“Fail Safe” sees Smallville falling apart in the aftermath of Morgan Edge, and the Kent family is struggling to stay together as they deal with a couple of very significant ethical dilemmas.
The main conflict of “Fail Safe” revolves around the DOD’s Kryptonite weapons. With both Edge and Leslie now in custody, Sam is willing to get rid of their cache (and they have literal warehouses full of Kryptonite, wow), because he’s now seen firsthand the effect it has on his family. Clark, on the other hand, knows how close he came to being corrupted, and he argues that Sam should keep the weapons.
This is a very excellent ethical dilemma. For Sam to have such proof that there are bad Kryptonians out in the world yet be willing to get rid of their only defense is odd. Encasing the weapons in concrete and dropping them into the ocean seems unwise considering the current situation. And Lois has an excellent point that the very existence of the weapons leads to the possibility of the wrong people getting their hands on them.
I can appreciate Lois’s position, but I feel like she was dismissing Clark’s feelings. He knows his powers better than anyone, and he also knows how he very nearly got taken over, so if he is advocating for keeping the weapons, people should listen. This is a complete reversal of the Kryptonite plot from Supergirl.
“Fail Safe” continues to demonstrate why Lois and Clark are potentially one of the best relationships on television right now. Their argument over the weapons is probably their most serious fight of the season, but even while they vehemently disagree, they’re still respectful of each other. Lois even apologizes for being angry but admits that she wants to stay angry for a while.
John Henry being the titular fail safe should have been obvious, in retrospect. There had to be a reason he was still hanging around the Kent farm. Yes, he gave the excuse that he was staying until they captured Leslie, but considering how anticlimactic her capture ended up being, there was clearly more to it. He basically doesn’t exist in this world, and he needs to find a way to make this Earth his home.
I am a little confused as to why he isn’t attempting to return to his world. It’s been long-established that it’s possible to travel between Earths – Barry and Kara have been popping over to each other’s universe since the beginning – and Clark knows this. But I also am still unsure of how everything works out in this post-Crisis world, which we only truly got acknowledgment of last week with Diggle’s cameo. Was John Henry’s Earth negated in Crisis?
Can I just say how much I love the Clark and John Henry bonding? I also got a kick out of Jon attempting to bond with John Henry and him having no real idea of how to handle that.
I never thought I would say this, but I think everyone is being really unfair to Kyle. He was not the only person who wanted Edge to come, although he was the one who seemed the most gung-ho about it. It seems like typical CW melodrama to have literally everyone in town mad at the Cushings (even Sarah, who literally did nothing other than being born to Kyle and Lana), but as someone who grew up in a small town, it’s pretty accurate.
One thing I will say is that I love how Lana has shined up her spine. Her confronting the mayor was beautiful, and I’m so happy that Lois witnessed that because I’m sure that is what convinced Lois to go back to her father and get a statement. I love Lois and Lana’s friendship and I wish we got to see that more.
How is Lois such a bad liar? In “Fail Safe” we see her suspend her journalistic integrity in order to protect her family, something that she has apparently never had to do before. (Also, can I just say, how, in the age of social media, has the story not spread beyond Smallville?) I appreciate that Chrissy is devoted enough to truth in journalism that she fired Lois (her only employee not to mention Lois freaking Lane) for lying about what she knew.
It was nice to see Jon and Jordan getting into regular, stupid teenage trouble rather than anything related to Jordan’s powers or their father being a superhero. I feel like Lois and Clark were a little harsh on them, considering they didn’t exactly skip class but a school-wide assembly to brief them on a situation they know more about than anyone. (And this is from someone who never skipped school, not even on senior skip day. Although, to be fair, that’s because my dad was out of work at the time and refused to write me a note for the attendance office.)
Jon and Jordan are having parallel experiences. This has been fairly well established all season, particularly with the football subplot (which I guess has just completely been abandoned even though Jon is obviously healed). But it’s reinforced in “Fail Safe” where Jordan and Sarah sneak off on a romantic rendezvous and have a sweet, tender scene and share a kiss, while Jon’s crush Tegan just wants to pump him for information about what happened with Edge so that she can then act superior to everyone else for knowing what’s going on.
“Fail Safe” also firmly establishes that Jon is very much Lois’s son. He was almost immediately suspicious of Tegan, and the fact that he caught on so quickly to watch she was doing shows that he has the makings of being a great reporter like his mother.
Plus, it was super funny that Lois knew Jon was listening to her argument with Clark without even having to turn around. Is Lois the scariest person on this show? Yes.
This episode is really good at establishing tension. After Leslie is apprehended, there’s no real reason to suspect that anything is going to go wrong (other than knowing that there are still two episodes after this and they’re not going to introduce a new villain before the end of the season). Yet you still have that overwhelming sense of dread throughout the entire episode that something is going to happen, which of course something does.
Now, Edge in confinement seemed very much like a man in denial. His repeated insistence that he and Clark are the same came across like a guy who just couldn’t let something go. (We’ll forget that Clark later admitted that it did feel good to lose control.) Having the ability and the power doesn’t mean having the desire to use it, which is what makes Clark fundamentally different from Edge.
“Fail Safe” also works very hard to humanize Edge by showing us how he was repeatedly abused by his father in order to fulfill his father’s “grand vision”, which also included essentially killing Lara. Adding this to Edge’s treatment at the hands of the humans who found him and it’s understandable (but not excusable) that he turned out the way that he did. But even when he first learned about Clark, he seemed awestruck with a bit of hero-worship. It seems almost naïve for Edge to have assumed that Clark, a hero, would be willing to join Edge in his plan to take over the planet. It makes me wonder if we’re still missing something about Edge’s part.
I’ll admit that I’m a little underwhelmed by Edge as a villain. He’s the weakest part of the show, in my opinion. The only thing that really made him compelling was his connection to Superman, and “evil Kryptonian” has been done. However, that entire ending, with his blue-eyed stare, his super-charged abilities, and flying all the way to the sun to absorb as much energy as possible and become the Eradicator? This is probably the first time I’ve ever taken him seriously.
What did you think of “Fail Safe”?
Author: Jamie Sugah
Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, which is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.
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