Smallville Episode 8.19: ‘Stiletto’ Review

Posted on April 24, 2009



TVSummary: Different than expected though oddly compelling and effective on its own.
Rating: 7/10

Review Trailer
The quick skinny on the episode.

Intrepid reporter Lois Lane, known throughout the history of the character as a bulldog who often rushes into stories headlong, finds herself without a story to tell. Hoping to finally land an exclusive with the Red-Blue Blur, Lois fashions herself as a superhero after a chance mistaken identity during a jacking of Chloe’s car. The carjacking is tied to a crime syndicate looking to go “straight” as a business. Jimmy, now inadvertently working for the syndicate as a bartender at the Ace of Clubs nightclub, helps Lois try to sell her story but draws the attention of the criminals. Clark, trying to track down Chloe’s stolen laptop with sensitive Justice League materials on it, arrives at the nightclub but is felled by Kryptonite. Lois is left to jump into action as Stiletto to save Jimmy and Clark. Though far from what I expected of the episode, it was generally entertaining, bolstered by a superb final scene.

Feature-Length Review after the jump.

Feature-Length Review
The in-depth review.

** Note: Review contains spoilers if you have not seen the episode.**

So Lois has hit a dry spell. Despite getting praise from many of the lower-level flacks at the Daily Planet and having a few stories hit the front page, she hasn’t found anything buzzworthy lately and she’s relatively unknown. She tries attending a Murrow Press Society event but is turned away at the door. When Chloe arrives inexplicably to pick Lois up – she’s not dressed for such an event and Lois seems surprised to see her – they have a conversation where Lois reveals that her pressing intent is to land the first exclusive interview with the Red-Blue Blur. She sees it as a way to bump her status into the stratosphere but Chloe notes something altogether different: Lois is quite infatuated with the primary-colored “superdude”. Thus begins the foundation of the iconic “love triangle” that played such a large part in the Superman mythos for many years before Lois found out that the other points were actually one and the same person.

Lois is presented with what she sees as the opportunity of a lifetime when Chloe is attacked for her purse and car in an alleyway. Breaking up the fight, Lois subdues one man as the second escapes in Chloe’s car. Not getting a clear look at her, the guy thinks she’s a superhero. Lois is quick to accept the mantle and announces herself as “Stiletto”.

One thing I’ve always enjoyed about Erica Durance’s Lois Lane is that the actress has been for any and everything they’ve thrown at her. From a stripper to an underground cage fighter to a superheroine, Durance rolls with silliness with aplomb. As a result, I’ve been looking forward to this episode for a while. My appetite was whet even further when the standard webclip made its rounds last week giving a preview of the episode. It was the scene where Lois as Stiletto meets up with Clark and he confronts her about wearing the costume. I am enthralled with the chemistry between Tom Welling and Durance, something that jumped out at me like a lightning bolt in her first scenes on the show at the beginning of Season 4. They bring out a playfulness in one another that is natural, fun and lends itself to comedy gold. The moments where they play up the comedy between these two have offered some of the best scenes of the series. The most recent examples have been in ‘Infamous’ and ‘Hex’.

That was what I had expected of this episode. Not necessarily a ham-fisted parody but perhaps a bit more tongue-in-cheek. I was surprised to find that ‘Stiletto’ was much more straightforward and actually added unique attributes to the overall narrative. The biggest of these is placing Lois on the right path when it comes to her journalism. I know many have been critical of this Lois Lane as a reporter. Yes, she really did seem to luck into her job. She was underqualified, hadn’t really shown much of an interest prior, and seemed to make headway pretty quickly. If anything ‘Stiletto’ brought her down a peg, which was a great choice for the overall story. But I also feel that this episode helped really connect this Lois to the various other incarnations. “Can you read my mind?” line-check aside, the sheer audacity of Lois’ plan – to become buddy-buddy with the Red-Blue Blur and talk up Lois’ skills as a reporter to convince him to give an interview to her – recalled Margot Kidder’s Lois ridding the bottom of a bomb-rigged elevator to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Superman II.

Since the episode was more straightforward than expected, I felt the tone was a bit all over the place. We had Lois’ story, which was played somewhat comically but offered a moral to her. We had Jimmy’s story, which I’m already bored with. The whole blue filter and stark camera angles during the scene where he goes to get his drug fix was overkill, as was his sallow looks while bartending (?) at the Ace of Clubs. Then we had Chloe’s story.

If you recall in my review of ‘Eternal’, I felt I’d finally come to an understanding of Chloe’s motivations behind her actions with Davis. I do understand but I find myself still not liking the storyline at all. Other than the scene at the end of ‘Turbulence’ where she assumes her role as Watchtower, I feel very uncomfortable seeing Chloe on-screen nowadays. In this episode, I wanted to scratch layers of my skin off every time she was around. I’ve been completely frustrated with the inconsistency of the writing of Chloe’s character this year. Now, they seem to be making a concerted effort to play Chloe as disharmonious and I have to give it up to them for making it work. Even the choices in palate for her clothes and makeup were discordant in this episode. She’s fallen into a hole and it looks to only get worse.

Though I enjoyed the episode, I thought that the jagged bits of the separate stories were too sharp to add up to a pleasant and cohesive whole. I don’t think that’s as much a fault of Caroline Dries’ script as it is the threads she was given to work with. After this episode there are only two episodes left to set up the May 14th season finale. With that, I thought the episode did a well enough job pushing overall story arcs along. It just made the episode a bit schizophrenic as a result.

Of my favorite parts of the episode: the Jimmy and Lois scene where she wants him to take pictures of “Stiletto” to sell the story. Aaron Ashmore, despite being given the overwrought and overplayed Speedy drug storyline, handles Jimmy’s exasperation and disgust for his life well, burning just the right amount under his skin and appearing ready to bare his teeth at any moment. I loved the mirror that Jimmy turned on Lois regarding her silly plot. Plus, it’s always nice to get Lois and Jimmy scenes where they are working together.

Another was the classic trifecta of Lois, Clark and Jimmy working together in the Ace of Clubs backroom. I whooped when Jimmy was the one to jump up and attack Mannheim to get the gun out of his hand, with Lois giving the final assist with the vase. I must also say that I was actually surprised by Clark getting shot. Not surprised that he would throw himself in front of a bullet to protect Lois, but that that whole part of the scene occurred. To see Lois’ care for Clark come rushing to the surface was heartwrenching.

I am an unabashed Clois fan. It comes from my natural affinity for this classic relationship to begin with, but I just eat up the Tom Welling-Erica Durance chemistry with a spoon. We are given four great Clois scenes in this episode. The first is the build-up scene where Lois and Clark are staying late at the office just waiting for something to come over the police scanner for the Red-Blue Blur and Stiletto to go after. The matching shots of them looking at their bags was timed beautifully and I really liked the moment of vulnerability Lois flashed when she blurted out that Clark was doing better at his job than anyone (read:her) would’ve expected.

The second was the “Stiletto” meeting scene which was a wonderful bit of comedy. The third was the resolution scene in the Planet. From Lois’ apology-by-doing-things to Clark faking his pain over the bullet wound to the lovely, soft interplay between them discussing Clark stepping in front of the bullet, the whole scene was written well and played with the right touch of intimacy. And finally, the scene that the episode will be known for.

The closing scene between “the Red-Blue Blur” and Lois over the phone was every bit as romantic as the producers had teased it would be. This scene alone pinned down the classic love triangle between Clark, Lois and who will eventually be known as Superman. The words, the delivery, the tone were all delicate and note-perfect. From Clark calling her “Ms. Lane” to Lois offering herself up as a friend and ear for this “lonely” hero, this was one of those defining moments of the series. I got giddy when Lois asked him what he thought about the name “Red-Blue Blur” anyway and he suggested she come up with a better name. It was touching when Clark realized just how she was opening up to “him” and he was so sweet and gentle with her. The whole scene played out better than I could’ve imagined and opens up a whole new world to explore.

Overall, while I wasn’t as impressed with the episode as I thought I’d be, I thought it was effective, offered some strong character points and did well enough to move the story along. Little moments throughout, particularly dialogue, really save the episode for me. The shoutout-simultaneous ribbing of the fans by using the message board gimmick (“Blur-etto”) again was funny. As was Lois’ throwaway line about putting an ‘S’ on her chest. I could probably have done without Chloe’s over-the-top “spiked heel over a Klieg light” reference, though. And that final scene is just magical.

Where Does This Leave Us

  • Lois is now gonna spend hours doodling superhero names for the Blur on her Trapper Keeper.
  • Clark has opened a can of worms by giving a real separation of identity between he and the Blur in regards to Lois.
  • Intergang BeginsBruno Mannheim takes control of Metropolis’ largest crime syndicate.
  • A special episode of the Jimmy intervention is brewing.
  • Chloe’s really gone down a path she doesn’t know how to get back from.
  • Chloe’s Divorce-In-A-Day package apparently went through without any hitches.
  • Lois’ tenacity is intact, but she’s reassured she’s a better reporter than making stuff up.
  • Davis got a nice Snax Return; thought he was getting water and got AJ instead.

Next, tale as old as time, song as old as rhyme…