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Smallville

Season 3 Episode 20

Talisman

2
Aired Friday 8:00 PM May 05, 2004 on The CW
SUBMIT REVIEW

Episode Fan Reviews (11)

9.2
out of 10
Average
598 votes
  • Rights to cave artifacts are the subject of this politically manipulative and stereotyped script, with a lot of contrived violence and overacting, and trivial subplots.

    5.0
    In the caves, Lionel's explorations are interrupted by Professor Willowbrook, ostensibly a native American, along with his stereotypically-angry research assistant Jeremiah, full of resentment over others exploring what he sees as his sacred history. He snatches an artifact, smashes it and it turns into a light emitting dagger - suddenly he has superpowers, wounds Lionel, whose bozo guards summarily open fire with at least three pistols. Of course he's not affected. This setup looks like the start of a manipulative and politically correct episode, meant to fan the flames of racial hatred and feelings of injustice. Smallville never does well when written around a political issue - it usually doesn't make for a good story line or a script.

    Willowbrook visits Lex, who thinks Clark is the man of destiny. Some of the cave prophesies are coming true, and strength and speed for the young native. Jeremiah, they suspect, will not return the knife. At the hospital, Lionel is being treated for his wound from Jeremiah. When Lex arrives, Lionel tries to hide the source of his wound, but Lex already knows the rumors about Jeremiah's powers. In a dramatic turnaround from last week, Lex is conciliatory and helpful. Just when we think a major shift in characters has occurred, the writers back way off and reset major relationships back to some previous state, and this is usually confusing and unsatisfying. We have a 'B' plot about Lana's proposed trip to school in Paris, but she's having a financial problem. Chloe suggests tapping Lex for a loan, an out-of-character proposal for Chloe, given her history of mistrust of Lex. Anyone want to be indebted to him?

    Clark finds Lex in the ransacked office of Jeremiah at Central Kansas A&M, Clark saying Jeremiah was going to help him with a term paper. Clark claims ignorance of the cave incident, so Lex fills him in about the artifact's effects. So a total stranger (Lex) can wander around a crime scene and the University has no security, objection, or investigation? On the back of the blinds Clark finds a cave symbol, a bit of a plot stretch. Lionel, meanwhile, tries to talk Willbowbrook into collaborating on more research - legend says the blade will disintegrate if the wrong person touches it - the Bearer of Darkness. Clarks strolls in, Lionel strolls out. Clark shows Willowbrook the symbol - it's said to be a place where rituals took place, a slumbering place.

    Out in the woods, Jeremiah is doing a dance of sorts at the site, when Willowbrook appears with Clark. Jeremiah says he no longer exists - their warnings to him about the blade's dangers fall on deaf ears. There are so many plot developments here it's hard to swallow. Rebellious Jeremiah goes overboard with power and demonstrates his heat vision by destroying a nice Jeep Cherokee.

    Clark tells Mom and Pop that he thinks Jeremiah is going after Lionel, but Jonathan advises searching for him before he can harm Lionel. Clark suggests that superpower weakness may match his own.

    Lana finds that Lex plans to sell the Talon without informing her - Lex later says he decided to sell a poor investment, and he kept the building all this time for her. He's getting practical, and she's leaving, so why hang onto the building? He challenges her to be something better - the girl who goes to Paris. This scene has the best script in the episode - all too brief.

    Lionel visits Clark - who preaches about Lionel pillaging the caves, so Clark is again portrayed as a supporter of native rights, a position that must mirror network or producer policy. Lionel believes the knife is forged from the same metal as the octagonal key - which is missing in the cave wall - (but we know Dr. Swann has it). Lionel believes the Kiwatchee will listen to Clark - and Clark sees Lionel as the culmination of prophecy - the "friend who becomes an enemy." He tells Lionel to get out.

    Clark returns home to find Jeremiah, who accuses him of being a false prophet. Clark pulls out the meteor rock, but Jeremiah is not affected, and stabs Clark with the dagger. Of course, Jeremiah could presumably finish him off, but doesn't, and Clark staggers into the house, wounded. The folks find him - but how do they treat the wound? Not a problem - Jonathan tries to stop the bleeding, and his hand turn to light - he has conveniently acquired healing powers, and the wound closes up. Quick problem - quick resolution. Why they leave Clark laying on the floor all night is a mystery, just as much of this murky story. Somehow they know that Jeremiah now has Lionel prisoner. No logic to all this - just quick one-liners to advance the script, but making the whole story trivial. Jeremiah somehow commandeers Lionel's Lincoln limo, and if Lionel isn't killed this time, we have to wonder. Jeremiah prepares Lionel for a ritual murder on a stone in the forest - of course Clark arrives in time to halt the attack. Lex magically appears, freeing Lionel, but of course neither see the superbattle between Jeremiah and Clark, which ends in Jeremiah collapsing for no apparent reason and the knife conveniently flying through the air onto the ritual altar - as Lex and Lionel try to grasp it, it disintegrates.

    How to dispose of Jeremiah is the next plot dilemma - oh, he's in a coma in Belle Reve, according to Clark's wrapup with the folks. Clark says the prophecies indicate that either Lionel or Lex are his greatest enemy, since they both held the dagger when it disappeared. The cast struggles on with this miserable script, with Lana telling Lex she's going to Paris - no mention of how she solved her financial problem.

    The third subplot with Pete and Chloe is hardly worth mentioning, since it's all contrived tension and mushy reconciliation. Anyway, Pete's parents are divorcing, so this foretells Mr. Jones' departure from the cast in some future episode. Not a good story, just a few lines to tip off the audience.

    Lex drops by Clark's lair, about the prophecy - his new interpretation is that the saviour comes from the stars, shoot fire from his eyes, and could conquer the world. The hero of the story is the adversary - so we're supposed so see that this is Lex...I guess.

    Talisman is about the fourth demographically-based story in the series, and just as poorly executed as the others. Someone with influence in the production staff is able to manipulate the writing process to advance their political position, to the detriment of the script and any enjoyment we might get out of the story. At least we can see it coming, and adjust our expectations downward, and don't bother watching it again. Re-run rating - skip it.
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