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I debated a long time over whether or not I was going to do a review of this episode (the minutes were a given).  A big part of me just really didn't want to.  This episode frustrated me, in a season where I've been mostly frustration-free.  And I don't welcome the return of that feeling.  And its not that I'm pulling my hair out, or cursing the SV Gods, or anything like that.  I'm just frustrated.  Because I think this episode could've achieved a lot of the same things, but in different and better ways.  And I don't really understand why this similar path keeps getting picked over and over again. 

Well, anyway, here are your totals.  I'm sure AM fans will be thrilled. :)


Running Time 41m, 40s ("previously on" 1m, 22s)

Clark 20m, 57s *
Chloe 29m, 46s *
Jimmy 12m, 2s
Davis 8m, 49s

* 2m, 16s was "Young Clark" & "Young Chloe"

Year to Date (# of eps)

Clark 183m, - (9)
Chloe 125m, 12s (9)
Lois 88m, 42s (7)
Jimmy 57m, 37s (6)
Tess 54m, 36s (7)
Davis 44m, 28s (5)
Oliver 53m, 57s (5)


Type your cut contents here.

And yes, my brain is actually fried.  I spent a day at The Spa, and I know all that stuff is supposed to relax you, but it sort of made me feel weird.  Go figure.

OK, so this isn't going to be a normal review.  I'm just going to tick off bullet points

-Very good performances from TW, AM and SW.  AA didn't fare as well, but he was 100% stuck in the role that doesn't suit him at all...love interest.
- Nice to see Clark and Jor-El communicating despite massive retconning bullshit
- Nice effect on the disappearing memories
- Despite questionable casting, the young Clark and Chloe flashback was a cute idea
- Everyone looked great.


So, there ya go.

Oh, OK, I obviously left out the big stuff, so I'll address that. 

I love Clark.  He's my favorite character.  But I'm not an apologist.  I disagreed with Clark's decision here.  I completely understood where he was coming from, and anyone who claims that his decision didn't come from a place of a love and concern for Chloe can kiss my ass.  But I don't agree with the decision.  And I don't like that the show had him make that decision.  I'm actually not entirely adverse to a situation where Chloe no longer knows the secret, I just don't want it to be this way.

And so its addressed. 

So now, I'll talk a bit about my frustration, and feel free to skip this part as its going to discuss a bit of the show overall, and may refer to coming spoilers, so WARNING, POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD!!

I am so damned sick to death of the show putting Clark in these no win situations.  They absolutely, positively set him up to fail, and then we get into that wonderful "Oh, its all my fault" scenes.  And to me, thats precisely what this episode was doing to Clark.  I am SO SICK OF IT!  I hate it.  See, even if you think him not restoring Chloe's memory of his secret isn't going to bite him in the ass, obviously the whole Brainiac taking over the FOS will.  So, Clark was set up to fail from the word Go!  We get another one of those vague "I can do this My Son, but bad things might happen...", but what the hell else is there for Clark to do?  And then if it all goes to shit, which it inevitably does, then we get Clark lamenting that its all his fault, but we also get the show sort of hinting that yeah, it kind of is.  When the writing had set him up as the fallguy all along anyway.  He obviously can't let Chloe get taken over by Brainiac.  He has no other way of curing her but Jor-El and the FOS.  But because of that, Brianiac takes over the FOS.  Well, Shit!

I'm not sure I even want to get into the retcon crap of somehow Clark being at fault for all the shit the AI has pulled.  Yes, it was all because Clark screwed it up!  No, the AI never did anything sadistic!  Nonsense!  Ridiculous.

I'm also terribly frustrated by the dueling 'ship anvils, because yes, I thought this episode was obviously throwing them.  Most times I think all these "hidden signs" are shipper delusion, but I can't say that for this episode.  Because really, having Clark be Chloe's "happy place", and concentrating on scenes of her kissing him, more or less makes it crystal clear that she's not over him, and certainly not head over heels over Jimmy.  And having Clark be so determined and loving towards Chloe could certainly all be in the name of friendship, but it does just accentuate the intensity of that bond.

And then next weekend, he's coming close to kissing Lois?  

And BTW, there's nothing at all fucking wrong with him and Lois kissing, and Clark does not belong to Chloe, he is not her property, he does not owe her fidelity while she's marrying another man, and Lois isn't betraying her engaged cousin by falling for Clark.  That whole thing is horseshit.

But yeah, anyway, I think this continuing to send mixed signals on the 'ships at this point in the show is just tedious, and frustrating, and flat out moronic.  This is the 9th inning Guys, the 4th quarter, the home stretch, we're coming into port, the landing gear is down, Land Ho!  Pick a fucking ship for Clark, and sail it already!!!  At this point, I don't even think I care anymore which one it is (I might be most partial to Clark and Oliver though).  And this is just going to get more convaluted when Lana comes back, and Lois disappears.  Oh. What. Fun. 

Personally, I think if they weren't going to commit to the Clois, and stay the course with it throughout the season, then they shouldn't have started it at all. 

But hey, the preview for next week looks kickass, and I love that Clark and Oliver scene.  So, hopefully my frustration will subside a bit by next week.  But I don't know...seems to me that this week was the set-up for next week and the coming Legion, which will put all that "its all my fault" crap into play.  After all, isn't that the whole reason Clark sends the Legion back?  I guess we'll find out. 


Comments

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tasabian
Nov. 15th, 2008 05:09 am (UTC)
I am so damned sick to death of the show putting Clark in these no win situations. They absolutely, positively set him up to fail, and then we get into that wonderful "Oh, its all my fault" scenes.
And unfortunately the circumstances of Lana's return will probably prompt further guilt trips from Clark.

I think the memory-robbing would have worked better if it had been Jor-El who had sneakily edited Chloe's memories of Clark's powers, to Clark's dismay. It's totally in character for SV Jor-El to do that, to give with one hand and take with the other.

Hearing Clark mention Lex made my Clex nostalgia kick in. I miss those boys so much.
jeannev
Nov. 15th, 2008 05:34 am (UTC)
Oh, I definitely think the Lana story is more along the same lines. That contributes to my frustration.

The Lex mention was nice. Even the context that Clark said it in.
(Anonymous)
Nov. 15th, 2008 05:37 am (UTC)
As expected, this was a Chloe-centric episode so she got the most screentime here. However, this isn't a good idea to do a Chloe-centric during the November sweeps as the ratings dipped huge from last week's episode, along with the NY pre-emptions. I am glad that Clark's screentime was not 8-12 minutes or else it would be a waste for him.

Basically, Toxic was Oliver-centric, Committed was
Lois-centric, and Abyss was Chloe-centric.
jeannev
Nov. 15th, 2008 06:12 am (UTC)
I don't know if it being a Chloe-centric ep caused the ratings dip. I doubt that. I think losing the NY market was a huge blow. And I think the promo for this ep totally blew! You just can't do promos without Clark. Its a boneheaded move.

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tariel22
Nov. 15th, 2008 06:04 am (UTC)
Oh, Valerie, I couldn't agree with you more! I'm going to write something, but I'm buried in work this weekend, so I'm not sure when that will be. It might be a big rant, or I just may not have the energy to go there.

The first time I watched this episode I was livid. To have Clark humble himself for his "father" drove me crazy, and then Jor-El basically said what happened at the end of S7 was not only Clark's fault, but necessary because he had become a danger to the planet. What the fuck ever, show.

My thoughts on the whole Brainiac thing mirror yours exactly. As soon as Jor-El went into that whole "are you sure?" talk, I knew something bad was going to happen. God, just when I think they actually care about and value Clark, they do something like this.

I also HATE that they had Clark apologize to Jor-El for not embracing his destiny, when it's the stupid writers who decided to hold him back as a stalling tactic in the first place. First, fuck up this amazing character you have, and waste the talents of the great guy who plays him, and then make HIM apologize for the mess you made.

I also hated that Clark decided to do the memory wipe. Honestly, he had no right, and Chloe told him exactly what it had meant to her to be by his side. It just seemed like a big step backward for Clark. *sighs* I suppose it won't stick, but if it does, what else are they going to take away from Chloe before this show is over? Her life?

The shipper stuff makes my head explode. This crap makes fandom feed on itself, and turns perfectly reasonable people into ugly, juvenile, shameful brats, whose behavior is appalling. Why would they want to encourage that with storylines that are romantically ambiguous? I don't care about Clark's love life. I enjoy the Chlark friendship, and I enjoy the Clois snark, but I don't watch this show to see who Clark might kiss.

I will never understand why the show took such a strong stand on the Chimmy in Committed, only to retract it immediately, having her be drawn to Davis in Prey, lie to Jimmy for Clark in Identity, and relive the first time she kissed Clark when told to "think of a place that makes you happy" in Abyss. In fact, every Chlark memory we saw except one was of a romantic moment. That would seem to suggest those feelings are the strongest ones Chloe has for Clark. Make up your fucking mind, show, and have the courage to serve the story, rather than pandering to all the various shipper groups.

Ugh. Sorry to go on and on, and sorry for the profanity, but I know you understand what I'm feeling. Thanks for giving me a place to vent. *hugs*
jeannev
Nov. 15th, 2008 06:19 am (UTC)
Yeah, I was really torn between rant or ignore. LOL

And yes, I do understand, so feel free to rant here. :)

A part of me liked the Clark/Jor-El scenes, because it was nice to see that dysfunctional, nonsensical relationship finally have some civility in it. But at the same time, it was like everything that had gone down was heeped onto Clark shoulders. As though somehow a teenage Clark, raised as a human, among humans, wasn't supposed to freak the fuck out when confronted with some shit like "Come to ME!" and "Leave everyone you love!" and "Rule them with strength!". It blows my mind.

And yeah, the shipper stuff makes my head explode too. And really, I could understand the pandering when the show was younger, and not so close to an end. But really, now? What is the freaking point? Pick something and stay the DAMN COURSE! Its so frustrating. It makes me hope Bart runs into town, convinces Clark to go traveling around the world, and Clark is all "Smell ya later Peeps", and off he goes. Ir maybe he can find Lex, and those crazy kids can work things out. LOL
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goodvibe
Nov. 15th, 2008 11:23 am (UTC)
Wow, those screentime numbers are something. I'm utterly depressed and angered with this ep. I stopped reading after your spoiler warning, but if you ranted, and that rant was anything similar to mine? Then I wager we're both on the same page, as far as this ep is concerned.

Total, unwarranted BS position that Clark was forced in, this ep? Yeah, it pretty much seals this one as the worst of the season for me, thus far.
jeannev
Nov. 15th, 2008 03:36 pm (UTC)
Seema, if you had read my whole rant, you would be laughing your butt off at how much you and I share a brain. Its eerie!

And yeah, this is the bottom of S8 for me as well, though I'd probably have to admit that it was better paced and acted then Toxic.
(no subject) - goodvibe - Nov. 16th, 2008 11:54 am (UTC) - Expand
jlvsclrk
Nov. 15th, 2008 12:16 pm (UTC)
Well, I liked the episode though I nearly exploded too over the Fortress retcon BS. I fanwanked it as Clark saying something he didn't believe in order to get the FOS to do it what he wanted to do.

I liked the episode because of the disappearing memory scenes and Chlark at the FOS, and the final scene where the FOS gets its comeupance. Damned arrogant machine, serves you right to be taken over by Brainiac. I figure it was probably somewhat infected right from the start. The real Jor-El was obviously running out of time at the end and made some HUGE mistakes, being partially responsible for the creation of Brainiac, not to mention the meteor shower and the arrival of Doomsday on Earth. But somehow its all Clark fault?
jeannev
Nov. 15th, 2008 03:38 pm (UTC)
I like that fanwank! :)

The disappearing memories was excellently done. And the Chlark scene at the FOS was very well acted by TW. No arguements there.

I always figured that they created such a mess with the FOS and the AI, that there was no way to make sense of it all. I guess they decided to just blame Clark for everything. As usual.
gildinwen
Nov. 15th, 2008 01:15 pm (UTC)
My god they really love dumping on Clark. *sigh* I didn't like what Clark did to Chloe, but I'm not angered by what he did. When we saw Chloe at the end of the show, it struck me how much *happier* she was as a person. Without the burden of being his secret keeper (and lord I've written this in *both* Dusk willow and Boppy's journals she a happier person, and more enjoyable to watch.) But you know people are screaming for Clark's blood. In those scene I saw my Superman. And my heart broke for him.
*rolls eyes*
heather
Nov. 15th, 2008 01:45 pm (UTC)
But you know people are screaming for Clark's blood. In those scene I saw my Superman. And my heart broke for him.

I agree with this. It was a very Clark thing to do, even if I don't like that he did it, and it really is in keeping with the direction they've been taking the show -- moving closer to Superman. It's just the sort of self-sacrificing decision Clark would make. Yes, it makes me incredibly sad for both him and Chloe, and it was a complete undermining of their friendship, but I can't hate Clark for it. If it does turn out to be temporary, and I hope it is, I fully expect it to be a blow to their relationship if she finds out.

Also, I'm no Lana fan, especially at this point, but I can't help feeling like if Clark had done it to her and not Chloe, people would be more thrilled than pissed, because it would signify his letting the past go and moving toward his destiny, and whatever else.
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moonshayde
Nov. 15th, 2008 01:49 pm (UTC)
I agree with many points here, though the fail-fail situation doesn't bother me as much as you. Clark/Superman has always been about beating all odds. So even if he is set up to fail, he will eventually triumph.

See that last line I wrote? That is where I get angry because that is the part we never see. So my beef isn't so much with the setup, but the outcome. The writers instead have made Clark mopey. Now, it's canon in other Superman media that he blames himself for things and gets emo. But Smallville like puts it on speed. If you want to show Clark trapped in these situations, that's fine. But then show us him finding another way - using his skills and his intelligence and his compassion - to make things right. He is a symbol of hope after all.

I disagreed with Clark's decision, but unfortunately that is also another Superman trait. I hate when he gets paternalistic.

The retcon of the FOS was ridiculous. Mind you, I loved the Jor-El scenes in this episode. I have been waiting for Clark and the AI to reach this point. And I agree that Clark's behavior was part of the problem. But the former AI was a bastard. TPTB could have helped the retcon by saying that the old AI was slighty off or something.

Sometimes I feel like PS3 have this checklist of things to fix but they don't know how to do it so they just throw things in. I am loving this season, but sometimes the positive changes are just thrown in. Almost like, crap! We're running out of time! We need to fix this, and this, and this.

I also don't think they should have started the Clois to interrupt it. However, I'm actually hoping this was done to flip it - when Lana is gone and Lois returns, Clark will have decided that he has feelings for Lois and in the future would like to pursue things with her. Lois, deciding that she doesn't want to be part of any heartbreak, closes him off and moves on. That would fit nicely into the mythos. *hopes*

*wishes they just would have kept Clark single for a while*

The shipper crap is annoying, but I'm used to that from other shows. Though, I do feel a little sad for Chlark shippers. TPTB keep throwing them some bones and you know it's just not going to work out. But if Chloe is still in love with Clark - and I honestly don't think he is in love with her - then it makes her character look horrible for pursuing Jimmy.

I don't feel bad for the diehard shippers, though. And I roll my eyes a little at some of the outcry for my own ship. But then again, I am not a shipper first. I watch for Clark's journey. The ship is extra special whipped cream on top for me.

I'm ranting... *shuts up*




Edited at 2008-11-15 01:50 pm (UTC)
jeannev
Nov. 15th, 2008 03:48 pm (UTC)
See that last line I wrote? That is where I get angry because that is the part we never see.

EXACTLY! My point exactly. Its not the situations so much, its how the show treats the situations, and how it writes Clark in the aftermath.

TPTB could have helped the retcon by saying that the old AI was slighty off or something.

Or at least a line from the AI acknowledging that maybe it didn't always take the right path either. Its supposed to be a highly advanced thingie, right? Then it can admit it made a mistake, right?

I am loving this season, but sometimes the positive changes are just thrown in. Almost like, crap! We're running out of time! We need to fix this, and this, and this.

*nods* Very much so.

And a single Clark is A-OK with me!

And its OK, rant away. I welcome it. Its cathartic after this episode :)
heather
Nov. 15th, 2008 01:51 pm (UTC)
I agree totally with this review. I don't get Clark hate -- the writers have been putting him in this position for years, and I really don't like that he did this, but I understand why.
jeannev
Nov. 15th, 2008 08:57 pm (UTC)
The show seems to love to put Clark in some situation where some part of fandom can leap on him like angry dogs. But really, at this point, I don't think Clark could blow his nose without someone being offended and screaming at what a stupid idiot he is.
duskwillow
Nov. 15th, 2008 02:17 pm (UTC)
Looking at the running time I'm really not surprised that I didn't enjoy the episode.

I am so damned sick to death of the show putting Clark in these no win situations.

I agree, that is definitely not on my list of favourite things about the show.
But. I do think it helps him mature as a hero. Because he'll face situations like that often as Superman, he won't always be able to save everyone. He'll have to make a choice between two situations, pick lesser of two evils if you will. To save many, or someone he knows/loves. To save a plane that's crashing or a village from mudslide. Silly examples, but my point is that he can't always save everyone and win. He has to learn to accept there will be losses, and sometimes no matter what he does it won't seem enough and it will feel like he didn't make much difference. But he has to learn to deal with that kind of situations, because he can't let them get to him that much. And I think few "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation on the show are helping him harden a bit and learn how to deal with disappointments.

Because really, having Clark be Chloe's "happy place", and concentrating on scenes of her kissing him, more or less makes it crystal clear that she's not over him, and certainly not head over heels over Jimmy.

But at this point Chloe had no memories of Jimmy left, so she wasn't able to think of him.
Now, one might argue how that shows that Jimmy is less important to her than Clark. But then again, she knows Clark longer, so there are more memories. She said something like that if she thinks about something it goes away faster/she forgets about it - which would mean that she thinks about Jimmy more so she forgot about him sooner. Plus, Brainiac made sure she forgot about kryptonians (Clark, Davis) last, so that might have had something to do with it.
There are many ways to look at it. Like always with the show. :)
It wouldn't do them any good to completely alienate Chlark fans. It's much easier to throw every shipper group a small bone to give them enough to theorize, but at the same time go ahead with the story/ship they have planned. And that would be Clois this season.

Um, hi. :)
I saw your review on my friendsfriends page and found it interesting.
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jeannev
Nov. 15th, 2008 09:16 pm (UTC)
Re: part I
I mean, it was obviously going to happen regardless of the selective restoration of Chloe's memories, so having Clark decide to selectively restore Chloe's memories serves, in my mind, no other purpose than to give people a reason to criticize Clark and to question his readiness to be Superman.

I'm not sure I really understand what the purpose was behind it. If it sticks, was it done because they just wanted a way to work Chloe out of position as Clark's "sidekick" because of how far it deviates from the mythos? Was it done because PS3 are reacting to the criticisms of Clark running to Chloe, and she acting like his brain? Was it done because they didn't know where to go with the Clark and Chloe relationship as it stood?

But see, all of that could've been addressed with Clark not making the decision.

So, clearly they wanted to hang this on Clark. So, was it done for the reasons some other suggest, where they wanted to show Clark making these sort of difficult, dubious decisions so that he could stand alone?

I don't know. I think they'll have to explain it to me one day. Maybe in the S8 companion book.

But like you, I don't even think its going to stick, so it seems pointless to me.

I'd really like to know how Clark being branded, and Jonathan Kent being put into a coma for months, or Lindsay being used as a meat puppet (who killed without remorse, BTW), or Clark being frozen in a block of ice for months is all Clark's fault. Nope, that AI was just misunderstood. What crap!
(Deleted comment)
jeannev
Nov. 15th, 2008 09:19 pm (UTC)
Re: part II
I think people seem to skip over the whole reality that Chloe has been dating Jimmy for a long time now, lives with him, is about to marry him, and has apparently been riding him like a cowgirl for months.

But yet, somehow, someway, Lois is stabbing her in the back by falling for Clark, and Clark is a manwhore for developing feelings for Lois. The Fuck??!!

And I want to believe Legion will be a great episode for Clark. I feel like Debbie in Miracle on 34th Street "I believe..I believe..its silly, but I believe"
serenography
Nov. 15th, 2008 07:11 pm (UTC)
I share a lot of your frustration with the no-win situations they put Clark in. I could almost understand in earlier seasons that he was still struggling to learn his place in the world and the consequences and responsibilities of his abilities, but at this point, they NEED TO GIVE THE GUY SOME CREDIT ALREADY.

There were moments in the FOS scenes that I loved - Clark's sincere word's to Chloe, and especially, Clark telling Jor-El that things between them needed to change. I was so happy because it sounded like Clark was telling Jor-El that he wasn't going to be treated like an unruly child anymore. But then they took it to such a out of character place with Clark's decision about Chloe that I was literally STUNNED. I had heard the spoiler about it, but I honestly did NOT think that they'd have Clark actually go there. I can't even wank any kind of rationalization out of it, and that pisses me off. There was no reason for them to take Clark *there* to show how much he loves and wants to protect Chloe. We KNOW that, this was unnecessary and I hated it.

I don't mind the show catering to a certain degree to the Clana and Clois aspects of Clark's story. For me, they're both integral parts of Smallville and iconic canon. But dragging out the Chlark stuff is at the point of being almost malicious to the Chlark shippers. I honestly feel for them.

The shipping aspect of this fandom only bothers me when it comes to the lunatic fringe. Tom/Clark is my primary reason for being a fan, but I'm also an unapologetic Clana shipper. That does NOT mean that I ignore the REALITY of the show. When fans (any of them) do that, it all gets a little crazytown to me. Clark loved Lana, he's moving on to Lois. He's always loved Chloe as his dearest friend. Time to deal in reality, folks.

The love stories are a sweet and tender part to his story because they help us to see inside that great big human heart of his, but the bottom line should always come back to Clark Kent.

ETA: Forgot to thank you for the screentime totals, even though they make a bit growly. NO ONE should ever have more screentime than Clark. I could almost understand it if he was directing an episode, but otherwise, just. no.

Edited at 2008-11-15 07:15 pm (UTC)
jeannev
Nov. 15th, 2008 09:27 pm (UTC)
Yeah in earlier seasons, it made some sense. But they dragged it on and on and on, and it became this every season situation. Stupid crystals in S4? Clark's fault. Jonathan Kent's death? Clark's fault. Loose phantoms? Clark's fault. Bizarro? Clark's fault. Veritas? Clark's fault. Titantic sinking? Clark's fault. Economic crisis? Clark's fault. And so on, and so forth. So, seeing them set up yet another one of these wonderful scenarios....I don't know, it just makes me so frustrated.

The love stories are a sweet and tender part to his story because they help us to see inside that great big human heart of his, but the bottom line should always come back to Clark Kent.

Right, I agree. But I also think that they are so worried about pissing off fans of girl A, B or C, that they'll drag Clark backwards and forwards, up and down, and through the muck just to throw a bone that way. And maybe I could understand that earlier in the show, with the desire to keep the train moving. But we're almost at an end here. Is this still a good idea? I don't think so.

And you're welcome. I'm actually OK with someone having more screentime then Clark, but content is the key.

jude_judith82
Nov. 16th, 2008 12:00 am (UTC)
I'm hoping next week I can watch SV without feeling all conflicted. I like my show the way it has been damn it!
jeannev
Nov. 16th, 2008 12:31 am (UTC)
Me too. I had a bad feeling about the tone shifting in Abyss I had a feeling...
(Anonymous)
Nov. 16th, 2008 01:36 am (UTC)
I didn't get the sense that there were any dueling ship anvils in this episode. When Chloe was thinking about her "happy place", the only person that she could remember at the time was Clark, so naturally all of her happy moments were going to be with him. I'm not saying that her "happy place" isn't with Clark, but since she didn't have any memory of Jimmy or anyone else at the time, I don't see what else TPTB could show inside of Chloe's head other than Chlark moments.
jeannev
Nov. 16th, 2008 02:02 am (UTC)
OK, but having Clark be the last one standing was a writing choice to start with. Then to have Chloe's memories of Clark all surround kisses/romantic moments? Thats when you start the dueling ships stuff.

For instance, they could've shown instances of Clark and Chloe being friends. Or moments where Chloe saved Clark, since she previously talked about how much being able to make a difference in the world meant to her. Non-romantic moments that reenforce the Chlark friendship. Instead, they had 4 different kissing moments *and* created an entirely new scene to their first kiss.

I can't really see this in any other way but as a big ol' bone to the Chlark 'shippers.

Now, granted, it was from Chloe's POV only, and Clark's actions are well inside of the friendship parameter. But even if its only Chloe, I still think its a shipper bone. And frankly, I don't get the point.
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