The school unknowingly uses red kryptonite in the class rings and its effect on Clark stuns his friends and family as he turns into a rebellious and dangerous teenager who decides to use his powers for personal gain instead of good. Jonathan and Martha scramble to find the truth behind Clark's behavior before he exposes his true identity, while Lana finds herself drawn to the "new" Clark who declares his love for her.
→ see also Category:Screencaps from episode 2x04
Against his parents' judgment, Clark Kent purchases a very expensive class ring, set with what looks like a ruby. As soon as he puts it on, his eyes glow red and he suddenly starts defending Jessie Brooks, the new girl Lana is showing around school. He mouths off to Principal Gibbons as Pete and Lana look on in confusion.
Meanwhile in Metropolis, Ted Palmer is questioning Kyle about the whereabouts of his girlfriend Jessie Brooks. He is a U.S. Marshal, and Jessie and her father are fugitives he is assigned to recover. When he threatens to shoot Kyle, he finally admits that Jessie has been calling him. He doesn't know exactly where she is but suggests that the marshal can check his phone records. The marshal explains that he can't let Kyle go because he might warn Jessie, so he drops a radio into the tub electrocuting the boy to death.
After school, Clark tries to talk Pete into going to the Wild Coyote tavern, a bar that serves underage drinkers. Pete reluctantly agrees to check it out that weekend. Clark also invites Jessie. When Lana arrives, he flirts with her and tells her he's had an eye on her all day. She reminds him of the group study session at the Talon that night. Lana, too, is a bit taken aback by his behavior.
At the Kent Farm, Martha is chatting with Jonathan while he works on his motorcycle when Clark zooms in and shrugs off being late. Jonathan notices that Clark is wearing a class ring and they argue about the decision to buy it. Clark says it was his decision to make and that he is sick of worrying about every nickel and dime. When Jonathan attempts to continue the lecture, Clark storms off. Bewildered, Martha and Jonathan assume their not-normal son is having a fit of very normal teenage rebellion.
Over at the Luthor Mansion, Lex walks into what was his office to find Lionel redecorating and conducting business. Lionel says he assumed Lex would want him to be as comfortable as possible in his condition. Lex is annoyed that he was not consulted first, but ultimately, he caves into the guilt associated with his father's blindness and tells the workmen to give his father whatever he wants.
Meanwhile, Ted Palmer has found the Wild Coyote outside of Smallville where Jessie Brooks last called Kyle. He threatens the bartender with an investigation of underage drinkers and asks him to call him if Jessie ever comes back to the bar.
At the Talon, Clark shows up late and suggests to Pete, Lana, and Chloe that they blow off studying and go have some fun instead. Lana and Chloe get in line to get coffee and Clark informs a shocked Pete that he's using his x-ray vision for indecent purposes. Pete tells Clark he'll be happy to party this weekend, but right now they all need to study. Bored now, Clark wanders out.
The next morning, his parents discover that Clark has filled his loft with expensive electronics and clothes. When Jonathan and Martha confront him, Clark, dressed in a green t-shirt and a black leather jacket, admits to using his parents' credit cards, but fails to see it as stealing. When the lecture gets boring, he jumps out the barn window and speeds away to school on his father's motorcycle.
On the way to school, he runs into Jessie Brooks arguing with her father about her dress code. He rescues her by giving her a ride. Chloe, Lana and Pete are again astonished at the new Clark. Jonathan arrives at the school to continue their confrontation. Clark refuses to get in the truck with his father, telling him that he's not his real father and shoving him back so hard that he puts a dent in the truck. He turns his back and strolls into school while Pete helps Jonathan to his feet. Back home, Martha and Jonathan theorize that this new attitude might be a normal part of his alien development. They hope that Pete might be able to help them get through to him.
At the Talon, Clark flirts with Lana and asks her out. Although a little embarrassed by Clark's public display of affection, Lana agrees to go out with him. Meanwhile at the Smallville Torch, Chloe has discovered that the ring company substituted red meteor rocks found at Hob's Pond for rubies in the class rings. Pete tells the Kents, and the three of them agree that the ring must be causing Clark's erratic behavior.
Clark goes to visit Lex. While Lex observes Clark's new manner of dress, Clark breezily suggests that if Lionel is causing problems, Lex should just kick him out. He then asks to borrow Lex's Ferrari for his date with Lana. It takes a little convincing, but Lex lets him have the car. At the Wild Coyote, Lana is less than thrilled with the noise, the smoke and the thugs who are checking her out, but Clark loves it. Clark wants to dance, but Lana wants to leave. Jessie arrives and steals Clark away for a dance. The barkeeper recognizes Jessie and retrieves the phone number that the Marshal gave him. Lana leaves and Clark gets into a fight with some other patrons and overpowers them. Jessie becomes worried about being there when the police arrive and convinces Clark to leave by promising to show him the big bad world.
The next morning, Clark is packing his bags into the Ferrari while he tells his parents he is leaving. He plans to make millions with his abilities and he says he is sick of being used as a really useful piece of farm equipment. Jonathan and Martha try to convince him to take off the ring, but now that he knows the ring is influencing his behavior, he only wishes that he had discovered it sooner. At the mansion, Clark tells Lex that he'd like to keep the Ferrari until he and his new girl are settled. Realizing that Clark is not himself, Lex stalls Clark by saying he would like to come along; Lionel can have the mansion and he and Clark can use the penthouse apartment in Metropolis. Clark thinks this sounds great and agrees to wait while Lex ties up some loose ends.
Chloe and Lana are in the Talon talking about Lana's date with Clark. Lana admits that she was really attracted to the new Clark. She had hoped he could tell her all the things that the old Clark couldn't. A US Marshal is also there; he is on the phone tracking down the address for the owner of the Ferrari that Clark was seen driving the night before. Meanwhile, Jonathan and Pete have hatched a plan to recover Clark as Lex arrives to let them know that he is at the mansion. At the mansion, Lionel walks in on Clark playing pool. Clark is mocking his blindness and telling him that no one in Smallville wants him around when the marshal looking for Jessie interrupts them. Clark denies knowing her. When the man pulls his gun, Clark uses his super speed to take it away from him. He shows off his invulnerability by firing it into his palm and dropping the deformed bullets on the carpet. Lionel leaves to fetch security while Palmer attempts an escape. Clark pins him against the wall with the pool table and asks why he is looking for Jessie. He readily explains that they are fugitives from the Witness Protection Program. Mr. Brook's former employer has offered Palmer a million dollars to recover some incriminating evidence in Mr. Brooks' possession. Palmer offers to cut Clark in, but Clark decides to go after the evidence and the money himself.
Clark goes to Jessie's house to pick her up for their getaway, telling her that they can't leave until she gives him the disks. She refuses because her father needs them for his own protection. Just then the marshal arrives. He tells Clark he needs him to make the deal with broker. He threatens Jessie with his gun, and Mr. Brooks shoots him from the staircase. Clark disarms him and starts tearing the place apart looking for the disks, while Jessie sneaks out the front door. Clark realizes that she has the disks and chases her into a cornfield. He finds them sewn into the lining of her handbag just as Pete arrives. Jessie runs away as Jonathan arrives with a sledge hammer. Pete opens a lead box with green meteor rock inside. Clark falls to the ground and Jonathan smashes the ring.
At the mansion, Lionel finds that Lex has restored his office. They share their favorite brandy. Lex then reminds his father that when he lost his hair, Lionel told him not to sit around feeling sorry for himself, but to get on with his life. He suggests that Lionel take that advice himself now that he is blind. Lionel wonders aloud if Lex discovered the value of directness from his friend Clark Kent as he fingers the flattened bullets.
The next day, a very uncomfortable Clark tells his parents that Jessie and her father have disappeared. Clark tries to apologize to his father for the things he said and did under the influence of red meteor rock. Jonathan accepts, but insists that the feelings he expressed were real. Clark admits that he does sometimes miss having a lot of material things, but that he knows having parents who are always there for him is far more important. He also expresses concern that he feels like a split personality. He still wants to tell the whole world who he really is. When he tries to apologize to Lana, she doesn't make it easy for him. He won't explain himself, so she can't forgive him.
- Tom Welling as Clark Kent
- Kristin Kreuk as Lana Lang
- Michael Rosenbaum as Lex Luthor
- Sam Jones III as Pete Ross
- Allison Mack as Chloe Sullivan
- John Glover as Lionel Luthor
- Annette O'Toole as Martha Kent
- John Schneider as Jonathan Kent
- Garwin Sanford as Ed Brooks
- Daryl Shuttleworth as Vice Principal Martin Gibbons
- Geoff Clements as Kyle Waterson
- Brad Loree as Barkeeper
- Jake Moyer as Bathroom Bully
- "Unexpected" - Sprung Monkey
- "Break Off Your Wings - Bosshouse
- "American Made" - Sprung Monkey
- "In California - Bosshouse
- "Breakable" - Fisher
- "It's Time To Party" - Andrew W.K.
- "Tattoos" - Jackpot
- "Breathe In" - Frou Frou
- "Stop Crying Your Heart Out" - Oasis
- Red is both a color and wavelength.
- The title refers to the new kryptonite that Clark is exposed to.
- After being affected by red kryptonite, Clark "borrows" Lex's red Ferrari to take Lana out on a date. After he takes her to the Wild Coyote, which is bathed entirely in red light, he ditches Lana and starts dancing with Jessie, who is wearing a red dress. Red is a colour often associated with lust and with the Devil.
- Antagonists: Kal and Ted Palmer
- Clark uses the following abilities in this episode: super strength, super speed, X-ray vision, and heat vision.
- Several times throughout the episode, Clark's face is tinted red.
- This episode marks the first appearance of a kryptonite type other than green, this one being red, although red kryptonite may have already appeared at the beginning of Pilot.
- Jessie mentions Clark as wearing primary colors. This is a reference to Superman's costume which is colored red, yellow, and blue; all the primary colors.
- This is the first appearance of Clark's Kal personality. Kal stops behaving like a hero and behaves without inhibitions. However, Kal still dutifully goes to school.
- When Clark arrives at the Talon, Lana says that she and the others are studying the red scare. This reflects the name of the episode.
- There is a red flashing light outside the Talon that can be seen through the doors.
- Kal also stops wearing primary colors, and starts to wear black and darker colors.
- Red kryptonite affects Clark differently than in the comics. See red kryptonite and Kal for more information.
- Clark and Lionel share their first scene together in the series, even though Lionel is "blind" at the time.
- This episode is reminiscent of Nicodemus in which Lana says what she means and does what she wants, but Clark doesn't forget what he does in this episode the way Lana forgot everything she did in Nicodemus.
- What Lionel says about Lex at the end of the episode "the son becomes the father" is a direct quote from Marlon Brando's Jor-El in Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut which was used again in Superman Returns.
- The DVD version of this episode includes a commentary:
- Tom Welling cannot ride a motorcycle. He needed a stunt double for those scenes.
- John Schneider did his own stunt when thrown against the truck.
- The closing shot of Lana on horseback is shot from a helicopter.
- While not explicitly shown, this is the second time where Clark's X-ray vision simply sees through items rather than seeing things like in an X-ray scan; the first occasion is during X-Ray; both occasions involve Lana Lang, but unlike previously, Kal does it purposely.
- Martha says "If the green meteor rocks affect Clark physically, maybe the red affects him emotionally". A very similar statement is present in Lois and Clark in the episode where red kryptonite first appears: If green Kryptonite affects you physically, it's possible red Kryptonite could be affecting you mentally.
- The green shirt Clark is wearing features a symbol reminiscent of the one on the alien suit from the television series The Greatest American Hero.
- While possessed by the red kryptonite, Clark gives into curiosity and X-ray's Chloe. In Season 9, he will see her nude, with his physical eyes; when she tries seducing him (being possessed, by the Silver Banshee).
- Chloe: Okay, what planet is that guy from, and what did he do with Clark?
- Martha: I think our not - so - normal son might be going through some classic teenage rebellion.
- Jonathan: Well, I think I liked dealing with heat vision a lot better than that.
- Kal: Excuse me, Mr. Gibbons. I think she looks really hot and I think that your dress code... sucks.
- Chloe: Clark would have to be on drugs to be on drugs.
- Lex: I wasn't aware that a $2,000 coat came with a backbone.
- Kal: Did you know that Chloe has a birthmark on her cheek?
- Pete: No she doesn't.
- Kal: Not that cheek.
- Lionel: Jonathan and Martha Kent's son? As far as I know, they're good people. Salt of the earth. I'm astonished they'd raise such a blatantly aggressive offspring.
- Kal: Well, if you like them so much, I'm sure they'll put you up. I hear they have a spare bedroom, and I know they could use the cash.
- Lionel: You've got a lot to learn about tact, young man. But you speak your mind. That's good. It'll take you far.
- Kal: Oh, I'm going to the top.
- Lex: (After Kal asks to borrow his car) I don't know. It's a very expensive piece of machinery, difficult to handle.
- Kal: It's not like I'm going to, uh, drive it off a bridge.
- Lionel: So the son becomes the father.
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