Daily Planet. Tess walks down into the basement and heads for the elevator. Shouldn't there be a lobby? People always seem to head for the basement whenever they need to go upstairs. Tess looks uneasy. She glances around as if expecting something to happen. Maybe this is the first time she's been back to work since the whole VRA thing. She wasn't at Carter's funeral, but did someone abduct her and stick her into one of those virtual reality things from last week? It's hard to know. These characters don't seem to have a life unless they're on the screen and explicitly spelling it out for you. As Tess waits for an elevator, some employees give her odd, knowing smiles. It all feels like a more polite version of a "walk of shame" or something. Lois comes up to her and says, "Looks like you've been taking spin classes, and not in the gym!" "What are you talking about, Lois?" Tess asks, confused. She's not even angry or exasperated. Being accosted by Lois's inanities is just so commonplace that there's no sense getting upset anymore. Lois rails at Tess for turning her anti-VRA article into an anti-vigilante article. She shows Tess a proof of the next edition. Tess skims over it, her confusion growing because she didn't approve any of the articles. And why would Lois assume that Tess was suddenly against the vigilantes? Aren't they all on the same team now? Lois doesn't seem to think so: "You know, I have better things to do than deal with your mess." With that, she turns on her heel and leaves Tess to stew in her bewilderment. [And ours. Did Tess approve other articles, only to have them replaced at the last minute? Or did she assume there was no edition today? - Zach]
Tess makes it up to her office only to find someone sitting at her desk. His back is turned and the room is shadowy, so she doesn't immediately recognize this brazen intruder. "Excuse me," she says with all the indignation she can muster. The man turns in his seat. His leonine mane and neatly trimmed beard come into view. Through her shock, Tess just manages to breathe, "Lionel Luthor." Her mouth moves for a while, words not quite making it past the big disconnect in her brain. Finally, something stammers its way out: "I thought you were...?" "Yes, well, rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated," he says with a discomforting smile. Tess looks frozen in place. Somebody save her!
That may have been the shortest teaser ever. We pick up where the scene left off. "You got a hug for your long-lost daddy?" Lionel asks. He comes around the desk, opening his arms. He should be wearing a Dracula cape. Tess steps back. She remembers the other Earth Clark told her about. It was a strange place where everyone was dangerous and interesting and Smallville was appointment television. She realizes that's where this Lionel is from. Lionel laughs off the question. "It doesn't matter where I'm from, Lutessa, I'm still your father," he says. In both worlds, he was evil enough to give her that name. He says as far as anyone in this world knows, he faked his death. That's a pretty big crime, but it's probably safe to assume that everyone is just so glad to have an unapologetically evil Lionel back that no one wants to press charges. Tess reminds him he abandoned her, but he says in his world it was she who turned on him. Not that he blames the other Tess, what with the way he neglected her. He pleads for a second chance to be her father. It looks like Tess's defenses are starting to crumble a bit. She wants so badly to have a father who wants her, or even just acknowledges her, that she could almost make herself believe this snake oil salesman. "What exactly do you want, Lionel?" "To provide for my family," he says, "for you, and for your brother." He talks about how the other Clark betrayed him. Tess points out that Clark wasn't his son in this world and Lex is dead. That leads to Lionel revealing that he knows about the clone, who he accuses Tess of "discarding." He shows her pictures and files of Alexander. To pile on the guilt, he reminds Tess of the "crippling scars" such a thing can leave on a child. He calls her "Lutessa" again and I get a neck spasm. Tess, nearly in tears, tries to leave the room, but Lionel grabs her arm and pulls her toward him. It's inappropriately kind of hot. He demands to know where Lex is, but Tess doesn't know. She swears to find him before Lionel does. I think all her hopes for a father figure just went out the window.