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El Futuro

In red italic lettering against black: "Tonight's presentation contains material some viewers may find disturbing. Parental discretion is advised." Uh oh. The Gay Marriage Amendment finally made The WB nervous enough to disclaim this entire show.

And now, for your viewing (and now, reading) pleasure, the Smallville Community Players present for you a play in four acts (including prologue)! It concerns future events which may not be so future-flung than you may think! Please, sit a spell, and try not to think of the movie Frequency or a certain trilogy of cinema treats that starred Michael J. Fox. And without further ado, we present (in high definition, where available): "Crisis."

A large, funky artsy building that appears to be made entirely of orange clay and tin. It's sitting in the middle of nowhere as Clark and Pete walk up to the entrance. Instead of establishing the building and then cutting to Clark and Pete, we start with a really wide shot with Clark and Pete just doop-de-dooing along in the background. The Omniscient Camera of Unnecessary Crane Placement flies down from the sky and settles upon the two suddenly-buddy-buddy-again pals as they carry coffee down the sidewalk. I still don't understand people who can drink coffee after dark. The WB really wants a nation of jittery insomniac viewers. Pete says he didn't think Lana would find somebody to cover her shift so late, but he didn't figure on "The Clark Factor." If that pre-episode warning was supposed to cover awful whiny scenes of Lana, they're about two and a half seasons too late. Clark smugly says that Lana was having her own "Crisis" over a history exam. Way to work the episode title into the second line of dialogue this week, Clark. Bravo. Pete says that this shift thing can't compare to an all-you-can-drink all-night cram session at The Talon. Or an all-you-can-cram all-night barn session with Lex. Clark gets the door for Pete, because white and black man have come together again in unity after the polarizing events of "Velocity." The camera pans over to a funky yet crude sign that says "SMALLVILLE YOUTH CENTER." That doesn't mean you have to let the youth design the building and paint all the signs.

Inside, it's like NORAD for Magic: The Gathering geeks. There's no noise of billiard balls clacking or basketballs bouncing or any other sounds you'd associate with a reputable youth center. Instead, kids are huddled at tables with their heads hanging low in strange silence, as if this were a NAMBLA hideout in disguise and kids were waiting their inevitable turn. Clark gives Pete props for spending so much time volunteering at the youth center. Pete's a righteous man. Well, what else was he going to do every week after his lines were up? Pete says he's been helped many a time and wanted to give something back. "Hi, Pete," a very creepy girl on the phone says to our underused ebony man. Pete grins sheepishly. Oh, he wanted to give nookie back. Clark gathers that Pete is honing his "sensitive-guy skills." A phone rings. Pete sits down and says, "Watch and learn." Behind Pete and Clark is a sign that reads, "Smallville teen crisis hotline." The "O" in "Hotline" is a red old-timey phone. Pete answers the phone and looks bored immediately. "Uh huh? Well, how long has it been since they've been divorced?" he asks. This is gonna be a long-ass night. Pete, with no clinical training whatsoever, asks the person on the phone if they've talked to their folks about whatever problem this is. They're putting Clark on the crisis hotline? Hasn't anybody noticed that anybody who has a chance meeting with Clark tends to end up dead or in an asylum? But, hey, let's do it for the kids, right? Another phone rings. Pete motions for Clark to sit down and answer it. Clark answers the cordless handset. The camera zooms in on him. We hear noise on the line. There's buzzing and a high-pitched whine. Also, a whine from Lana. "Clark!" she yells on the other end.

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