|Writer||Al Septien & Turi Meyer|
|Broadcast Date||January 25, 2007|
| Previous Episode: Justice
Next Episode: Crimson
Clark is attacked and wakes up in a mental asylum where the attending physician, Dr. Hudson, tells him he has been there for five years due to his elaborate fantasy that he has alien superpowers. In this new world, Martha is married to Lionel Luthor, Chloe is deemed insane, and Lana chose Clark over Lex. Only one person, another patient named John believes Clark and urges him to fight.
→ see also Category:Screencaps from episode 6x12
Clark is finishing up his farm chores in his barn while waiting for Chloe when Shelby starts barking. He goes to check on him, but is suddenly stricken by a sudden blast of pressure that sends him falling down to the barn floor. He wakes up in a common area of a mental hospital, wearing white scrubs. He is suitably confused, but when he asks how he got there, the other patients mock and tease him, asking if he got attacked by "krypto-freaks" again. He gets upset and the guards come to carry him away. He tries to use his super-speed to get away, but it fails him. He is shocked when the guards overpower him and drag him to a small isolation room. When Clark calms down, an older man, Dr. Hudson, comes in.
Clark thinks he's in Level 33.1 and that he has been captured by Lex Luthor. Dr. Hudson tells him that, in fact, he has been suffering from paranoid schizophrenia for over five years now. He explains that Clark has created an elaborate fantasy in which he was an alien with superpowers, and during his freshman year of high school, began to live in this fantasy all the time. He says Clark is getting worse, but he has developed a treatment that will soon cure him. Clark tells him to tell Lex that he's not buying it, but Dr. Hudson patiently says that he has been institutionalized in the Fairview Psychiatric Hospital for five years and his whole secret identity and alien lineage is merely delusions.
Back in the common room, Clark is standing in line for medication when another patient whispers that he believes him, addressing him as Kal-El. He claims that he is from Mars. However, just as he tells Clark not to trust anyone, the orderlies come behind him and taser him unconscious. Clark sees a janitor enter a broom closet and follows him in. He sneaks up on him, punches him out, and steals his uniform, escaping out of a side door. Clark heads to the barn to find Lana in his loft. It is furnished with Lana's things and she is dressed up and delighted to see him. She runs into his arms, but Clark has to ask why she's there. She says that she and Nell bought the farm after Jonathan's death and she lives there waiting for him. Clark is still confused, especially when Lana says they have been dating since freshman year. Clark asks about Whitney, but Lana insists that he is the only person she has ever loved. She thinks Clark took Dr. Hudson's treatment and was released, but Clark admits that he escaped and says Lex put him in there. He says he doesn't care if they're engaged, but Lana says she hardly knows Lex. Clark thinks Lana is in on it and demands to know where his mother is. Lana says she is at the Luthor Mansion and Clark exits quickly.
Clark finds Martha in the library and Martha says everyone has been looking for him since he escaped. Clark is shocked that his mother allowed him to be in there, but Martha tells him to calm down. She admits that following Jonathan's death, she and Lionel are actually married, and urges him to take the treatment. She pushes an alarm and Clark runs away. Guards chase him through the grounds and just as they are about to capture him, Chloe drives up and Clark climbs into the car with her. Chloe seems to believe that everything is different and tells him that she has been in hiding because she knows the truth about him. Clark says he wants to confront Lex, but Chloe doesn't agree. Clark insists and Chloe lets him borrow her car. Clark arrives in Lex's office and accuses him of taking his powers. Lex is angry and frustrated with Clark and reveals that he has lost both legs in their first meeting and is now wheelchair-bound. He bitterly recounts how Clark, in his delusion, jumped in front of his car and Lex swerved to miss him and wrapped his car around a guardrail. He is extremely furious that Clark will not come out of his fantasy world and bitterly wishes that he had just run him over. Clark is visibly taken aback by this turn of events.
When he arrives at the Talon, he is shocked to see that it is still an abandoned movie theater. Lana appears and Clark asks if Lex's story is true. Lana just says that they can get through anything together. She says they've been together since kindergarten and shows him a plastic ring, claiming that he gave it to her when they were ten. Clark gives it back and runs up to the apartment to find Chloe. Chloe assures him that they aren't crazy and they have to hide out until he gets his powers back.
Clark prepares to leave with her, but Lana shows up and tells Clark that Chloe also escaped from the mental institution a few months early. Lana begs Clark to come with her to get help and when he appears to be convinced, Chloe pushes past him. Clark begs her to stay, but she insists they will kill her when they catch her. Just then, two guards show up to collect them. When Chloe draws a handgun, they shoot her in the chest. She dies in Clark's arms, muttering that she's not crazy. Upset over Chloe's death, Clark allows Lana and the guards to take him back to the institution.
Dr. Hudson later tells him that he will be fine after his treatment. Clark insists he is not going to go through with it, but Dr. Hudson begins to show Clark that all of the circumstances and people that Clark thinks makes up his Kryptonian background have been taken from ordinary objects in his everyday world. He shows Clark a piece of meteor rock and Clark automatically jumps back in fear. When Dr. Hudson shows Clark that the rock is harmless to him, Clark seems to realize that Dr. Hudson is really telling the truth. He realizes Chloe is really dead and slides to the ground in defeat.
Clark finds the patient from the medication line is his neighbor in the restraint room. He tells Clark that he must fight, but Clark is subdued and listless. He explains that Dr. Hudson is a Phantom Zone prisoner trying to gain control of Clark's body by controlling his mind unless Clark fights back. He says he is also in his mind trying to help; for Clark to regain consciousness, he must kill Dr. Hudson. He urges him to trust himself when the orderlies rush into his room. They terrorize him with a lighter and beat him up. Clark is taken to the treatment room where Lana is waiting. Clark again tries to resist, but Lana points out that she doesn't know why Clark is so eager to return to a reality in which they are apart and he is an alien who has caused so much pain. She convinces him to take the treatment and be normal and with her for the rest of their lives. They strap Clark to a table and Dr. Hudson starts up a drill. Just as it advances towards Clark's head, he starts to hear a barking and growling noise. Recognizing it as Shelby, Clark realizes he is still in his barn and starts to struggle. He breaks loose and strangles Dr. Hudson.
He wakes up in the barn with the other "patient" mysteriously standing over him, holding a crystal that captures the phantom. Just as Chloe arrives, Clark watches as he flies away in a streak of red light.
Chloe takes Clark back into his house and says he was only out for a second. Clark tries to explain his fractured dream-world and tells Chloe how he was willing to give up everything and everyone he loved for Lana. He says that even though she is with Lex, he must still be in love with her. She asks what her role was, but Clark refrains from telling her that she was institutionalized as well. He simply says that she was the only person who believed in him.
Clark runs into Lana at the Talon and she guesses that he has something on his mind. He tells her that he dreamed they were engaged when they were ten and Lana is amused. They have a friendly conversation and Lex arrives. Clark says it's good to see him out and about and Lex says he appreciates the civility. Then as he and Lana leave together, she looks back at Clark with emotion.
While in the mental hospital, Clark notices several things that allude to his superhuman origins:
- An antibacterial soap called Jorel.
- Dr. Milton Fine being called over the P.A. system to report to Level Three.
- A book titled Fortress of Solitude which was near other books titled The Crystal Ship and a book title ending with Labyrinth.
- A magazine with the words The Phantom Zone on it.
- Pictures of Victor Stone, Arthur Curry and Oliver Queen, but the people pictured were not the same people he met before.
- The nurse's name is Raya.
- 331 was actually the occupancy limit of the building.
- Tom Welling as Clark Kent
- Kristin Kreuk as Lana Lang
- Michael Rosenbaum as Lex Luthor
- Erica Durance as Lois Lane (credit only)
- Allison Mack as Chloe Sullivan
- John Glover as Lionel Luthor (credit only)
- Annette O'Toole as Martha Kent
- Dr. Hudson - Matthew Walker
- Orderly - Aleks Paunovic
- Prescription Nurse - Candus Churchill
- Security Guard - Shawn Stewart
- Patient #1 - Malcolm Scott
- Patient #2 - Graeme Duffy
- Janitor - Dwayne Bryshun
- "Yesterday" - Chris Heifner
- A labyrinth is "an intricate structure of interconnecting passages through which it is difficult to find one's way/a maze."
- In this episode, Clark is trapped by Dr. Hudson in a "labyrinth" in his mind.
- In Greek mythology, the hero Theseus was able to find his way through the Creten labyrinth using a ball of string and the help of King Midas' daughter, Ariadne. In Clark's fantasy world, Martian Manhunter serves as the guide that helps Clark find the way out of his mental labyrinth.
- Antagonist: Dr. Hudson
- Lois Lane and Lionel Luthor do not appear in this episode. Martha Kent only appears in Clark's delusion.
- Pete Ross' fate in this alternate universe is not mentioned or explored. It is not made clear whether or not Lois exists in the alternate universe.
- Clark's fellow patient is Martian Manhunter, a DC Comics superhero. In Clark's delusion, the Martian Manhunter is shown to be afraid of the guard's lighter flame. In the comics, fire is one of his weaknesses. The Martian Manhunter currently wears a blue outfit, represented here by John's blue scrubs and later, his blue leather jacket.
- Although not in the broadcast, Martian Manhunter calls himself John Jones in a deleted scene on the Season 6 DVD box set. He explains that he worked with Jor-El as a bounty hunter and has dealt with the criminals from the Phantom Zone. He warns Clark of the last phantom and tells him that Clark is too preoccupied with living the life of a human. Had this scene been included, Clark would have known the Martian Manhunter's identity halfway through season six, but since it was deleted, Clark doesn't get to know who the Manhunter is until the season finale, Phantom. The conversation between Clark and the Manhunter in Phantom re-uses some of the dialogue from this deleted scene.
- In Clark's delusion, Oliver Queen is a security guard, Raya is a nurse, Milton Fine is a doctor, Arthur Curry and Victor Stone are patients, Jor-El is the name of a handsoap, and "Phantom Zone" and "Fortress of Solitude" are titles of books. 331 is the capacity of Clark's ward.
- Shelby can be heard growling throughout the episode. At some points, the phantom makes noises as well. Shelby is the hero who saves Clark this time, by making him realize that all this was not real and that he was really still in the Kent barn. Also, throughout the entire delusion sequence, a constant, monotonous drone accompanies the soundtrack, which is perhaps meant to signify the Martian Manhunter's attempt to remove the phantom from Clark's mind using the crystal.
- Clark wears a hat for a third time in the series this episode. The first was in Thirst and the second was in Lexmas.
In Other Media
- In Clark's delusion, Lex is shown in a wheelchair. The super-villain, Ultra-Humanite, was originally a bald man in a wheelchair.
- This episode is very similar to the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Normal Again", in which Buffy Summers was drugged into believing that she was in a mental institution for dreaming up her life as the Slayer. The main difference is that Clark believed that he was in a mental institution at all times, while Buffy merely suffered flashes back and forth between the real world and the hallucination, whereas the main similarity was that they both were superpowered heroes, and a main character around their friends, in a perfect world.
- Martian Manhunter saved Clark from the Zoner Aldar in Static.
- This is the first time that Whitney Fordman has been seen or mentioned since Façade. It is also the final episode of the series in which he is referenced.
- Lana references Chloe's family history of mental illness, touched on in Scare and Tomb.
- The song that plays at the end, "Yesterday," by Hefshill, during Clark and Lana's conversation at the Talon is the same one playing in the Season Two episode Lineage when Clark and Lana have a conversation in his loft and Clark urges her to try again to get to know her biological father.
- Shelby was last seen in Vessel.
- This episode marks the 48th appearance of Clark's red jacket & blue shirt outfit, which he wears frequently throughout the series.
- Chloe coins the term "Martian Manhunter" in the next episode, Crimson.
- When Clark tells her how much she means to him, Chloe makes a joke about "Barry Manilow" music, a reference to the American singer-songwriter famous for his emotional soft-rock love songs.
- Dr. Hudson: For the last five and a half years, you've been a resident of the Fairview psychiatric hospital. Everything else-- your superpowers, your alien lineage, your secret identity-- it's all a delusion.
- Dr. Hudson: When the human mind has faced tremendous emotional pain, it has no choice but to protect itself. You've taken bits and pieces of your surroundings and created an alternate universe where you feel safe and secure. Clark, in a world where you truly have no power, you chose to give yourself superpowers.
- John : You're not crazy, Kal-El. We don't have much time, so listen to me closely. I believe you're from another planet.
- Clark: What makes you say that?
- John : Because like you, I'm not from here. I come from Mars. You can't trust anyone.
- Clark: I don't know what I'd do without you, Chloe.
- Chloe: Oh, is this when I'm supposed to cue the Barry Manilow music?
- Clark: No, seriously. You mean a lot more to me than you know.
- John: You can't give in, Kal-El. You must resist. None of this is real!
- Martian Manhunter: Welcome home, Kal-El.
- Clark: I know who I am!
- Dr. Hudson: I'm not sure you do. Your name is Clark Kent, not Kal-El. And Jor-El isn't your father.
- Clark: Shelby. Thanks buddy, you saved my life.
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