SMALLVILLE Producers Feel the Pressure of the Series Finale
Super-sized SMALLVILLE Season 10
“And now, the series finale of Smallville.' I'm going to have to hear those words twice. I was lucky enough to be part of a small group of Lois Lane-wannabes [reporters] who got a chance to watch a sizzle reel made up of bits of the series finale and speak to producers/show runners Kelly Souders and Brian Peterson. I'm going to be honest. When I heard that voice over from Tom Welling, it was hard to swallow. If you're reading this, the show probably means as much to you as it does to me. Because of that, I'm giving you all the juicy bits of what was a long interview. I know you'll want to know it all.
In that spirit, let me tell you what we saw. Granny Goodness (Christine Willes) tells Lutessa, better known as Tess (Cassidy Freeman) that the Apokolips is upon us. In fact, we see it heading towards Earth. (We even get a glimpse of Darkseid!) Lois (Erica Durance) is still having doubts about marrying Clark, though it will happen. She and Chloe (Allison Mack) share a scene at the Daily Planet where Chloe explains that Clark is not a god. He can't listen to pleas for help all the time. He needs to rest and he needs someone to bring him back to Earth when he “takes to the skies.” (Have you read Mark Waid's Irredeemable? I bet he'd agree.) Martha Kent (Annette O'Toole) lets Clark know that he wasn't supposed to sell the farm, though they're a few days from escrow. She says that you don't have to let go of your past to have your future. Clark disagrees. Oh yes, we do get to see Pa Kent (Jonathan Schneider) again. (More in the interview below.) But the big scenes were really between Clark (Tom Welling) and Lex (Michael Rosenbaum). It seems that Lex has reanimated himself with bits of the clones and he's helping Clark rid the world of Darkseid. (See below for more on that as well.) There is a car chase, a plane crash, Tess and Lex together, lightning during the wedding...and a glimpse of Clark floating. We didn't see it, but I'm going to guess there is flying...in the suit. I don't want to say any more. Seriously though...cut onions or something during the finale so you have an excuse for bawling.Newsarama: Besides the plot points you have to hit, what were your favorite smaller moments to include in the finale?
Kelly Souders: There are a couple of moments in the church, because obviously you saw the church [in the trailer]. There is one...I'll just say...[Peterson makes shushing noises]...I'm not saying what it is! But when Lois is about to walk down the aisle. Just the whole aisle. I'll just say I have a couple favorite moments, just on the aisle.
Brian Peterson: And there's a very good scene with a door. It's probably one of everybody's favorite scene in the show. [laughter] We wanted to kind of show you the scope, but we saved a lot of the little interpersonal moments that I think really make the show. There's one shot that is just like the Smallville shot. You'll see it, and you're like, "This is what we needed in the finale." And you'll know it the second you see it.
Nrama: What can you tell us about Lex's return? Because he seems to be trying to help stop Darkseid with Clark? But we know that he is the villain.Peterson: Right. Well, as we already revealed, we only had Michael for one day. [laughs] So there was only so much we could do with him in the story. We really wanted to keep this Clark's finale. But Lex plays a very interesting role, and there are a couple of big twists with Lex that we did not show you.
Souders: And I think the other thing that's interesting...obviously because Rosenbaum hasn't been on the show for the last couple years, we needed to tie up the last couple of years. And obviously the season, so we had Darkseid looming out there. But for us when we were thinking about Rosenbaum coming back, and our Lex, Smallville Lex, what his purpose was, it was always kind of not quite what you expected. Much more sort of human and emotional than I think any of us starting out the Smallville series would have expected. We really went back to the pilot and we thought, there's the guy who showed up and was totally personable and super sympathetic, and just wanted to thank a guy for saving his life. And so when we looked at having him back in the finale, it was the same thing. They're going to go on to be huge enemies, so what's pivotal in this moment that's our Lex Luthor and our Clark Kent?" And how do we wrap up the relationship that's been so complicated and so mixed with emotions for 10 years?
Nrama: How down to the wire was it, finding out that he was coming back and had you prepared the non-Lex version?
Souders: It was over the wire.
Peterson: It was over the wire. I mean we had published and prepped an entire finale without him in it. Not that we didn't want him. We just thought that was never going to happen. And honestly there were a couple of things that we had planned on planting in the season that we didn't, because we didn't know we were going to have him. So we wrote the scenes...I won't say hurriedly because we spent all weekend writing these big scenes for him, but it did throw some of the other story lines for the season into a bit of a tailspin.
Nrama: The promotions have been showing a lot of Jonathan Kent. Can you give us any explanation about his return?
Souders: Yeah, I think it will become really clear what role Jonathan plays and why he shows up the way he does in this episode. Every time I see certain moments with Jonathan, I definitely get a tear in my eye after all these weeks of watching the footage.
Peterson: We very purposely platformed his role in the finale with what we did in the premiere, in “Lazarus,” and that final scene that Clark has with him in “Lazarus” The whole point was to bookend the final season with Jonathan. So he's introduced in that same type of way.
Nrama: With getting all of the Michael Rosenbaum story in...were there things that you didn't get to that you wanted to?
Souders: Yeah, I think we would have liked to see the JLA more this season. John Jones (Phil Morris) is someone we really wanted to bring back. And I think what it came down to was, the finale had a lot of people in it, and at a certain point you tip the scale and you're not servicing the people that are on screen. But there were a lot of beloved characters that we wanted to see again that we wanted to bring back. But in general we were pretty happy with what we got to do.Peterson: It's always hard when another hero shows up, because every moment that hero is on screen, it takes time away from Clark. By it's nature. The VRA was supposed to be a vehicle to get as many people back as we could, but with the 200th [episode] and Booster (Eric Martsolf) in the finale, our resources were maxed out.
Nrama: What extras are you planning for the DVD set?
Souders: Oh my gosh, this DVD set is insane! I...think it's the biggest one Warner Bros. has ever brought out.
Peterson: It is. I know they've gone back...the whole series...we've seen it. It's really cool looking. They've gone back and they've interviewed people who were on those first seasons with us, like Al (Gough) and Miles (Millar) and there's, I believe...some of the stuff is still in negotiations right now. There is definitely...they did two featurettes that are going to go on this season. One is about fathers....
Nrama: What can you tell the Chloe fans about how you're wrapping her story line? And Oliver...he's been marked.
Peterson: I don't want to give anything away. Alison was doing a play so we got her for half of the show. [laughs] I think there are a lot of different ways people want Chloe to end, and so we, I think, serviced her character in a way that is right for who she was and who she's becoming. And she has one big moment with Clark where we get to see her shine.
Souders: And how she interacts with the overall mythology. And I will say that Chloe fans should definitely stay tuned through the entire show. There's a jewel.
Peterson: Yes, there's a certain thing that we did for her that nobody [else] got.
Nrama: And Oliver?
Peterson: It's hard, because Oliver came in so late in the series, we wanted to service him, but this show is about Clark and Chloe and Martha...it started as one thing and we wanted to end it...he has a big heroic moment, he has a big arc, he has some complications...hopefully people feel satisfied with the little conclusion in the finale.
Souders: You really see what an impact that these heroes coming together has made on him and having Clark as a friend. It's very clear in this episode...it defines that relationship and what it means to both of them. And there's a really great moment and you really see their friendship and that bond, and that's what's going to get them through a lot of hard times in the future.Nrama: Will there be any little flash forwards? Any glimpses of what's coming?
Peterson: That will be answered in the first five minutes of the show.
Nrama: Many fans have been watching since the pilot. Do you feel additional pressure to make sure you get everything in the fans might want versus what the source material said happens in that last two hours?
Peterson: Well the good thing is, we're as big of fans as everyone else...but yes. There is a lot of pressure.
Souders: Yes. To wrap up ten years...just to do a finale every season is literally...it takes everything out of everyone who is working on it. We just collapse. The next day everyone is on planes, trying to get on a beach, as far away as they possibly can...to try and do that for ten years and really wrap up ten years...yeah, there was a lot of pressure.
Peterson: We know we'll never hit everything. It's impossible. I think the finale hits 80 to 90 percent of what everybody is going to want. More than almost any other episode we've done, I think.
Nrama: Can you describe how the final moments of the episode affected you?
Souders: I still get really choked up, just because it feels like there is such a history. And obviously we have such a history with it too. It feels like high school. You're ending a whole period of your life that you know you will never ever get to go back to that just had highs and lows, but was just so spectacular in every way. It just won't ever be duplicated in that same way, so it's pretty emotional.
Peterson: We also didn't just want to do an ending; we wanted to do a beginning a little bit. And so I think what we were aiming for was giving people the emotion of knowing what's to come because the end of this show lines up with every movie, a lot of comic books, a lot of other things. Unlike a lot shows, we know where this story goes. And so it's kind of a handoff to those other pieces of canon and those other pieces of mythology, rather than just an ending.
Well my friends, it's almost time. I have my red and blue tissues at the ready. And if it helps soften the blow, Peterson and Souders told us that there are plans for a comic book to continue the story.
The Smallville two hour series finale airs this Friday at 8/7c on the CW.