Helen Slater made her return to the Superman mythos, this time playing Kal-El's Kryptonian mother two episodes back, in the aptly titled "Lara." Also appearing in that episode of Smallville was Zor-El, father to Clark's cousin, Kara. The mystery of Kara's crystal, which contained her instructions from Zor-El, was also explored, with the episode ending with Clark showing Lana that he was now in possession of the crystal. In this episode, we get to see what effect that crystal is going to have on Clark's life.
Ok, the back-story is now out of the way. Let's get to tonight's episode.
The episode begins with Clark looking at the picture of his mother Kara had taken. Kara returns to the farmhouse from a date with Jimmy in Coast City. Clark asks Kara if she ever feels like her family is calling to her. Kara says of course, they're always with her. Clark tells Kara that he feels like he knows something about Jor-El, but mom was always a mystery to him. Kara says she'll tell him whatever he wants to know - in the morning. Kara goes to bed, when Clark hears Lara calling to him from the crystal, telling him to go to the Fortress.
Clark arrives in the Fortress with Kara's crystal. The voice of Jor-El tells Clark that the crystal was made by Zor-El, and shouldn't be in the Fortress. Clark, heedless of his father as always, says he needs to save Lara. Jor-El responds by saying that his mother is already dead, and once again tells Clark that the crystal is dangerous. Jor-El also tells Clark that he is letting his emotions control him and cloud his judgement. Clark has no interest in listening, and slams the crystal into a control panel of crystals in the Fortress. Suddenly, Lara appears! Mother and son reunite, and as they embrace we pull back to see a shadowy figure in the Fortress.
Lara and Clark return to the farm. Lara is thrilled to be reunited with her adult son, but believes she came through a portal from Krypton. Just as Clark is about to tell her the truth, Kara comes down the stairs. Although Kara is thrilled to see her aunt, she quickly figures out that Lara must have come from inside the crystal - meaning that Clark had the crystal all along. This leads Lara to the realization that she is a clone, and that Zor-El's technology must have actually worked. This also means that Zor-El's replicant is also out there somewhere. Clark seems unworried - as he puts it, there are three of them and only one of him. Kara looks a bit uncertain - could it be that her loyalties are divided?
Meanwhile, back at the Daily Planet building, Lois trying to show Gabriel some pictures of the mayor being unfaithful to his wife. But the pictures are of horrible quality. Gabriel tells her that the pictures are unusable and that he can't print her story. Despite this rejection, the two have another intimate moment. While the two have their tryst, Chloe comes up to his door and sees the editor and reporter locked in a passionate embrace. Chloe is visibly upset to see this.
Kara is in the barn, looking pensive when Zor-El flies in. While Daddy is happy to see his daughter, Kara is uncertain. She tells him that she knows he tried to kill Jor-El, and is wary of trusting him, despite his protests that he is a new man, on a new world, and that all he cares about now is his family. He tells her that he wants the four Kryptonians to be a family, and that he will be a real father to her. She just needs to go to the Fortress and wait for him. Kara seems a bit leery, but goes along with his order.
Zor-El next goes to Lionel's office, somehow knowing that Lionel is "Jor-El's vessel," capable of speaking on Jor-El's behalf. Zor-El figures that if he can force Lionel to tell Lara and Clark that they should listen to him, they will do so. Lionel, showing a remarkable amount of backbone, refuses to aid Zor-El. Zor-El threatens to kill Lionel, but just as he makes his attack, Clark shows up to save Lionel. Clark punches Zor-El out through the window, and Zor-El flies off. As Lionel is being taken away by the paramedics, he tells Clark that Zor-El is searching for Lara.
Lois comes out of Gabriel's office and stops by Chloe's desk to see a very cold and determined Chloe. Chloe lets drop that she saw Lois and Gabriel going at it. While Chloe doesn't believe that the attraction is why Lois got her job, she warns Lois that others won't be as understanding - and that once this gets out it can kill her career.
Clark takes Lara to Oliver Queen's old apartment to hide her from Zor-El. Lara doesn't want him risking himself for her, especially since she isn't his actual mother, she's just a copy. Lana then arrives in the apartment, having been told about Clark and Lara's whereabouts by Kara. Clark asks Lana to stay with Lara while he hunts for Zor-El. But before he leaves, Lara has a present for him. It's his father's "victory ring," given to him when he became a part of the Kryptonian Council. Clark's eyes flash blue after the ring is put on his finger.
Clark leaves the apartment and is ambushed by a waiting Zor-El. Zor-El tells Clark that Kara told him where he could be found. Clark doesn't trust the "new and improved" Zor-El, who reacts to this mistrust by insulting Jor-El and saying that if Jor-El hadn't been weak, the two of them could have saved Krypton. Clark, angered, attacks Zor-El, who manhandles Clark. It seems that the ring of Jor-El's has made Clark powerless - something Zor-El knew would happen. Once more, Zor-El demands that Clark join him, Lara and Kara, and again Clark refuses. Zor-El tells Clark that the only reason he is leaving Clark alive is because Clark is Lara's son.
Back inside the apartment, Lara and Lana are having tea. Lana is clearly ill at ease. Lara offers advice and comfort, and warns her not to fall into the darkness. Just then Zor-El shows up, and tries to force Lara to go with him. Lana, foolishly, tries to interfere, but gets thrown Lana into the elevator by Zor-El just as Clark is coming up. While Clark tends to Lana, Zor-El zips away with an unwilling Lara.
Clark goes back to the Daily Planet, looking thoroughly beat up. He tells Chloe that Lana will be fine, though Chloe points out that Lana isn't the one she's currently worried about. Clark just knows that he needs to get the ring off and get himself up to the Fortress. Chloe asks if Kara could help, but Clark says that Kara is allied with her father.
Leaving the Kryptonians alone for a bit, we go to Luthor mansion where Lex is shooting pool with Gabriel. The mood between them is gregarious until Gabrield starts talking about his relationship with Lois. Lex says that his being involved with Lois is an unacceptable risk - Lois is too curious. Gabriled laughs it off, saying he can control Lois. Lex remains dubious, but Gabriel meets his skepticism with the comment that despite what Lex has done for him, Lex can't control his life. Lex disagrees.
Kara is walking around the Fortress when Zor-El shows up with Lara. Zor-El tells Lara that they need to repopulate Krypton - they could effectively be Adam and Eve. Lara refuses him, prompting Zor-El to threaten Clark - an act which upsets Kara. Zor-El then starts to manipulate some controls in the Fortress to turn the Earth's sun red, which will wipe out humanity, and make Earth like Krypton. Lara wants to know what will happen to her now powerless son in this case? Zor-El says he'll bring Clark into the safety of the Fortress - if Lara agrees to go along with his wishes.
The "eclipse" begins while Clark is trying to remove ring with a grinder - only to find that it's unbreakable. Chloe shows up with the book holding the crystal Jor-El sent to Clark when they notice the eclipse. Clark (correctly) guesses that Zor-El is responsible for the astrological event.
For their part, the Daily Planet staff is also freaking out about the Eclipse. Gabriel comes into the newsroom to order them to get to work. Gabriel also orders Lois into his office. Both of them try to break things off with the other, but the sexual tension is still in full-strength. They agree to stop seeing one another and Lois prepares to leave. They get as far as the door to Gabriel's office before they fall upon one another, kissing passionately. The attempt to break things off was clearly no success at all.
In the Fortress, Lara is messing with crystals, trying to find some way to undo what Zor-El has done, but realizing that only Clark can actually remove the crystal that brought her and Zor-El to life. Kara comes in to apologize to Lara; she had no idea that her father could do what he has done. Lara understands. Lara then tells Kara that Jor-El always had her keep a dagger on her person for personal protection, and Lara says that if Zor-El threatens her son again, she will kill him. Kara tries to offer to kill him instead, but Lara refuses, saying it is something she must do. That's when Zor-El returns, saying he couldn't find Clark anywhere. Lara immediately realizes that Zor-El didn't even look. Realizing that her father is psychotic, and all too willing to exterminate mankind, Kara tries to stab Zor-El with the dagger, but Zor-El easily stops her. Lara attempts to interfere, and is backhanded across the Fortress for the effort. Zor-El is preparing to kill his daughter when Clark shows up holding a piece of kryptonite.
(And why is it that when Clark becomes powerless Kryptonite no longer affects him? But I digress.)
The kryptonite disables Zor-El, and Kara rushes over to Clark, telling him that he must remove the crystal in order to stop the eclipse event. Clark does so, at which point Lara tells him that he must destroy the crystal in order to be rid of Zor-El. Clark doesn't want to do this, because it would also mean losing his mother. As Clark struggles with his dilemma, Zor-El manages to push the kryptonite away, and resumed his attack on Kara. Forced to act, Clark smashes the crystal, causing Zor-El, Lara and Kara to all vanish. Zor-El and Lara were presumably returned to the grave, but Kara simply vanished.
Kara wakes in Detroit - seemingly powerless and without her memory. I guess we'll get back to her in a future episode.
Clark is back in the barn doing chores when Lana comes in, wondering if Kara has been seen. She hasn't, and Clark blames himself. Lana tries to tell him that he didn't do anything wrong other than wanting to see his mother. Clark points out that people got hurt as a result, to which Lana goes into a self-pitying trip about the fact that she's a far worse person than Clark could ever be. Clark reassures her that she isn't a bad person, and that she is redeemable, and that he loves her - in what is possibly some of the worst written dialogue in the entire series.
Chloe comes in to the Daily Planet newsroom to see Lois hard at work on her eclipse story. Chloe tries to tell Lois that the eclipse has been debunked, but her comments fall on deaf ears. Gabriel comes in and tells Lois that Larkin has beaten her to the punch and that he's going with that version of the story. Chloe guesses from this interaction that Lois and Gabriel have broken things off. Lois agrees with her, but then receives a text message from Gabriel confirming their date later that night.
Gabriel barges in on Lex, telling Lex that he has broken things off with Lois. He also throws a handful of bugs (the listening device variety, not literal insects) onto Lex's desk. Lex apologizes, but says that he was just trying to watch over Gabriel out of concern. Gabriel tells Lex not to worry, and that they shouldn't feel the need to keep their secret from Lionel. Lex tries to explain to Gabriel why hiding things from Lionel is necessary, but Gabriel says that Lionel couldn't do anything to him - because Gabriel is actually Lionel's other son, Julian! Lex says that may be, but outside of this room, he's only Gabriel Grant. We can certainly expect this to cause complications further on down the road.
Clark returns to the Fortress, yelling to Jor-El that it is unfair to punish Kara for what Zor-El did. Jor-El says he did nothing to Kara, but she is not something which concerns him. Clark wonders how the Jor-El he keeps hearing about, the one from Krypton who only wanted to help others, could be so unfeeling towards people now. Jor-El's voice tells Clark that this is not a part of his mission - reflecting that there may be some differences between the voice Clark identifies as Jor-El and what the actual person was like.
Jor-El then tells Clark that once more, Clark defied Jor-El's orders, and that he seems incapable of learning the lesson about what happens when Clark doesn't listen to his father. Jor-El's voice tells Clark that "This defiance cannot go without consequence," as the Fortress begins to shake and fill with white light - as the episode draws to a close.
Honestly, this episode really irked me. The plot was solid enough, but the dialogue for the entire episode felt stilted and unnatural. It stunned me that last week's "Wrath" had a plot line I was dreading, but turned out to be a really strong episode. This week, the opposite happened. I also really didn't like the revelation about Gabriel - it really undermines seven seasons worth of characterization for both Lex and Lionel, and I doubt the payoff can be great enough to be worth it.
Smallville is taking a few weeks off, with the next episode set to air in mid-December. I'll be waiting for you then!
Dont't forget to also check out: Smallville