An annoying metal sound track, strobe-fake lightning, and three masked youths start this episode, so it's obviously aimed at young teens. Burglary can be fun, if you have loud rock available to accompany your break-in. Inside the mansion, Lex Luthor, a young corporate executive, sits still for an interview by a high-school newspaper editor who asks mostly accusatory questions. So far there's only cartoons here, no drama. Clark's only role is to videotape this session, including Chloe's pointed questions about Level 3 and secret factories.
The masked intruders materialize in the office, undetected by Clark, who obliviously walks out of the room. So they can walk through walls, and proceed to rob the Luthor vault of nearly everything. The perps then grab Clark, who is weakened, meaning they have kryptonite all over them - this week's meteor power. Chloe is pushed through a second-story window, and for once, Clark is not available to catch her, so she winds up in the hospital with a broken arm and concussion
Clark has an amusing scene in the barn, splitting wood with his bare hand, but that's pretty messy - what's wrong with an axe? He's still beating himself up over his failure to save Chloe, but gets the usual lecture from Jonathan and Martha, who get all of 20 seconds screen time in this episode.
The side plot is about Lana, and her Aunt Nell selling the Talon, the place where Lana's parents met. The buyer is Lex Luthor. Lana makes a pitch with Lex for restoring the Talon, with the reason it's so valuable for her. But he's not receptive, so Lana faces disappointment.
Clark uses x-ray vision at the bank where the thieves also attempted a break-in, and here he sees a ghostly set of arm-bones, apparently stuck in the vault. Then every time we see the perps, we have to listen to more hard rock, as they discover on a laptop that Lex has been lifting funds from Lionel. The three thugs plan their next heist, but it sounds like their powers wear off. Well, sports injuries cost them their pro athlete careers, so that pretty much ends their lives, leaving only crime and self-indulgence. Hey, tattoos and high-fives, are we cool or what?
At the mansion, Lex is suddenly surrounded by the masked punks, who confront him with his own theft of data from Lionel. After demanding $1 million in blackmail cash, they evaporate through the walls.
Back on subplot B, we see the only closeup of the Fordman family store ever shown on Smallville. Grumpy Whitney reveals to Clark that he has lost his football scholarship. He whines about his future, when one of the perps comes in, Clark recognizing his tattoo. The other perp sees Whitney as a possible recruit, inviting him to their house for Fun! That means more rock, beer, babes, and "Whoo!!" They show him a vial of green fluid, forcing Whitney to submit to tattooing with the stuff, and soon he's boozin' and partyin' with all of them. One pretty good scene has Whitney thrown in front of a semi, and it passes right through his body. Whitney's cool with that.
Chloe now gets her first visitor, Clark, with a wad of flowers, not even in a vase, which he carelessly throws on her bed to apologize for not saving her. This is poor film editing. But she won't buy his guilt. "Clark Kent, investigative reporter," she quips, when he tells her he'll continue his search for the thieves. Later, Clark asks Whitney about the thug with the tattoo - but Whitney just accuses him of trying to steal Lana.
So Lana comes to see Clark about Whitney's attitude, and Clark tells her that Whitney lost his scholarship - she's hurt by Whitney's secret-keeping. Clark is still determined to help Whitney, who that night goes with the thugs in their red Dodge Challenger, a-whoopin' and a-carryin' on. It's blackmail collection night, Lex being sent to a dark meat-packing plant, where the four baddies walk right through the wall. Whitney tries to back out of the crime, then Clark busts in but is easily laid out and the four escape, but Clark recognizes Whitney. Lex owns up to Clark about the blackmail threat - "Clark, you can't save the world," he says. Even while hospitalized, good Chloe works the case, finding that the thugs have used meteor rocks to get their molecules moving at hyper-speed, enabling them to walk through walls - but it has a dangerous side effect.
Whitney tells Lana at the Talon that he's in trouble, and later, Clark too, insisting that there be no police involvement. Why isn't Clark affected by Whitney's meteor rock injection? Clark finds the stolen disc in the perp's place, when the thugs all show up. Could Clark speed out? Maybe, but he simply crushes the disc of stolen data, then head thug shoves his fist right into Clark, and Whitney, trying to reform, is hauled out by the two thugs. Then Lex appears, knocking out the one thug via a taser. The bads plan to drop a car on Whitney, but in a case of perfect timing, the meteor rock has worn off, and Clark speeds in to grab Whitney, the head thug crushed like a grape.
Police clean up the mess, but Lex gets in the last word, telling the two survivors that if they keep his secret, he'll keep theirs, then he leaves in a silver Porsche 911, tagged "LEX 1." Chloe is out of the hospital and heads off on another investigation, even with a broken arm. Her energy is refreshing, with so many other cast members whining and moping around.
Lana has a new business plan for the Talon to show Lex - pretty sophisticated for a 16-year-old. With management by Nell, it's a deal, he says, the start of "a very interesting partnership." Foreboding words, as Lana begins to realize the responsibility she has taken on.
The bad-boy theme is pretty overblown and off-putting in "Kinetic," so there's not much to recommend there. Michael Rosenbaum can carry any scene and bring some dignity to the show, so that's a positive. The partnership with Lana is going somewhere, so the episode is good background to understand how the Talon story came to be. And even with just a couple scenes, Ms. Mack brightens up the whole story, overcoming some of the cartoon criminal stuff. If you're bored, watch it again, it can't hurt too much if you turn down the sound track. Re-run rating C.