Friday, April 8, 2011

"Smallvile" Top 10 - Number 7

"Hidden" from Season 5

I've never been the greatest Clark-Lana fan, but this episode was so perfectly crafted that I can't help but love it. In "Hidden" a computer techie, named Gabriel, decides to infiltrate the forgotten Cold War missile silos in Smallville, Kansas, to nuke the town and rid it of Meteor Freaks forever. It's a high concept premise, but what gives this episode so much weight is that it comes at the point in Season 5 when Clark still doesn't have his powers.

In the episode, Gabriel shoots Clark and leaves him to die, powerless. The drama often dips into melodrama, such as when Lana watches the doctors rush in with the crash cart to fail at saving Clark's life, or at the end when a battered Clark returns from the dead and sweeps Lana into his arms. These moments of melodrama may seem too much for an ordinary dramatic context, but in the world of superheroes and high stakes villainy, this is just another day at the office, and I love it. I mean, let's be honest, a story about a guy who can jump up into the sky and disarm a nuclear bomb, only to survive, isn't your ordinary dramatic yarn. But I think the main reason this is one of my favorite Smallville episodes, is just because it is a stirringly mythic tale of tragedy, redemption, and heroism, that is often lost in majority of superhero drama.

Clark disappears from the hospital and awakens in the Fortress of Solitude, returned to life and powers restored by Jor-El, at the cost that someone he loves must be sacrificed in his place, leading to the ultimate tragedy in Clark's young life, when Jonathan Kent, his adoptive father, dies in his arms only nine episodes away from this one. But what this episode also shows, is that it is not the powers that make Clark Kent the hero of legend, but it is the human being beneath. Clark tries to stop Gabriel, even when he is just flesh-and-bone, and that shows a lot more power than most other superheroes.

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