By: Kryptonian Detective
Over the course of a decade a person’s life changes and evolves. For me the last 10 years have seen me go from a senior in high school, to a university graduate. I was the last child of a three child household, and now I am an uncle to four nieces/nephews. I went from a brown belt in karate, to a third degree black belt. Throughout these 10 years and numerous changes, Smallville has always been a constant part of my life, once a week for one hour. On Friday May 13, 2011 Smallville ended its historic 10 year, 218 episode run with a two-hour series finale. Having watched since day one, and knowing that any given episode could be exceedingly good or horrendously bad, I was cautiously optimistic about the finale. The finale exceeded my expectations by leaps and bounds. All the characters stories were resolved adequately. Smallvillle has always been about Clark Kent’s journey to becoming Superman. The finale was the culmination of that journey, and was the “birth” of the world’s greatest superhero.
The Clark/Lois relationship was a major focus of the first hour. I will say that Smallville’s interpretation of the relationship has been the best in live action thus far. That includes The Adventures of Superman, the five movies, and Lois & Clark. On Smallville the relationship has had the most time to develop and evolve, thus giving their love that much more credibility. The two of them are both stubborn. One believes in distancing herself, so as not to hold him back, while the other believes that she makes him the hero he is meant to be. That’s why they are perfect for each other. I’m not one to get caught up in the mushy lovey-dovey stuff but the scene when they read their vows to each other on opposite sides of the door was full of emotion. The fact that Tom Welling and Erica Durance could elicit that emotion while not directly in front of each other, speaks volumes about the chemistry they had with one another. This scene coupled with Lois’ ferocious defense of her red and blue clad superhero, makes Erica Durance the best Lois Lane to hit the screen, be it big or small. She has the stubbornness/ambition of Noel Neill, and the sex appeal of Teri Hatcher. In my opinion, that’s the perfect combination.
Another scenario that reduced me to tears was the relationship between Clark and his parents. The writers really made use of Jonathan Kent’s spirit masterfully brought to the forefront by John Schneider. Despite turning away from Jor – El prior to the finale, Clark had started to do what Jor – El had wanted him to do for years, leave his past behind and focus on his destiny. Martha and Jonathan’s appearance serve as a reminder, that Clark’s time in Smallville has made him the man he is. After years of the Kent’s and Jor – El giving Clark contradictory advice, the two sides finally agree that Clark’s Kryptonian heritage is just as important as his human side. In essence, Clark is equal part super as he is man. The way this scene played out, this was the last mental block that Clark had to overcome. The symbolism of Jonathan handing Clark the costume signifies the merging of Clark’s dual nature , thus allowing him to finally take flight.
The Luthor’s as always provided engaging story telling in this episode. Earth two Lionel Luthor, while he was a ruthless S.O.B. did love Lex. Sick and twisted as it may be, he had no qualms about sacrifice his daughter Tess, so that clone Lex could have the heart he needed to live. When that didn’t work he sacrificed himself, making a deal with the devil, in this case Darkseid, for Lex. As for Tess throughout her time on the show she’s wavered between good and evil, but her scene with Lex left no doubt where here loyalty belonged. Credit must go to Cassidy Freeman, who turned what could have been a one note replacement for Lex into a complex character that fans ultimately cared about. Speaking of Lex, Michael Rosenbaum’s return proved that there is no Superman without Lex Luthor. After a three-year absence from the show Rosenbaum seamlessly slides back into character, as if he never left. He had a great exchange with Clark, that highlights the bald billionaire’s vanity. He wants Clark to vanquish Darkseid, so that he can be the ultimate villain to Clark’s hero. Memory loss has been the quick fix for Lex forgetting Clark’s secret for years on Smallville, and while the necessary evil rears its ugly head again, the neurotoxin Tess uses on Lex is the best way its been done so far. Besides, it sets up Lex Corp and President Lex, so I’m fine with it.
Two minor gripes I had with the episode were Oliver’s redemption and the handling of Darkseid as a whole. Oliver’s turn to evil and then back again happened so fast, that if you sneezed you missed it. Basically, Clark literally talks Oliver out of Darkseid’s control. I know he’s inspirational and all, but that would have had more of an impact if it played out over several episodes. Speaking of Darkseid, here’s another example of “Wow, that was fast!” Darkseid posesses the dead body of Lionel, thus creating Lionel-seid. Lionel – seid punches Clark, sending him hurling through the air. Clark stops in mid-air, clenches his fists, outstretched his arms forward, and flies into Lionel-seid turning him to dust. Granted he beat Doomsday in ten seconds, so why would I expect more with Darkseid? I digress.
Never in my wildest dreams, did I expect to see as much screen time for Superman. Not only did we see Superman, but they were all iconic moments as well. For me, the Clark to Superman transformation in mid-flight in the Fortress stands alongside the elevator change in Superman Returns, as the all time Clark/Superman transformation on film. Superman saving Lois Lane and Air Force One is a constant in Superman lore, and is a spectacle in the final act of the finale. Last but not least, Superman hovering over earth after vanquishing Apokolips. Sure the scenes were completely CGI, and Welling never actually wore the full costume, but so what? Fans got to see Clark Kent become Superman, and Tom Welling never had to wear the costume. It’s a win/win situation, and everyone goes home happy. Either way, one thing is certain, all you have to do is take one look at all these scenes to know that the Smallville crew expended all of the remaining budget to bring Superman to life. For a television series, the visuals looked great.
Whatever you feel about Smallville, there is no denying its impact on the Superman legacy. Over the past decade, it has carried the torch for the character, amidst popularity of other heroes, mediocre comic book story lines, and stops and starts for the movie franchise. Smallville has kept Superman modern, and at the forefront of the cultural consciousness. I view Smallville as an Elseworlds take on the Donner universe, mixed with elements of the comic books. In fact, Smallville functions much like the Star Wars prequels do for the original trilogy. The final scenes of Smallville give fans a glimpse of the future. Lois Lane star reporter, Superman’s pal Jimmy Olsen, the ever ornery Perry White, President Lex Luthor, and bumbling Clark Kent. All this leading up to the final scene of the series. Clark Kent running towards the screen ripping open his shirt, revealing the iconic Superman symbol while the famous John Williams theme plays in the background. Clark Kent’s journey may be over, but Superman’s adventures have just begun.
Overall Grade : 9.5/10