I admit, I wasn’t a Smallville fan from the beginning. I didn’t even follow along for the first few seasons. It wasn’t until the last few years — post-Lex, actually — that I started watching more frequently. But there was no way I was going to miss the finale that promised the flights and tights we had been denied for so long with Clark. And well, in the end, the Smallville finale made me happy, mad and a little sad. Spoilers, of course, are on the way.
When it came to Smallville, I usually tuned in when I knew another superhero was going to be a guest-star. Just to see what the creators would do with him or her. For some reason, this version of Clark just didn’t do it for me. I like my superheroes to be in the thick of things already, not learning how to fly as it were. And plus, let’s face it, even the most die-hard Smallville fans can admit the show was downright goofy at times. Remember when Tori Spelling showed up? Actually, let’s not even go there. Though I wasn’t a fanatic about Smallville, the finale definitely brought out some strong feelings in me.
The finale was good. That’s the best way to describe it. It certainly wasn’t great (I don’t see it landing on any Best Finale lists anytime soon) but it wasn’t bad. With two hours allotted to the show, a lot needed to be covered. The main, looming threat this season was Darkseid, his minions and their control upon humanity. Now, as far as I can tell, besides the humans who were overtaken by Granny Goodness, Desaad and the Glorious Godfrey, no civilians were actually affected by this “dark side.” There weren’t more murders or robberies happening, in fact, there was so little for Clark to do he had time to plan a wedding with Lois.
Ah. The wedding.
Do you remember Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman? On that show, attempts of the couple to get married became a running gag with their actual nuptials taking place in an episode titled, “Swear to God, This Time We’re Not Kidding,” during the fourth and final season (although early on that season). While that may have worked for that series, I expected Smallville to develop beyond the clichéd “disaster prevents the wedding,” and to actually get on with the story. Lois having doubts about taking precious time away from Clark saving lives is certainly a valid point, but it took away our precious time. Did we need the whole first hour of the finale to convince her otherwise? And couldn’t they have just, I don’t know, gotten married. Why they still haven’t gotten married seven years later is ridiculous too. No one is that busy.
Can we talk for a minute about the severe lack of Chloe in the finale? Like I said, I didn’t watch much of the early seasons but I know that Chloe was an integral part of this series and regardless of Alison Mack’s previous acting engagements (they only had her for a day), she should have had a larger role. I mean, the Matron of Honor? She came back to be the Matron of Honor? Oh yes, and slap away a gold kryptonite ring. Let’s not forget that. Her bookends were sweet (as well as product placement goodness!) but even those were way too paltry. “Hello supposed child of Chloe and Oliver Queen! Where’s your daddy?!” I can understand Lana not showing up as she was Clark’s love and definitely part of his past at this point, but Chloe deserved more.
One of the other things about the first half of the episode that I thought was odd was the return of Jonathan Kent. What was actually going on there? Was he an actual ghost, some sort of projection from Jor-El or was Clark actually going a wee bit crazy when he saw dear old dad? I get wanting him around for the finale but I felt like the creators gave Clark his closure with his dad a few episodes earlier when he got to speak with a living, breathing, alternate dimension Jonathan. It seemed to be, pardon the expression, beating a dead horse.
Speaking of dead, man did those Apokolips characters go down without a fight! Granny, Desaad and Godfrey killed with a simple arrow from Oliver? Give me a break. Plus, they exploded. They were real people weren’t they? I thought Darkseid’s essence just possessed them. But it was Darkseid himself who got the shortest end of the stick. Actually, we got the shortest end of the stick by not getting to see Darkseid truly come to life in front of us. Instead, he just possessed the corpse of Lionel Luthor (this reminded me of the smoke monster from Lost by the way) and poof! Gone just like that when Clark flew into him. Are you kidding me? I was waiting for the fight of the decade and got bupkis.
And now I’m really gonna be “that guy.” We didn’t actually get to see Clark, standing, in the full Superman costume. I’m not entirely sure but I’m pretty sure most of his flying scenes were completely CGI so Tom Welling didn’t need to be in it for that. Other than that, well, we sort of got a over the shoulder shot, a neck up shot and the classic open the shirt shot at the very end. Would it have killed them to give us Clark standing still in the full costume? We waiting this long after all, why hold back?
The last thing that bugged me (I swear, I did like some of it!) about the Smallville finale was the John Williams score being used. For a show that scoffed at and bended many parts of Superman’s legacy they sure did rely on everyone’s nostalgic memories of the Richard Donner films to ensure we got that warm, fuzzy feeling at the end, didn’t they? It felt like a big cheat to me. I think Clark flying, in the suit and saving the day would have been enough on its own to give everyone that epic moment they were looking for.
For all my complaints, there were things I really did like about the finale. First off, I think all the actors delivered wonderful performances. No one in particular stood out but they did the finale justice. I did like the jump in time at the end to see how things were playing out in the not-too-distant future. Besides the marriage thing, it was nice to see the Superman “norm” playing out. (Yah! Jimmy!!) Nostalgia issues aside, I was still very happy Clark finally got to fly and that we heard the classic music (What can I say? I’m a sucker like the rest of you). Even though I was sad to see her go, Tess’ death was a high point for me as well. She was always in a tough position on the show but her character’s path ending this way almost seemed like the inevitable road.
Tess’ death actually brought about one of my other favorite parts of the finale — Lex getting mind-wiped. Sure, it was a classic, silly Smallville plot device (that forget-me-sludge would make a killing on the open market) but it corrected a big issue in Superman lore and helped put Lex on his correct path. I actually expected a much wider mind-wipe to happen near the end, making not only Lex but perhaps everyone else on Earth forget that Clark Kent was really the Blur. After all, a lot of people are privy to that valuable information. (“Hey, I went to high school with that guy!”) Another highlight for me was when Jor-El showed Clark visions of his past “trials.” It went on a tad too long for my taste but it was a fond look down memory lane. And as disappointed as I was that we didn’t get full-on super suit, I’d still love to see Welling play Superman again. Watching him save Air Force One and look at Lois through the window felt like one of the truest moments for the actor and the character.
I can’t say I’m going to particularly miss Smallville but I will look back on it fondly and hope that Warner Bros. and DC continue their superhero work on the small screen. I’m hoping for a more traditional telling next time though.