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"Hothead" is the third episode in the first season of Smallville, and third episode overall. It aired on October 30, 2001.


Coach Walt Arnold is obsessed with winning. Meteor rocks in his sauna have given him the power to cause objects to burst into flames. Clark Kent defies his father and joins the football team. Lana Lang defies expectations, quits cheerleading, and waits tables. Lex Luthor defies his father in a business plan that saves several people their jobs. The coach attacks the principal, a football player, and Chloe before Clark stops him.


→ see also Category:Screencaps from episode 1x03

Clark Kent's jersey 89 hothead

Clark Kent at football practice.

Coach Walt Arnold is a winning coach who is hard on his team, the Smallville Crows. Next Friday's game will be the last of the season and Coach Walt's 200th win. After their latest game, coach retires to his private sauna, which was given to him five years ago in recognition of twenty years of dedicated service by the alumni association. The steam coming off the lava rocks has a green tinge.

Principal Kwan has discovered that seven of the football players cheated on their mathematics midterm, making them ineligible to play in next Friday's game. Coach Walt asks Principal Kwan to keep it quiet for a few weeks and to deal with it in the off-season. Kwan refuses the request. Coach hits the top of his desk in frustration, the desk bursting into flames.


Coach Walt Arnold sends fire shooting from sprinklers.

Chloe's latest article in the Smallville Torch highlights Coach Walt's abusive tendencies. Meanwhile, Lana is upset that some of the football players were cheating, particularly, that Whitney knew and did not say anything. A football jock sees Chloe, Pete, and Clark walk by and throws a football aimed at her head, as retaliation for her article. Clark blocks the ball, and throws it back at the jock, hitting his stomach.

Coach Walt takes note of Clark's throwing arm and tries to recruit him to the team, to which Clark agrees to join. Later at home, Jonathan refuses to let Clark play, citing that if Clark were to get angry or distracted on the field, he could seriously hurt another player. "You were meant for much more important things than playing football games," he tells his son. Despite his fathers concerns, Clark says he cannot stop him from joining the team.

At Luthor Mansion, Lex is greeted by Dominic Sanatori and Lionel Luthor's other business advisors. Lex had cancelled their meeting earlier that day, but Domonic insists they discuss the Smallville plant's diminishing profits - the plant is 20 percent below projections, and Lex must cut his workforce. Despite underperforming, Lex plans to increase his workforce by 20 percent, thus increasing marketing and productivity. Dominic objects, to which Lex retorts that his father would "rather surround himself with drones and people who challenge his archaic business practices."

Lana tells Aunt Nell that she has quit the cheerleading squad, dissatisfied with the football team (and by association, the "popular" clique)'s cheating scandal and lack of morals. Lana wants to find a new path that fulfills her, and also wants to get a part-time job so she can travel during the summer. Nell offers her a job at her flower shop, but Lana is determined to find something on her own.


Chloe speaks to Trevor.

Clark attends his first practice. Jonathan watches from the bleachers - not to support his son - but to ensure nobody gets hurt. While trepid at first, Coach Walt tells Clark to disregard his father's watchful eye. Clark is motivated to fully participate in the practice, applying his powers to score a touchdown in the practice session. Jonathan leaves in disappointment.

Later, Coach Walt reviews today's practice when Principal Kwan comes into his office and tells him that one of the football players confessed that Coach Walt was the one who gave the players an advanced copy of the math test. Principal Kwan plans to get other students to come forward to force the board to suspend the coach.

Hothead 023

Clark is weakened by the meteor rocks in the sauna.

Coach Walt watches as Principal Kwan walks to his car. When he turns the key in the ignition, Coach closes his eyes and the car's interior bursts into flames. Clark and Pete leave practice late and see the car on fire. Clark tells Pete to go call for help, and Clark saves the principal just before the car explodes.

During dinner at the Kent Farm, Clark and Jonathan argue over the practice session. Clark says that despite his father's concerns about safety, he was able to use his powers on the field without harming anyone. Hoping to impress his father, Clark says that Coach gave him Jonathan's old position - starting tailback. Jonathan is not impressed, and Clark storms out.

Martha reminds Jonathan that he too was rebellious in his younger years, and that Clark has never been able to engage in normal activities with his peers due to his strength. She tells her husband that they must trust Clark's judgement on how to use his own powers. Jonathan asks what will happen if somebody witnesses Clark using his powers, and Clark gets taken away from the Kents, to which Martha replies that if they do not start trusting Clark now, their son will leave the Kents by his own decision.

Chloe, Clark, and Pete go out for coffee at the Beanery and find Lana waiting tables. Chloe sees the seven suspended football players leave the coffee shop together, and she follows them to the football field. Coach Walt interrogates the players about which one of them ratted him out to the principal. Trevor Chapell gives himself away. The coach punches him in the jaw as the sprinklers turn into flamethrowers. Chloe photographs the whole incident.

The next day, Lionel scolds Lex for planning to increase the plant's workforce by 20 percent. Lex questions why Lionel even sent him to "the crap factory" in the first place, to which Lionel responds that rulers would send their sons to far-away outposts so that they could get a sense of the world. Lionel proposes that they fence to decide the fate of the Smallville plant - if Lex wins, he may continue with his plan, but if Lionel wins, Lex must fire 20 percent of his workforce.

At the Kent Farm, Martha approaches Clark, who is preparing for the pep rally. Martha says that while Jonathan may have been unreasonable, Clark must be prepared to live with his mistakes if he wants to start making his own decisions. She tells her son that she and Jonathan want to trust Clark, but that Clark must also consider his father's point of view.

At the pep rally, Chloe meets with Trevor and asks for a statement about Coach Walt for the school paper. Trevor refuses and walks away, only for Coach Walt to find him and start burning his arm for talking to the school reporter. Trevor desperately pleads that he did not tell Chloe anything, and that Chloe has picture evidence of the coach's abilities from the night before. Coach says he will take care of Chloe and lets Trevor go home.

While Chloe is working her article at the Torch office, her computer bursts into flames, which quickly spread and engulf the entire room. Chloe is nearly overcome and calls out the window for Clark's help. Clark saves Chloe from the fire, as Coach watches from nearby. Chloe explains to Clark her theory that the coach is responsible for the cheating and the pyrotechnics, but that she does not have any proof. They decide they need to find Trevor again.


Coach Walt Arnold burns himself to death.

Clark looks for Trevor at the Beanery but finds Lex there, stressing about which employees to cut from the plant. In between waiting tables, Lana joins in on their discussion. Lex congratulates them both for standing up to their parents' expectations and trying to forge their own path, while Lex caved to his father's demands. Lex says the two have inspired him to stand up to Lionel's wishes.

Clark finds Trevor the next day holed up in his garage surrounded by fire extinguishers. He confesses to Clark that Coach Walt gave him the math test, and he shows Clark the burn on his arm. He says Coach has always been abusive to his players, justifying it as the acts of a "father."

Clark looks for Coach Walt and finds him in his sauna. Clark accuses him of hurting Trevor and threatens to keep him from coaching. The meteor rocks in the sauna begin to make Clark sick. Coach easily overpowers him and locks him in the sauna, while Coach goes on to join the football players on the field. The game has started, and Jonathan wonders why Clark is not playing. Pete tells Jonathan that he has not seen Clark all day. Jonathan goes into the locker room to look for him, while Coach follows. Jonathan breaks down the sauna door and drags Clark out. Clark recovers just in time to fight Coach into a corner, who becomes so enraged that he burns himself up.

Lionel is furious that Lex disobeyed his orders, instead choosing to keep all of his workforce by cutting the plant's operating budget. Lex tells his father that this also prevents bad PR, to which Lionel says that that was not the point, and that this was Lex's one and only chance to defy him. Lex claims that Lionel is simply mad that his plan worked and that Lionel did not come up with it first.

Clana scream

Clark and Lana relieve stress.

Later, Clark reconciles with his father. Jonathan says he does trust Clark, but that part of being a parent is being afraid for his child. Clark finds Lana on the football field, and they share how he quit the football team and she got fired from the Beanery but still does not want to be a cheerleader again. They both want to be something more than what they are. Since they are alone, Lana suggests they air out their frustrations by screaming from the empty football field.



Special Guest Star[]

Guest Starring[]



Featured Music[]

Song Artist/Band Scene
"Renegade Fighter" Zed Played during the opening Football game.
"Clint Eastwood" Gorillaz Played when Clark, Chloe, and Pete arrive at school.
"Motivation" Sum 41 Played when Jonathan watches Clark playing football with the team.
"Bad Day" Fuel Played when Chloe tells Clark and Pete that "cars don't spontaneously combust".
"What I Want To Give You" Speed Played when Chloe works on her computer at the Torch.
"Never Let You Go" Third Eye Blind Played when Lex talks to Lana in the beanery.
"So Much For Love (acoustic)" The Contes Played when Clark tells Lex that Jonathan does not approve of him playing football.
"You" Binocular Played when Clark and Lana talk on the football field.


  • "Hothead" refers to a temperamental or choleric person.
  • This title also refers to the metahuman Walt Arnold who has the ability to control Pyrokinesis which is the form of controlling fire which is obviously hot.


  • Antagonist: Walt Arnold
  • Clark uses the following abilities in this episode: super strengthsuper speedsuper dexterity, and Invulnerability
  • This is the first time Hiro Kanagawa is seen as Principal Kwan. His scenes were cut from the Pilot.
  • This is the first episode of the series featuring Lionel Luthor other than flashbacks from Pilot.
  • When Coach Walt sets the Torch on fire, he is standing by the fire exit doors, which goes with his abilities to set things on fire.
  • Seven players were suspended for cheating, yet there are clearly 8 players on the field when they meet with Coach Arnold.
  • The number on Clark's Jersey is 89. This is also the year, according to the pilot, that he crashed to Earth from Krypton. [1]
  • According to the Smallville Season 1 companion originally Whitney Fordman was going to be one of the cheating jocks that Coach Walt threatens to burn.


  • According to an interview with Annette O'Toole, most of the cast was filming this episode when 9/11 happened. She had to have her husband Michael McKean drive to and from Vancouver because planes were grounded. During the car journey they wrote the songs for the movie A Mighty Wind, for which they were nominated for the Academy Awards of Best Music, Original Song.
  • The second time Dan Lauria has played an Arnold character. In a television comedy-drama The Wonder Years, he was the head of the Arnold family.
  • This is the first episode of the series to be directed by Greg Beeman. He would go on to direct every season premiere and finale until the fourth season as well as the final episode of Smallville, Finale, Part 2.




Lex: My father sent me to Smallville because he'd rather surround himself with drones than people who challenge his archaic business practices.

Chloe: (To Pete, after Clark catches a ball aimed at her face) One of your teammates attempted to assassinate me and all you can say is "nice catch"?

Chloe: Clark Kent is a football player and Lana Lang is a waitress.
Pete: What's the matter with that?
Chloe: Nothing, I just want to click my heels and get back to reality.

Clark: The Torch torched. How's that for dramatic irony?

Lionel: You get one.
Lex: One what?
Lionel: One chance to defy me.
Lex: I can't figure out what you hate more -- the fact that my plan works, or that you didn't come up with it first.
Lionel: Just remember -- empires aren't built on clever bookkeeping.
Lex: Dad, you have no idea what I'm capable of.

Jonathan: (about Clark) How did he get to be so stubborn?
Martha: Gee, I don't know.
Jonathan: Hey, wait a minute. I was not like that when I was his age.
Martha: (sarcastically) No, you were the obedient son who always obeyed his father and didn't run away one summer and try out for the Metropolis Sharks.

Lionel: You know perfectly well how I feel about you.
Lex: Hence, I'm at a crap factory in Smallville.

Lex: The Luthors wrote the book on uncomfortable silences.

Clark: I guess we're all in the same boat.
Lex: No, no. You both stood your ground and are doing what you want. And I caved. You two have inspired me.
Clark: Oh, yeah -- joining the football team and pouring some coffee. We're a couple of real rebels.
Lana: Long live the revolution.

Lex: (sees Lana in the apron) Lana, what happened? Did Nell put you out on the street?
Lana: I decided to join the work-force.
Lex: Good for you, I'm sure you'll be employee of the month in no time.
Lana: Right now, I hold the record for most dishes broken in a single day.
Lex: You better bring my cappuccino in a Styrofoam cup then. (grins)

Lex: (sips the drink)
Lana: (worried) How is it?
Lex: (wipes lip) It's perfect.
Lana: (relieved) Okay. (walks away)
Clark: Is that what you ordered?
Lex: (looks at the cup) Not even close.

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