Smallville – S1 Ep17 – Reaper Review

The ‘Grim Reaper’ comes to town in this rather dark instalment of Smallville. We meet Tyler, a young man who is visiting his sick mother in hospital, where she begs for his help in bringing her life to an impromptu end. Tyler reluctantly agrees, not wanting his mother to suffer any longer and attempts to suffocate her with a pillow. A nurse walks in and during a scuffle with security, Tyler is knocked out of the hospital window, seemingly falling to his death. At the morgue we see Tyler has a fragment of meteor rock embedded in his arm and right before the coroner begins performing his autopsy Tyler awakens, swatting the bone saw away and grabbing the coroner by the arm, turning him to nothing but ash.

Clark and Martha first encounter Tyler while delivering flowers and produce to the local community support centre for the sick and elderly. Unfortunately what he did to his mother has convinced Tyler that in order to bring sick people comfort he needs to euthanize them. Along with Martha and Clark he visits the house of Mrs Sikes and her little dog Pepper and sees how ill and frail she is, offering to return later with her favourite flower, a white rose. Sure enough he does return, and makes Mrs Sikes and her beloved dog Pepper, whose only crime was barking too loudly, his next victims by turning them both to dust.

The ‘b’ story ties in quite nicely this week as we examine the relationships of dads and their kids. Clark and Lex share stories of how their fathers bonded with them growing up, or how they didn’t in Lex’s case. Clark reminiscing about how he and Jonathan always take an annual fishing trip together, while admitting he only goes along to make his dad happy, not because he enjoys it. Instead of fishing Lex offers them tickets to a football game in Metropolis, while saying Lionel was never really there for him the way Jonathan is for Clark, as the one time Lionel did take him fishing, they were both the bait in a shark tank! Lex’s generous offer doesn’t go down too well with Jonathan however, whose distain for Lex and his friendship with Clark is not going away any time soon, especially since his latest discovery that Lex was investigating them after the car crash in the Pilot. Lex still tries to make Jonathan see him the way Clark does, and even confides in Jonathan how envious he is of the Kent family dynamic and how close they are. Right now it seems all Lex wants is people he can call family himself.

Speaking of dads, Whitney’s own father’s health has taken a turn for the worst, now in hospital after suffering another heart attack. This gives Tyler the opportunity to put his suffering to an end as he still believes that is the right thing to do. The episode does well in highlighting the issues surrounding assisted suicide, and while Tyler may well think he is preventing sick people from feeling more pain, it takes Clark to remind him he is also robbing them of valuable time they could be spending with loved ones. After Clark tells Tyler his mother is still alive and recovering at home, Tyler finally sees the error in his actions and brings death upon himself, for good this time.

We end with an emotional message about the importance of spending time with the people we love while they are still here. Whitney manages to get over the pain of seeing his once strong and athletic father so weak, and with the help of Lex, is able to fulfil his fathers dream of watching him play football for the Metropolis Sharks team, even if only for one night. Clark and Jonathan also share a heart to heart, both admitting that their fishing trips were important after all, Jonathan wanting to have a better relationship with Clark than the one he had with his own father. Knowing the eventual fate of Jonathan Kent and as someone who understands the pain of losing their father, seeing the end of the episode I felt I wanted to tell Clark to appreciate as much time with his dad as possible. A classic episode which reminded me why I love the show so much.