At the heart of ‘Fade’ is a wonderfully devilish idea for a villain. Graham Garrett (Alexader Scarlis) is one of those villains-of-the-week who is a creation of Smallville‘s writers as opposed to being based on a comic book character. His ability to turn invisible feels very Smallville, but his belief that he owes Clark – who saves his life and thus kickstarts the impetus of the episode’s story – gives him a different drive than we usually see. He doesn’t want to hurt Clark but instead intends to hurt Lex. We know that Clark isn’t going to give in, he is after all the future Superman. Instead, there is an almost satanic level of temptation that comes from the aura of Garrett.
He invites Clark to a party in his lush apartment and feels very much as if he is insinuating himself into Clark’s life and a space Lex has not occupied since the breakdown in the friendship. It’s a neat idea for an episode, but it also feels like it’s treading water a little before we get to the finale. With only two episodes of the season left, you can sense that the series is building up to something big with Lex and Milton Fine, but unfortunately needs to pace it out before the audience can get to the bigger ideas and themes that are going to take us to what be Smallville‘s end-of-season cliff-hanger.
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Everything here feels like it should be ripe for an enjoyable little detour before getting to those plot threads, but instead, this puts one at a slight sense of unease that maybe the wheels are coming off the series after having spent the season doing a magnificent job of rebounding after season four. Once again, the viewer can’t help but feel as if the love triangle involving Lex, Clark and Lana is venturing into obvious areas for the story. It feels too pat and too easy a way for Smallville‘s writers to go.
You can already sense the possible WB/CW fever dream lying in wait and that’s unfortunate. Suffice it to say season six will be Smallville simultaneously at its best and its weakest, and a lot of it comes down to its inability to do something more interesting with the love triangle it’s opting to have become the catalyst for so much of its drama. A character like Garrett is straight out of the Smallville book of villains, but at least he has a semblance of charisma and devilish ill-intent that makes him somewhat nauseating fun to watch, although this being a series from the 2000s means that his invisibility powers are used in sexually deviant ways such as watching Lois shower.
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As Lex now pivots into the realm of supervillains that the series has teased magnificently for the past five seasons, the writers have sadly decided that the only way to make him the bad guy isn’t simply because he’s getting into a partnership with Brainiac/Milton Fine, an enticing proposition it should be said. Unfortunately, the show has also decided to make him a love rival for Clark, and one can’t help but feel that Lex Luthor and Rosenbaum’s performance deserves better than being the next Whitney Fordman or Jason Teague.