Have your tissues ready for this instalment as it is quite a tear jerker. After the episode ‘Stray’ in season one we thought that young Ryan was going off to live a happy life with his Aunt, but we were wrong. This follow up starts with Ryan being experimented on at Summerholt Neurological Institute, if you remember Ryan had the ability to read other peoples minds. He manages to trick the doctor running the experiment into leaving the room so he can escape. Obviously this sets off alarm bells and unfortunately he is caught, but not before he manages to call the Kent farm for help.
Chloe has one of her many sources trace the phone call to the Kent’s and finds out Ryan’s location. Clark gallantly rescues him from the facility and brings him home to the farm. It turns out Ryan’s Aunt could no longer afford his medical bills and handed over custody to Doctor Garner who offered to pay for his treatment. Lex also comes to the rescue when he files a restraining order against the doctor preventing them from re-claiming custody of Ryan. It is nice to see Lex doing the right thing early on in the show and always being there to help Clark, even if sometimes his reasons for doing so suit his own needs as well.
Ryan spends some time with Lex at the mansion where we see them bond about their love of Warrior Angel comic books. What we don’t know is Ryan is a lot sicker than he was letting on and needs to be rushed to the hospital after collapsing. At the hospital he tells Clark he has a tumor in his brain and he is dying. Clark spends the rest of the episode trying to find a cure for Ryan’s condition. I will say that Smallville does manage to find such brilliant child actors – Ryan Kelley who plays Ryan does such a wonderful job with all the emotional scenes and brings a tear to my eye on more than one occasion.
Lex also visits Ryan at the hospital and they discuss the subtle differences between heroes and villains. It’s a lovely little scene where Lex tells Ryan that ‘the road to darkness is a journey not a light switch’. Ryan simply tells him that is something he should remember, having seen the darkness that lies beneath the surface in Lex. Later Ryan tells Clark how much Lex admires him and makes Clark promise to keep an eye on him after he has passed. We can certainly see the complexities of the friendship between Clark and Lex, at this early stage they have each other’s backs but the longer Clark keeps his secret the more distrusting Lex becomes. It is surely part of the reason why they turn into enemies. But more on that as the seasons progress.
Clark does all he can to find a cure for Ryan, including running faster than he ever has to find a brain surgeon to operate on him. But sadly it was all in vein as Ryan can not be saved. This is actually an episode very much centred around real human struggles, as even ‘Superman’, no matter how hard he tries can save someone from cancer. Clark does manage to give Ryan the best last day of his life by overcoming his own fear of heights and taking run up in a hot air balloon. At the end Ryan asks Clark to make a promise to never give up trying to help people, and that he thinks he will change a lot of lives in doing so. In all I certainly remember this as one of the saddest episode of the show, with a lot of heart and emotion, and a lesson for Clark that he can’t save everyone.