Dear God. What a slow episode this was. It was downright ponderous. It was like frozen molasses. I've seen people in a coma move faster. I bet the shooting script was only about five pages long and most of that was just direction like, "Clark and Lois stare at each other for five minutes," or, "Clark takes ten minutes to cross a room."
Anyway, Clark temporarily finds himself able to read people's thoughts after some "seeds" that Jor-El "planted" in him are activated because of an error in judgment. The error in this case turns out to be, I think, that Clark mistakes a hostage victim for a bomber. Jor-El wants him to learn to forsake his human instincts and rely on his Kryptonian instincts instead. It takes Clark forever to figure out that he can read minds, and an equally long time to figure out that Toyman is behind the bomb incident. In the meantime, Clark uses his newfound ability to woo Lois with donuts and promises of a monster truck rally she's been wanting to go to. Chloe finds out about it and lectures Clark even though he should already know how ooky that shit is. Clark ends up standing up Lois for their date, in the name of protecting her from Toyman's machinations, but she thinks he was just ditching her so he could grab a headline story for himself. Does she write him off? Of course not. They end up flirting like two glaciers passing in a frozen valley, promising to try again someday.
As to why Toyman is back: He wants revenge against Oliver for framing him for Lex's murder. He tries to get Oliver to confess in a fake bomb plot, but a suicidal Oliver doesn't give in. Clark eventually figures out the plan even though his mind-reading ability inconveniently disappears on him. The Toyman is locked up. Bad-ass Tess has him committed solitary confinement so that he'll have plenty of time to work on a new "toy" -- John Corben's kryptonite heart. That, and an earlier scene of Tess kicking ass in a bar to rescue a drunken Oliver, were the only bright spots in the episode.
Previously on Smallville: Clark went to train with Jor-El; Oliver bought out LuthorCorp, then was nearly kaploded to death by the Toyman, aka Winslow Schott; Oliver killed Lex with malice aforethought and pinned it on the Toyman; Clark felt that was a wee bit over the line; Tess and Oliver had a little somethin' goin' on but it's over now; Oliver has been trying to pickle his liver.
Tense, drumming music of the "time is running out!" sort plays while a dozen or so people sit bound and gagged in some kind of factory. There are a lot of factories and warehouses on this show, don't you think? Nothing ever happens at a department store or a Cinnabon stand or the DMV. If you want to survive in Metropolis, just stay away from the warehouse district and you're halfway to a longer, healthier life. Another hostage wearing a shirt and tie sits in a chair with a bomb strapped to his midsection. He's also wearing a creepy mask that looks like if one of those Easter Island heads had a baby with Chucky. Outside, cop cars and SWAT vans are gathering while a helicopter circles overhead. A cop in a bulletproof vest orders a barricade so that no one will get in the way. Cue Clark in his Emo Blur outfit, zipping up onto a nearby roof. Then he just stands there and looks around, right under the helicopter. In broad daylight, by the way.
Inside, the hostages sit and wait, as hostages are wont to do. One by one, they get zipped out by Clark until only the masked man is left. Then Clark burns a gigantic flaming S symbol on the ground within about five feet of this bomb-clad dude, which seems ill-advised. Clark addresses Masky: "Don't bother pulling the trigger." Uh, what? It seems sort of blatant that this guy is a victim. Clark speeds over to him, rips the bomb off, and then backhands him right out of his chair and across the floor. The mask falls off, revealing this poor sucker's unconscious face and duct-taped mouth. A digital timer flashes in the mask's eye. Clark looks at the bomb in his hand like, "Oh, shit!" He hunches down and covers the bomb with his body to lessen the blast. Still, the explosion blows out one side of the factory and sends two SWAT guys outside cartwheeling through the air. Clark shakily starts to stand up, but his hearing goes all wonky. There's a flood of jumbled, muted sound from the police radio outside and a flurry of indistinct voices. Plus, everything's sort of too-bright and slo-mo, so you know something superfreaky just happened.
A short while later, he emerges from a nearby phonebooth, dressed in his work clothes. He holds one hand to his temple in the international sign for "Ow, my head!" Lois screeches onto the scene in a red Chrysler. She rushes up to Clark, asking if she's missed the Blur. "He was long gone by the time I got here," Clark says. They joke about the phonebooth, but I'm too busy ducking anvils to recount it here. Lois stomps around the crime scene with Clark in tow. She comes to two cop cars that are parked together fender to fender, so instead of walking the extra seven or so feet around like a normal person, she decides to climb over them in her skinny skirt and high heels. She promptly slips and falls backward and into Clark's waiting arms. She braces her hand on his manly biceps and says, without opening her mouth, "Well, hello-o-o, sailor!" Clark knits his brows together to let us know he's confused. Lois clambers down from his grasp and he's all, "What did you just say?" "Nothing," she says. She tells him to get his hearing checked, then calls him "Hot stuff" with what passes for her thoughts. Clark looks even more confused. Somebody save him!
Daily Planet. Clark's in the elevator, doing a passable job of looking at a folder of work stuff, when the quality of light changes again and he rubs his temple to let us know he's feeling it. In the screen I have it paused on, Tom Welling's hand is bigger than his whole head. Either he has ginormous hands or a wee nubbin of a noggin. Out of nowhere, he hears Lois's disembodied voice going on about how little energy she has. She needs coffee -- no, wait! A B-12 shot! People still get those? Her voice goes on to babble about the lessons about underwear taught to her by "The General." I'm not able to picture her stern, strict father teaching her about underwear. Clark's in the elevator looking about as confused as a puppy who's just been shown the TV for the first time. Lois's voice complains about her thong underwear when the elevator door opens and there she is, surreptitiously picking her panties out of her ass. She freezes when she sees Clark, but it's not like the half-dozen people behind her didn't see her. She joins Clark in the elevator. He suppresses a smile and notes that Lois is in a good mood. She says she'd be in a better mood if the Blur had stuck around for a quote, so they'd know what happened at the factory. Clark says the Blur saved the hostages: "End of story." I expect the investigative journalism awards to start rolling in any time now. Lois goes on about how the "word on the street" is that their bomber isn't the one responsible. Yes, that would seem obvious from the fact that he was bound and gagged like the other hostages. I don't see why this is even up for the teensiest debate.
They go back and forth about there being hostages but no demands as they cross the basement to their desks. Lois checks her phone and Clark hears her say -- once again without moving her mouth -- that the Blur hasn't called her. She mentally sighs about being nothing to the Blur. Clark says Lois's name and she snaps out of her funk. She lies that her computer's frozen up and then casts a glare over some guy standing behind her. He's chowing down on a donut. Her thoughts tell us that he's Jeff the intern, and she's annoyed at him for taking the last maple donut. Clark zips away in front of everyone in the office and then he steals Jeff's donut. Jeff stares at his suddenly-empty hand and then Clark gives Lois the partially eaten donut. Oh my God. OH MY GOD, how stupid, rude, and disgusting is that? Superzip your damn self to the donut shop to get her a fresh one, you stupid, rude, disgusting thief! Jeff could be festering with mouth herpes for all you know! He could have gone Number Two without washing his hands after! He could be a compulsive masturbator or a habitual nosepicker with swine flu! So very gross and wrong! God! I'm sorry for all the italics and exclamation points, but this... this is just the worst thing ever. Lois hesitates then happily chows down on the cesspool of pilfered maple, grease, and e. coli because Clark lets her think it's actually his donut. Clark looks exceedingly pleased with his disgusting thievery. They get to work, looking through Clark's work folder. Turns out the factory is a subsidiary of Queen Industries. Clark says it should get Oliver's attention. Lois's thoughts say, "Only if he's sober enough to give a crap." Clark replies out loud, "You might be right." She's confused, he's confused. She's still eating that donut all through this so I can't focus on anything more specific than that.
Finally, the scene is over. Clark has apparently called Chloe and now he's meeting up with her at a coffee cart outside the paper. "What am I thinking right now?" Chloe tests him. He can't read her thoughts. "So far it's only been Lois." Chloe goes on about how she's familiar with all the "strange and unexplained" but how does Clark know this isn't just broken superhearing? "You don't just catch ESP," she says. I think Lana might disagree. Clark says, "As loud as Lois is, even she can't speak with her mouth closed." Chloe has to admit that's a good point. She says she'll do some research, but asks why he doesn't just ask Jor-El. Instead of answering, he gets