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Smallville Finale: The Birth of Superman

I think its still a little hard to believe that after 10 years Smallville is over.  No longer will I tune in weekly to see Clark Kent’s metamorphosis into the legendary Man of Steel, Superman.  But at least there was a two hour farewell given to this show I have dedicated so much time to.

Was the Smallville Finale perfect?  No it wasn’t, but it was fun to watch and that’s the most important part.  I’m not a Smallville apologist, I’ll unload on something if I think its done poorly and I think I’ve proven that.  So if you want to think of the Smallville Finale with no criticism I encourage you to skip to the end of this article.  I am going to be critical of a few parts, but on whole I did enjoy the Finale.  If you feel I’m being unfair, I encourage you to leave a comment below and call me out.

My thoughts on the finale can basically be binned into three groups: the good, the bad, and the ugly.  As such, I have organized my thoughts like that below.

The Good

  1. The Final Scene – If the final scene of Smallville didn’t make you want to stand up and cheer I’m not sure what’s wrong with you.  The Lois and Clark of 2018 were almost exactly what you would expect from the comic book world.  Not only that but it brought the return of a couple of characters that are a big part of the Superman comic book mythos (more on that below).  Th other nice touch was the addition of Lex Luthor being the president-elect.  That had been foretold in past seasons and it was really cool to see it come to pass.  But by far the best part of this final scene involved Clark Kent.  Everyone who has watched Smallville was waiting for the scene where Clark goes to the save the day and rips open his shirt to reveal the Superman shield.  Couple that moment with John William’s Superman theme and it gave me chills.   
  2. The Kent Family – Smallville has always done a great job of showing that at its heart the show is about Clark Kent and his family.  It was great to see Martha and Jonathan back in the finale episode.  The Kents were responsible for shaping Clark into the man he became.  His sense of what is morally right is what makes Superman such a great hero.  It was fantastic to see Jor-El point out that Clark should always remember Smallville and the Kents.  I also have to admit that the Kent family hug in Clark’s loft was heartwarming.  It really took me back to the beginning of the show where there was a great deal of focus on the family aspect.
  3. Apokolips – I thought the appearance of Darkseid’s planet was done well and the special effects that went into its appearance were beautiful.  Apokolips appeared and it certainly amped up the tension in the episode.  It truly did feel like there was a chance everything could go badly.
  4. The Return of Lex Luthor – There’s a part of me that really wished Lex’s return was kept secret.  It would have made the return that much more powerful.  That being said, Lex’s return was great.  Michael Rosenbaum continues to prove that he is Lex Luthor.  The scene between Clark and Lex in the burned out Luthor mansion was very well done.  One of my favorite parts is when Clark tries to tell Lex he’s been given a second chance and that this time things can go differently and he can be good.  That’s classic Superman right there, believing that anyone can be redeemed even the man who has been your worst enemy.  The back and forth between Clark and Lex was well done and made me realize how much I had missed Lex as the overall villain of the story, especially when Lex referred to Clark as Kal-El showing that he remembered everything that had happened between the two.  I think my favorite part of the exchange is how Lex is one of the forces that drives Clark towards being a hero if only so that Lex can be the one that opposes him.
  5. Surprise Cameos – The return of Aaron Ashmore to the Smallville world was a welcome surprise.  This time instead of portraying the deceased Henry James Olson he was Henry’s little brother better known as Jimmy.  Not only that, he looked like what you expect from Jimmy in the comics with the bow tie and hat.  It was a great unexpected surprise to see Jimmy at the end.  Not only did Jimmy make an appearance but so did Perry White.  Appearance might be the wrong word but Michael McKean, who plays Perry, did provide the voice clips that were used in the finale.  Another great surprise from the writers! 
  6. The Redemption of Tess Mercer – Tess may have thought she would never find redemption but in the end she saved Clark one last time.  Since the character was first introduced as a the reluctant badguy she has been put on a course to try to redeem herself.  Throughout this season Tess has moved more towards the light by supporting the heroes and openly opposing the Luthors.  Honestly I thought she was done for when Lionel wanted to take her heart to complete Lex’s resurrection.  Ultimately she escaped and I thought that just maybe Tess would survive the finale.  I should have known better it seems.  What was so impressive was that with one last act she was able to preserve Clark’s secret identity even if it cost her life.  Its a shame the story jumped forward 7 years without talking about any of the fallout over Tess’ death.  It would have been quite interesting to see how Clark would react to her sacrifice and whether he would blame himself.
  7. Chloe Lives – I’ll be honest I expected them to kill of Chloe for a variety of reasons.  Mostly because in the comics she didn’t exist until recently and that Black Canary and Green Arrow are linked in the comics as well.  As soon as Chloe went off-screen I was expecting her to die.  Imagine my surprise when the show opened with her telling the story of Superman to what is presumably her son.

The Bad

  1. What Is Jonathan Kent – He was able to come back and make himself visible to Clark and seemingly Martha as well.  The fact that it was never explained how this came to be bothered me a little bit.  I was able to overlook it for the most part because I was quite happy to see John Schneider back on Smallville.
  2. More Wedding Nonsense – I was very frustrated that the first 40 minutes of the finale revolved around more wedding drama that came out of nowhere.  This hesitance to get married from Lois and Clark felt very forced when it was crammed in the series finale.
  3. Smallville Enemies are Push Overs – It seems anytime there is a ‘big bad’ introduced in the Smallville world they are immensely powerful and frightening at first but by the last episode of the season they go out like chumps.  Examples would be Major Zod and Doomsday and now Darkseid and his servants.  In Prophecy Granny Goodness is able destroy Orion’s bow in seconds, however Green Arrow is able to kill her and her two allies in seconds with simple arrows.  These characters have been built up to be dangerous and to go out so quickly just seems out-of-place.  Then there’s Darkseid.  Never did he assume a corporeal form, but instead possessed the body of the alternate universe Lionel.  It could have been really cool if only there had been an actual fight between Clark and Darkseid.  Instead Clark is thrown across the room and then flies through the possessed body.  This could have been a much better fight but I’m guessing the special effects budget go in the way.  But at least Lionel got to have that awesome beard… that makes up for the short battle right?

The Ugly

  1. Mindwiping Of Lex Luthor – It had to happen so I have no major criticism with that.  However it was an inelegant solution.  How does Lex become the villain we all know when he remembers nothing before killing Tess Mercer?  It stretches credibility to believe that in 7 years Lex could rebuild everything and then become president-elect.  Of course this is Smallville so that’s really a weak complaint.  I just wish there had been a better way a handling the mindwipe and then showing the fallout of Lex’s memory loss.
  2. Flashbacks – Did we really need a video montage of Clark’s past heroic activities let alone two?  The video montage that took place in the middle of the fight between Darkseid and Clark was unnecessary and just broke up the tension that had been built.  I imagine it was done on purpose as its a lot cheaper budget-wise to show a flashback than a long drawn out fight between two superpowered beings.
  3. CGI Superman – Smallville was built around the premise of seeing Clark Kent in the Superman costume one day.  You would think that in the end you would actually see Clark in costume.  For some reason we never got a direct shot of Clark wearing the iconic Superman costume.  Really this is my biggest gripe.  For ten years this show has been built around teasing you that one day Clark Kent will wear the famous costume.  You could have at least shown Clark in costume.  Instead we got headshots of Tom Welling with a CGI cape in the background and CGI shots of Superman with Tom Welling’s face pasted on.  Honestly I feel a little cheated that I never got to fully see Clark as Superman.  I understand that Smallville is the story of Clark’s journey to become Superman, but actually becoming Superman is the final step in the journey.

If we had seen Clark in costume and not a CGI image I would probably be ecstatic and overlook the other concerns I had.  But I honestly do feel cheated that we never got the iconic shot of Tom Welling as Superman.  Perhaps I had too much invested in the show and had I been a casual fan I wouldn’t feel cheated.

There’s a part of me that’s quite sad to realize this is the last time I will be writing about Smallville on the site.  I’m sure it will come up in other topics but with no new episodes or stories about Smallville means the well is dry.  Contrary to how it appears I truly did enjoy the finale.  The way everything was wrapped up it made me want more of Smallville and that’s a good thing.  There are too many shows where you are happy they are finally over because you no longer have to invest the time in watching them or because they were falling apart.  If a show can end and you want more it’s a sign that it was a good finale despite any fanboys nitpicks that might come up.  Smallville, I’m going to miss you.  It was one hell of a run.

Clark is Finally Superman

After 10 years... we finally get Superman

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6 responses to “Smallville Finale: The Birth of Superman

  1. briantudor May 16, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    Great post! I think Lex stayed bad because of Lionel’s tainted heart, but it could have been handled a little more clear I totally agree!

    Now we have to find a new show to talk about. 🙂

    • Chris May 16, 2011 at 1:58 pm

      That would be an interesting concept if it was Lionel’s heart that caused it. I was more thinking that Lex was too far gone after the events that lead to his original death. That and his pride wouldn’t allow him to back down. Lex has often been defined by his pride.

      As for a new show to talk about it certainly won’t be Wonder Woman since it got canned. haha. I really have no idea what the next show could be though.

  2. Tom Baker May 17, 2011 at 9:01 am

    Sad to say I missed the finale but hopefully I will see it at some point. Maybe hulu. I do appreciate your post and will remember your words when I finally get to see it. Too bad they disabled embedding for the video.

    They actually used CGI? I’d expect better however John Williams theme music at the end of the video clip soothed my nerves.

  3. Lee May 20, 2011 at 8:54 pm

    The whole Green Arrow killing them all easily with his bow and simple arrows… I think he could do that because, if you look back to when he read the words on the bow, that power to banish darkness comes from someone pure of heart… or something like that.

    I didn’t really enjoy the ending that well. My sister was laughing at it while I was watching it though… so she may have ruined it for me. 😦

    Still sad to see the series go… been watching it since I was a teen!

    • Chris May 22, 2011 at 9:50 am

      I guess I was more bothered that it wasn’t an epic fight between Green Arrow and Darkseid’s minions.

      As for the ending, I enjoyed it. It was a little campy, but fun. I’ve rewatched it a good deal of times. Its the closest we ever got to actually seeing Tom Welling as Superman.

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