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Random "Phoenix" Musings

The Future of Fandom and I cuddled & squeeed through this ep, while the Distant Future of Fandom played at Sailor Games before she decided she had to cuddle, too.

1. Ever feel like a valued demographic? My local WB station shows "Will & Grace" as the lead-in to SV plus Angel. The "Angel" ads and TV Guide promos could only be slashier if the headlines read, "Angel and Spike, naked together!" And by gum, they sure are running a lot of ads during SV.

To cement the appeal, TW loses his shirt a *lot*. I mean, someone ought to try calculating what percent of the ep he spends shirtless or partly-shirted, because it may set a new record.

2. After watching this ep I had a bit grin on my face, which didn't fade for *hours*. Hugging! Smiling! Breaking up with Lana! Being accepted into the family! Chloe, still a vertebrate!

But it sure wasn't due to the plot.

3. Let's start with Lionel and the vial of blood. Apparently he knows it's valuable, because he kept it in his safe -- where he used to keep refined Kryptonite, and where did that go? But Lionel doesn't know where the blood came from -- even though he's been staying in the Castle with the Chamber of Clark Kent. He claims to have doubted Helen's story all along, so why did he not find out about the stop on St. Croix? It reminds me of how Lana claims to have missed Clark all summer, but Chloe found him after only a month. If you didn't find it, you weren't really looking.

4. I was *deeply* disappointed that Helen was revealed as Eeeevil. It would IMO been much more effective (and made her more interesting as a returning character, which they're clearly planning because, hey! No Body, No Death) to keep Lex and us wondering if she was really only just a coward.

Although, just maybe they had a reason. Could it be that TPTB figure that if Helen is blatantly Eeeevil, that does more to lend an allure to the Dark Side of the Force than if Lex was unsure of her motives? If we believe there was any element of truth in his statement in " " that Helen is his conscience, his moral touchstone, then he loses something important when he is certain that she deliberately played and betrayed him.

When Helen walked in to get ready to leave, wearing a relatively staid suit, we cheered, "Yay! She turned back into a scientist!" But alas, it was not to be, and the suit turned out to be pink. No trace of Helen's interest in medicine or research seems to be left, unless she told Edge about the blood so that he would steal it and she could study it. A slender reed, but we cling to it.

fleegull the insightful pointed out that Helen has had all the pieces of the Clark Kent puzzle to herself all summer: access to the Chamber of Clark Kent, and knowledge about the blood. She should know, better than anyone else, that Lex's fortune is as nothing to this discovery. I then had an epiphany: maybe ShoppingGoldDigger!Helen is an act she's putting on to pull the wool over Lionel's eyes -- and she's *succeeding*. Wow. She could make one heck of a supervillain.

5. Now that Lex is certain both Helen and Lionel were never on his side, he has only Clark inside the walls around his pants. Heart! heart! that's what I meant. And a good thing for Clark, too, because all those Kents are 2Stoopid2Liv. Let's throw away the vial of blood, but not anywhere out of sight! Let's let the bad guys see what Kryptonite does, while giving them more blood but not using heat vision, etc.! But that's OK, because we'll be sure to pack the propane tank on the moving truck! And so, so much more. Good thing Clark is very, very pretty, because he sure needs someone smart to protect him.

6. There's but the thinnest veneer of "sub" in the Lionel/Edge subtext. Dayum. John Glover and Rutger Hauer sure know how to work it. At the very beginning of their first scene together, Lionel says "Good to know your tastes haven't changed" -- or was that a purr? FoF and I look at each other, wondering. And then when Lionel is sitting on the sofa and Edge comes over to him, FoF gasps and says, "That's a kissing angle!" And indeed it is.

That sort of camera angle is a director's decision, so I looked up the director, James Marshall (one of several by that name) on IMDB. Marshall turns out to have the director for SV's "Insurgence" and "Heat", and was a prime mover on The Sentinel. In other words, he delivers fresh slashmeat to your door. I shall follow his career with interest.

The slash-o-meters were in the UV zone for the rest of that conversation, too. "I suppose you can have a "just business" conversation sitting on the couch," says FoF, "but they're on the same *cushion*."

But wait! There's more! When Lionel meets Edge at the docks, he slinks toward him (those Luthors!), and flirts, "Ah, the smell of creosote and algae, it takes me back . . ."

0.0

@.@

"I'm emotionally scarred! For life!" wails FoF. "I'm too young to be thinking about creosote and algae!!" And so am I, but there's something about the way John Glover says it . . .

7. Other people have ranted effectively about Lana in this ep, especially the way that she killed somebody and it seemed to mean nothing, so I won't talk about it. But I will ask a question: who has she been studying martial arts with over the summer? Because the lessons Lex gave her back in spring won't give her this kind of power -- she needs to have been in training. Spackle if you can.

8. After much asking around, a fan finally identified the aria Lionel is listening to in the last Lionel-Lex scene. It's from Gounod's "Faust." Damn, as it were.

The aria is "Salut, demeure chaste et pure": Faust (the tenor), who has just sold his soul to the devil, is singing outside Marguerite's chaste and pure home before he seduces her. Talk about layers of possible meaning! Does Lionel think of himself as Faust, with Lillian as his Marguerite? Or does he cast himself as Mephistopheles, with Lex as his Faust being sent to infiltrate and destroy the happy Kent home?

Lionel's love of opera proves that he is by no means without emotion, even really soppy romantic ones. But we think he uses opera to feel in control of his emotions: "see, I can wallow in love and angst, then turn it off with the flick of a switch." I wonder if Future!Lex will do the same thing, and what art form he will use for wallowing.

9. Thamiris had a great post about "Phoenix", picking up Lex's reference to Abraham's sacrifice of Isaac. This is an expansion of a comment I made in her LJ.

Talking about the sacrifice of Isaac alway reminds me of Martin Bergmann's In the Shadow of Moloch: The Sacrifice of Children and Its Impact on Western Religions, a brilliant and controversial book. Bergmann is a psychoanalyst and a Freudian, which means he's kind of nuts but very thoughtful and well-read.

Moloch was a god to whom children were sacrificed; YHWH also began as a god of child sacrifice, due "the first born of every womb". This is why the first-born Jewish child had to be redeemed with a special offering, of which the sacrifice of Isaac is the exemplar. If Lex, the first-born son, maps to Isaac, then is Clark the angel who stays Abraham's hand? Or does Clark parallel Jesus? -- in classical Christian thought the lamb who is sacrificed in Isaac's stead was considered a prefiguration of Jesus Christ, the perfect sacrifice.

The Bible says sacrificed children were "passed through the fire to Moloch" -- and hasn't Lex, the Phoenix, passed through the fire?

Moloch is often associated with the Greek God Kronos (Latin Saturn), who devoured his children so they would not supplant him. Lionel has always reminded me of <Goya's painting of Saturn, one of the most disturbing images in Western art, and his hair is becoming more like Saturn's every day. And the child he is devouring is reminding me ever more of Lex. In Greek myth Kronos was stopped by Zeus, who gutted his father and rescued his brothers & sisters. Can Clark, Lex's brother-and-more, play this role for Lex, or will Lex break out through his father's body on his own, as though he is the alien?

 

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by Mary Ellen, "Doctor Science, MA"

     

 


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updated January 29, 2004

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