Season 1 Episode 8


Aired Friday 8:00 PM Dec 11, 2001 on The CW

Episode Fan Reviews (23)

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out of 10
807 votes
  • An old farmhand of the Kent's has been infected by Kryptonite in the mysterious "Level 3" at LuthorCorp, leaving him with uncontrollable, violent shakes. After he accidentally kills a man, he becomes determined to uncover the secrets of the plant. Ace...

    This review contains spoilers.

    I thought "Jitters" was an excellent episode, possibly 'Smallville's best story thus far. But it seems to be one of those stories that people either love or hate, as some seem to have rated it very low. I'm kinda surprised at this, as I felt this episode to be far superior to a few of the previous episodes.

    It is a very enthralling tale about Earl Jenkins, an old farmhand-come-friend of the Kent family, who has been infected by some kind of Kryptonite toxin while working at the Luthor plant – in a department that Lionel Luthor denies even exists. I found this to be a very interesting "opponent of the week", and a welcome twist on a series that could so easily fall into the standard "troubled infected teenager of the week" template (and has even verged on doing so in a couple of previous episodes).

    Earl is brought to life by wonderful actor Tony Todd. Although never quite making it to the "front line" of actors (as maybe he deserved to have done), Todd has shone in many TV guest roles and b-movies, and I enjoy anything he appears in. Earl could so easily have come off as an unbelievable, two-dimensional character, but Todd really made him believable for me; he is a victim, a tragic figure but not a deliberate bad guy, and I really willed him on to find the mysterious "Level 3".

    Things start off with Jonathan and Martha going out of town, to a trip to Metropolis, which gives Clark the opportunity to have a "small" party which quickly gets out of hand. These are the obligatory "good looking teen drama" elements of the episode, complete with lovelorn Lana and Whitney scene, but thankfully, these elements are soon out of the way as the (no pun intended) badly shaken Earl is discovered in the barn. (It did lead to one fun scene though, as Clark zips around at super-speed to try and find something for a worse-for-wear partygoer to throw up into!).

    The whole party element at the beginning does in a way feel slightly "tacked on" to the main story; I think maybe it was to try and emphasise the difference between the Kents and the Luthors – the Kents are understandably cross but quickly forgive Clark, whereas the relationship between Lex and father Lionel is much more distant and strained as Lex tries to defuse the hostage situation with Earl, only to find that his father has been lying to him and Level 3 did indeed exist. I suppose with this in mind, it would give more explanation and basis to the party scenes, though if it is the case I feel this point could have been made clearer; This is my only minor quibble with the episode though.

    The story, especially with Earl's violent junkie-like shakes, feels to have a much darker edge to it than usual. The hostage situation at LuthorCorp, which could have been slightly two-dimensional, is executed well, and the climax, with Clark saving Earl and Lex hanging off of the collapsed bridging over the now empty Level 3, is very exciting.

    All-in-all, I really enjoyed this episode. Personally I think it is strong enough to rank a perfect 10/10.

    (By the way, I've said this before but will repeat myself, some people seem to misunderstand – "review" is to give your own thoughts about the episode, not to just give a plot rundown, which already exists on the page lol)
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