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"Fragile" is the eighteenth episode in the fifth season of Smallville, and the one hundred-sixth episode overall. It aired on April 13, 2006.


Clark and Martha take in a little girl, Maddie, after her foster mother is brutally stabbed to death. However, it is discovered that Maddie has the power to shatter glass and she becomes the prime suspect. Meanwhile, Chloe asks both Lex and Lana about their budding relationship.


→ see also Category:Screencaps from episode 5x18

Maddie Van Horn

Maddie Van Horn is sullen and quiet.

Naomi is preparing dinner for her foster daughter, eleven-year-old Maddie Van Horn. Maddie is drawing and does not respond when Naomi tells her it's time to eat. Naomi attempts to take the notebook from her and Maddie gets upset. They struggle and a pitcher of water suddenly explodes. Naomi realizes Maddie broke the pitcher with her mind and gets scared of her. She says she is calling foster care to pick her up and sends Maddie to her room. Upset, Maddie hides under the bed. In the kitchen, everything made of glass explodes. Naomi looks on in horror as shards go towards her.

That same evening, Clark is being interviewed by a deputy. He has brought Maddie back with him to the Kent Farm. Martha explains that Maddie's foster mother was her Chief of Staff, and can't understand who would want to kill her. She says Maddie has been in and out of foster homes since she was three when she witnessed her mother die in a car accident. Maddie has not spoken a word since. Clark approaches the girl and tries to get her to open up by asking her about art, but she remains silent.


Clark brings Maddie to stay with the Kents.

Lex is dropping Lana off at her dorm room after an evening of dinner and discussion about the Black Ship. She offers to give him back his files, but he says he trusts her to keep them. They share a moment just as Chloe bursts into the room. She realizes she has walked in on something and leaves abruptly.


Lana and Lex's relationship shifts.

The next day, Clark shows Maddie around the farm. Maddie meets Shelby and whispers to the dog. Clark uses his super-hearing to discover that she can talk and convinces her that he isn't going to judge her or be mean to her. Maddie decides to talk to Clark, and they agree to go horseback riding. Just then, Lois comes in and introduces herself. Maddie is wary of Lois and when Lois invites herself to their outing, all the lights burst in the barn. Maddie runs into the house. She is crying and silent again, and Clark tells her that he understands that she has powers, and she can tell him the truth. Maddie admits that she can break glass, but she can't control it when she gets upset. Clark has to ask if she hurt Naomi, but Maddie says she can't do it through walls and denies killing her. Lois tells Clark that she is suspicious of Maddie. Clark defends her and asks her to look after her for a few hours while he investigates further, and tricks Lois into agreeing.


Maddie is kidnapped.

Clark gets Chloe to look into Maddie's foster records and she reports that there are several references to broken glass of disastrous proportions. Clark still doesn't believe Maddie is dangerous and speculates that he could be in the same situation if he hadn't been adopted. Chloe gives him more details on the crash that killed Maddie's mother, saying it was a freak accident.

Lois takes Maddie to the fields for a picnic, but she runs away to find Shelby. She runs into the tool shed of the barn, full of jars and glass containers that rattle alarmingly. Lois calms her down and asks if they can leave before one of them gets hurt. A Child Services advocate arrives to pick Maddie up and hears Lois' statement and automatically assumes something bad. Lois tries to warn him about Maddie's ability, but he brushes her off saying she needs to be taken where she can be cared for properly and collects the girl to take her back to a shelter. As Maddie gets into the backseat, the car windows begin to rattle, then ultimately explode, killing the advocate. The blast knocks Lois to the ground and impales her shoulder with shards of glass. A man approaches the car, pushes Maddie back in, and drives away.

Clark goes to the hospital to see if Lois is okay; Lois feels guilty for letting Maddie get kidnapped. Maddie is seen trying to use a pay phone to call Clark when the kidnapper approaches her. He tells her that he is her father, Tyler McKnight. Maddie figures out that Tyler has the same power as she does and is the one responsible for the recent deaths, including her mother's. Tyler says that he's spent years in prison and wants her with him.


Tyler explains to Maddie where her powers come from.

Lex is viewing several webcam videos of witnesses that claim to have seen Milton Fine at exactly the same time at opposite points on the globe on his laptop when Chloe arrives. She is angry that Lex is taking advantage of Lana when she's still getting over her break up with Clark. Chloe says she won't let Lex hurt her friend, but Lex claims they're just friends and upsets Chloe by pointing out that she's never even had a boyfriend. She storms out and Lex looks pleased with himself.


Lana gets angry when Chloe asks her about Lex.

Later, Lana confronts Chloe, angry that she was snooping into her relationship with Lex. Chloe says she just doesn't want Lana to get hurt, but Lana claims Chloe has humiliated her by spreading rumors because there is nothing going on with her and Lex.

Clark and Chloe investigate Tyler McKnight and Chloe reports that he picked up the ability to manipulate glass after being caught in a stained-glass workshop the day of the meteor shower. He used his ability to rob jewelry stores and was put in Belle Reve but was recently given a clean bill of health and released. Chloe finds Tyler's mother's address and Clark goes to talk to her. She is surprised to learn of Maddie's existence and shows him a pattern for a piece of stained-glass artwork that Tyler made. Clark recognizes that the finished piece is actually hanging up at the Talon. Tyler takes Maddie to see it and collects seven diamonds he has hidden in the glass. Clark superspeeds to the Talon, throws Tyler across the room, and Maddie runs into his arms. Clark takes Lois back to her apartment and reports that Maddie is going to live with her grandmother. Martha arrives and announces that she has decided to hire Lois as her new Chief of Staff.

Back at the hospital, Tyler is being brought into custody. The man who has him handcuffed is wearing glasses. Tyler grins and the man's glasses shatter, killing him.


Clark and Maddie talk about fathers and dads.

Maddie is spending her last day at the Kent Farm. Martha remarks that Jonathan would be proud of him, and Maddie asks Clark if he's ever met his real father. Clark tells her that even though his birth father is a bad guy, he chooses to be like his adoptive dad. Maddie is apprehensive about living with her grandmother with her powers, but Clark assures her that her grandmother will accept her for who she is. That evening, Maddie and Clark are playing cards when he notices the front door is busted. He finds Tyler McKnight in the barn with a shard of glass held to Martha's throat, threatening to kill her unless Maddie leaves with him. Clark uses his heat vision on the glass and Martha runs to safety.


Maddie learns to control her powers.

Tyler then sends a cloud of broken glass towards Clark, but it is redirected by Maddie, expertly controlling the glass and saying that she won't let him hurt anyone else. Clark talks her out of killing Tyler. Maddie lets the glass fall and Tyler, seeming to realize what he almost made his daughter do, is subdued. The next day, Maddie's grandmother comes to pick her up, and Maddie and Clark have an emotional goodbye. Clark tells her that she can call him anytime she feels like she can't control her powers.

Clark is walking Chloe out of her office when he inevitably brings up Lana. Chloe gets defensive and tells him that if he wants to know how she's doing, he'd better ask her himself because she is staying out of it. That evening, Lana goes back to the Luthor Mansion to make sure there are no misunderstandings. Lex assures her that they feel the same way, but then unexpectedly leans to break the barrier of their friendship with a kiss. Lana seems confused, then kisses him back before she leaves quickly. Lex smile, pleased that his manipulatory plan to "divide and conquer" is working.



Guest Starring[]




  • Fragile is defined as "easily broken, damaged, or destroyed; frail."
  • In this episode, Maddie Van Horn has the ability to easily break or damage glass.
  • Maddie is also emotionally frail and is not able to control her powers when she gets upset.
  • It may also refer to Lana's fragile psyche after her breakup with Clark.


  • Antagonist: Tyler McKnight
  • Clark uses the following abilities in this episode: super strength, super speed, heat vision, and super hearing.
  • Lionel Luthor and Jonathan Kent do not appear in this episode.
  • This episode contains a deleted scene on the Season 5 DVD set. Maddie ventures downstairs to see her foster mother dead. All the lights and windows in the kitchen are broken and Clark arrives shortly afterward and finds Maddie hiding under a table.
  • This episode marks the 34th appearance of Clark's red jacket & blue shirt outfit, which he wears frequently throughout the series.
  • Maddie is capable of shattering glass. Car windows, however, are not made of glass but of a transparent polymer. It is also unexplained how Tyler could control diamonds, although they might be held in glass sockets.
  • Lex taunts Chloe for never having a boyfriend, apparently forgetting or is unaware of her admittedly brief relationship with Clark. She is also shown to be popular with boys in high school. He may not also be aware of her summer fling with Jimmy Olsen when she was interning at the Daily Planet.


  • Tom Welling made his directorial debut with this episode.



  • Lois calls Maddie's silence a "Marcel Marceau act," a reference to one of the world's most famous mimes.


Clark: And this is the world-famous Kent barn!

Chloe: I know you're used to getting whatever you want without even thinking about the consequences, but I promise you if you hurt my friend, there will be a consequence. And you're looking at her.
Lex: Chloe, I think I’m getting an inkling why you've never had a boyfriend.

Clark: Chloe, if my parents hadn't found me in that field, that could have been me in the foster care system, scaring people with my powers, being accused of crimes I didn't commit.
Chloe: Yeah, and Clark, one of your greatest powers is your unrelenting faith in people.

Clark: It's very exciting. Kind of like my parents when they adopted me.
Lois: Yeah, well they didn't have to worry about their house getting destroyed.
Martha: (just entering) Well, he had his moments.

Maddie: Clark, did you ever meet your real dad?
Clark: Sort of...
Maddie: Was he bad like mine?
Clark: Maybe worse. But just because he gave me life doesn’t mean I’m anything like him. See, the thing is, Maddie, anyone can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a dad.

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