There’s a thriller trope involving waking up with no memories from the night before and the possibility of murder in the air that always makes for some entertaining material. It’s a plot that has done the rounds in so many films and television shows, but it always seems to bring out some great character beats when used on television.
‘Bound’ is no exception. It firmly puts Lex front and center in a way the season feels like it hasn’t really done so far, and it gives the series a chance for Clark to see the queasier aspects of his current best friend and future enemy.
There’s even the fun to be had in seeing Cobie Smulders showing up for a pre-How I Met Your Mother guest appearance as this episode’s villain, a more human antagonist than usual, although one that manages the rare feat of being somewhat complex and yet maybe too naively developed and written.
That Lex’s somewhat cavalier attitude towards women comes under the microscope here gives Luke Schelhaas’s script a finely tuned edge to go with its thriller plot. At this stage, Lex is still a “good guy”, not yet the arch nemesis the future holds. There is an undercurrent of tragedy in the air, given how well Smallville has managed to make the Clark/Lex friendship one that the audience cares for, but these constant reminders of just how different they are gives their dynamic and Welling and Rosenbaum’s chemistry a loaded charge that makes the series, even at its weakest, a very entertaining one. And ‘Bound’ is no exception.
Clark is reminded of just how different Lex’s world is here as he is confronted with his constant sexual trysts and ambivalence at casting aside his sexual partners the morning after. There is the possibility of the series falling into a way of thinking that borders on the conservative in regards to sex, but really it’s highlighting more the inherent coldness in Lex’s viewpoint at the opposite sex.
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It’s a really good basis for an episode, and it might even have been better if it didn’t resort to a quasi-Fatal Attraction style portrayal of the episode’s central villain Shannon. Smulders gives the character her all, but the character’s motivations sad behavior is played too broadly and too “villainous” to give ‘Bound”s observations the power it needs. It all too easily resorts to typical thriller in its final act, with Smulders in somewhat over the top mode and the script having her motivations defined too much by male behaviour all too readily.
Having said that, the episode is a massive improvement on last week’s attempts at trying to be Charmed, although every scene with Lana cannot help but remind you that we are still knee deep in one of Smallville‘s lesser runs, even if it can still occasionally deliver good self contained stories.