Smallville: Season 5, Finale Review

Posted by: Jerrica

The makers of "Smallville" know how to weave reinvented canon throughout the year to a tightly-wound cliffhanger for a big finish to each season. "Smallville" had it's fifth season finale this Spring, and it remained true to the finales that came before it, bringing "Smallville" and Superman mythos to a boiling mix until the pot overflows in a stunningly heated arc that will carry the story to next Fall. This was the year of Zod, Brainiac, and Lex's long-awaited turn to the dark side. Lex is accelerating down the path to his wicked destiny so fast that even Clark Kent can't catch him to save him from it anymore.

Since the beginning, creators Alfred Gough and Miles Millar have stated that they had a five-year plan for the series that stars Tom Welling as Clark Kent, Michael Rosenbaum as Lex Luthor, and Kristin Kreuk as Lana Lang. With The CW picking up the show for a sixth season when the new hybrid network debuts, that the original plan has clearly been extended to span six years instead of five. This obviously gave the show a lot of room to play, having witnessed what the writers did with Superman and his existing canon as they integrated elements from the "Superman" movies starring Christopher Reeve as well as the comic books.

This season was huge in the way of superdevelopments that are leading to the inevitable future that we know will be Superman. We were brought deeper into Metropolis and spent more time in the city as well as the workplace, The Daily Planet, where Clark will spend his adult life once he finally becomes The Man of Steel. Even though this transformation will never happen on the show as per the stipulations of its creators' "no tights, no flights" policy, there has been more than enough superlore to keep fans happy. General Zod came in to take over the world, and in the season finale, he took possession of Lex Luthor's body, taking advantage of the darkness that was consuming the jaded, bald billionaire, and effectively flashing forward to Lex inflicting Armageddon on the world as he has done in the comics.

That was one of the greatest turns the show took this season to leave its devoted viewers desperate to know what will happen next, but it wasn't even close to being the last punch "Smallville" had to pull. The Phantom Zone, which trapped Zod in the beginning of the season, has now claimed Clark and is spiraling off into outer space as Earth goes to hell in a hand basket courtesy of Lex's partnership with Milton Fine, otherwise known as Brainiac, Krypton's A.I. gone awry. The addition of Erica Durance to the cast as a regular this season is rivaled in genius only by the casting of James Marsters from "Buffy" and "Angel" fame as Fine, Clark's first college professor and Lex's first sinister ally. Known best for his part of the notorious Spike in Joss Whedon's universe, Marsters perfectly captured the ominous, cold, and calculating character that is one of the best previously untapped Superman villains.

As if this wasn't enough, still more Superman mythos was unleashed on "Smallville" this season. In the same tragic way as in the first "Superman" movie, Jonathan Kent died in the tear-jerking 100th episode. The landmark episode also featured Clark's marriage proposal to Lana after finally revealing his secret to her only to cause a domino effect that cost Clark's true love her life. Then, in another brilliant moment ripped directly from the original "Superman" movie, time is turned back so Clark can spare Lana from death, but it ends up costing him the only father he's ever known and loved. Jonathan Kent collapsed of a heart attack on the farm while surrounded by his wife and son. This 100th episode and the one that directly followed it were two of the most heart-wrenching hours that have occurred on television in recent memory.

But, the legend of Superman is only half of "Smallville," because the other half comes from their fresh ideas. When the series first aired, the characters of Chloe Sullivan and Lionel Luthor were wholly unique and new. After five long years of tug-of-war tensions escalating over a love triangle and issues of trust between Clark, Lana, and Chloe, it all came to a forked road this year. Clark and Lana put to rest superhero sexual physics debates by losing their virginity to each other while Clark was temporarily mortal and then breaking up after he regained his powers. In the Season Five premiere last Fall, Chloe discovered the whole truth of Clark's secret after telling him that she knew about his abilities. As a result, Clark confessed his alien origins, and the two have been partners all season long, right to the end when they kissed and parted ways wondering if they would ever see each other again.

Then, on the other side of the aftermath from Clark's break-up with Lana, there is the desperate and fractured relationship that formed between Lana and Lex, another footnote borrowed from Superman's multimedia history. At season's end, Lana found herself unknowingly rushing into the arms of Zod in Lex's body amid the chaos of an apocalypse both bad guys have brought down upon a planet of innocents with Brainiac's help. Lex spent the whole year trying to win Lana over with the misguided truth while she grew ever more frustrated with Clark's lies, and it seems to have worked, but from indications in the show's first ever Christmas episode this year, we know it won't last. While Lex has been making his play for his former best friend's girl, his father has not only transformed into one of the good guys, acting as a conduit for Jor-El and a protector and surrogate father to Clark, but he has quietly indulged his own affection for Martha Kent.

These are just some of the dozens of reasons that Season 5 of "Smallville" was another wonderful year in the life of a young, pre-Superman Clark Kent, not to mention a young, pre-supervillain Lex Luthor. The series has yet to show any significant decline in the overall quality of both its original and canonical material. It always promises to tell the story of the journey from confused and frightened teenaged boy to brave and worldly-wise Superman, as well as that of tormented young man to evil would-be ruler and destroyer of the world, and "Smallville" delivers on these tales of light and dark. There's something to love about this show for every fan of every age. And, as the series draws nearer to its inevitable transition toward the destiny it foreshadows at every turn, the story is likely to get even better and more powerful. So, there's cause to be excited about what Season 6 might have in store for our hero and those around him.


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