"You are as dead to me as my son." -- Major Zod (Callum Blue)
"Kandor" kicks off with a very Kryptonian-centric recap before we're taken to the doomed planet of Clark's birth at the Kandorian border -- only it's 20 years before its destruction. Inoculations seem to be taking place in the midst of a battle scene, but in fact a medic is taking blood samples of Kandorian soldiers, including Zod and some familiar soldiers of his, civil-warring against Black Zero. Right before taking Zod's sample, the medic is interrupted by none other than Jor-El (Julian Sands), who wants all the samples taken under his care. The medic balks at this saying that he's under orders from the High Council, but Zod defends Jor-El's actions as the planet's greatest scientist, assuming it's for the best. Jor-El says the blood's intended for a destructive purpose (Doomsday, maybe?) when his original experiments were for a more noble intentions. But no sooner does Zod then rally his troops then an epic blast stops them all in their tracks. Peering up from a protective trench, Zod and Jor-El witness the city of Kandor aflame in a massive mushroom cloud. Jor-El shields Zod when the blast reaches them, and Zod calls out for his son now presumed lost to the city's destruction. This incident serves as a flashback for Major Zod as we're whisked back to the present day and Zod's again rallying troops, only now in Metropolis in his hideout. Assuring them that they have no memories of Kandor because, unlike him, they gave their blood for a soldier-cloning project, he gives them their mission to find Jor-El there in the city, capture him, and then use him to reclaim their powers in order to create a new Kandor on Earth. Zod assumes that the person responsible the the El family symbol finding its way all over the city after some public superheroic acts is Jor-El when in fact it's Clark Kent, Zod not knowing that Kal-El is really "the Blur," never mind that a whole other Kryptonian he's unfamiliar with is there on Earth.
Returning from credits and commercial, Chloe is busy as a bee at the Watchtower, pursuing all kinds of clues on the Kandorians. Clark pops in, wondering along with Chloe why Lois Lane made a hasty retreat out of town and he shares with Chloe that he finally kissed her cousin (Erica Durance as Lois, taking this episode off). Chloe is pleasantly surprised that Clark finally made a move after all this time, but not so much that Lois bailed. She assures Clark that Lois can panic when faced with intimacy and that it's probably not a big deal. What is, though, is their search for Kandorian refugees. Chloe's got some leads, knowing that Tess Mercer is already on the case and that she's got teams combing the Turkish deserts where symbols were found. Oliver Queen, per Chloe's request, arrives in just in time to offer Clark a first-class ride, even though Clark wants to go it alone. Elsewhere Tess is in her limo on a call to her folks in Turkey, not happy with their lack of results. Wrapping up her call, she's in a remote area in the city during the day to meet with Zod. Sort of complimenting her for even being there in the first place after his agent failed to get info out of her (seen in "Crossfire"), he's gazing upon one of the Blur's calling cards on the side of a nearby building. He tells her what he wants, the Blur, under the assumption that it's Jor-El, and in return he will grant her that alliance she initially hoped for last season when the Kandorians were freed (Season 8's finale). Blowing him off, she assures him that she's already on it.
Cassidy Freeman as Tess have been de-lish. And the chemistry she has with Callum Blue as Zod. They're absolutely radiating sexual tension.
Clark, Chloe and Oliver convene at the Watchtower and she replays surveillance footage at the barn showing what Jor-El did for her safety. Clark's not to keen on camera's at his barn that he was unaware of, but Chloe assures him that it was a preventative measure after Doomsday tore the place up during her wedding to Jimmy. Realizing full well that the intruders were those of Tess, Oliver and Chloe fail to convince an upset Clark that he would be unwise to confront her at the mansion as enraged as he is. He speeds off before they blink. Back at a hideout of theirs, Zod's troops drag in Jor-El where he finally confronts his "old friend." Demanding their powers restored, we're taken to another flashback where we get to see how Jor-El finalizes the orb. In a laboratory looking a whole lot like something in the North Pole Fortress, the last remaining step is for Zod and Jor-El to donate their own DNA. Sneaking a moment alone, Zod offers a lock of his late son's hair (a keepsake he happened to have before Kandor's destruction) in hopes that he can be cloned for the orb as well. Jor-El is reluctant because the science is not exact and there could be mutations and complications, not to mention ethical implications. Turns out that Jor-El's refusal to do this one last favor is what kills their friendship. Quickly back to the present where Zod tries to convince Jor-El to restore their powers by way of a beating, Jor-El says he compromised the orb with blue kryptonite so that the Kandorians could not have enough power to take over the Earth. Zod being sure that there's still a way to regain their powers, Jor-El informs him that his original version was responsible for Krypton's destruction in a military uprising. Expressing sympathy and understanding about losing his son, Zod deduces that Jor-El's own son is their on Earth and now he has a whole new mission for his former friend.
Clark storms Tess' mansion demanding to know where his father is. She plays the unknowing innocent, but Clark hoists her in the air by her throat, and with that she now knows once and for all that he's as Kryptonian as the rest. Not really concerning himself with that at the moment, Clark demands help finding Jor-El and she reveals that a tracking device was on the super-suit she outfitted Jor-El with. They find his location and that he's back at the farm to where Clark makes a speedy exit. A distance away from the farm, Clark finds Jor-El, staggering and bloody, clearly Zod and his team mortally wounded Krypton's greatest scientific mind. Sadly, Clark only gets "this Jor-El"'s dying words of encouragement as he passes away in his son's arms. Later on at the farmhouse, Oliver (not doing a whole lot in "Kandor" aside from playing Han Solo the pilot to Clark's Luke Skywalker on a mission of hope) visits Clark to assure him that his father died a hero, protecting Chloe and guarding his secret, and lets him know that this future Man of Steel has the backup of a certain Emerald Archer. A grateful Clark tells him that he's going to need it very soon. Meanwhile Chloe reviews the surveillance tapes and sees that Jor-El recovered some Kryptonian technology while at the farm.
"Kandor" concludes with Clark giving his father a burial at a remote Smallville area by a pond, using his heat vision to burn an El family crest into a headstone. He says aloud to his father that while he may have known a noble, decent man named Zod back on their ill-fated home planet, this Kandorian on Earth is not that person. Clark is clearly hankering for sweet justice, failing to notice that Zod is smugly watching this all in the distance, now knowing the identity of the real last son of Krypton.
So Smallville viewers, was "Kandor" an exciting family reunion for you? Was Julian Sands as Jor-El, finally making his first true appearance on the show -- only taking nine seasons to do so -- a satisfying means of seeing Superman's father in the flesh? Was it disappointing that in a way this was not THE Jor-El, at least the one who's put Kal-El through the paces on Earth after saving his son from Krypton's destruction a couple of decades earlier? With everything they've effectively presented, like with Krypton in flashbacks and scenes reminiscent of the decades-old films featuring Christopher Reeve, Marlon Brando and Terence Stamp, does Smallville have what it takes to propel itself into a genuine Superman movie?