Smallville

Season 2 Episode 13

Suspect

1
Aired Friday 8:00 PM Jan 28, 2003 on The CW
SUBMIT REVIEW

Episode Fan Reviews (11)

9.2
out of 10
Average
636 votes
  • Multiple versions of an assailant shooting Lionel keeps us guessing about the culprit. Clark plays a key role in identifying the shooter and clearing Jonathan of the crime.

    7.5
    A stormy night at the Luthor mansion has Lionel letting us know that Martha is no longer his employee, then he senses someone entering below. Shots ring out; Lionel falls over the rail to the floor below, but we don't see the shooter.

    Jonathan is awakened in the red Dodge pickup by deputies - he holds a pistol in one hand, a liquor bottle in the other, and Sheriff Ethan arrests him. Since it's so obviously a frame-up, we can expect the entire episode to revolve around how his innocence is established. Lionel's survival is now doubtful, and all Jonathan remembers is stopping for a beer on the way home.

    Lex and Lionel's assistant Dominic Santori have harsh words at the hospital about who might be behind the murder attempt - it's not like Lex to go off so fast - usually he's very controlled, but here we might be seeing evidence of his true concern for his father. Lana and Clark ask Henry Small to represent Jonathan, but he turns it down cold. Lana has to tell Clark that she saw Jonathan at the Luthor mansion the previous day, unknown to Clark. Her story is illustrated by a flashback, again overloaded with lighting effects - it's a major lightning storm, thunder almost drowning out the soundtrack, as Lana overhears the argument between Lionel and Jonathan. She already had to report that conversation to the Sheriff, so she's already lined up with the prosecution. Exercising a search warrant at the Kent farm, Sheriff Ethan finds a watch belonging to Martha - a gift from Lionel, so all the plot elements spelling guilt pile up on Jonathan. Come to think of it, he brings this on himself with his hothead attitude and belligerent protection of his family. And Jonathan's claim about having only half a beer doesn't square with the bartender's recollection, and his blood alcohol was over the limit, according to the Sheriff.

    In the next flashback, call it Version 2.0, Jonathan gets bombed, takes the gun out, and heads for the Luthor mansion. Smallville scripting can depict either an imaginary scene, or the actual event. In this one, Jonathan IS the shooter. Witnesses place Jonathan leaving the mansion after the shots - it looks grim for the Kent family. In a mid-'80s red Chevy Camaro, Clark and Pete investigate the area where Jonathan was arrested, Clark using his x-ray vision to find a bullet embedded in a wall. He reports it to Sheriff Ethan - he's skeptical, but agrees to have it tested. Lionel lapses into a coma from the surgery and the wound. Dominic appears to be an ally for Clark - as he accuses Lex of being the culprit. In Flashback 3.0, Lex is seen accusing Dominic of buying up voting shares of Lexcorp, which he sees as a plot to take over the company. There was a big strobe-light thunderstorm that night too. This version of the shooting has Lex doing it, as theorized by Santori. Clark doesn't quite believe that version either.

    We finally get some relief from the overblown lighting and sound, as Chloe and Lana meet at the Torch office, where Chloe informs Lana that Henry Small has done legal work for Luthorcorp - a good reason to stay out of the case. And Luthorcorp arranged for Small to lose his job. But Small never becomes a suspect, so this bit of a side story is a throw-away.

    Clark bangs into the mansion to bluntly ask Lex if he's trying to frame Jonathan - they both have a father to lose - so Lex boots him out. In jail, Jonathan admits to Martha that he was indeed jealous about the attention she got from Lionel - and apologizes for giving in to his petty fears.

    Clark and Pete next try the tavern for evidence that someone drugged Jonathan. The bartender claims that Jonathan said he was going to "take care of Lionel." Clark loses his temper on hearing this, but Pete keeps him under control.

    In the best action/effects scene of the episode, a semi veers toward the Camaro, forcing Pete to exit into a field, and the car flies through the air to a bumpy landing. The masked semi driver neatly places a rifle round in the gas tank, but the slow-mo of the round flying out seems a bit pointless - usually Clark catches these bullets - not this time. The Camaro becomes one big fireball, but Clark drags Pete out - by now he should be having second thoughts about being a close friend of Clark.

    Lex tells Clark of his theory of the attempt on Lionel's life - Dominic has a motive also. So Version 3.0 of the shooting is shown in flashback, and this time Dominic is the shooter. Then another bar scene has the bartender giving the extra liquor to someone other than Jonathan. Clark cools off and starts to work with Lex. The flashbacks keep us guessing and effectively show how so many people would be willing to get rid of Lionel.

    Lana tells Henry what she learned about his loss of a position because of a complaint by Luthorcorp - he's offended. He reluctantly tells her his story - he was legal counsel for a young murder victim. and didn't do a good job. His client was executed, but later proved innocent, and Henry quit the bar. He relents, and agrees to represent Jonathan. The bartender, a school chum of Jonathan, has disappeared, so Clark goes looking, but for what? He finds the body of the bartender in a deep freeze. Pretty clumsy murder - hiding the body on the premises.

    Finally, at the hospital, someone comes in to finish off Lionel - firing into...a pile of pillows. It's a trap, and the shooter is none other than Sheriff Ethan! This is a good surprise outcome because none of the flashbacks even hinted it might be him. Clark is hiding in the room, and Ethan is caught. He confess to being in cahoots with the bartender to frame Jonathan. So here's Version 4.0 of the shooting, maybe the real story at last. Jonathan's drink at the bar is spiked, Ethan sloshes liquor all over him, then uses Jonathan's hand to fire the pistol. The Sheriff was determined to rid Smallville of the evil of the Luthor family, and this is the end of Mitchell Kosterman's continuing role as the sheriff.

    Lex sees Clark at the loft to check on Jonathan - he's ok. Lionel is recovering too, but they talked about the darkness in some people - Lex thinks Lionel has the ability to bring it out. He should know. Lex visits Lionel, out of the coma, telling him about Ethan. Now Version 5.0, but a different flashback, showing Ethan's motives. Lionel bribed him for criminal information on people from whom he needed to buy shares to get control of Lexcorp. Ethan has tried to cover himself with evidence against Lionel, but he's one step ahead, already having bought Ethan's documentation. But Lionel blames Lex for an employee coup and offers Ethan a working partnership. All this manipulation and blackmail led to the downfall of another resident, attempting to get even with Lionel.

    Good points about "Suspect" - the inventive flashbacks with multiple versions of the same event, making us guess about the correct version until the surprise ending, interesting dialog for Mr. Rosenbaum showing his complex character and paranoia, good acting throughout, and great special effects. Bad points - the annoying overdramatized lighting, strobes going off incessantly in a lousy simulation of lightning, and the unnecessary thunder. Don't make too much effort seeing it again, but if it's on, it's certainly a watchable episode. Re-run rating C.
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