"I don't do well with fortune tellers. The last one I went to see told me I was destined to fall for a guy who flies a lot and likes to wear tights." -- Lois Lane (Erica Durance), "Identity"
The topic was raised in the last episode of Smallville, but in the aptly titled "Identity," Clark Kent starts to come to terms with the idea that he's doing himself and all those he wishes to protect a great disservice as a mysterious, nameless, super-speed blur. The issue is forced here when Clark, while rescuing Lois Lane from an armed assailant, is photographed by Jimmy Olsen, validating the wannabe reporter's recent theories that Metropolis has an unknown guardian. Jimmy only manages to capture a red blur in his picture of Lois avoiding getting hit by a car, but it's enough to fuel his campaign to out this hero. Lois, almost surprisingly considering her prior experience in tabloid sensationalism, won't get onboard, and Clark is obviously not going to be any help, but an opportunistic Tess Mercer thinks she has a story that'll sell more copies of the Daily Planet.
In multiple occasions where Jimmy confronts Clark with his evidence, I was actually underwhelmed for the first time in years with Tom Welling's acting. Not like he's ever delivered Emmy-worthy performances, but his repeated denials to Jimmy over the idea that there is a (potentially meteor-enhanced) Good Samaritan roaming around Metropolis with origins in Smallville, and later that it was probably Clark doing all the noble deeds, were particularly wooden. Clark eventually turns to Chloe for an insider assist, but she's uncharacteristically reluctant to help, mainly because she rightfully believes that Clark's work would do more good for the city as a sort of inspiration ("That picture gives the worlds something they desperately need right now."). Considering the solid examples Clark has in Green Arrow, Black Canary, and the Martian Manhunter, Clark is absurdly reluctant to take on a secret identity until it becomes evident later what potential it has for his mission.
The "B story" in "Identity" is another case of Lois having questionable taste in men. Spanking new reporter Sebastian Kane (Heath Ledger, circa Ten Things I Hate About You, I thought) has impressed Lois, mainly because of his apparent experience as an embedded journalist in Iraq. This appealed to her army brat side. Apparently her idea of reviewing his credentials involves dinner and a sexy red dress, but this is Lois we're talking about. When has she ever been on the money with the guys she's been with? Derivative somewhat from the NBC series Chuck is Sebastian's ability to absorb memories upon contact with a person. Turns out he's familiar to Lois for a reason. He was a subject at the dismantled Black Creek facility (see "Odyssey") and he's merely a plant for Tess to retrieve classified information in Lois' possession.
Also derivative is the latest we get on Oliver Queen, a.k.a. Green Arrow. Straight out of the Iron Man film, Ollie is whiling away in his corporate jet with a bevy of hotties, doing lots of drinking to drown his sorrows over the previous revelation that Clark suppressed the knowledge that Lionel Luthor was responsible for his parents' deaths. That, and probably his breakup with Tess. Clark turning to Oliver for help in this jet-set scenario wasn't half as charming as the Iron Man scene where Tony Stark and Rhodey got sloshed en route to the Middle East for business. But it did serve to get Ollie out of his funk, helping Clark create a ruse for Jimmy who at this point is certain Clark is the red and blue blur saving people.
Clark, Oliver, and Chloe conspire to create a fake character dressed in red and blue who publicly performs an act of heroism at the same time Clark is with Jimmy with the intention of proving to Jimmy that it can't be his Daily Planet cohort. Problem is that the plan falls through when Lois is in need of help at that same time when Sebastian attacks her to get her Black Creek zip drive. For the second time in the show, Lois is unknowingly rescued by Clark, only this time she realizes that Jimmy was on the mark. When Jimmy is confronted in an "unscripted" encounter (the same mugger from the show's beginning) shortly after and ultimately gets rescued by Oliver in his red and blue with Clark's on the scene, Lois and Jimmy both have a new agenda to uncover Metropolis' new hero. When Clark sees how powerful the imagery of a costumed protector is on the locals who witness all of this, you can tell the seeds are planted as to an eventual identity for his that'll likely involve a red cape and blue tights.
One final scene also shows that there's a nasty side to the Brainiac burrowing inside Chloe. When she confronts the incarcerated Sebastian for information, her touch proves deadly and it's apparent that it's going to get worse for her before it gets better. Never mind the fact that she effortlessly lies to her fiancé with great ease.
What did you think of "Identity"? A sufficient addendum to the evolution of Superman? A welcome return to form for Oliver Queen as Green Arrow? And speaking of costumes, what are you dressing up as for Halloween?