Anytime Smallville finds itself dipping into the world of supernatural magic or a plot with a more Charmed-esque fantasy element, it’s hard not to wince and expect the worst. It’s not that there is anything wrong with that type of fantasy; it was one of the stock-in-trade stories that recurred throughout Buffy the Vampire Slayer to brilliant effect and there was a reason that Charmed lasted as long as it did.
It’s just that with Smallville, the spectre and disastrous nature of season four still looms large. At this stage, that was still only a year ago and everything about the fifth season has felt like an attempt at trying to get back on course or at least to resemble the magnificence of seasons two and three.
Thankfully, ‘Hypnotic’ never quite falls into the traps that many of last season’s episodes did. In fact, dare I say it, this isn’t half-bad at all. Following on from the death of Jonathan Kent a few episodes ago, there is a feeling that the series is not shying away from the passage of time, as well as the idea that its core characters have to deal with the notion that life might be fleeting, but it’s also something that has constant change and development.
By the time the episode ends, and what starts out as looking to be a light frivolous concoction that will give Clark the chance to act like an out of character jerk again, this time through magic as opposed to Red Kryptonite, Clark and Lana’s relationship looks to be over for good, this time with a hint that perhaps a new romance is on the cards between Lex and Lana.
I’m not sure how I feel about the latter, but there is a lovely and bittersweet moment between Clark and Martha where they discuss the end of Clark’s relationship with the girl he has loved seemingly all his life and it carries a poignant and low-key devastating air; the acknowledgement that the person we love the most growing up may not be the person we end up sharing our life with as we get older.
Of course, as audience members we know this; Lois Lane showed up last season and while the series hasn’t quite hinted at what lies in the future for the characters, our minds can’t help but go back to that lovely moment that passed between them in ‘Facade‘, a lovely piece of foreshadowing that Smallville would take years to pay off. The series has been so intent in selling the possibilities of the Clark/Lana dynamic that it comes as both tenderly poignant and actually a relief too that the writers are acknowledging that this relationship cannot be forever because the iconic mythology of its characters dictates it.
You can’t challenge or beat the hand of fate it seems, especially those who will be our saviour in their later years.