tried to eat the safe banana (thefourthvine) wrote,
tried to eat the safe banana

Fandoms I Have Loved 11: Smallville

This FIHL is dedicated to svmadelyn, who was supposed to get it in, um, February. To her, I say:
  1. See? Eventually, I come through.
  2. But it's entirely possible that you'll die of waiting, or just age out of the project altogether, in the interim.
Recently, I said to the document on my computer screen, "Ah-ha, Mr. Unclear Sentence, we meet again. The last time, I was but the learner, but...wait. The last time was in Chapter 4. How did you get here?" And I realized that I needed to take a break from work if I wanted my brain to work ever again.

It seemed obvious, given the content of my speech to the computer monitor, that Smallville was the place to go.

So. Before I get down to the fandom part, I need to explain about the canon. Normally, I dispense with this in a sentence ("Haven't seen it." "Watched it once." "Well, I've seen some vids. Oh, and the blooper reels."), but in this case - well, I've seen parts of lots of episodes. This is thanks to the generosity of two people:
  1. svmadelyn, who puts together a mean pimp kit. (Seriously, people; if you ever, ever have the opportunity to be pimped into a fandom by her, take it. You get chocolate. And assorted fandom artifacts to marvel at, and I do mean marvel - like, in politely mystified silence. That kind of marveling.)
  2. Best Beloved, who courageously kept watching after I fled the room during the opening credits of the first episode.
That last one may need some explaining. See, BB does most of the actual consumption of media in this household; I handle the fan fiction etc. of said media. We are happy with this division of labor.

Strange things happen when we try to cross the streams.

Specifically, I get very confused and ask a lot of questions. (A summary of our household TV-watching experience told in dialog form:

Me, staring at the screen in betrayed bewilderment: But...who's he?
Best Beloved, spacing the words carefully to allow ample time for comprehension: THE STAR OF THE SHOW THAT YOU HAVE BEEN WATCHING FOR THE LAST HALF-HOUR.
Me: Oh. He...looks different.
BB: He changed clothes. Sometimes they do that on television.
Me: I...oh. Wait, who's that?
BB: The other star of the show. The other half of your pairing! How can you read about these people all the time and not recognize them when they're right in front of you?
Me, proudly: I'm very gifted.
BB, in heartfelt tones: Yes. Yes, you are.)

And then, in most cases, I give up - TV watching is hard, yo, and I am in constant awe of you people who manage to do it every night like it's just nothing - and go to bathe my temples with cold compresses (because my brain hurts, because TV is hard), and Best Beloved finishes the episode/movie/series/whatever without me. Later, I get a plot summary that highlights major plot points and potential areas of slashy interest. (BB: "Guess what? He saved the day!" Me: "Yay!" BB: "And then they had sex in the mine!" Me: "Really?" BB: "No, but god, I don't know why they didn't.")

Smallville, though. See - okay. Smallville, it's - it's very. Um.

The writing isn't very good.

The characters, the setting, the set-up, those are all incredibly appealing (by which I mean, "gayer than a tree full of Tom Cruises on nitrous oxide"), but the writing itself is - well, let's put it this way. It gives fan fiction writers a lot to work around. In this show, it is possible for a character to go through two complete 180 degree personality switches in a single episode and no one even to notice. (Here, as an example, is a highly compressed summary of much of the plot of Smallville to date, in dialog form:

Lex: I'm good, I'm good, I'm good - I save puppies and orphans and Christmas! I frolic with unicorns - the open-minded ones, anyway - and angels! I'm good, people!
Other characters: We know you're bad at heart, because we are fugitives from a Victorian novel who judge people by their last names.
Clark: And I will never trust you, by god, because my father says not to.
[There is a testy pause.]
Lex: Fine. Then I'm evil, I'm evil - so evil, in fact, that I can say 'I have always been evil' and notice the Orwellian overtones and not even care, because I aim to be Big Brother. That is how evil I am.
Other characters, nodding wisely: We are not at all surprised.
Clark, looking betrayed: How could you do this to me? I trusted you, Lex!)

So, basically, what with my TV problems and my allergy to bad writing, my household's Smallville-watching process went like this:

[DVD begins to play.]

Me: So I'm going Go to another room now.
Best Beloved: And leave me here watching this. Yes, I know. [Best Beloved has put up with me for a scarily long time.]
Me, brightly, edging toward the door: Come get me if there's anything gay!

[Two minutes pass.]

BB, appearing at the door of the computer room: We have gay.
Me, bouncing up from my chair: Okay!

[We watch the send-me-an-angel scene, in which Lex meets Clark by nearly killing him, Clark displays inappropriate emotion while saving Lex by laying a big ol' sloppy kiss on him, and Lex looks at him with wide-eyed wonder, clearly thinking, "Thank you, God."]

Me: Wow.
BB, pausing on the close up of Lex's "OH GOD YES" face: Yeah.
Me: That's...that's very gay, is what that is.
BB: Gayer than any given one of the LotR movies, even. [Speculative pause.] Probably gayer than Queer as Folk, too.
Me, edging toward the door again: Well, thanks! I'll get back to, stuff now, and you just - come get me if there's any more gay.

[Seven minutes pass.]

BB: We have gay.
Me: What, again?
BB: Well, it's more like 'still,' but I'm only getting you for the really gay parts. Otherwise I'd never get to sit down.

I got so jaded by this process that eventually we were having conversations like:

Me, watching the screen skeptically: That's not all that gay.
BB: Clark's eyes set things on fire when he thinks about Lex.
Me: Well, yeah, but it's not, like, especially gay.
BB: You know, this show is totally going to ruin you for all future subtext.

So. I have seen parts of the canon. Specifically, the gayest parts. And now we can buckle down to the actual fandom portion of this FIHL.

Just to review, though:

The canon: very, very gay.

The fandom, unsurprisingly, is very, very slash-filled, maybe because it's only possible to make sense of the canon if you assume Lex and Clark either a) so want each other or b) are so doing it. (Even then, you can only explain 90% of the canon, but, really, that's doing phenomenally well. With Smallville, a 90% solve rate is nothing to sneer at.) Well, okay, it's half that and half...

The Characters

CLARK KENT. Clark is an alien whose arrival on this earth (when he was a baby, sent off in a spaceship by a superior alien race that accidentally got switched to "self-destruct-o-rama") brought meteors and death and destruction to Smallville, Kansas, and permanent depilation to Lex Luthor. We first meet him when he is a "teenager," by which I mean "15 in the canon and, like, 25 in real life," whose powers have just started to manifest.

His powers cause him to experience feelings of being different, not like the other boys, like people would hate him if they knew his dirty secret. He can't play sports, he works on the school newspaper, and he doesn't have many friends.

Also, his parents are horrified by his powers and order him to keep it a secret. "Well, son," says his Pa, "I reckon it'll be okay as long as you never tell anyone and never do anything where other people can see how fundamentally weird and different you are. Different is bad!"

"Okay," Clark says, internalizing feelings of shame and hatred that will make a therapist rich some day. "I'll pretend to be normal."

"Good enough for me, boy."

So Clark pretends to be normal - badly, but he's trying, poor kid. He buckles down and plays the role of Ordinary High School Boy Who Doesn't Have Anything Different About Him, No Really, We Mean It, Ignore the Pectoral Muscles. Until one day, he meets....

LEX LUTHOR. Lex is absolutely straight. He just wears purple because it looks fabulous on him. And his disturbing sexual chemistry with every single thing on screen with him - towels, bottles of water, his father, Clark's father - is just a side effect of his close encounter with the meteor rock in his youth. "Kiddo," the meteor rock said to him, "I am going to leave you bald as a billiard ball. But I pity you, standing there in a corn field in your dork suit, so I am also going to give you unholy levels of sexiness." Wee Lex was confused. "So does that make you the good fairy or the bad fairy? Wait, this isn't my christening!" But it was too late; the meteor had already done its work, and pretty damned well, too.

Lex, as I said, meets Clark by nearly killing him (but that's okay, 'cause Clark's impossible to kill - powers, you know). He takes many, many pictures of Clark, collects Clark-related paraphernalia, sets up a shrine in his house to the Wonder Farmboy, and tries to woo him with expensive and even ludicrous gifts. No, really, I mean gifts. Yes, he also uses his unholy sexual magnetism. Let's face it. The kid never had a chance.

They form a fast, loyal "friendship." ("Lex Luthor and Clark Kent. I like the sound of that." And "No, evil mind-controlling pheromone woman, I'll do anything you say except harm a hair of Clark's head.") The Kents, particularly Pa Kent, are - surprise! - less than pleased.

"I thought I told you to act normal," Pa Kent snaps.

Clark blushes, which in no way helps his case. "I am, Dad! Lex and I are just friends."

Pa stares at him blankly. "What the fuck is normal about that?"

To do him credit, Pa Kent has reason to fear Lex Luthor. He is the Dark Lord, and as soon as he holds the One Ring to Rule Them All, he will bring all of Smallville under his sway and reign over a third age of eternal darkness and flames.

Wait, no. Wrong. Pa Kent fears Lex Luthor 'cause he doesn't like his father. Yay for the strong values of the American heartland! Lex's father, by the way, is...

LIONEL LUTHOR. Lionel is notable for the following things:
  1. He is a bad, bad man.
  2. He's not even remotely ashamed of that.
  3. Revels in it, if you want to be honest about it. Pretty much holds a "Yay, Evil!" party on alternate weekdays.
  4. He has always kind of regretted he didn't have a sufficiently evil son to follow in his footsteps, but he figures maybe if he's mean enough, Lex'll grow into the role.
  5. He also has a sexual chemistry issue. In his case, it's skeevy sexual chemistry. With nearly everything he sees. Maybe he got too close to a meteor rock, too.
  6. Oh, and he's interesting. That won't seem special to you now, no, but if you watch much of the canon? You will begin to pray for his appearances. Seriously. No matter how crazy things get, Lionel stays interesting.
So, yeah, he's interesting. And rich. And he has disturbing hair. And he's evil incarnate. Oh, and there's this thing where Lionel hired Martha Kent, Clark's disturbingly hot, smart, tough, and kind mother. You can see why Pa would mistrust this guy, can't you?

(You can't? Go back and read the part about the evil again. You'll get it. And don't feel bad; Lionel is so wonderful we all forget about the consummate evil thing from time to time.)

Lionel is actually quite good at suborning tough, smart, kind females, at least temporarily and in part. The other one he got that I like is...

CHLOE SULLIVAN. Chloe has fantastic hair, a great smile, and is easily the best-looking person on the show, beating out even Clark and Lex, who are no slouches themselves in the looks department.

She's an investigative reporter, which in Smallville is a very dangerous hobby, for the school newspaper (also editor and almost everything else, as far as I could tell, except Alien in Chief). She's Clark's best friend. They have no sexual chemistry, and Clark has no romantic interest in her at all.

(Clark: "No, really, Lex and me are just friends."

Millions of viewers: "Suuuuuurrre you are.")

Chloe is underappreciated by just about everyone in the show, because they all have this weird obsession with...

LANA LANG. I, um. I have absolutely nothing to say about Lana. Seriously. You could watch all five seasons of Smallville back-to-back and come away only vaguely even remembering that she exists. But I hear she's going to be pivotal some time real, real soon.

OTHER ASSORTED CHARACTERS YOU WON'T HEAR MUCH ABOUT FROM ME: Whitney, Pete, Lucas, Lois, Lex's Deluxe Evil Wife Assortment, There are other people, too. I think. I'm just, you know. Blanking on them.

The Plot

You don't want to know. Even if you do want to know, I can't possibly relate it without ready access to seizure medication. Suffice to say: the evil meteor fairies make lots of people mutant, and the mutants always seem to have a grudge against Lex. So there's jeopardy, and Clark saving the day, and a lot of Luthor-related babbling, and some looks between Clark and Lex that set the scenery on fire, and I mean that literally. Oh, and Lex spends six months on a desert island (don't ask) and gets married a boodle of times, and Clark and Chloe go off to a magically appearing college, and Lex and Clark have some conflict over the Great Pink Void Known As Lana, and, and...look. Forget this. The plot is:

Lex and Clark go through various adventures. One day, Clark says to Lex, "I feel so funny when I'm around you."

Lex says, "Oh, God, not more elemental allergies." Because Clark realized early on that it's really hard to keep a secret from a guy who is a) brilliant b) insanely curious and c) so in love with you that he would not harm a hair on your head (see also: pheromone lady, mind control and). Much harder than it's worth, especially when you're a terrible, terrible liar. So he told Lex everything, and Lex deduced a lot more - solved the mysteries of his origins (don't ask) and his meteor allergies (don't ask) and his inherited spaceship (don't ask) and his weird creepy undead father (seriously, DON'T ASK). And they did a lot of careful experimentation with his powers in a safe underground laboratory. And then they buckled down to saving the world together.

"No, no, not like that. Not the sick kind of funny," Clark says.

Lex pulls out a notepad. "Okay, list your symptoms and I'll see what I can do. Maybe it's a new power or something. Don't worry, I'll figure it out." He waits, and then waits impatiently, and then ostentatiously taps the notepad a few times. And then he looks up, to see Clark blushing. "Clark, seriously, it can't be as embarrassing as --"

"It's just - I." Clark turns darker red and makes a few inexplicable hand gestures.

Lex blinks. "Oh. Oh." And then he drops the damned notepad and slams into Clark and kisses him until a lesser alien would just spontaneously combust. (But Lex knows Clark is proof against fire up to temperatures that melt steel. He and Clark tested it.) "God, why didn't you say so? Do you know how crazy you've been making me?"

Clark blinks his eyes, trying for ridiculously innocent, and says, hopefully, "No, not at all. Maybe you should show me."

And then Lex growls and does this thing that's illegal in Thailand - the law to ban it is called the Lex Luthor Law, in fact - and the screen fades to black.

That's the plot the way it should have gone.

Conveniently, that's also the plot of a lot of the...

Fan Fiction

First, let me just warn you - I'm biased. I like my Smallville stories to be happy, or at least have a happy ending. I'm easily swayed by humor. And because I'm more interested in older characters than teenagers, I tend to like the ones that happen in the future. (The near future. Clark's far future is - well, let's just say that stories about that are guaranteed to break my "happy endings" stricture.) But I'm going to try to be a good girl and leave all my favorite future stories and AUs and suchlike out of this. Good, dirty, canon-based fun is my goal today.

The One That Suggests to Me That Proms Would Be Much Improved - and Humiliating Prom Pictures Decreased by at Least Half - If They Were Also Costume Parties. The First Four Years, by Punk, aka runpunkrun. I recommend you start here. Add this to my crazed ramblings above, subtract anything that would get you an R or NC-17 rating, and you pretty much have the first four years of the show. Including the longing looks Lex directs at Clark's ass. Those are totally canonical.

If you haven't read much SV or seen any of the canon - which was precisely the condition I was in when I read this - know that all those little references? They're all canon, or they could be. The crazed 4-H member, the gills, the tornado - that's what the canon is like. Except in the canon, no one is wearing 1920s drag, and, sadly, there's a nearly complete absence of blowjobs. (Unless Lex/Bottle of Water is your OTP.) Punk nicely remedies those omissions; this is Smallville as the canon should've been.

The One That Suggests to Me That the Undead Are Not Quite the Menace We Have Been Led to Believe. Lilah's Coffin, by Durendal, aka eleveninches. I totally had an ah-ha moment when I start writing this summary; I've been enjoying eleveninches's SGA stories, and I knew the name was familiar from somewhere. This, as it turns out, is where. This is a totally G-rated - or okay, maybe PG, what with the implied goat sacrifice and the undead and the hickeys (and raise your hand if you'd like to see the MPAA give a rating justification like that sometime) - story set very early in season one, and it is - I know, I know, try not to swoon - entirely gen.

In this story, Lex is not yet friends with Clark, not yet used to the mutant problem, and not yet familiar with all the ways Smallville can totally destroy your self-esteem, your will to live, and your car. A deceased hermit named Lilah helps him get up to speed. I have to take care to read this story only when I'm feeling especially strong; I read it once when I had a bad cold and nearly died of laughter-induced asphyxiation. But it's a fabulous introduction to the wackier side of Smallville. If, you know, you're strong enough.

The One That Suggests to Me That Maybe All Those Directors Who Make Movies About the Seamy, Twisted Underside of the American Small Town Are Actually Understating the Matter. Twenty-One, by Livia, aka liviapenn. And, wow, I am just being such a good girl today, restricting myself to the stories based in season one. This is vintage Smallville for me, since it starts with Lex reflecting on the sweet, good-natured, all-around innocence of the Kansas heartland, and ends with Lex fucking Clark's brains out.

This story has it all, really. Bonfires. Faceless corncob angels. (Don't. Ask. Do you really want to know?) Harvest festivals, which will be a welcome touchpoint for those of you currently mired in SGA with me. And it has Clark, who just does not cope well with being grounded. Seriously, Martha, Jonathan - do you really want to give this boy time to think?

The One That Suggests to Me That Maybe There's a Very Good Reason Batman Is the Way He Is, and His Name Is Superman. Frantic (Or, the Day There Were No Porkchops), by Jenn, aka seperis. Plus bonus epilogue: Son of Goo, by Madelyn, aka svmadelyn. Okay. Seriously, I was being good. The other stories totally speak to my good intentions, right? They're all early canon, not future stories or AUs. And I had just such a story by Jenn all picked out and ready to go. And then my eye fell on this one, and I was lost.

So here we have a fifteen-years-in-the-future Lex and Clark. And a Goo. I was pretty much sold on this story from the first few lines. Adrenaline indeed, Clark. Pull the other one, it has got bells on. And then I kept reading, and - wow. This isn't Smallville canon, no, but...oh, it should be. The whole thing would've worked out much, much better if this had happened. Plus, you get to see Lex ride Clark like a horse. Do you need a better reason?

Want more fan fiction? I direct you to:

svmadelyn's Smallville Recs Site. This is a really shocking number of mostly longer, porny stories, with a heavy emphasis on the Clark/Lex, the future stories, and the AUs. Madelyn recs the very best. What are you waiting for?

norah's Smallville Recs Tag. MMWD is a much braver and more far-ranging reader than I am. And she has excellent taste. Go here if you want the best the fandom has to offer, all varieties, with, you know, a heavy emphasis on porn. Because the girl knows what fandom is all about.

My own Smallville tags, at: LiveJournal and These are both pretty limited resources; it takes me forever to rec stuff over at LJ, and my tags are - well, idiosyncratic and incomplete, especially in my older fandoms. At LJ, you'll find the best of the best that I've gotten around to recommending; at, you'll find about 75% of the stuff I've read recently, with no recommendation necessarily implied. But right now that includes a lot of the SV stories I re-read to pick the ones for this entry, so if you're curious about what else I considered putting here, well, here's your chance to find out.
Tags: [fandoms i have loved], smallville

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