Tom and Cory have posted the latest installment where they discuss "Swear to God This Time We're Not Kidding" and "Soul Mates" at http://rewatchpodcast.podomatic.com/
-- and I have nothing to add on "Soul Mates." However, regarding "Swear to God" -- Tom and Cory make good points in that having already done a wedding episode in "I Now Pronounce You," the writers were at a loss for how to do it again, hence this highly offbeat storyline of breaking the fourth wall.
There is actually one thing the writers could have done -- in that the original script for "I Now Pronounce You" had a completely different version of events leading up to the wedding. The rehearsal dinner was held at the Daily Planet with takeout food instead of the upscale hall that had been intended. The Season 4 team could have used the original version of "I Now Pronounce You" and written the Wedding Destroyer into the story and had the wedding unfold at the Daily Planet.
However, they chose this reality-bending route where a mysterious man named Mike whom Lois and Clark recognize without retaining any memory of him apparently twists and folds space and time to give them their wedding. Tom and Cory theorize that Mike is a guardian angel, perhaps the archangel Michael. Uh. To put it plainly... no. Mike cannot be explained literally in the context of Lois and Clark's fictional reality.
Mike represents the writing staff of Lois and Clark who have inserted themselves into the story and are speaking through this avatar. This theme is present in the Wedding Destroyer and Voyle, who represent the ABC network executives who prevented the original wedding in "I Now Pronounce You," and they are presented as people who thrive on pain and suffering. The tabloid journalists harassing Lois and Clark represent the press who mocked L&C for the publicity disaster that was the clone storyline, some of whom wrote articles mistakenly describing Lois-2 as a "lizard eating clone," hence Lois angrily correcting them that the clones ate frogs, damn it.
"Clark. I'm just here to help you both get what you've wanted for so long -- what everyone's been waiting for so patiently and praying for so hard," says Mike. "Sometimes it takes us a while, but we're always listening."
That's not a guardian angel. That's not an archangel. That's Robert Singer, Eugenie Ross-Leming and Brad Buckner having stepped inside the universe of L&C for one episode and chosen Mike as their skin. When the characters remember Mike, they're remembering how the writers have always been on their side, while Mike acknowledges that sometimes, he hasn't always been able to give the characters and fans what they want.
I love "Swear to God." But it's a terrible episode; Mike is played by an actor who lacks the screen presence and weight to sell his earnest otherworldliness. The scoring is awkward and clumsy. The performances reacting to Mike are shockingly poor as is the scripting to convey the offbeat familiarity. But I love it because "Swear to God" is a rough draft for the meta-episodes of SUPERNATURAL, a later show Singer, Ross-Leming and Buckner worked on (and still do).
SUPERNATURAL, a show about two brothers who travel across the US fighting monsters, started doing metatextual, fourth-wall bending episodes -- first with Season 2 where the boys end up on the set of a horror movie, and then explicitly with Season 4 where the brothers discover that there is a series of novels called SUPERNATURAL.
These novels relate in exact and accurate detail the brothers' adventures. The brothers are astonished to discover the books have a massive fanbase of readers, fanfic writers, cosplayers and websites.
The boys confront the writer -- who reveals that he's been publishing his psychic visions of the boys' adventures and apologizes for some of the worst episodes as well as the physical beatings. The boys use the writer now and then to provide them with foreknowledge of future events while the writer is plainly an avatar of the SUPERNATURAL writing staff.
In subsequent episodes, the boys attend a convention of SUPERNATURAL readers and are distraught by the fans re-enacting some of their more traumatic memories and outraged by some of the shipping. At one point, a manic fangirl kidnaps one of the brothers and uses magic to coerce him into marrying her. In a later episode, the brothers are appalled to see a musical version of their lives conducted by a theatre troupe of high school students.
These episodes are the most popular installments of SUPERNATURAL -- and all this metatextual humour originated with "Swear to God," an early draft, an experiment -- which goes to show how the first time you do something, you'll probably suck at it.
Notably, SUPERNATURAL learns from all the screwups that Tom and Cory note in "Swear to God." The writer of the SUPERNATURAL novels makes recurring, small appearances after his initial introduction to properly establish the character.
When he then starts making an impact on the show's myth-arc, his presence has been established. Rather than make him omniscient, the show presents him as a ne'er do well drunk. Rather than make him exist outside the show's universe, he lives within it with his reflections on the writing process giving voice to the writers without making them intrude on the series' reality.
"Swear to God" is a rough sketch of something wonderful to come -- on a completely different TV show by the LOIS & CLARK team.