WARNING: This review is intended for those that have seen the episode/series and is full of spoilers! Be warned!
I have seen each and every episode of SMALLVILLE in order throughout its 10 year history. I don’t think I have ever committed to one show for that long and that should say something about how much I enjoyed SMALLVILLE. Sure there have been some ups and downs throughout these 10 years (what show that lasts this long wouldn’t?) and one thing has always remained the same; I kept watching. I came back every week because SMALLVILLE is such an awesome universe to be in filled with iconic characters, awesome super-power infused action scenes and it chronicled the evolution of a man into a “Superman”. But I am not here to review the entire series, I am here to let you know what I thought about the series finale and if it was everything I hoped it would be as a committed fan.
I must admit I was a nervous wreak watching this episode. 10 years have been building up to this one episode and everything was going to payoff in one grand finale. I knew we would finally see Clark truly fly, I knew he would transform into Superman, I knew the Darkseid storyline was going to end, I knew Lex Luthor was going to be back, and I could only wonder what characters specifically created for the show were going to survive such as Tess Mercer and Chloe. I mean come on, that’s a crap ton of stuff to cram into one and a half hours of TV! So to say the least, I was sick with curiosity and wondered how the creators would pull it all off. In the end, I must say that great performances from the actors mixed with some cool action and the final metamorphosis into Superman made this one fun and memorable episode that I enjoyed thoroughly as a fan. It was not perfect by any means, but it was a wonderful sendoff to a pretty fantastic TV series.
One of the best aspects of this episode was the main core cast coming together one last time (minus the simply uninteresting Lana Lang!). We have Clark, Lois, Chloe, Oliver, Clark’s parents, Lex Luthor, Lionel Luthor, Tess and even the return of Aaron Ashmore as the true Jimmy Olsen! Clark has evolved so much throughout this series and seeing him as both Clark Kent AND Superman in this episode was a treat! Tom Welling has truly evolved as an actor throughout this series and is in top form here as Clark Kent/Superman. Also, seeing Clark and Lex share some screen time again was both fun and memorable. I miss the dialogue between the two and they were a great match. I was a little bummed that Lex never had any scenes with “Earth 2” Lionel because their screen chemistry was a true highlight of the series. It would have been cool to see him take out Lionel for a second time! That said, Lex’s return was short but sweet and I was glad to have him back. The manner in which he lost his memory from Tess at the end was a bit “meh” but overall his return was welcome and necessary. Seeing Lionel as the embodiment of Darkseid was menacing and he was an appropriate villain for the episode with some awesome moments (including Clark’s first flight!). And having Tess get stabbed by Lex was a cool moment but her death did not seem to matter to anyone else. That was a bit odd.
It was also a nice touch to have BOTH of Clark’s parents back for this episode because it was their parenting and guidance that lead Clark to be the man he is today. I especially loved the way they Incorporated Jonathan Kent into this episode as sort of a spirit that Clark had to acknowledge instead of ignore. It was awesome seeing Jonathan in the Fortress of Solitude handing Clark the iconic uniform that Superman wears. Also in the Fortress was the voice of Jor-El (Clark’s home planet father) who Clark had stopped talking to for a long time. Jor-El has been a borderline villain in this series constantly testing Clark and giving him disadvantages at every turn. Finally having Jor-El admit that they were all trials was refreshing and hearing him congratulate his son was very rewarding.
Once I saw the opening scenes where Chloe is reading about Superman to her son (the father being Oliver Queen/Green Arrow), I knew she would be safe and sound. It was kind of weird that the comic she was reading her son seemigly revealed the identity of Superman though. that weird nitpick aside, I am glad her character has survived all these years and her reading to her son being the bookends to this episode felt appropriate. Chloe’s role in this episode reminds us what a good friend she has been to Clark and she even gets to save his ass one last time by smacking and evil golden-kryptonite ring out of Oliver’s Darkseid-possessed hand that would have suffocated Clark’s powers forever. That was a close one! Ever since Oliver (Green Arrow) joined the SMALLVILLE crew as a regular he has been struggling with himself (even suicidal at times). It was good to see his character come full circle and gain the confidence he needed to become an iconic hero like Clark. He has some wonderful scenes with Clark in this episode and while he was possessed by Darkseid he fights Clark in what was one of the episodes best action scenes! (more on that in a moment)
Darkseid. It was great seeing Clark and Oliver go at it and smash the crap out of each other. It was well choreographed and concluded when Clark helped his friend realize that he has some good in him despite his lack of confidence. The best action scene however was having Clark FINALLY take flight in order to overpower Darkseid who had taken the form of “Earth 2” Lionel. Darkseid was winning the bout and Clark completing his “trials” by learning how to fly was the final step in defeating this menace. Darkseid punches Clark with all his power and in mid throwback we see Clark in the Fortress of Solitude where he relives Jor-El’s trials. There are a series of flashbacks in the crystals of the fortress that showcase some of the most amazing moments of Clark “in action”. Usually I am offended by series flashbacks but this one was both tasteful and a wonderful reminder of how cool this show really is! Once this sequence is over and Clark realizes he can fly, he stops in mid-air and flys forward straight through Darkseid-Lionel obliterating him in his tracks. This was the moment SMALLVILLE fans have been patiently waiting for and it rocked!
Of course the moment we were all anticipating the most, besides Clark’s first flight, was his transition into Superman. After he receives his costume from his father in the Fortress of Solitude we watch as Clark takes flight, puts on the costume in mid air, and smashes out of the fortress to go save the world. These scenes are all very epic in tone and feel just right besides the fact we never really see Welling in full costume. Instead we get some cheesy long shots showcasing the full costume that are seemingly all computer generated. If you ever wondered why we never saw Clark regularly fly in the show it’s likely because the budget could not make it look cool enough. It seems a bit odd though because I never thought any of the other times Clark flew (under black kryptonite influence) looked cheesy or even when Supergirl flew for that matter. I expected the flight scenes to look much better than they did here. A highlight was Superman saving Air Force One from a crash (with Lois on board) and seeing Superman deflect an entire planet from colliding with Earth. This was a true showcase of how powerful this version of Superman is but it would have been cool to actually see him do it instead of just see the planet move out of orbit. I had to constantly remind myself that this is TV and the budgets are much much less than any film. In any case, it was all very cool to see and was a great payoff for SUPERMAN and SMALLVILLE fans alike.
The final moments of the episode at the Daily Planet is what truly wrapped up the series for me and it was done so to perfection. Seeing Clark Kent and Lois Lane hustle around the office, Jimmy Olsen showing Lois his photos, and Perry White screaming in his office was all fantastic and nostalgic at the same time. They really nailed the Superman atmosphere here and it was heartwarming to finally see it all come together like this. And the final moments when Clark must go save the day as Superman was entirely rewarding. Seeing him run to the rooftops and rip off his shirt to reveal the Superman logo was the best moment of the series for me. The entire time the epic John Williams Superman theme was playing (perfect!) and goosebumps ran across my whole nerd body. I can’t express enough just how well they nailed this whole scene! Fun stuff!
My only real gripes in this episode include the comic book Chloe was reading to her son seemingly revealing the identity of Superman, too many scenes dealing with Lois and the wedding vows (booooring), and the somewhat craptacular use of computer effects to showcase Superman in full costume instead of us seeing a clear shot of Welling all geared up. Besides those shortcomings, I admit I had a fantastic time with this episode! Seeing everything come full circle and wrap up was something I have been looking forward to for 10 years now. The final moments of this episode were some of the greatest TV moments in history and I wish I could see the adventures of Superman continue with Welling and the rest of this cast. I am also thankful that the series had the opportunity to properly end itself instead of drag out any longer. SMALLVILLE will truly be missed and I take solace knowing that the series ended properly.
Final Score: 8.5 out of 10