These were the words that were applied to the pitch of a Superman based TV series by it’s producers Alfred Gough and Miles Millar, nine or so years ago. They’ve stuck by those words through thick and thin, though these two rules have each been broken at least once or twice, (though never at the same time) by any number of characters. Yet the rules have always applied to Clark Kent… never in the show would we see him A) flying and B) in the iconic blue tights at the same time. Originally conceived as a cross between Twin Peaks and the DC universe, Smallville was intended as a modern retelling of the story of how Clark Kent becomes Superman, avoiding all those messy Superboy bits that just made it all seem silly. It has run the gamut genres, from high-school drama, International treasure hunter, saccharine soap opera, hard sci-fi, corporate intrigue and even, on its best days, Comic Book Superhero! In it’s darkest hour it’s been a campy, ridiculous, over the top farce and in it’s brightest moments, its been a beautiful love letter to the Superhero it’s based on. Sadly, knowing which episode is going to fall into which category is the hardest part.
There are now nine full season of Smallville of about 22 episodes each and we are about to go into our tenth and definitively final season. The new season of shows usually kicks off sometime around September and as such we now have a few months up our sleeve to catch our collective breaths, or possibly make the leap and get on board for the end of the ride. However if you’re thinking that 195 episodes is a bit steep to rip through, or you just want to avoid all the REALLY REALLY crap ones… we’ve taken the liberty of compiling a list of what, in our humble opinion, are the best and brightest moments out of each and every season. These episodes may not necessarily define the season’s story arc’s or even feature the biggest character developments, they are however the ones that we, as comic book fans, will get a kick out of. Whether they feature an appearance by a comic character, or great cameo, they will be the ones that you would not want to miss. Hopefully with these meagre few (about fifty) episodes under your belt you can soar into the last season with a basic knowledge of what has brought us there.
UPDATE: The entire run of Smallville has recently been released on iTunes in the US and the first 8 seasons are available in Australia. This should make it even easier to watch JUST these episodes and not have to run the risk of getting stuck with a complete stinker. Enjoy!
This season is where it all kicks off and as such it’s almost worth watching the whole damn thing apart from it’s painful “Freak of the week” formula. That said, you can get away with just watching these brief episodes, avoiding the crap and getting a good grounding on where it all started.
PILOT: Episode 1: A meteor shower hits the Kansas town of Smallville and over a decade later, some dude named Clark Kent saves the life of some bald guy called Lex Luthor, things get weird from this point onwards… We meet all the major players and set up the next (7) 10 years of rivalry between Clark and Lex along with meeting Lana, the Kent parents, Pete Ross and the new character Chloe Sullivan. It’s the beginning… you need to see it.
STRAY: Episode 16: A kid who can read minds is taken in by the Kents. Turns out he can read Clark’s mind and figures out that all is not what it seems. Ryan returns in the Season 2 episode “Ryan.”
TEMPEST: Episode 21: A tornado comes to town on the night of the Spring Formal saving us from an amount of bullshit teenage angst. Clark goes with Chloe, but of course he has to save Lana in the tornado…whoops! There’s that angst. Whitney announces he is leaving for the Marines and we all breathe a sigh of relief. Lionel decides to close the Smallville LuthorCorp plant. Plus in a rare moment of plot development, Investigator Roger Nixon finds the storm cellar and Lex has a choice to make… Part one of two.
Season Two fires up with the fallout of the last season’s tornado but it is noteworthy as the season that more of the Superman mythos started to come to the fore. That includes the introduction of a different kind of Kryptonite and some wonderful cameos.
VORTEX: Episode 1: After the tornado, Lex does his best to survive, Lana is confused…still. Jonathan and Roger Nixon are buried alive, it gets weird down in the hole.
DUPLICITY: Episode 3: Pete Ross finds Clark’s spaceship and wants to tell everyone all about it. Clark must decide whether or not to let him in on the truth. This is the first time (apart from Ryan) someone else finds out Clark’s secret and leads to Pete eventually buggering off.
RED: Episode 3: Red meteor rock used in the class rings seems to make Clark a bad boy… Good old Red Kryptonite is a giggle and while this may not seem like a particularly impressive episode, it comes back into play over and over in the years to come. To the point where it gets a bit tiresome. (yes the colored Kryptonite is as lame a writing tool as ever)
RYAN: Episode 8: Ryan (from “Stray”) returns in an episode where Clark must rescue him from a facility where he is being mistreated. Plus, Ryan has a secret – he’s dying. One more in a long line of characters who find out Clark’s secret and then conveniently die or get brain-wiped.
ROSETTA: Episode 17: The octagonal disc which has been so important this season is placed into the wall of the cave, and Clark is infused with knowledge of his Kryptonian heritage. He is soon contacted by Dr. Virgil Swann, who offers more knowledge on Clark’s origins. Virgil Swann is played by the awesome Christopher Reeve who played Clark Kent/Superman in four Superman movies between 1978 and 1988. This episode is the first time the planet Krypton is named in the series,Most excitingly though, it is also the first time that the original John Williams Superman score is referenced.
CALLING: Episode 22: Clark and Lana FINALLY kiss, but lets be blunt… who cares?! Clark receives more messages from Krypton, instructing him that he is the “Last Son” and was sent to rule. These messages come from his Kryptonian father Jor-El. Terence Stamp, who provides the voice of Jor-El, played General Zod in the first two “Superman” movies. The only reason this one is on there is because of the Jor-El introduction. Otherwise its a snoozer.
EXODUS: Episode 23: Things are going nicely for Lana and Clark. As such you know shit must go downhill and when the voice of Clark’s Kryptonian father issues an ultimatum, it does. Lex prepares for his wedding, we prepare to sleep, and Lionel works at manipulating a jealous Chloe. Things go badly and Clark decides he has to leave. Putting on the red Kryptonite ring and saying goodbye to Lana, Clark rides off to Metropolis. Meanwhile, Lex is plunging to the bottom of the ocean…. Not a strong season-ender, but bad boy Clark is a laugh.
A Bit of a “Meh” season this one, the overarching storylines were underwhelming and the show did feel like it may be running out of steam. Thankfully things picked up and we were given a couple of great episodes including an appearance of a character who would not appear again until season 9.
EXILE: Episode 1: Under the influence of red Kryptonite, Clark is following a life of crime in Metropolis bringing him into contact with a young version of Intergang. Lex is forced to confront his personal demons on a desert island, while Lionel holds a funeral for his presumed-dead son. And Jonathan Kent must pay a high price for the power necessary to bring his son back home. Rutger Hauer as Intergang Boss Morgan Edge is amusing.
PERRY: Episode 5: An aging alcoholic tabloid reporter named Perry White comes to town and thinks he sees Clark throwing tractors around. This episode features some really impressive visuals and a great performance by Michael McKean, Anette O Toole’ real life husband who would return in season 9!
LEGACY: Episode 17: Lionel seems to be coming closer to learning Clark’s secret, and goes to Dr. Swann for help. Meanwhile, it seems that Jonathan is somehow communicating with Jor-El, and the consequences of the deal the two of them made are coming to the forefront. Another appearance of Christopher Reeve is worth a mention and some big plot stuff is rocking.
FORSAKEN: Episode 21: The mystic knife that has been the focus of this season may fulfill a prophecy, but what will it reveal in the end? Do you still care? The burden of Clark’s secret causes Pete to make a big decision and Lex finally has the evidence to put Lionel behind bars. Lex still seems like an Ok dude, but we’re seeing the cracks.
COVENANT: Episode 22: A girl claiming to be “Kara” from Krypton wants to bring Clark home, it’s a good start, but it’s SO not Supergirl. Meanwhile Clark learns about the deal Jonathan made with Jor-El. Clark finally learns the secret of Lex’s secret room and as the episode ends, it appears Chloe’s gone boom, Clark’s been sucked into the cave wall, Lex is poisoned, Jonathan looks dead, and the Kent Farm is on fire… Sucked into a cave wall man…. now that’s a cliffhanger.
A season that could easily have been left on the cutting room floor, the main overarching storyline involves Lana being possessed by a witch and concludes with a globe trotting adventure to secure a certain special crystal. The Flash and Krypto are highlights of an otherwise ordinary season. Oh and the final shot.
CRUSADE: Episode 1: Clark emerges from the cave completely embracing his Kryptonian background and with the ability to fly. He calls himself Kal and wears all black and it’s SO slimming. Lois Lane comes to town to investigate the death of her cousin, Chloe. Meanwhile, Lex is on a crusade of his own, and Lana is posessed while rubbing a floor carving of Countess Theroux… This “countess” shit is awful but the introduction of Lois is worth the pain.
RUN: Episode 5: Clark meets a young man with a power of speed that exceeds his own, but the boy lacks responsibility for his actions. Also, Lex finds a manuscript that appears to be some sort of Kryptonian map. Bart Allan AKA ‘Impulse’ is the Smallville version of The Flash and makes some fun references to lots of other Flashes!
JINX: Episode 7: A foreign exchange student called Mxyzptlk is using his Meta-human powers to manipulate high school football betting. Sadly, for a Mxyzptlk episode, this is pretty joyless, he’s not an imp from another dimension, he’s a gimp from Bulgaria… or somesuch crap.
PARIAH: Episode 12: Lana is attacked and evil returning Meteor Freak Alicia is implicated. Alicia suggests to Clark that maybe people would be more accepting of their relationship if they knew of his powers, and she arranges things so Chloe sees him using his powers. Finally Chloe gets in on the secret and a stronger freindship is formed. Not brilliant, but Chloe’s introduction is important.
KRYPTO: Episode 14: Luthorcorp animal testing gives two dogs power far beyond those of usual canines. This is a Krypto the wonder-dog story. That is all you need to know.
COMMENCEMENT: Episode 22: The season’s storylines come together and we can all be thankful that it’s mostly over. Lana becomes free of her posession. Lex wants her silly magical stone. Lana passes her stone along to Clark, who now has two of the three pieces. The eventual merging of the crystals summons a meteor shower on Graduation Day but opens up something even cooler.
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