It might be a somewhat lazy and possibly even cheeky thing to do, but sometimes it’s fun to refer to an episode of television through its guest star, and sometimes by a guest star who was making an appearance before they made it bigger in another television show or movie. ‘Crush’ is essentially that episode of Smallville with Adam Brody, who after guest-starring here was about to head to The O.C., after making a quick stop in Stars Hollow with the Gilmore Girls.
For anyone familiar with Brody’s brand of charm as either Seth in The O.C. or as Dave in Gilmore Girls, to see him portraying a somewhat darker, violent character as here might be a shock, but he’s very effective and one of the better freak of the week characters of the season.
The teleplay by Philip Levens, based on a story by series creators Al Gough and Miles Millar, hits many of the beats that we’ve come to expect from Smallville. Brody’s character Justin feels wronged and wants revenge for a hit and run accident that has caused him to lose the use of his hands, but this being Smallville he’s also developed telekinesis and with those powers comes great irresponsibility.
It does really well mixing and matching its stand-alone freak of the week story with ongoing character arcs. Only two weeks away from its first season finale, there is a sense of certain character stories coming to a head at this stage in the show; Chloe’s relationship with Justin brings out jealousy in Clark and given that he’s been oblivious to his best friend and her feelings when he’s trying to make eyes at Lana, it’s actually fun to watch the character squirm at the prospect that somebody might like Chloe and she likes him in return.
Yes, it might feel more like a Dawson’s Creek clone in that way, and a love triangle appears to be on the writers’ mind at this stage, but then again Dawson’s Creek never had someone lose their hands in a terrifying elevator incident in the manner of the teaser sequence: a horribly brilliant reminder of how much Smallville is just as eager to throw in intense moments of body horror on top of hinting at future Superman lore.
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It also places Chloe front and centre in a way that is wonderful. Without a doubt one of the best characters on the show, one can see why Allison Mack becomes an MVP on the series. Her charming, quirky characteristics and eye rolling at Clark’s feelings for Lana are always fun and the writers’ approach to her character as a quasi-Lois Lane is magnificent, although its hard not to find pause enjoying her character, watching the series in 2020.
The affections the writers clearly had for the character can be seen in many of episodes, with so much of the best lines being given to Mack, and while an unrequited love story is something we see a lot of in television shows with teenage protagonists, the likeability of Chloe is what makes an already good episode like this work even better, even if we are watching it today with a much more serious eye and knowledge of real life events.