Smallville, “Harvest”

I noted last week that it would be difficult to top the 200th episode, so there was really no reason for “Isis” to attempt to. However, I didn’t really expect or want the trend of mediocrity to continue into “Harvest,” which is unfortunately what happened.

“Harvest” is also similar to “Isis” in that it writes to a very specific moment at the end of episode that’s wonderful, but pads the 35 minutes leading up to that moment with a lot of frivolous filler that while not horrible, is mostly forgettable. I understand the desire to have an episode where Clark and Lois deal with the newfound openness between them, but tearing them apart doesn’t really work to accomplish those goals. Thematically, this episode is trying to tell us a story about Clark letting Lois take care of herself in a way, but the thread gets lost as soon as the stereotypical creepy pagan stuff kicks in.

Speaking of that, I’m at least partially willing to forgive this episodes for a few reasons. First of all, and this is probably something that’s only important to really big fans, but it’s really, really great to see some location shooting again since almost every scene and every episode over the past few years has taken place on a set or the same street/railroad tracks/empty building locations. Here, Clark and Lois are really out in the wilderness and the episode looks really good in a way that reminds the audience there is a world outside of the Daily Planet, Luthorcorp and Watchtower.

Secondly, it seems fairly obvious that the CW wanted something Halloween-themed or at least a little creepy because I cannot imagine this coming up organically in the writer’s room. It could have, but it feels more like they were told “Hey, maybe something scary for late October” and then added in the character beats that were already in-place. That, I can believe. So in that sense, I kind of like that it’s dark and creepy in a way the series rarely is, and the effort includes some fun-scary stuff in the murdering hill-jack Pagans and super-creepy Alexander. Pagans and little kids, that’s all you really need to be scary.

However, because the A story is completely rote and predictable in every single way, “Harvest” is ultimately a pointless affair that doesn’t bring a whole lot of new direction to a season that desperately needs some. The Pagan story follows every beat anyone with a brain expects it to: Clark and Lois “randomly” get a flat tire, Clark goes to fix it, Lois disappears, meets the creepers, figures out that she’s a sacrifice to an angry God who brought the meteor shower and Clark saves the day. Wooo! Even a cool moment where Clark gets killed and buried but then comes back to life can’t really save the story.*

*Also: Did anyone else see that Clark shot a guy in the back when he returns from the grave? Did I miss something?

Fortunately (I guess), the whole point of the story was for Clark to recognize that he needs to let Lois be sometimes and that she can take care of herself.* The two of them share a few fun moments that only come about because she now knows the secret — most notably when she reveals she saved him in the premiere — and it all leads to the final few moments when Clark completely opens up to her with the Kryptonian 101 handbook and tells her that she’s the one. Then…sex!

*You know, except for in this situation where she clearly should have listened to him.

Like I said up top, it’s exactly like last week where the middle acts of the episode are mostly tedious but they lead to a great moment that saves it a bit. Last week was leading to the secret reveal, here, the sex. Two huge moments in this relationship that are played extremely well, it’s just unfortunate that the episodes leading up to them were middling at best.

Meanwhile, “Harvest” remained watchable thanks to the glorious talents of Cassidy Freeman and Connor Stanhope, who returned as the now-older Alexander. Stanhope played young Lex back in season seven and did a wonderful job, so it’s great to have him back, particularly when he’s now playing an evil version of the character instead of the good version.

After Tess tried so hard last week to do the right thing and be a good person, it all blows up in her face here when Alexander begins to process Lex’s memories, starting with drawing the Superman symbol — how the hell does he know this anyway, since Lex has been gone for 3 years — and then escaping to Clark’s barn. By the end of it all, Tess realizes that Alexander is Lex, just in a little child’s body, which is wholly stupid and wholly creepy at the same time. She’s ready to get rid of him and let him die so he can’t do any damage in the real world, but after a buzz-job and some nice clothing — where’d he get those? — Alexander has fully embraced his inner Lex.

I’m not sure how I feel about Clark being challenged by a 14-year old boy aping Michael Rosenbaum’s performance because just writing that sentence makes me laugh out loud, more so than usual. However, I’ve enjoyed Freeman’s performance as Tess thus far, so I’m willing to go with it for now.

But we’re six episodes in, folks. Lois knows the secret, Clark has sacked up, can we, you know, actually have something happen? What about that stupid costume or the Suicide Squad? It’s the final season, let’s go.

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