This week we meet Smallville High student Eric played by Shawn Ashmore. I almost mistook him for his twin brother Aaron, who the long term fan would know as Jimmy Olsen in the later seasons. Clark, Eric and the rest of the class are out on a school geological scavenger hunt looking for rocks, when Eric comes across some meteor rock fragments. It just so happens Eric and Clark are struck by lightning while Eric is holding the meteor rock, transferring Clark’s powers to Eric.
At first Clark has difficulty adjusting to not having powers, he struggles to help his Dad on the farm and chores that used to take him seconds are now taking him what seems like forever. But, he has what he has always wanted – a normal life, spending time with his friends without being afraid of revealing his powers.
Sadly Eric was not brought up by Jonatan and Martha Kent and doesn’t have the same morals. He is the stereotypical angry teenager who chooses to use his powers to get everything he wants, even if it means hurting people. Eric’s parents are afraid of him after the trouble he causes and turn him into the police. Clark however wants to help him and thinks that Eric will have the same weakness – the meteor rocks. A desperate Eric revisits the place where the lightning struck. Clarks meets him there with Lana’s Kryptonite necklace and finds a way to transfer his powers back.
What I find great about this episode is the underlying message that it is not Clark’s powers that makes him a hero. Smallville has always been about discovering who the man behind the cape is. The conversations between Clark and Jonathan further empathise this, Jonathan tells him ‘whether you are normal or super you are still Clark Kent. Your abilities were a part of you but they didn’t define you’. I have always loved the portrayal of this father son relationship. This episode does a good job is showing that Jonathan, and also Martha are the reason why Clark turns into the hero we all know as The Blur… I mean Superman! Clark also recognises this at the end when he tells his Dad ‘Eric didn’t get my two strongest gifts… you and Mom.’
Elsewhere in this episode Lex’s suspicions of Clark come to a stop, at least for now. He finally confronts Clark about what really happened in the Pilot when he and Clark first met. He tells Clark he thinks he hit him with his car before crashing through the bridge and into the water. Then he tells Clark he believes he saved his life by pulling him from the car. Unfortunately Lex has chosen the wrong time to confront Clark with this as Clark is now powerless and showing no signs of invulnerability. Clark of course denies having any kind of power and by the end Lex chooses his growing friendship with Clark over his investigation, but how long will this last? As we know all too well that it is this lie that contributes to the distrust and ultimate breakdown of their friendship.
Overall I loved revisiting this episode, especially after seeing the Smallville scene in the most recent DC crossover ‘Crisis on Infinite Earths’. While I understand Clark’s decision to give up his powers for his family has disappointed some fans, I for one feel it was the logical conclusion to the story as Smallville was always about Clark not Superman.