With screenwriting by Gough and Millar, and direction by Millar, I had high expectations for this episode. Flashback to the school days of Lex, who's having another round of hysteria over the death of his brother Julian, which unsympathetic father Lionel tries to handle. Lex in the present is re-living this event, even to standing on the edge of his balcony, ready to jump, when Lana pulls him down. She later tells Clark about this, while we learn Jonathan is written out again via a trip to Metropolis for more surgical recovery tests. Clark warns Lana, but agrees to see Lex, who chalks it up to sleepwalking. Lex drives his new MB CL 550 to Metropolis, while Clark follows. Lex discusses his psychosis with Dr. Garner of the Summerholt Institute, who pegs them as recovered memories, not delusions, so the treatment is working. Lex decides to continue them, and is wired up and lowered into a tank of green fluid, while all around rather garish lighting effects are at least eye-catching. More vague memories of childhood emerge, Lex played here by young Wayne Dalglish, who is devastated by the failure of his incredibly lavish birthday party - no one came. Lionel tried to be fatherly, but he always treated Lex as an employee, rather than as a son. As Lex ends the treatment, Clark observes via x-ray vision from above, and confronts Lex out front. Reminding Lex that Dr. Garner misused Molly and Ryan, Clark tries to warn Lex, who is determined to recover his memories - and that's a threat to Clark's secret. These night scenes are dramatic, directed and edited perfectly.
Clark goes to see Lionel about the Summerholt treatment - and Mr. Glover still has a facial wound from his fight with Jonathan two episodes back, and it's healing, so the continuity is flawless. Lionel accuses Clark of self-interest in stopping the memory recovery process, but truly, they both have things they would rather remain forgotten. Clark denies this, until Lionel shows the security camera footage from Belle Reve, with Lex whispering, "I know your secret, Clark."
Lionel sees Lex about his Summerholt treatment, urging him to stop, but Lex sees motivation for Lionel. An intriguing and well-shot transition to the past occurs, with Lex secretly observing his mother and Lionel with newborn Julian. Lillian is having difficulties of her own - she fears what will happen to her children by Lionel's mistreatment - and she wants a divorce. Lex recalls another scene - watching his baby brother, he tried to stop Julian from crying - Lionel saw that Julian was dead, and blamed Lex, in a rage striking young Lex to the floor - whereupon he awakens in the present on the floor. Lex ejects Lionel.
Lionel bursts in on the Kents - he and Clark discuss Lex and his treatment and the prospect of Lex being committed to Belle Reve again. Clark tries to intervene with Dr. Garner at Summerholt, but that green fluid - well, it's not easy being green. Surely the critics will question why Clark approaches anything resembling meteor rock - but this is only a minor weakness in the whole production. Garner's guys club Clark down, and strap him to the green-tank gurney. The betrayer is revealed - Lionel set up Clark, and has a deal with Garner to end the treatments for Lex, and begin studying Clark.
Lionel will supply the questions to be posed to Clark, while Lex is turned away at the Summerholt entry. But Lex calls Lionel and pulls a pretty good ruse - "I remember everything." Darn, we're getting so close to some revelations I almost wish Lionel could get a few answers out of Clark. Lionel leaves, but Garner decides to continue the experiment - and Clark does not do well immersed in a tank of kryptonite. What is his earliest memory? A flash to Krypton - and his departure for Earth, which he remembers even as an infant. His only response is to yell "Lara." Clark's body reacts to the fluid - causing an explosion - and Lex enters the lab to find everyone dead or injured, except Clark. Look who rescues whom! Lex drains the tank - Clark slowly recovers.
Later, at the farm, Lex comes by - but Clark is not at all grateful for the rescue. Lex identifies Lionel as the betrayer, but now Clark must play off both Lex and Lionel - either could be a great threat, and the writers have created an interesting subtlety in this dilemma. Lex pledges never to become his father, will never sacrifice Clark. But another memory flashes for Lex - he hears his brother Julian suddenly stop crying - and runs to the bedroom, finding Lillian over the crib with a pillow. She's having a break of her own, and Julian is gone...and Lex is set up to take the blame. Is Lex now free of this guilt?
The news reports Dr. Garner comatose after the lab accident, so he's not out of the series yet. Lex and Lionel meet again, Lionel claiming he knew nothing of Clark being held for experimentation by Garner. Lex brings up his memory of Julian's death - but Lionel wants to keep it in the past. At last Lex can free himself - he did not kill Julian, he declares, while Lionel continues to deny it - he saw Lex over Julian's crib. Lex took the blame, he says, to protect his mother, who otherwise would have been sacrificed by Lionel, who finally begins to see this as the truth, and Mr. Glover acts out this stunning news to perfection. But it is too late for them - Lionel cannot make up for a lifetime of estrangement and abuse...and Lex cannot now accept Lionel's love.
In the finale, Clark tells Martha about his memory of his mother - knowing her name, and her fear at sending her son across the galaxies - this means much to Clark. And Martha reveals that Clark's first word was "Lara," but she and Jonathan never understood it's origin. And a mother's love never dies.
High expectations met in full. "Memoria" is a memorable episode, with powerful drama, series-high revelations, and moving scenes of family and love. Even with only half the regular cast, everything is done well - lighting, musical score, direction, dialog, a gripping production. Re-run rating B+.