There is a lot of fun to be had when television shows decide to have characters act in a completely different way to the way that they have been established, and that idea is very much at the heart of what ‘Nicodemus’ is attempting with Smallville in this hour.
I always think of ‘Nicodemus’ as something of a lesser episode of the series; this is, after all, a piece of genre television that is centred around a killer plant – usually something more likely to be found in a cheesy B-Movie – which causes the characters of the show to act in an aggressive manner. But while far from the best episode of the series, it is one that sees the story and the performers having fun doing things that go against the foundations of the show.
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The first act is pretty much taken up with Jonathan Kent on a lecherous form, being angry and mouthing off to Lex, belching in his face for good measure, and there is enjoyment to be had in seeing John Schneider letting himself off the leash a little compared to the usual nice guy that he has nailed down over the course of the season so far. Of course, the audience should have been put on alert by the inclusion of Jonathan driving down a country road while listening to the theme music from Dukes of Hazzard, an in-joke in itself that amazes one that it’s taken so long for the show to play with, so maybe some Bo Duke behaviour should have been expected.
Things seem to reach a crescendo in the first act with Mr Kent taking a gun to the bank and then eventually to Clark himself and it’s pretty damn entertaining, but then the episode pretty much does that routine for the entire hour. Next up is Lana, with Kristen Kreuk playing a more sexually aggressive version of herself, breaking up with Whitney and then coming on to Clark and then later Lex, and subsequently stealing his car, before having Pete go off the rails in the final act.
The teleplay by Michael Green, itself based on a story by Greg Walker, is fun, but it also feels somewhat disposable compared to the last few weeks in which the series really came into its own, even if is far from being the weakest episode of the series thus far. Many of the performances from the main cast are a big selling point as to why the things that are good about the episode soar that little bit more, not least during the sequence when Lana is trying to seduce Lex.
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Kreuk, like Schneider, genuinely seems to be enjoying playing a completely different version of her character than she usually gets to, and the moment she tries to come on to Lex in the Talon makes for strangely fascinating viewing, not least for how Rosenbaum plays the moment, particularly that little beat where he doesn’t say something for a second before asking the character where she has been over the last twenty-four hours. It’s a recurring thing on Smallville for sure, but Rosenbaum’s performance, everything from his little looks to the way he sometimes contemplates how he’s going to deliver his dialogue, makes for incredibly fascinating viewing and just further makes the case that Rosenbaum’s performance may very well be one of the best live-action versions of the character to date.
The final act involving Pete, finally gives Sam Jones III something substantial to do this week, and while Clark might only be faking his turn of character at the end, just hinting, even if for a brief moment, of Clark not liking Lex is genuinely fun, and fun is the best way to sum it all up this hour. Not the best, but also far from the worst.