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"Precipice" is the nineteenth episode in the second season of Smallville, and fortieth episode overall. It aired on April 22, 2003.


After Lana is almost assaulted by a college student, Clark loses control and injures the boy. When the Kents are sued for punitive damages that could cost them the farm, Clark begins to question his powers while trying to find a way out of the lawsuit. Meanwhile, Helen's ex-boyfriend arrives in town intent on winning her back, but when she turns him down, he brutally beats her up, prompting Lex to take the law into his own hands.


→ see also Category:Screencaps from episode 2x19

Precipice 043

Andy throws Lana against the wall.

One night at the Talon, Lana asks three drunken frat boys, who have been spiking their coffee with liquor and getting loud and obnoxious, to leave if they will start drinking. She talks with Helen Bryce who complains about Lex, who just stood her up again. Helen sees someone she apparently knows across the room, but when she looks back, he is gone. When Helen leaves, one of the frat boys, Andy Connors, makes a pass at Lana. She tells him to leave again, and when he sees her hit the alarm, he grabs her and throws her against the wall. Clark arrives, and the frat boys exit through the back into the alley only to find Clark waiting for them. Clark warns them not to come back to the Talon, but when Andy keeps talking trash, Clark loses his cool and shoves him to the ground. Andy's buddies throw a couple of punches which have no effect, and Clark throws them across the alley into a fence. When Andy takes a swing at Clark, Clark throws him on top of the sheriff's car. Clark tries to run away, but Lana has arrived in the alley. Sheriff Nancy Adams then charges him with misdemeanor battery and assault.

Precipice 094

Clark throws Andy into the sheriff's car.

Inside the Talon, the sheriff asks Clark about the incident. She seems most interested in the fact that the paramedics are all over Andy and his buddies, as well the fact her police car is busted up, but Clark doesn't have a scratch on him. Later, she tells the Kents that he has been at numerous crime scenes. She has decided to charge him with misdemeanor battery, which will mean a fine of approximately $1,500, but she will drop the charge if he agrees to do 40 hours of community service.

At the Smallville Medical Center, Helen Bryce is surprised to find her favorite flowers on her desk. Paul Hayden walks in to take credit. He is in Smallville on business, and he read that she was getting married to Lex Luthor. Lex walks in and Helen introduces Paul as a former boyfriend from med school. Lex has to break his lunch date with Helen. Paul offers to fill in, but Helen gets a call from a patient.

Chloe arrives at the Talon with Pete and Clark. They are giving him a hard time about doing community service. Sheriff Adams walks out to the Talon at the same time. Lana is upset because the sheriff doesn't believe she has a case that will hold up in court. She asks Clark how he was able to keep three guys off of him. He explains that they were drunk and he was highly motivated, as Lana laments her inability to take care of herself. Later that night, she drops a dish when Lex sneaks up on her. Lex tells her about being teased in prep school about his baldness, and how he learned to fight from his driver.

Meanwhile, the Kents have received notice of a lawsuit from Andy Connors' attorney. He is suing them for one million dollars to cover a severe neck injury, punitive damages, pain and suffering, and loss of future earnings, claiming his mobility might be permanently limited.

Precipice 344

"Lex did this to me."

At the medical center, Helen Bryce has finished for the day, but she can't start her car. It is dark and the parking lot is nearly empty. She calls Lex, and he is on his way from the Talon. Paul shows up looking for his cell phone and offers her a ride home. When Lex arrives, he accuses Paul of stalking Helen and suspects he tampered with the car. Back in his hotel room, we learn that Lex has a henchman, Meacham, following Paul. Paul says he'll do anything to be with Helen and then smashes his forehead into the mirror, injuring himself badly. In the emergency room, he tells Helen that Lex is responsible for his injuries. Helen confronts Lex about this accusation as the sheriff takes Paul's statement. Lex believes Paul must be unhinged to do that to himself. Helen recounts that she broke off their relationship when his ex-girlfriend told her that he beat her up. The sheriff questions Lex briefly.

Season Two Lana martial arts

Lana undergoing martial arts training.

The next day, Clark is finishing his sentence on Main Street when Lex offers him some coffee. Clark complains about the lawsuit, and Lex mentions that Lana is learning to fight. At the mansion, Lana and Lex work out on a punching bag, and Lex helps Lana direct her anger. Back on Main Street, Clark tries to apologize to Andy, but he doesn't want to hear anything, threatening further legal action if Clark violates the restraining order again. Using his X-ray vision, Clark sees that Andy removes his neck brace when he gets into his car.

Precipice 428

Clark tries to talk to Andy about dropping the lawsuit.

That evening, Chloe comes to the loft, and Clark tells her that Andy is faking his injuries. They try to hatch a plan to expose him. Clark reveals that he's not too happy about Lana learning to fight. He says he doesn't want her to become overconfident and get herself into a situation she can't handle, but Chloe speculates that Clark's irritation is really because she won't need a knight in shining armor anymore if she can take care of herself. Later, Clark is keeping Lana company at the Talon when she offers to help Clark prove that Andy is faking his injuries, and they begin to plan how to bring the truth to the surface without getting Clark and Andy to butt horns.

Helen unexpectedly finds Paul in the pathology lab of the hospital. He tells her that he's been trying to make himself successful so she will take him back. She tells him that she loves Lex. When he tries to kiss her, she tries to run away, but he blocks her exit. Her phone rings. Paul lets her answer it, and she tries to tip off Lex who senses something is wrong and rushes to her right away. Paul guesses that she was talking to Lex and beats her to within an inch of her life. Lex arrives followed by Dr. MacIntyre to find bloody shoe prints leaving the lab. Helen is unconscious, but Dr. MacIntryre acts quickly to get her the medical care she needs. Sheriff Adams arrives and apologizes profusely to Lex, saying they are in the process of apprehending Paul Hayden, but she warns him not to become involved in the investigation. Lex is furious, and he can't reach Meacham. Clark arrives at the medical center to ask about Dr. Hayden. He sees Lex zoom out of the parking lot, and Sheriff Adams warns him not to become involved as well, but he overhears her asking another deputy about the warrant for Hayden's room at the Heartland Motel.

Precipice 658

Lana takes care of herself.

Clark super speeds to the motel and uses his X-ray vision to spy Lex climbing through a window. Clark confronts Lex. Lex explains that he had a guy following Hayden as he pulls out his cell phone and calls him again. They hear the phone ring and find Meacham in the bathtub with his throat cut and realize that Hayden must be driving Meacham's car. As the sheriff arrives, Lex grabs Meacham's gun and leaves with Clark. Lex uses the LoJack system to trace the car to a railway station. Lex spots Hayden in the crowd on the platform. Hayden runs behind the train, and Lex catches up with him between trains. Lex has a gun on Hayden, and then he gives him Meacham's gun to make sure it looks like self-defense. Hayden fires, but the gun isn't loaded. Before Lex can shoot him, Hayden kicks him to the ground and runs away. Lex follows him into an empty train car. It's a dining car with a kitchen at the back. When Lex makes it all the way to the back. Hayden comes out of the shadows and clobbers Lex with a frying pan. They exchange blows, but Hayden gets the upper hand. When Lex is on the floor, Hayden looks around and finds an axe on the wall. Clark sees what he's about to do and rocks the train car, so he loses his balance. Lex jumps up and knocks Hayden to the floor, sticking his gun in his face, but he can't pull the trigger, so he hits him in the face just as Clark and the sheriff show up. The sheriff is furious to find them there, but Lex claims to be making a citizen's arrest. The sheriff accepts, but warns Clark that there will be trouble if she catches him snooping in any more police investigations.

Precipice 711

Lex proposes marriage to Helen.

The next day, Lana asks Andy to meet her at the Talon. She confronts him with the fact that she knows he is faking his injuries. She advises him to drop the suit before he gets caught. He throws down his cane and makes a pass at her. She knocks his hand away and warns him not to touch her again. He grabs her, and she kicks him across the room. Humiliated that a girl lay the smack down on him, Andy drops the lawsuit on the condition she tells no one. Lana comes to the loft to find Clark, who has just received a call that Andy dropped the lawsuit, and knows about the kick, having been told by the sheriff. Clark thanks her for doing so, and Lana explains that she was returning the favor.

At the mansion, Lex finds Helen reading a book by the fire. He canceled his board meeting for personal reasons. He tells Helen that he wanted to kill Hayden for what he did to her. He probably could have gotten away with it, but he knew that she would always know the truth. Then he asks her to marry him. She answers with a kiss.



Guest Starring[]



Featured Music[]

  • "Princess" - Matt Nathanson
  • "Let Me Be the One" - Sammi Morelli
  • "Don't Forget Me" - Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • "Boom" - Jan Cyrka
  • "Becoming" - Adam Tenenbaum
  • "Shakedown!" - The Start
  • "(Don't Fear the) Reaper" - Gus


  • A precipice means a situation of great peril.
  • Clark and Lex both encounter situations of great peril with Clark fighting against Andy's lawsuit and Lex dealing with Paul Hayden's stalking of Helen.


  • Antagonist: Andy Connors and Paul Hayden
  • Clark uses the following abilities in this episode: super strength, super speed, and X-ray vision.
  • Lionel Luthor does not appear in this episode.
  • This episode shows the first time that Lana Lang learns martial arts.
  • Although the sheriff dismisses Lana's testimony as "hearsay," technically Lana's case is not hearsay at all. "Hearsay" is a statement, other than one made by the declarant while testifying at the trial or hearing, offered in evidence to prove the truth of the matter asserted. In Lana's case, since she would be the declarant in the case, it would not be "hearsay".
  • Given the number of financial and legal times he has helped the Kents out, Lex strangely doesn't offer his attorney's aid to help Clark out of the lawsuit.
  • Sheriff Adams is strangely issuing sentences. One would think that Judge Ross would have a say in this matter, but considering the things Clark has done for a lot of people, including saving her son, she probably would let him off the hook.
  • This is Lex Luthor's second engagement revealed onscreen, the first being to Desiree Atkins in "Heat".


  • This is Camille Mitchell's first appearance as Sheriff Nancy Adams.
  • In this episode, John Wash assisted the digital effects team when the production crew was filming a scene that was going to involve Clark X-raying a car with a group of teenagers in it. To achieve the effect of Clark X-raying an SUV, John Wash had all the actors in the SUV sit on apple boxes to get them at the representative height they would be in the SUV. The actors then went through all the motions they needed in order to "sell the X-ray effect".[1]
  • Being sued for fighting crime is also a theme in Pixar's The Incredibles.
  • Another notable case of Superman being sued for saving people occurs in the second season of Lois and Clark. There, a musician whom Superman saved from being crushed by collapsing equipment claims a wrist injury leading to complete hand paralysis. The matter reaches the court, but then Superman takes a bomb about to explode out through the court's roof. Once the musician and his lawyer attempt to immediately add supposed blindness from the debris to the suit, the musician's wife snaps at him and admits to false testimony. The case is dismissed immediately.



  • Lex becomes engaged a third time in "Hydro", to Lana Lang.



Lana: Sorry guys, but the coffee here is strictly non-Irish.

Andy: (to Clark) Oh, I get it. You got the hots for that bitch manager. Too bad she's a real dirty slut!

Helen: Right now Lex and I are married to our careers.

Chloe: Oh no, [the orange vest] is going to clash with the plaid!
Pete: Welcome to Smallville, where you stop the crime, you do the time.
Nancy: Very pithy.
(They see the Sheriff Adams exit the Talon; they go silent.)
Nancy: Maybe I should use that as my campaign slogan, huh?

Lex: The crouching tigress is about to find her hidden dragon.

Lex: You seem like a simple guy, Paul. I'd hate for your life to get complicated.

Lex: And what's to be angry about? It's not like a bunch of frat boys came into your own place and harassed you. It's not like you felt helpless when that guy shoved you. And I know it doesn't make you mad that you needed Clark Kent to save you again.

Nancy: You are not above the law, Mr. Luthor.

Lex: I wanted to kill him for what he did to you. I probably could have gotten away with it in everyone's eyes but one person would have known the truth… You. Clark didn't save me in that moment, Helen. You did.

Lex: Now channel all your anger.
Lana: Some of us aren't as angry as you are, Lex.
Lex: Of course not.


  1. Simpson, Paul, pp.86–89

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