Has it really been 10 years and 200 episodes of SMALLVILLE? Wow, yeah it has been—and what a trip. Ten years, two networks (the late WB, and its co-joined twin the CW), departures and additions in cast, changes in setting, turn-overs in producers and writers. It’s real survivor in genre TV terms, a show with an unusual amount of history.
Using Clark Kent’s (Tom Welling) five-year Smallville High class reunion was a great way to reference and visit some of that history, and also (hopefully) point the way to the future.
Lois Lane (Eric Durance) has to badger a depressed and self-doubting Clark to attend, and she has some cause to regret that, as no one seems to remember her from the not-quite five weeks she attended. She’s a little put out, but she also fears that she’s reviving memories that are making Clark even less happy.
During the dance, in which Clark has been miserably made the center of attention as Homecoming King (the dead-eyed, depressed look on Welling face is priceless), what at first appears to be his enemy Brainiac (James Marsters) appears, stopping time for all but them. This however is Brainiac 5, the good-guy version of 31st century, free of whatever corrupting influence that set him on the wrong path. He wants to help Clark put his own feet back on track as well.
Brainiac 5 shows Clark Kent some of the things that have blocked him from becoming the person he wants to be; his guilt from the past, his inability to let go, his fear of the future. He shows him that he did not directly cause his father’s (John Schneider in flashback) death in some kind of time-travel Russian Roulette, but that Jonathan Kent chose to protect Clark, even at the cost of his own survival. In many ways, since then Clark has blamed himself for every misfortune that has befallen anyone close to him.
The emissary from the future also opens his eyes to the harm he is inadvertently doing to his friends by distancing himself from them. Oliver Quinn is distraught, really needing Clark’s emotional support after revealing to the world his identity as Green Arrow, shaken that his friend apparently won’t return his calls. It never occurred to Clark that that was even a possibility.
He’s shown Lois’ vulnerable side exposed, distraught that she really doesn’t know if they still have a relationship or future. (The character she’s talking to says Lois is the moth, not the flame, a humiliating if apt comparision.)
Best of all, however, is that Clark Kent winds up in the future, and finds confirmation that he can inded become one of the world’s protectors, and that his life need not leave him a bleak and lonely figure, always apart from the humanity he wants to serve.
In very amusing and touching scenes he’s by turns agitated, confused and pleased that he and Lois Lane seem to be together and on intimate terms at the Daily Planet, and that’s she knows his secret. Sent off to the elevator by an affectionate if somewhat scattered Lois, he hears a familiar voice say: “She’s a handful, isn’t she?” And turns to see himself, seven years older —Clark Kent in glasses, slicked back hair and a trenchcoat.
Tom Welling does a great job here, playing a younger and slightly petulant Clark, while his “Mr. Kent” is confident and forceful, giving the impression that he’s both coolly amused and a touch exasperated at his past self. It’s good (and implied planned) that younger Clark is there in 2017, because a massive A-Bomb-like explosion goes off, sending a red and blue blur the future knows as Superman off to deal with that menace, while Clark is “ordered” to the roof.
There, in a scene that echoes SUPERMAN: The Movie, Clark saves Lois and her pilot from their out-of-control helicopter. She knocks out the pilot to preserve Clarks secret ID, and rewards him with a passionate and familiar kiss.
Back in Smallville Present, courtesy of Brainiac 5, Clark is finally able to let go of his father’s death, and symbolically bury the past. Feeling Lois was short-changed of their dance at the reunion, Clark sets up the Kent barn for a dance, and with confidence he quiets her fears and need to complicate matters. He tells her he loves her, she admits she loves him, and without music, they sway together—no they float, up off the floor. And if they don’t notice in the moment, we do.
So many things went right in this episode, and that was a real gift to viewers, letting us know that no matter how the many twist and turns there might be on the road from SMALLVILLE to Metropolis, the characters will end up at their final destination.
The CW Network
Directed by Jeannot Szwarc, written by series producers Brian Peterson and Kelly Souders. A Warner Brothers Television production.