if you ask a child enough leading questions, they'll tell you whatever you want to hear. It's easy to manipulate a child's emotions whichever way you want them to go, and Lionel's no slouch at manipulation. So it's entirely possible that your scenario is exactly how it played out. That would make a lot of sense, actually.

Gah...I love this episode so damned much. I'm going to go stew on the Lionel/Lex/Edge situation more. Because, dear Lord, that's murky. lexcorp_hope's entry about the unreliable narrator is so apt; everyone in this is unreliable. Brilliant. Bloody. Brilliant.

*eyes length of comment* Dear God, I wrote you a novel, didn't I?!

happyminion on November 23rd, 2003 08:48 pm (UTC)
I love novelesque replies! *g* Obviously, I typed one in your comments to your entry, so it makes me feel a little less weirdly obsessive.

Granted, the specs of his plan for Lex are pretty much sketchy at best as you only hear the details of it from two blatantly untrustworthy characters - Edge and Lionel.

This really strikes me as *so* true--how can you trust the two headed monster that killed your grandparents? Hope was right on the money when she elaborated on the unreliable narrator in the episode. That's where its brilliance lies, IMO. There are some fans who are absolutely sure of one thing or another, depending on their suspicions going into the ep, but Biller made certain that he put in enough twists and turns and versions of the truth and lies so that all we *did* know was that Lex was gaslighted, and ended up in a sanitarium, as his father wished.

Whether or not Lionel loves Lex is one of the more intriguing things that Smallville continuously toys with, but I think that as much as we recoil from his actions and say these are *not* the things that a loving father does, that Lionel's version of love for his son is very real. Love is controlling, protecting, possessing. I think that just as we're meant to see that Jonathan and Martha's healthy love for Clark is shaping him into Superman, that the absence of Lillian as a counter to Lionel's poisoned version of love, is what's twisting Lex into Luthor. It's heartbreaking, because at the heart of it all are two sons, trying to connect, but doomed to be in opposition forever.

Damn, Nifra, this show rocks.
pure FORESHADOWING: absolut!nifra_idril on November 23rd, 2003 10:23 pm (UTC)
I think that just as we're meant to see that Jonathan and Martha's healthy love for Clark is shaping him into Superman, that the absence of Lillian as a counter to Lionel's poisoned version of love, is what's twisting Lex into Luthor. It's heartbreaking, because at the heart of it all are two sons, trying to connect, but doomed to be in opposition forever.

You're right - it is heartbreaking. Utterly rip-your-heart-out-and-dance-on-it-in-stilettos-type heartbreaking. I agree with most everything you said just there...but here's the thing about me. I kind of uhm, *kicks at the ground* hate the Kents. I feel like Jonathan's love for Clark, while strong and expressed in a way that's *more healthy than not*, isn't neccesarily healthy. I feel like he lays this hypocritical nonsense on Clark, teaches him to lie, and yet teaches him to *want* to be honest, to prize honesty above all else, and what kind of a fucked up message is that to send a kid? "Honesty is the most important thing. You have to tell the people you love everything, because that's the right thing to do. Except you can't, because you're...different."

That's got to make Clark feel a little unworthy, no?

I also kind of feel like Jonathan kind of...drama-moms Clark into being a superhero. Let me explain. Jonathan feels that his morality is superior to that of the people around him, and he feels that it's his duty to enforce that which is *right* and *good* and *just* in this world; he's the one who really wants to be Superman. Clark just wants to be Clark.

And Martha? Well, I feel like she loves Clark plenty, but she drives me nuts because she doesn't speak up as often as I'd like her to. She just kind of...goes with Jonathan. Not all the time, but often enough that it bugs me.

You're right -- they're not *bad* parents perse, and their love for Clark is healthy and good comparatively. But they drive me ten different kinds of crazy, and I feel like they mess Clark up pretty hardcore.

But then again, as Phillip Larkin says "They fuck you up/your mom and dad/just like their parents did" (and that's totally paraphrased because I can't remember the actual quote *laughs*).

Damn, Nifra, this show rocks.

Oh boy, does it! *grins*
happyminion on November 23rd, 2003 11:01 pm (UTC)
Hmmm. See, I love the Kents, Jonathan in particular, reminds me very much of my own father, a farmer who has very staunch beliefs and loves his children, his land and his community.

What I *will* add, that's kind of in agreement here, is where you say Jonathan wants to be Superman (which I don't believe anything like that has ever occurred to him--I simply believe he's a man who has his beliefs about right and wrong and wants his little corner of the world to stay safe and sane even while the rest of the world goes to hell around him--Superman wants to save the world, Jonathan Kent wants to save his hundred acres, it's a very different viewpoint), I would say that Jonathan *represents* old-school Superman, much like Lionel represents old-school Lex. Both men are polar opposites on a moral scale and Jonathan bristles and snarls about the Luthors while Lionel mocks and sneers at the Kents. What we have in Clark and Lex is a *new* superhero and villain, that will still be opposed, but who will never be such blatant, malicious, down to their core enemies, because unlike their fathers who live in black and white worlds, these two, in large part because of their association *with* each other, are aware of all the various shades of gray.

It's kind of like AlMiles said okay old school comics fans, here's your Lex and Clark of yesterday with Lionel and Jonathan. Here are your Lex and Clark of tomorrow. In a way, they've used the fathers (the past) to cleverly shape their sons (the intended future), which is just another reason why I love this show!
fajrdrakofajrdrako on November 24th, 2003 05:01 am (UTC)
Excellent points, all of them. I particularly agree with the way it must hurt Clark to see Lex's breakdown without quite understanding it - but he must suspect drugs, and foul play, because that's the way he handles it. The loyalty he shows makes me want to cry. That's Clark at his best.

I never loved Johnny Cash before that episode - now I do.
Meret: stickpornmeret on November 24th, 2003 08:22 am (UTC)

LOL! That was my first thought when I saw them too.

Great post! Very insightful. :)