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'Smallville' Season 10, Episode 21 (Series Finale) Recap

by Mike Moody, posted May 14th 2011 2:30PM
smallville finale['Smallville' – 'Finale']

'Smallville' ended its ten-season run with an alternately exciting and disappointing finale, which, if you think about it, suits the series perfectly.

The show has always offered a consistent mix of the inspiring and the awful, even from the perspective of a Superman/comic book fan like me.

I loved seeing this story come to life on the tube, and, in some ways, this modern re-telling of Superman's early years was more thrilling and fun than almost any other Superman origin tale. But, at its heart, 'Smallville' was always a sappy teen soap loaded with clunky sci-fi/fantasy mythology elements.

The show carried on in that often clumsy, unsophisticated vein all the way to the end, but there's one thing 'Smallville' always got right – the depiction of Clark Kent as a beacon of light for all humanity.

The finale – well, at least the last 15 minutes or so -- celebrated what we love most about Clark Kent/Superman – his power to delight and inspire us, or, simply put, his awesomeness.

Tom Welling's Clark Kent finally strapped on the blue tights and red cape that Christopher Reeve, Brandon Routh and, er, Dean Cain wore before him. And he flew! The image of Welling wearing the classic Superman garb (while quick and mostly CGI) and flying around saving the world was pretty satisfying. But, unfortunately, we had to sit through countless minutes of poorly paced padding, filler, and manufactured conflict to get there.

The bulk of this two-hour finale was just painful to watch. We're all probably used to 'Smallville' rehashing the same old themes, frustrating conflicts and vacuous ideas over and over again by now, but all that stuff seemed more cumbersome and anticlimactic than ever here. For much of the first half, I kept thinking, "Blah, blah blah, I'm tired of this convoluted identity issue business, LET'S GET TO THE GOOD STUFF, SHOW!"

And by "good stuff," I don't only mean the suit and the flying. I was hoping for some fun superhero action with the Darkseid storyline, and perhaps another Justice League meetup, or, I don't know, something a little more compelling than watching Clark learning to view, accept and harness his life experiences as a whole. I mean, hasn't Clark been down this road a million times before? The details might have been different, but Clark's internal journey here didn't feel new or interesting.

And the excessive will-they-or-won't-they-get-hitched business between Lois and Clark reached epic levels of romance novel slushiness, which was super annoying, especially in the scene that took place in and outside the apartment. (Did I see Clark hump that apartment door once? Because I could swear I did.) But luckily, Erica Durance's plucky performance made most of the long and mushy romance scenes bearable.

A lot of screen time here was devoted to making sure the characters and the situations lined up with Superman canon as best it could. One of the most enjoyable things about this decision was the return of the excellent Michael Rosenbaum as Lex Luthor. I liked that the episode didn't strive to give us an over-the-top explanation for why Lex was coming back. As Lionel Luthor said, Lex was into cloning, most of his experiments failed, and this one (this super secret one!) didn't fail. Simple.

The insane Luthor family drama between Lionel, (Lu)Tess(a) and Lex was fun to see play out here. The Luthors are dark and twisted, and they're all played by the three best actors on the show. Any scene with the Luthors in this finale felt like it was imported from a better, darker, stranger show.

Earth-2 Lionel sacrificed himself for Lex, which felt appropriate somehow, since Lex murdered original Lionel. And we finally saw Lex come face to face with Tess, whose life of constantly being kidnapped, beaten and having guns stuck in her face came to an end before the episode was done.

I didn't like seeing Tess go. It felt like the only reason she died was because, maybe, Lex didn't have a sister in the classic Superman comics or in the Richard Donnor movies, which inspired a lot of the finale's final act. Again, the show was lining up its characters and situations with canon here, as Tess made sure that Clark's secret was wiped from Lex's mind before she died.

Oliver's arc in the finale felt a bit silly and pointless, but I did like seeing him destroy Darkseid's unholy trinity with his bow and arrow. His succumbing to The Darkness really only culminated in the fight with Clark in the church, which only served to ruin that lovely walking down the aisle scene.

Yes, I liked the wedding scene, even if it was a little disturbing to see Ghost Pa Kent in the pews, and even if Clark and Lois didn't actually get married. The image of Clark walking Lois down the aisle was simple and sweet, and it was more emotional and compelling than all the tiring relationship drama we had to watch at the start of the episode.

But the really cool stuff didn't start happening until the end, when Jor-El played a video reel of Clark's greatest hits, inspiring our Supermanboy to believe in himself and fly. Did anyone else smile when Clark started hovering and then obliterated Darkseid by flying right through him? That was awesome.

The scene with Clark meeting Lex was also very interesting, as it played on the classic Lex Luthor-Superman dynamic. Lex admitted that he was jealous of Clark's power, and he was disgusted by Clark's humble personality and attitude. Through Lex's self-serving eyes, such power should only be granted to someone who could easily embrace it, not to a farm boy who struggles to blend in. Lex embraced his destiny and role as Clark's main foe, but he also helped inspire him to become Superman.

Seeing Ghost Pa Kent pop up was a little awkward and creepy until his final appearance, when he arrived in the fortress to hand Clark his costume. It was a great moment, as Jor-El admitted that his time with the Kents made Clark a hero, and Jonathan smiled and said, "Always hold on to Smallville." Clark was finally able to embrace his Kryptonian side and his human side equally, as he took the costume and flew out of the fortress to save the day.

The episode became a mini Superman movie after Clark did his cool mid-air quick change. Dressed in the red and blue, he saved Lois by righting the plane and pushed Apokolips out of the atmosphere. The thought of the fire planet encroaching on Earth never really felt all that threatening, but it made for a great visual as a caped Superclark flung it out into space.

From a fan's perspective, the John Williams 'Superman' score made everything feel more profound and exciting (though I'm sure it may have felt a little excessive to everyone else).

I also appreciated the seven-year time jump. Chloe and Ollie had a kid (who was obsessed with Superman, which really has to get Ollie's goat), the Real Jimmy Olsen popped up acting all Jimmy Olsen-like, we heard Perry White use his nutty catch phrase, and mild mannered reporter Clark Kent stumbled on the stairs in full view of star reporter Lois Lane. Oh, and Lex was president. It all just felt right.

The final scene was a joy to watch. Someone was in need of saving, so Clark rushed to the roof, flung off his jacket and tore open his shirt to reveal the classic Superman "S" on his chest as the music soared.

The finale as a whole felt tedious and uneven for the most part, but that last shot was nice, 'Smallville.' Very, very nice.

OK, 'Smallville' nerds, it's time to tell us what you thought about this finale. Did it live up to your expectations? Did you want to see Clark spend more time in the suit? Did you appreciate the homage to the original movies and comics? What were some of your favorite scenes and moments? Let's hear it in the comments.

The CW will rebroadcast the 'Smallville' series finale on Thursday at 8PM ET.

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my .02

yes it ran for ten years and thats alot of damn money to be made by the tenth year.I think most of the fans deserved a hole hell of a lot more then 15mins of bs cgi and tom in a Clark Kent super man t shirt.They didn't need 100 million dollar budget to do better then they did.Some people say stop complaining and alI I have to say to that is my azz that was bull crap and the fans deserved a better ending.I put seven years in to it(started at four)and bought the DVDs.I know theres a thousands + fans just like me out there some watch from the start.Its WB for god sake.I just hope the writers made there money and retired.Some of the stuff was so left filed at times but the gang will be missed they made the show.

November 25 2011 at 12:24 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
daniel c

I agree with u. I hated the finale. It was the last episode ever. They had no budget restraint. The previous episode had toyman talking with other villains to take out the heroes. What happened there? Darkseid is a god-like entity. And Clark beats him by one fly by punch? Really? Where were the rest of the heroes? This was the send off. We see Oliver take out 3 minions with one shot. i am not saying he can't do it, but, they missed an opportunity to have EVERYONE (heroes) in it. Heck, the villains too. Bring out everyone. This is a fight for the planet. I am sure some watchers were aware of the justice league finale where darkseid came to earth and all the heroes AND the villains teamed up to save our planet. Clark needed all that help. This was the perfect opportunity to make it real life. I was hoping for that, and we got none of it. It was very disappointing. I can only hope that someone picks up a green arrow or justice league tv series next year.

May 29 2011 at 10:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
SUPSFAN_NO1

(CORRECTED COMMENT)
I can't believe it's over. All in all it was a great 10 years. I'm a huge superman/justice league fan and to see Clark finally don the suit even though CGI'd and from the neck up it was still perfect! The storyline could've filled out a little more with the Darksied story but hey we can't have our cake and eat it too because the climactic point of this series was to see Clark finally embrace what is known as Superman! I hope there's a Superman Spin off. Maybe for a little more cash and a little more influencing Tom Welling will take a liking to putting on the suit and we'll have a Justice League or Superman spin off. I know it's unlikely but hey we can dream can't we? I myself as a Smallville fan thank you CW, Warner Bros, and of course all of the characters of the show! You did a wonderful job making it a great 10 years!!

May 19 2011 at 2:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
SUPSFAN_NO1

I can't believe it's over. All in all it was a great 10 years. I'm a huge superman/justice league fan and to see Clark finally don the suit even though CGI'd and from the neck up it was still perfect! The storyline could've filled out a little more with the Darksied story but hey we can have our cake and eat it too because the climactic point of this series was to see Clark finally embrace what is known as Superman! I hope there's a Superman Spin off. Maybe for a little more cash and a little more influencing Tom Welling will take a liking to putting on the suit and we'll have a Justice League or Smallville spin off. I know it's unlikely but hey we can dream can't we? I myself as a Smallville fan thank you CW, Warner Bros, and of course all of the characters of the show! You did a wonderful job on the long 10 years!!

May 19 2011 at 2:23 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Bob

I’m so happy Superman decided to fly after ten long years! The series finale was everything I hoped for and more. The way Tom played the role of Clark Kent was the best so far. My favorite show on TV was Smallville, but I don’t always get the chance to watch it Fridays on TV. I love the fact that I can use my DISH Network DVR to record Smallville and watch it on my iPhone using Sling Technology. Being that I am a customer and employee of DISH I can’t recommend the TV Everywhere feature enough to anyone who likes TV on the go. You can find more info online a www.dish.com/tveverywhere.

May 17 2011 at 9:04 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
waxinla79

I quit watching Smallville for years in the early - middle seasons. all that clark/lana emotional crap was really, REALLY dragging the show down and it wasn't even Clark's destiny to end up with Lana. I came back to the show in the final Lex season, before Rosenbaum left the show, and they introduced Kara (Supergirl) as a semi-regular cast member. the show seemed to find its focus in the last few seasons. once Lex & Lana were gone, they were free to focus on Lois & Clark for once and get us to where we know these characters were supposed to end up.

i felt the finale dragged on for a while in the beginning, with possessed Oliver, and the vows, and the will we?/wont we? get married story. but once lex showed up in his bald glory to remind Clark and us that heroes are only as good as the villains they're trying to stop, i thought "yes, now were getting somewhere."

i was a bit disappointed that we didn't get very many (or any, frankly) shots of Clark in full Superman attire that weren't CGI shots. did Tom Welling have a contract clause saying he wouldn't be caught dead on camera in tights or something??? all his shots were neck up or from behind. or CGI'd.

but i did get a huge smile on my face and goosebumps on my arms when in the last shot, Clark goes up to the rooftop, Superman music building to a crescendo, and he ripped open his shirt to show us the iconic "S" underneath as he prepared to fly away to save the day.

Way to end on a high note Smallville. Gonna miss you.

May 16 2011 at 1:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to waxinla79's comment
Nitewoman

Yes waxinla79 there was a contract clause that Tom Welling would never wear tights, the suit and fly. I wasn't always happy with Tom's choice but I respect his decision and for 10 years Tom owned "Clark Kent"

May 26 2011 at 5:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Nitewoman's comment
my .02

if that was true that was a real a hole decision

November 24 2011 at 11:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down
Todd Sheasley

The final show was simply FANTASTIC for a tv show. Do people realize that this is a cable tv show that has lasted 10 years? They complain of little things. Oh it filler,we should've had a big battle with Darkseid, he should've had more "suit" time. This was done on a shoestring budget for years. I challenge anyone to do better on a tv budget. Don't u think they would've loved to have a 100 million dollar budget like a big budget blockbuster? Stop complaining and enjoy it for what it was. A fantastic TV show that gave us a weekly dose of Superman adventures for 10 great years.

May 16 2011 at 12:40 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Todd Sheasley's comment
dwghdon

Yes, the show was tolerable, but Smallville was never that great of a show to begin with. Being a comic book superhero fan for years now, left me a little disappointed however. For one Darkseid is a Demi-God and cannot be beaten with one fell swoop, he's actually tougher than Superman. And they fought for years before Darkseid buys it in some kind of super massive explosion that takes out a planet, ane even then his conciousness remains alive until he's reincarnated. The part with Chloe has always been dumb, and they should have at least had Lana on the show for a goodbye kiss or something. I'd give it 6 out of 10.

May 16 2011 at 12:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
my .02

yes it ran for ten years thats alot of damn money to be made by the tenth year.I think most of the fans deservied a hole hell of a lot more then 15mins of bs cgi and tom in a clark kent super man t shirt.They didnt need 100 million dollar budget to do better then they did Stop complaining my azz that was bull crap the fans deservied better its WB for god sake

November 24 2011 at 11:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
J Carter

I agree with most of this article and I'm an AVID fan of the show. While everything felt rushed at the end to me I was satisfied overall. My two favorite parts were 1) the "mini" battle with Darkseid where he did the Jor-el flashback thing and then returns to hover and wipe him out and 2) the flash forward at the Daily Planet, the John Williams score echoing as he runs to the roof to 'save the day'. Epic.

I also enjoyed the scene in the next to the last episode where he changes in the phone booth. I'm a sucker for the little throwbacks.

May 15 2011 at 3:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Brent Phillips

I disagree with the review of the final episode, I thought it was all great. I can't say the same for the rest of the season or about half of the ten seasons, but the last one was great.

May 15 2011 at 1:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Rick

Well done article! You covered all the same flaws and high points of "Smallville" that I so much liked and disliked as well! As this entire 10 years of "Smallville" now comes to a close there were many complaints I had too!

01. It took the entire cast 6 Seasons before graduating from High School! So even if they were 15 years old when show debut they would be 21 by graduation day! And they all looked way to old for High School students, and seemed to rarely even go to school in many of the episodes!

02. The naivety of Clark Kent was a constant drama always wasting half of every episode with dialog filler! Which was never, never the true "Superman" persona or character in decades of comic books and movies! Huge complaint here! It must of given Tom Welling a constant headache to act so indecisive each episode!

03. And in each episode the writers had Clark losing his powers (Big Yawn Here!) to Kryponite or Sunspots or Jor El or Magic! To finally at the end of the show to get his powers back and save the day, simplicity and boredom to the max! I swear the 60% of the shows had this script thread every time!

04. The relationship drama was the writers constant filler to make each episode last an hour! It again was very predictable and boring to watch!

05. And just the path of Clark becoming Superman was way too long in this series! Superman was not 34 years old when he got his powers a started flying!

May 15 2011 at 10:13 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

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