"Bring it, bitch." -- Lois Lane (Erica Durance), "Instinct"
Themes don't come around too often on Smallville, so it's always worth noting when a clear one does present itself. Here in "Instinct," the focus is on one's first true love. Early on, Clark is at home at the Kent farm (one remaining connection to the titular hometown) getting ready for work at the Daily Planet when he runs across a pendant that used to belong to Lana Lang. Cue forlorn expression as Clark is reminded of his lost love. Just when we were ready to close the book on Lana, they go and reopen it on us. No slight to Kristin Kreuk, but Smallville has not suffered in the least with the departure of her character.
But I digress. What actually happened before that whole scene is what provided Clark and Lois Lane with their latest newspaper assignment. Someone is leaving a trail of dead men (from overstimulation, of all things) across Metropolis, and all signs point to a possible meteor freak. We find out at the show's introductory sequence that it's actually another alien, brought to Earth inadvertently by Tess Mercer in an attempt to find her missing employer, Lex Luthor. Now in possession of Clark's Kryptonian crystal, Tess, with a technical assist, fires up the crystal and it sends a glowing beacon into outer space (Tess, the guy told you it was alien in origin, but no, you wouldn't listen). This attracts the reigning monarch of the planet Almerac, a fetching young lass by the name of Maxima, to Earth with the mission of mating with the last surviving Kryptonian, one Clark Kent. She's under the false impression that the signal came from Kal-El.
Portrayed by guest star Charlotte Sullivan, Maxima is the latest DC Comics character to be brought to the live-action medium via Smallville. Introduced in Action Comics back in 1989, Maxima's story as it's presented in "Instinct" is relatively similar to how it was depicted in the comics. The intergalactic elements are kept to a minimum, not surprising due to TV's budget constraints, but they keep pretty faithful to the concept that she here's to find herself a man and Kal-El is the only one worthy. With Sullivan, throughout the show, I found myself reminded of a younger, redheaded Kim Delaney. When Maxima first arrives in Metropolis (at the expense of a finance guy who probably would've lost his shirt this week anyway the way the economy's tanking), she's in an outfit that would make her fit in at the neighborhood brothel, but circumstances provide her eventually with a modest, but no less flattering green dress -- green being the Maxima character's trademark color in the comics. Maxima is on the prowl, and no ordinary man will suffice as her kiss is lethal to anyone not as strong as a Kryptonian. Turns out the hormonal energy she gives off is the equivalent of an eight-ball of cocaine washed down with a 12-pack of Red Bull, right down to the nosebleeds.
In prime position to be the latest victim of Maxima's advances is Jimmy Olsen. Oh, James, you lovable dope. His biggest problem at this point is his inferiority complex in regards to Clark. Dude, you won, for crying out loud. He got the girl, Chloe loves him and can't wait to get married, but he frequently feels like he'll always be #2 to Clark. Jimmy runs across a love letter penned by Chloe years earlier to Clark when she was gaga for her longtime best friend, and he can't reconcile the fact that it's ancient history. Heck, Chloe later asks Clark to walk her down the aisle at her wedding, and you typically don't assign that task to someone you're in love with. But Jimmy goes to a local club to drown his sorrows and ends up meeting Maxima who believes her soulmate will be there. For some reason she seems to be bad at figuring out the Kryptonians from the humans, but the kiss has to be the litmus test and Jimmy's the latest to fail. Clark swoops in just in time to get Jimmy to the hospital, and the poor guy has some 'splainin' to do, what with being engaged and everything. The influence of Brainiac on Chloe also comes to the fore again during the investigative process. You know that can't end well.
Maxima later finds Clark and corners him after hours at the Planet, but their passionate meet-cute is cut short by Lois Lane. Last season Lois didn't seem to have a problem making sexy time with Grant Gabriel at the office, albeit discreetly, so her indignation seemed a bit misplaced. This doesn't bode well for Lois either because Maxima assumes the only reason Lois would interrupt her play for Clark is because SHE is with him. Maxima, on par with Clark in terms of power, has no qualms disposing of Lois to win Clark's favor (like that's gonna win him over) and the remainder of the episode is Lois needing Clark's protection whether she knows it or not. Lois made for some of the episode's lighter moments, her love for Whitesnake coming up a week after her citing Mötley Crüe. "Instinct" also serves to accelerate the inevitable love story that is Lois and Clark. I'm curious to see where that goes knowing that she'll eventually fall head over heels for Superman rather than his alter ego.
Overall I'd say "Instinct" was a fun episode, and I'd like to know what you other viewers found good or possibly bad about it. Did you find yourself recalling your first true love?