At the DP, Chloe and Jimmy enjoy an evening watching film noir (old 16mm style) and popcorn, first is "The Big Sleep." He jokes about the complexities of her life, comparing it to Cagney and Stanwyck. It seems Jimmy is a fan of the film noir genre, even to quoting the dialog on-screen. They hear a shot out in the office, and see a man running up the stairs...and find Lana in the elevator in a pool of blood, shot, and a gun on the floor at her side.
As the paramedics prepare to transport her, Clark arrives. A little inconsistency here - the police block Clark's attempt to get close, but Lionel (sporting a much shorter hairdo for this week's role) is hovering right over Lana, saying he's sorry for getting her caught up in this. So what are his credentials?
Lex runs in, Lionel telling him he dropped Lana at her car after the opera, for which Lex was a no-show. Lois, meanwhile, is trying to talk her way inside the police line, but she simply decides to tamper with the evidence instead, by dropping her purse and picking up part of Lana's belongings. Jimmy got a cell camera photo of the fleeing man, but while he looks at his photos of the scene, he's clubbed from behind, taking us to...
"Noir," in which Jimmy has an unconscious vision of life in Smallville in the 1940s - with all our cast members taking on new roles in his imagination - and living the scenes in black and white. The DP office where he "awakens" is a bit overbusy, and everyone smokes. It's supposed to be a hectic day at the Planet, which is a Lex Luthor publication. Jimmy is still aware of his real self, so all this seems mysterious...and Chloe comes by playing the perfect part of a fast-talking dame from the period, can this gal do any acting job? Jimmy's period haircut and vest make him look, and act, years older. I like this more mature Jimmy. A clumsy reporter bumps into Chloe - it's Clark, wearing the signature black-rimmed glasses. So all the fun reference points are here. A femme fatale calls Jimmy, saying "I want to report a murder." Well, we know it's Lana. "Whose?" he asks. "Mine," she replies. Close scene with an iris-in. Cool.
He meets her in a dark and damp alley, with a nice cut of her high heels striding through a reflecting puddle, with just a bit of extra sway, perhaps modeling Lauren Bacall, but still playing Lana Luthor. It's risky for him to meet her - he could lose his job. She says her husband is trying to kill her. She tries to act vulnerable and appealing, and gives him a cigarette case, with a matchbook from the Talon, probably a notorious night club. Out on the street, with a number of period cars and some nice set decoration, we see the Talon, a storefront club, and Jimmy checks his hat on entering. He gets in with the help of Clark, but is this the reporter Clark or some new persona? He has a secret identity.
The club owner is Lionel, and since Jimmy is "down on love," Lionel opines that "Dames is poison." Little heavy on the tough-guy talk here, but on we go. A sultry singer descends the stairs to the stage - it's Lois! Is that voice hers? Hard to tell - Ms. Durance has had voice training, but it could be lip-synch. She has the moves to go with it, though. Lex is watching, too, still in a father-son relationship with Lionel. Lionel tips off Jimmy that Lex is never in his car when it leaves the club. Lex leaves, appearing to enter a four-door period sedan (Cadillac or Packard?). Jimmy spots the ruse as Lex didn't enter after all, but crossed to another Cadillac in the alley, and Jimmy gives chase in his 1941 DeSoto - must have been a pre-production model, since the year is 1940. But we don't see him actually driving the car.
Lex has come to the Kent barn (or they used that set, anyway) for a close encounter with Lois...so she's playing his mistress. First on-screen kiss between Durance and Rosenbaum? Jimmy watches for an opportunity for a nice expose photo, and bolts after he gets it, leading to a slick night-time car chase with lots of old cars along the streets. The editors even cut in a couple shots from old movie chases, which really don't add to the authenticity. Jimmy beats a train; Lex misses and wrecks the car - but it's period footage, so no harm done to someone's precious classic.
At the Luthor mansion, Jimmy arrives to see Lana. He's already developed the photo of Lex with Lois - he will "take care of Lex." Lana gives him a gun.
On a dark and rainy street, someone pulls up in a 1940 Cadillac - looks like none of the cast is being allowed to drive these classic cars - but after a camera cut, Lex steps out to confront Jimmy, who called for him. Lex claims he's divorcing Lana, not planning her demise. When Lex goes for his cigarette case, Jimmy panics and shoots him. Jimmy runs, the cops in pursuit.
At the DP, the news of the shooting has spread fast; the telephone operator is busy, and so is Chloe, who grabs the switchboard and hears the police report of a press pass and the photo of Lex and Lois found at the murder scene. She realizes it's Jimmy, who by now is drinking heavily at the Talon. Chloe finds him, and has a theory that he may have been set up, by Clark. Lionel tips someone off by phone - it's Lana, "out from under a suffocating marriage." She's in a walk-up with slick-hair Clark, looking much the part. She leaves to take care of something - with a derringer.
The production crew has dug up old footage of the Daily Planet plaque from the 1950s tv series, reading "Daily Planet Building." No lighted globe on a high-rise here! Thanks, crew, nice touch. Jimmy enters the office, thinking it's Clark who has set him up - who is that behind the partition? It's Lana, looking a bit silly in a fedora that would be better suited for the wicked witch of the north. "They're going to put me away!" James exclaims. They won't get the chance, she says, pulling out the derringer and plugging James. Then another shot - Lana is hit! Who is the shooter? It's Clark! James has been saved by the cigarette case, struck by the bullet. Clark pulls out a Metropolis police badge - in the shape of the Superman shield! He's been undercover, assigned to watch Lex - falling in love with his wife was...a mistake. But Jimmy's under arrest, and awakens back to the real world as the cameras flash.
Now Jimmy has more thoughts about Lana's shooting - he and Chloe discover the cigarette case is missing from the crime scene. Lana may have been coming to the DP to see someone else - the elevator had stopped on the political correspondents' floor. They break into Brennan's office, then he's there. After some accusations, he says Lana wanted to meet about a story. As he's explaining, he's shot through the door. Jimmy tackles the assailant, while Chloe takes a header down the staircase - of course we have to have a super-rescue, and that's by Clark. He splits; Jimmy doesn't understand how she survived...
At the modern-day Talon, Lionel is waiting when Lois arrives; he is breaking and entering, she stole evidence from a crime scene. All even? He finds the cigarette case in her purse; it contains a USB drive. Can't let her have it - might contain bad news on Lex - he plugs it in to see a security video of Lex and Senator Burke discussing ARES, which is now known to be a weapons project. Why would he assume Lois has already seen it, and expose it to her?
He warns her that whoever is protecting Burke hired someone to murder the wife of a Luthor; they wouldn't think twice about silencing Lois. Her unspoken response tells us she knows the truth of that.
Lana is again in the hospital recovering. Chloe and Lana talk, all that's known is Lionel is having her spy on Lex. She was going to give the damaging video to the DP to get out from under the Luthors, and Lionel needed someone on the inside. This is shocking news to Chloe - was Lana protecting Clark? What about his weakness? Lana ask Chloe to keep this secret.
Clark has not found any leads on the attacker. Angered by Chloe's silence, he guesses LIonel is behind this manipulation of Lana. Lex hears from a staffer that the gun used to shoot Lana was his. Unregistered, missing. Why would Lana be carrying a gun? Why would Lana be so afraid? Perhaps these questions will be asked of Lana next week.
Jimmy's being sent on assignment, going to Milwaukee, but it's a start. So he sets up a product placement iPod for Chloe, with the Noir song by Lois, and gets a dramatic kiss for the record...
Although "Noir" doesn't move the Smallville storyline forward much, it gives an entertaining break in the usual action, and offered the cast an opportunity to display their acting skills on much different characters, and it's a nice paean to the film noir genre. The old film cliches are used effectively; we almost know what's going to happen next. Thanks to the writers and director for letting us see the capabilities of the cast and giving us a refreshing Smallville take on the movies of that era. Great old cars, too! We know more about the acting capability of the cast members post-Smallville (but I hope it will continue indefinitely!) Re-run rating B.