Saturday, May 7, 2011

Et Tu, Lois?

Watching the second-to-last episode of Smallville ("Prophecy"), something about it just hit me that I have to comment on. There was a lot of interesting things going on, such as the primitive version of an Injustice League/Legion of Doom, Supergirl joining the Legion, and a final set-up of what Ollie's probable role will be in the finale, but the bulk of the episode focused on one of Jor-El's trials, which involved giving Lois Clark's powers for one day.

It's been done before (most recently in the DC Animated feature All Star Superman), but this time around it served an important narrative purpose. The first time Lois goes to use her super hearing, she hears dozens of cries for help and wants to answer every one. Clark is very calm as he explains to her how one has to prioritize. It's still clear that it's overwhelming to her all that Clark has to go through every single minute of every single day.

This leads to a moment at the end of the episode that frustrated me. Lois tells Clark that every minute he spends with her is a minute he could be saving someone, so she cannot allow him to marry her. There are a number of reasons this statement bothers me. First being the fact that Lois was often the voice of selfishness (at least before learning the secret) and that he shouldn't be afraid to occasionally take something just because he wants it. The second, and more frustrating reason, is thanks to a bit of applied logic. She sees herself as the obstacle between Clark and a life of almost slave-like devotion to saving people, and even the promise of one good thing waiting at home for him every night after he finishes his patrols is something that he simply cannot have. Clark cannot be allowed one thing that is only his to enjoy and cherish that the whole world doesn't somehow have a claim on. He shouldn't be allowed one moment to himself to only spend on the things that he wants.

All I'm going to say is that there's benevolence, there's altruism, and there's flat-out slavery. What does the situation Lois has just plunged Clark into strike you as?