Smallville: Finale

Lois: "Now go save the world. I'll be fine."

I absolutely cannot fault the producers of Smallville. They know their show and their audience, and they gave us a huge, jam-packed finale that was the perfect capper for the series and didn't cheat the fans. We got every big moment we've been waiting for, and lots of character moments as well.

Even though I'm sorry we didn't actually see Lois and Clark get married, the scene where they exchanged their wedding vows on either side of the door was just lovely, and possibly their most romantic scene. And I loved Lois's draft with all the proofreading corrections. Lois has always been a favorite of mine from the moment she was introduced back in season four, and this last season finally gave Erica Durance a chance to shine after taking a back seat to Lana Lang for way too long. Thank you, Smallville producers, for not bringing Lana Lang back for the finale. Thank you so much.

And speaking of returns, I'm glad they brought John Schneider back for the end. He was a huge part of the series, and Clark wouldn't be Clark if it hadn't been for Jonathan. It was appropriate that he and Martha (and Jor-El) were the ones to finally "launch" Clark. The lesson Clark finally absorbed – to move on, yes, but to take his past with him – was perfect. But to tell you the truth, Jonathan's ghost being so visible and physically present actually started creeping me out. I almost expected Jonathan to turn out to be a servant of Darkseid.

The Chloe scenes bothered me, too. When she hugged Clark to say goodbye, it felt like she knew something he didn't and was leaving forever for some superhero helmet reason. And would it have been too much to ask that we know for sure that her little boy with the blond hair and toy bow and arrows still has a living father who likes to wear green?

The big effects scenes with Air Force One and the Apocalypse planet (I know I didn't spell it right, too bad) didn't entirely work for me. Maybe it was because we never really saw Tom Welling in The Suit. We saw his face while he was wearing it; we saw him in shadow and in the distance, and flying (finally! at last!) and opening his mild-mannered shirt in the end. But no full frontal. Was that contractual? Or was it just acknowledgement that this is Smallville, not a Superman movie? Honestly, it would have felt more like Smallville if Clark had saved the day in his wedding togs.

Actually, I think my favorite scene, other than the wedding vows through the door and the confrontation in the mansion, was when Clark finally put it all together emotionally, with all those clips of past episodes. (They certainly had a lot of material to pull from.) Which was nicely countered a bit further on when Lex's memories violently dissolved away.

Which brings me to the Luthors.


Lex got a good finale. That last clip with Lex as president-elect was a nice bookend to season one, as well as comic book canon. That scene in the burned out mansion where he and Clark were talking truth was terrific; that alone made bringing back Michael Rosenbaum one last time so very, very worth it. This series has always been about Clark and Lex and their journeys in completely different directions. Michael Rosenbaum's excellent work portraying Lex's tug of war between good and evil was the reason I started reviewing Smallville.

(And that doesn't mean I don't give Tom Welling a lot of credit, because I do. He made the part his own a long time ago, and did some excellent and consistent work throughout the series. Ten years as the leading man in an action series requires superhuman energy and endurance, and I'm not kidding. He should take at least a year off, eat anything he wants, and sleep until noon every day. And maybe he should become a full time director. Tom Welling is a good director.)

Lionel got maybe five minutes of screen time (not enough) but John Glover made the most of it; he managed to inject every possible bit of incestuous menace and maniacal evil into that scene with Tess. I even thought for a moment that he would succeed and take her heart out, he was that good. And then later, he was the human face of Darkseid for maybe thirty seconds. I'd thought that was one of the reasons they brought him back, but it should have been for more than thirty seconds. John Glover made evil fun. It wouldn't have been right to end the series without him.

Tess as a character finally clicked in for me this past season, and I was sad to see her die. It helped that she found redemption. I cheered when she killed Lionel. (Both of his kids killed Lionel. How many fathers can say that?) And I hated that Lex killed her. Her last act was to protect Clark by brainwiping Lex. It had to be why she went to Luthorcorp and confronted Lex in the first place, and it was a heroic way to go out. Cassidy Freeman, I hereby apologize for all the times I ragged on you. Although it was more about the writing of your character than your acting.

Bits and pieces:

— There were a number of homages to the Superman movies: the comic book, Air Force One, the iconic John Williams music.

— The gold K in the wedding ring subplot was cool. But did Lois and Clark really have to wait seven years to get married secretly?

— The wedding chapel looked a lot like the barn. Frankly, it should have been the barn.

— Martha never intended that Clark sell the farm. Too late, since it was in escrow? They didn't tell us.

— Was that Michael McKean's voice as Perry White? I assume it was. Aaron Ashmore as the original Jimmy's little brother was a nice touch, but a little creepy.

— I am not going to address the astronomical impossibilities of Darkseid's planet getting so close to Earth that it started taking out buildings. This is comic book, after all.

— Whatever happened to Shelby the dog?

Guest stars

In ten seasons, Smallville has had an unbelievable number of guest stars. I thought it would be fun to mention just a few of our favorites. Forgive me if I miss a few, because I didn't even check the one-time guest star list. Feel free to post them.

— Christopher Reeve, Margot Kidder, Terence Stamp, and Helen Slater. And Annette O'Toole (Superman movies)

— Dean Cain and Teri Hatcher (Lois & Clark)

— Jensen Ackles for an entire season (Supernatural)

— Sam Witwer, Alessandro Juliani, Rekha Sharma, Tahmoh Penikett, Lorena Gale, Aaron Douglas and Michael Hogan (Battlestar Galactica)

— Ian Somerhalder, who almost got to be Bruce Wayne, and Paul Wesley, who actually played a Luthor (Vampire Diaries)

— Alaina Huffman, Elyse Levesque, Michael Shanks, Teryl Rothery (Stargate)

— Laura Vandervoort (V)

— James Marsters (Buffy)

— Joe Morton, Erica Cerra and Chris Gauthier (Eureka)

— Brian Austin Green (Terminator: TSCC)

— Evangeline Lilly (Lost)

— Kyle Gallner (Veronica Mars)

— Jane Seymour, Pam Grier, Robert Picardo, Michael Ironside, and Rutger Hauer (general coolness)

I'm glad I hung in there for the final season. Not every moment of the finale worked for me, but for the sake of symmetry... four out of four wedding rings,

Billie
---
Billie Doux had a love-hate relationship with Smallville, which is why some of her reviews are briefer than they should be.

27 comments:

Josie Kafka said...

Billie, congratulations on finishing your Smallville reviews. 217 episodes! Way to go!

Paul Kelly said...

I blubbed at the scenes with Martha and Jonathan. I blubbed at the scenes with Lois and Clark. I blubbed when the John Williams music kicked in at the end. I then tried to open a CD which came through the post, slipped and jabbed myself in the (already sore) eye with my thumb. All in all, my eyes have had a shocking day.

Thanks for sticking with reviewing Smallville, Billie. It wouldn't have been the same without you. Plus, it all turned out all right in the end, yeah? Lex, Lionel, Chloe... and no Lana. It's like wish fulfilment ;o)

Mark Greig said...

Like Josie and Paul already said, congratulations on finishing ten seasons of reviews, Billie. Feel like we should all chip in and get you a cake or something.

Austin said...

What was up with the suit? That felt incredibly...anti-climatic. Why couldn't they show him in full Superman outfit? And Darkseid was defeated in like 5 seconds? I don't know...it felt like they rushed through the finale, but at the same time, drug it along with the totally unnecessary wedding sequence. And don't get me started on the CGI. Really, CW, the finale of Smallville and you couldn't pony out some dough?

I can only give this 1 Superman cape out of 4.

Itsik said...

I think they didn't do a very good job with finale. I expected a lot more.
For start - The Suit. come on, we've been waiting for 10 years for this. A lousy CGI from miles away does not feel right.
Even though I was not a Lana fan (they dragged this WAY too long), she should have gotten a spot in the finale. She played a large role in Clark's life.
What about the Justice League members? After all they did to help Clark become who he is, none of them appeared in the finale.

And finally, something was wrong with the timing and flow of the episode. For 40 minutes they dragged the whole "wedding/on/off" thing, then they dragged the whole "moving on/lettin go" thing, and it looks like at that point some writer remembered there is a world crisis at hand, but with only 10 minutes remaining had to wrap everything up very quickly.

So eventually, I think they could have given us a better ending for a show we spent 10 years watching.

Billie Doux said...

I absolutely get the negative comments. I didn't love the finale as much as I wanted to, for reasons I mentioned in my review. I looked around at other reviews a bit, and it's clear to me that the biggest gripe is that after ten years, we didn't really get to see Tom Welling in the costume.

The reason for that seems obvious, though. They are, at this very minute, casting a new Superman movie, and Smallville was never legally allowed to show flights and tights. No one could have expected the series to go ten seasons, and after ten, the fans had every right to expect the tights and flights, even though we were never supposed to get them. I am fairly certain that legally, the producers had two options -- to show Tom in the costume only from a distance, or to not show him in the costume at all -- and they chose the first option. If they'd chosen the second, fans would have felt completely cheated, instead of only partially.

Personally, as I already said, I would have preferred seeing Clark defeat Darkseid while wearing his wedding clothes. And now that I've thought about it a bit, I also would have been happy with just the shot of him opening his shirt at the end, too.

natedagreat said...

I think the reason why they didnt show the costume was that the costume they did use was Brandon Routh's from superman returns and the suit must have been tailored to only fit him and tom was not able to fit into it

Nick said...

Well, I just have to say thanks firstly, for sticking with this show all the way till the end - and I think it's been worth it.

- For everyone disappointed about the suit, no point in complaining because Billie's right. It's a legal issue. It was either that or not at all. I can't say I'm happy about it too but still the people behind the show gave us as much as they could with the suit, and I appreciate that fully. (Though I may go so far as to say that since the show was technically 'Smallville', being, err, 'subtle' about the costume maybe sorta worked in a weird way. But still).

Sure there are nitpicks. Wasn't a perfect episode. Darkseid and his minions were taken care of way too easily. They could've had Clark struggle just a *little* bit pushing an entire PLANET far off. And so on. But you know what? You're absolutely right about the 4/4 because still it delivered just about everything that they've promised, and even more.

We got the suit, and Tom Welling in it. (Sorta). We got great resolutions on the character - I think the rest of us were *just* as sad to see Tess go. Great writing. Michael Rosenbaum. Spectacular. And even a little more Lionel Luthor. And, of course, Jonathan and Martha Kent, sending Clark off. We even got the music! As an episode it may have been weak on the action, but I'd rather have the resolution than better action, and it totally worked for me.

Thanks, again :)

Dimitri A.C. Ly said...

Congratulations on finishing Smallville, Billie!

I didn't mind the suit thing, probably because I haven't waited 10 years for it.

Having said that, I wish I liked this as much as the fans. As someone who didn't follow the series until recently, I got bored and then terribly antsy during all the emotional stuff (did we really need the same wedding vows read to us three times?). Too much talky, not enough showy.

What I find weird is that, if you replace last week's "Lois gets cold feet" cliffhanger with the shot of Apokolips approaching Earth, you could get rid of the first hour without it affecting the plot in any way.

I have a question for anyone who paid better attention than I did: why did Lois and Clark have to wait seven years to get married?

Oh, and, for anyone interested, a really interesting version of the whole Superman, Lex, Darkseid conflict is the series finale of Justice League Unlimited. It touches on the same themes, but goes to a completely different place with them. I wanted something more akin to that.

Nick said...

^I guess that their wedding didn't 'count', the first time, so they had it put off...I get what you mean, but I suppose since Clark went super-public with the suit and all after that, it'd be even more noticeable if he kept his mild-mannered persona and married Lois Lane. So they're doing it secretly (as to why seven years, I have absolutely no idea...)

Well, the emotional parts were really well written and honestly speaking, some pretty good dialogue considering the cheesy cheese I'm used to hearing on the show. But I agree it was drawn out perhaps a little too much and cutting out the wedding jitters would've not made Clark's development less significant, or different.

The Darkseid plot is actually a subplot, I just realised. We've gotten used to a central villain defining the direction of the season that we assumed Darkseid would fill that part. But after watching all the fragmented, not to mention insubstantial, Darkseid bits (which make up less than half the season I think) then it hit me that season 10 really IS about Clark's development, so rather than the episodes advancing the Darkseid plot, it advanced Clark instead. Now I won't say that it means it's alright that they neglected it, but I mean that criticising it on the basis of 'the plot didn't go right' isn't very useful because I don't believe the writers were even going for that in the first place.

How about a season review, Billie? A look-back on the last season? I do believe it's to be taken as a whole :)

Billie Doux said...

I appreciate the suggestion, Nick -- but I think I'm done with Smallville.

Nick said...

Haha fair enough. 200+ episodes is no little thing, after all. Congrats again!

Mark said...

The meeting between Lex and Clark had me thinking of Mr. Glass (Unbreakable) instead of a Luthor. But any Rosenbaum is better than no Rosenbaum.

Peter said...

Thanks for everything Billie - I started reading your site ONLY because of Smallville and now it's on my Favorites List.

My wife picked up right away that Chloe was reading to little Oliver (didn't that actor look just like him as a kid?). Chloe had on her wedding ring and she made a call to Oliver at the end (didn't she?).

What was up with Oliver slaying the Darkseid Trio with one shot and little explanation? But even that was forgivable.

I like the homage to Pete and the original Torch Gang in the comic book drawing although I would have liked to see Pete make a cameo. Also there could have been justice league hero cameos as well (after all wasn't anyone else trying to solve the planet issue?)

That was Michael McKean's voice - guess it would cost too much to show his face?

The montage peices were very Disney-esque (like an EPCOT presentation). All in all very satisfying finale.

Michael Colvin said...

Just saw the episode - what a great review Billie. I've read all of your Smallville reviews now and kuddos to you for finishing (because I know you were going to abandon for a while). It's been a fun ride indeed!

Jerry Modene said...

I wasn't aware of any legalities that blocked them showing Welling in the Suit, but that makes sense.

I also remember reading, some years ago, though, an interview with one of the producers saying "We will never show Tom in the Suit".

So with those two things in mind, I'm glad we got to see as much as we did.

The finale was well done, I thought, but I have to admit I never really got into the concept of the show - mainly because I'm still resistant to the notion of "Cool Clark".

Mark Evanier, in his articles, has written about this better than I could ever hope to, but I agree with his premise that the appeal of Clark Kent was that he was the ultimate picked-upon nerdy guy who, "if they only knew", was actually the most powerful being on the planet. Who among us hasn't had that same fantasy? But when Clark Kent turned cool (which really started when he became a TV anchorman in 1971 and reached fruition with the Byrne reboot in 1986), we lost that, and it's become harder for us to identify with him.

Heck, in some ways, Clark Kent has become even cooler than Superman. ;)

Anonymous said...

I can only assume you were somehow financially compensated for this good review. Because as far as I am concerned, they couldn't have picked a better way of giving the fans a big "screw you" then they did with this finale. If I didn't know better, I would have assumed that they let a group of half-witted bad fan fiction writer's write and direct the finale...

I only got one word left to sum this series up from the start of season 7 to the finale.

lame...

ChrisB said...

I thought this finale was just wonderful, for so many of the reasons that you mention, Billie, but I will mention my top three.

(1) I choose to see the scene at the door as Lois and Clark's wedding. It was at that moment that they chose to commit their lives to each other; the rest is just details. As you say, it was just lovely and I choked up through it.

(2) The return of all the people that mattered (no Lana, yippee!), but especially Lex. The scenes where first Clark then he had flashes of the past were so well done and were a great reminder of the past ten years on the show. And, while we didn't actually see them all together, I believe that Chloe got her happy ending. The arrows and the wedding rings are what I focused on.

Each of the important characters had a fitting send-off, and each had his or her moment to shine. It couldn't have been easy to make it all work.

(3) The very last scene, iconic Superman, with the fumbling, the running, the opening of the shirt and the music. I had a huge grin on my face throughout.

Billie, congratulations on ten years of reviews. I loved reading them and they added a whole new dimension to a show that I already loved. Thanks for doing them.

Billie Doux said...

Thanks so much for all of the great comments, ChrisB. You're sort of amazing.

Rish said...

I'd just like to comment on your Chloe statement. I think she was sort of giddy because she knew that this was the day Clark would finally make it.

Anonymous said...

1. The CGI on this show was always terrible.
2. I think the cape was annoyingly short.
3. I don't think they could have made a better ending.
Great reviews, no one I know watches Smallville and its been great for me to come back and reflect here at this site.
Probably will never forgets this show.

Anonymous said...

Hi Billie: I don't know if you ever check these comments any more (five years later). But - in case you do - I wanted to let you know: my family and I just finished watching the finale of Smallville on DVD. It took us about a year to watch the series, and we have enjoyed every minute of it (even the excruciating Lana in the barn moments). At some point, I found your reviews and we made it part of the family ritual to watch an episode and then "see what Billie (and sometimes Dan) thought." My daughters think you're hilarious and clever, and we agree with you on almost everything. My husband (also a major comic book fan) was also always glad to hear Dan's contributions. So, thanks for contributing to our own very small fan community!

Billie Doux said...

Hi, Anonymous: We read every comment, and I'm glad because I get to read wonderful comments like yours. Thank you so much for taking a moment to post it. I'll pass it on to Dan, too. :)

Anonymous said...

I really liked Smallville in the beginning as it was about Lex and Clark. Their friendship - which we knew would eventually sour. The problem is: it was drawn out too long and eventually Michael got bored and left. They should have done five years in Smallville and then re-named the show as Metropolis. That way we could have seen Lex and Clark become enemies and we would have seen Clark become Superman. Lois was brought in far too early, as was Supergirl, due to spending too many years in Smallville. What started out as as intriguing (with Clark and Lex) became tedious and sadly dwindled into nothing.

Darren said...

Tom never wanted to wear the suit, knowing what that meant for his career if he did. He only agreed to wearing only the shirt portion. So only a piece of the suit was actually seen, the shirt portion. The suit that we got on the show was only on set for a day, arrived from LA via armed guard, shots were taken of all angles to use for the future CGI composites and Welling wore the piece we saw for the final scene and that was that.

Another reason was contractual restrictions between the WBTV and the WB feature film divisions. Since there was going to be another Superman film soon those rights were tied up, another thing could have been the legal battles the Shuster and Siegel heirs were having with Warner Bros. and DC Comics, since Warner had no idea if they were going to keep Superman around, they probably wanted their TV division to pay out the ass for the usage of the suit on TV, hence why the blurred cgi capes was a thing.

zooey said...

RE: why did Lois and Clark have to wait seven years to get married?

I reckon it's a reflection of the amount of time that the showrunners and writers took to build/botch up Lois and Clark's relationship (since she was introduced in season 4).

Smallville as a series loved to do callbacks to somehow convince viewers that storylines were well-thought out and come full circle even though most of the time they kinda feel forced or tacked in. Some of them work but most of them don't. It is what it is.

Anonymous said...

I got into these reviews while powering through season 3 and then read all of the previous ones and then began following along every time I watched an episode.
This was a perfect companion piece.