Season 3 Episode 9


Aired Friday 8:00 PM Jan 14, 2004 on The CW
out of 10
User Rating
633 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

Three of Clark's former opponents approach Lex to enlist his help in luring Clark to the hospital after they hear that Lionel has requested Lex be given electroshock therapy to erase his memory. However, the plan goes awry when the villains double-cross Lex and use kryptonite to steal Clark's powers. Meanwhile, Lana meets a mysterious stranger in the hospital.moreless

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  • The Ides of Insanity

    Asylum-Three of Clark's former opponents approach Lex to enlist his help in luring Clark to the hospital after they hear that Lionel has requested Lex be given electroshock therapy to erase his memory. However, the plan goes awry when the villains double-cross Lex and use kryptonite to steal Clark's powers. Meanwhile, Lana meets a mysterious stranger in the hospital.

    Often overlooked after the sheer brilliance of "Shattered", "Asylum" is just as captivating and emotionally driven as it's predecessor. The episode opens with a powerful teaser as Clark visits Lex and Lex almost attacks him for bertraying him, followed by suspenseful escape seuqence that ends with Lex getting tazed mutiple times. Micheal Rosenbaum continues to craft his acting as his performance is flawless as well as John Glover. The scenes between Lionel and Lex in this episode are Emmy-Worthy as they are both so compelling. Lionel has never been so cold-hearted, driving his son insane to cover up his dark past is too cruel, not to mention, forcing electroshock threrapy on him. Another highlight is the team-up between Ian, Eric and Van, who all return for another clash with Clark. It's ncie to have them back as the characters get to be fleshed out more and actually more interesting their respective episode, especially Ian from "Dichotic." Jonathan Taylor Thomas gives a great performance as Ian and is more menacing than his first appearence. The scene where he confronts Lex about his treatment was well done. I also loved the how all 3 characters betrayed each other in the end. From Ian killing Van to Eric killing Ian using Clark's powers. It's a great action sequence as Clark strategizes to get his powers back at the end. Also, Lex's electroshock scene looked painful and Micheal really sold that scene.

    Suprisingly, I enjoyed the sub-plot with Lana's physical treatment and the introduction of Adam Knight. Ian Somerholder plays the character well and I love his attitude toward Lana about sucking it up. It's refreshing for once to have a male figure who doesn't just bow down to Lana but actually challenges her. The episode ends with Lex fully recovered and forgetting the memories during his mental break. But there is a possibility that Lex might have some memory left somewhere... "Asylum" is an exceptional episode that continues the dark storyline of "Shattered" and makes for an equally astonishing follow-up.moreless
  • this was a good ep

    in this ep of smallville lex is about to get electric shock therpy and clark wants to help lex when he learns that some of his foes have been put there he must be careful and then lex and the villians hatach and excape plan but then they doulbe cross lex and steal clarks powers in this one clark must figure out away to get them back in this one this was a good ep i thought and it was very interesting. and clark must figure out how to recreat the same situation to get his powers back this was a good ep.moreless
  • Lex's attempt to escape the mental asylum following his incarceration at the hands of his father prompts Lionel to subject Lex to electroshock therapy. Clark attempts to rescue his friends but falls victim to three returning foes from his past.moreless

    Smallville's darkest season gets even more grim with "Asylum". Taking place a few weeks after "Shattered", the episode's story is extemely well written, with two key plots cleverly interwoven. The Lex storyline allows us to see first hand the dark actions we've heard of Lionel taking to crush his enemies. Michael Rosenbaum's performance is incredilbe, with Lex showing a wide range of emotions, it shows how much range Rosenbaum has with the character. John Glover is at his most evil perhaps with his twisted and cold perfomance adding great layers to the wickedly written elder Luthor. Tom Welling's improvement as an actor also shows in this episode. Welling's ability to show torment in his failur to save Lex is a tour de force. The decision to bring back three of Clark's foes from the last three seasons was a great choice by the writers. It allowed us to see where these villains end up, but more importantly, for the story they provided not only good action, but serve as the ultimate obstacle that keeps Clark from saving Lex. Making that plots connection to Lex's strong and relevant. Overall, a dark episode that shows how strong the character are growing and ultimately how some are doomed to grow apart. Brilliant.moreless
  • In the Belle Reve Sanitarium, Lex faces electro-shock therapy at the insistence of Lionel, and Clark continues to try to free him. Adversaries from previous episodes trap Clark and rob him of his powers.moreless

    Confined in the prison-like Belle Reve Sanitarium, Lex is visited by Clark, and asks him to break him out, but Clark's refusal sends Lex into a frenzy. Lex overpowers a couple of the brutish guards and nearly escapes but is tasered into submission. In something of a past-cast reunion, three former adversaries of Clark are also featured - Ian Randall (Johathan Taylor-Thomas) from Season Two's " Dichotic," Eric Summers (Shawn Ashmore) from Season One's "Leech," and Van McNulty (Jesse Metcalfe) from "Extinction," earlier this season. The three conspire to escape, using Clark, whose powers they know well.

    Lionel visits Lex in his severe confinement - no bright colors or fuzzy animals here! Lionel really lacks familial warmth, but is trying in his own clumsy way to be a sympathetic father. He coerces Dr. Foster to treat Lex with electro-shock, a procedure Foster resists. While Clark and Chloe are working together to help prove Lex does not belong in a mental hospital, Clark admits he has not visited Lana in the rehab hospital, but only sent a card, leading Chloe to quip, "Nothing says 'I love you' more than a dollar-fifty piece of cardboard." They discover the plan for electroshock therapy on Lex, which may cause severe memory loss, and see Dr. Foster, urging her to resist Lionel's insistence on the procedure.

    Meanwhile, back at the unholy trio, Van bribes a guard to bring him a meteor rock, but Ian, the original split personality, knocks Van out of the picture. Dr. Foster is killed off in this episode, who's to blame? Clark still tries to prevent the shock therapy, taking Lex from the hospital, not even hiding his powers, until the Bobsy twins stop the rescue with kryptonite and haul Clark to the utility tunnel. With some handy battery cables, Eric transfers Clark's powers to himself. It works, and Clark is thrown around like a human bowling ball. Ever clever, Clark uses turnabout as fair play, overpowering Eric with the same kryptonite.

    All this unrelenting violence and asylum mayhem makes this an unhappy and unpleasant episode. Clark is restored, but Lex is overshocked and Clark is too late to stop it. Lex is released, and seems to be back to normal, but his memory of several weeks is gone, including everything he saw of Clark's abilities. But Clark considers Lionel a criminal, responsible for the death of Dr. Foster.

    In the side plot, Lana is deep into physical therapy for her leg, broken by the horse in "Shattered," and meets new continuing character Adam (Ian Somerhalder), who challenges Lana to push her recovery harder. Lana struggles with her broken leg while Adam says he was injured trying to rescue his parents from a fire - so they both have fears to face. Eventually, Adam and Lana pledge friendship. Lana gets a pretty big homecoming bash, which Clark attends with misgivings. It's a case of bad timing and continued estrangement for him and Lana, so it's mostly a somber, hopeless ending. Rerun rating, together with "Shattered," C-.moreless
  • Insane in the membrane!

    Asylum marks the beginning of a good run of episodes from Smallville, a rarity to be sure. A far more interesting look at Lex than the previous episode, this effectively trenchant hour has quite a few things going on at once, and unlike Shattered manages to juggle the separate storylines with aplomb, building tension with four acts that reveal something slightly more sinister than the last. Michael is superb in this hour, as is John Glover, they have the kind of onscreen chemistry most shows would kill for, it was great watching them spit venom at one another. I also enjoyed several inmates teaming up to take on Clark and eventually each other. Sure, as sub-plots go it carried very little other than to serve as a means of unintentionally saving Lex, but there was a genuine sense mythology having been built and it added layers to what were simply two dimensional characters beforehand. Asylum is a must for all Lex fans and it also boasts some cool fight scenes, too!moreless
Tom Welling

Tom Welling

Clark Kent/Kal-El of Krypton

Kristin Kreuk

Kristin Kreuk

Lana Lang

Michael Rosenbaum

Michael Rosenbaum

Alexander ('Lex') Joseph Luthor

Allison Mack

Allison Mack

Chloe Sullivan

Sam Jones III

Sam Jones III

'Pete' Ross

John Glover

John Glover

Lionel Luthor

Jonathan Taylor Thomas

Jonathan Taylor Thomas

Ian Randall

Guest Star

Shawn Ashmore

Shawn Ashmore

Eric Summers

Guest Star

Jesse Metcalfe

Jesse Metcalfe

Van McNulty

Guest Star

Ian Somerhalder

Ian Somerhalder

Adam Knight

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (28)

    • When the guards caught Lex trying to leave to help Clark, they gave him a shot in the neck. He was moving around quite a bit and so was the needle that was in his neck. A needle that far into the neck would cause considerable damage if moved like that.

    • When Clark rips the fence open, it is easy to see the weaving of "fake fence" down the line he rips.

    • The guards at the asylum use a tazer gun to stop Lex as he attempted to escape. In the next shot of Lex on the ground, the wires that were connected to the gun that tazed him have disappeared.

    • At 26:30 while Lex is getting hit, there is a black object stuck to the camera in the upper right of the shot. It is visible several times until 27:15.

    • Near the beginning of the episode, Lex says "I know your secret", but when Lionel is playing it back at the end of the episode, he says "I know your secret, Clark".

    • The "maximum security" asylum has double doors to Lex's cell, but they open together. The whole point of two sets of doors is that only one opens at a time for security reasons.

    • When Clark got his powers back from Eric by using the kryptonite and electricity, why didn't the kryptonite, at the very least, hurt Clark's hand or something? 

    • Lex tells Clark "That car hit you at 60 mph and you tossed it like a toy." When did Clark "toss" a car in front of Lex?? A car hit him in "Shattered," and he pushed it away some distance. But "tossed" is a pretty serious exaggeration.

    • Clark acts like he didn't know Pete was all stressed out about keeping his secret, even though in "Ryan", Ryan told Clark that Pete was stressed out about it.

    • Eric slams Clark into a bunch of extremely heavy gas cans with full super-strength - that kind of impact would kill most people. They wouldn't be getting up and crawling or walking immediately afterward.

    • How does Eric know how his "power" works so assuredly? The last time he used the rock, on a dam, in daylight, with "natural" electricity. Here, without any previous experimentation (on who?) he figures out that he can recreate the accident by running a building's generated electrical current through him and Clark in the darkened basement of a building. Despite the fact a couple of potentially key factors differ here, he seems 100% sure it'll work.

    • At the end of the episode, Lionel replays a video over, and over, suggesting that the security staff has gone over all the videos with Clark in them with a fine toothed comb. Why is it then, that they failed to catch Clark ripping the metal restraining cage off of Lex when there is clearly a camera present. (They, in fact, seem to go out of their way to make the presence of the camera in Lex's cell obvious). This seems especially funny, since all the orderlies wonder how Lex got out of his cell again (so one would think they would have checked the camera).

    • Psychotropic meds wouldn't (or at least shouldn't) be administered without closer supervision to assure they're actually being taken.

    • A modern psychiatric institution would never have so many patients in a common area at the same time, allow visitors to wander around without escort, or have such an easily accessible balcony.

    • Presumably Ian, Eric, and Van are minors. Unless all of them were tried as adults and then found innocent by reason of insanity, it seems really unlikely that they would all end up in the same facility as Lex or any other adult psychiatric patient.

    • Even by comic-book physics standards, Eric's power is a little unfeasible. As we found out in "Perry," Clark's powers are charged by the sun. So...when Eric did his kryptonite/electricity/power-switch thing, did he also get all the solar energy in Clark's body? Seems like the power exchange would be a lot more violent and heat-like. But if he didn't, how did he get a "charge" since he was in a basement at night? In his first appearance, Eric didn't manifest his powers right away (that we saw) so that makes a little more sense if the solar energy doesn't get transferred, but not here. Also, Eric's power apparently changes his entire physiology - making him kryptonian (and gaining a weakness to kryptonite) and making Clark human (losing his weakness). That's more then just power-transferring - it's molecular alteration at a fundamental level!

    • Martha seems really, really out of character here. In the preceding episode she advised Clark not to see Lana to protect her. Now, here, she's telling Clark to go visit Lana, his healthy ex-girlfriend with 50+ people at her welcome-home party rather then Lex stuck alone in his manor after intense electroshock therapy.

    • Belle Reve must be the most insecure "maximum security" facility and/or insane asylum around. Such places don't give patients nice pointy paintbrushes or let them have an unmonitored weight room. They also don't let patients, even (presumably) trustees, wander into other people's cells.

    • At one point Tom Welling accidentally says "Bellevue" rather then "Belle Reve," when he's in Chloe's office and the two of them talk. (Close-captioning confirms the line should have mentioned "Belle Reve.")

    • After Lex's electroshock treatment the doctor takes the rubber mouthpiece out of his mouth. In the next scene with Lionel the rubber mouthpiece is back in Lex's mouth

    • So...doesn't Aunt Nell care anything about Lana? Her niece and adopted-daughter is badly hurt, goes through weeks/months of excruciating therapy...and she can't show up enough to warrant a mention?

    • Is it really very smart for Pete to have a big discussion with Clark about keeping Clark's Chloe's office?

    • So...why would Eric possibly remain silent about Clark having super-powers now? You'd think Lionel would check Eric's background, find out he briefly had super-powers, be interrogating Eric pretty closely, and maybe even offer him something in return for Eric helping him. But you can bet that we won't see Eric again...and if we do, he probably won't have said anything about Clark.

    • Presumably the Ian we see here is the survivor at the end of "Dichotic." But...nobody seems to be aware of the fact Ian can copy himself at will. Both Chloe and Lana witnessed two Ians. But there's no indication anyone is monitoring Ian - his potential for being sneaky and splitting off a second body to do whatever he wants while his "main" body is being monitored seems endless. Wouldn't Clark and Pete have told someone? Or someone somewhere put things together from the fact Ian never had a twin brother on record but Chloe and Lana reported the existence of twins?

    • As with "Dichotic," it's not very clear what Ian does with his clones. It seems as if there should still be one running around the prison, but presumably we'll never hear about this again.

    • It's a little iffy if Eric Summers is a "meteor freak" as he is repeatedly identified here (and never was in "Leech"). It's true that he gains Clark's power through an energy burst passing through kryptonite like many meteor freaks, but...Eric doesn't actually "gain" any power, and there's no indication other "meteor freaks" can have their powers so easily reversed or undone. There's no indication he has a power-draining power either. For that matter, there was nothing in "Leech" to show that Eric's situation was unique, and that anyone who was involved in the same accident as Eric and Clark wouldn't have got Clark's powers.

    • Clark wipes blood from the healed cut on his face, only to have it reappear when he watches Lionel talking to Lex, just after he underwent electroconvulsive therapy.

    • In the whole "who didn't visit Lana" spirit...what about her birth father? We haven't seen him at all this season, and now would seem as good of a time as ever for him to visit his daughter who has her leg broken in 4 different places.

  • QUOTES (10)

  • NOTES (4)

    • First appearance of Ian Somerhalder as Adam Knight.

    • Music: "Future Proof" by Massive Attack, and "So Far Away" by Staind.

    • Last appearances (presumably) of Lorena Gale as Dr. Claire Foster and Jesse Metcalfe as Van McNulty. This is the second "reversal" for the Foster character - in the comic books she's good rather then evil/immoral, and despite what happens here, in the comics she is a part of the adult Superman's life.

    • One of the headlines on a newspaper on Ian's cart mentions a "Themyscrian Queen Addre... ... tican" - an in-joke reference to Wonder Woman of DC Comics. Presumably it should say "Addresses the Vatican" or some such. It's also presumably a deliberate in-joke as we hopefully won't be seeing Wonder Woman or hearing of a mythical super-powered Amazon meeting with the Pope at the Vatican.


    • Road Runner
      When Lex starts his painting in the day room, other inmates are watching a Road Runner cartoon in the background. Road Runner is a Loony Tune, which is produced by Warner Studios...which also runs DC Comics.

    • Orderly: Get up, Curly.
      The orderly, when speaking to Lex, is of course talking about another famous bald guy, Curly of The Three Stooges.

    • Adam: The Midwich Cuckoos.
      The book Adam is reading in his hospital bed is The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham, which was later adapted into the movie remake of Village of the Damned. The John Carpenter remake was one of the last movies Christopher Reeves (Superman, Dr. Swann) starred in before his accident.