Well, the time has come. The Smallville series finale is upon us. Some are happy to see it go, others (like myself) will miss it terribly, and still others could swear it ended five years ago. Regardless, millions will tune in for what fans are calling “The End of the Beginning” tonight at 8/7c on the CW. But what if you haven’t watched the show since before Clark Kent even had a Fortress of Solitude? Or if you’ve never seen an episode at all? What if there was a series recap that gave you a complete guide to everything you needed to know going into the finale? That would be the best article ever, wouldn’t it? Well, hold on to your capes, because you’re about to experience 10 years of Smallville in about 10 minutes!
MAJOR SPOILERS for Smallville follow!
Season 1: Strange Visitor
The first season sets up a decade-long hero’s journey. Clark Kent is an average high school kid with not-so-average abilities. His parents, Jonathan and Martha Kent, are the foundation of his life, along with close friends Pete Ross and Chloe Sullivan. When he saves the life of billionaire Lex Luthor, a new friendship is born, and over time he even befriends his secret crush Lana Lang. We learn that the same meteor shower that brought Clark to Earth also rained a ton of Kryptonite on the little town of Smallville, Kansas. These radioactive pieces of his home, while lethal to him, give humans powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men. Feeling responsible for the sometimes terrible deeds committed by the “Meteor Freaks”, Clark takes it upon himself to fight the good fight.
Season 2: Last Son
Digging deeper into his origins, Clark discovers that he is Kal-El from the planet Krypton and even learns to read the language of his people with the help of Dr. Virgil Swann (played by Christopher Reeve). Along the way, he gains some classic powers and continues fighting the threat of Kryptonite-infected villains. Meanwhile, he lets Pete in on his secret and begins an on-again, off-again relationship with Lana that will eat away at the sanity of fans for years to come.
Season 3: Destiny
After embracing his dark side and going into exile, Clark returns home in search of a purpose. He wants to know why his father Jor-El sent him to Earth. Was he meant to be a man of peace, or a mighty conqueror? Lex’s father Lionel Luthor tries to harness the healing properties of Clark’s blood in an effort to cure himself of a rare, terminal liver disease, but to no avail. When Lex discovers that Lionel murdered his own parents, Lionel conspires to have his son institutionalized and subjected to electroshock therapy to wipe his memory. At season’s end, Lionel tries to kill everyone and their mother, and Jor-El compels Clark to completely embrace his Kryptonian identity and leave behind the people he loves.
Season 4: Search for Self
When Kal-El returns from Jor-El‘s Soul Searching Summer Camp, he is completely devoid of his Clark Kent personality, but he can finally fly, so it sort of evens out. A young woman by the name of Lois Lane (who happens to be Chloe’s cousin) finds the confused Kal-El and manages to get him to Martha, who sets him straight with some Black Kryptonite. Good old Clark is back and Earthbound once again. Lex and Clark’s friendship begins to undergo strain, Chloe learns Clark’s secret, and a 17th century witch possesses Lana’s body (you know, because that happens every day in small-town America) in search of three mysterious relics which, when united, are said to unlock vast amounts of knowledge. It takes several months and a good amount of bloodshed, but the stones are finally brought together right in time for a second Kryptonite meteor shower to hit Smallville and completely ruin Clark’s high school graduation. When the stones are put together, they create the Fortress of Solitude, a crystal palace in the Yukon where Clark and Jor-El can talk man-to-man.
Season 5: Growing Up
Real life finally catches up with Clark. No longer in high school, he starts going to college, enters a very adult relationship with Lana, and continues fighting the forces of evil to move a step closer to his destiny. Chloe becomes Clark’s number one confidant. A number of other super-powered heroes begin to make their way into Clark’s life, giving him hope. Jonathan runs for State Senate against Lex and wins, but tragedy strikes when he dies of heart failure on the night of his election. Clark mourns his father’s death and deals with the losses of Lex as a friend and Lana as a lover. All the while, the evil Kryptonian computer known as BrainIAC has been masquerading as Clark’s college professor Milton Fine and making preparations for the arrival of Krypton’s greatest villain: General Zod!
Season 6: Truth & Justice
The entire planet grinds to a halt, people begin rioting in the streets, and Clark has been banished to the Phantom Zone. Zod is here! Sure, he’s in the body of Lex, but he’s still Zod! Clark quickly releases himself from the Zone and sees that Zod is locked up there once again, but the damage is done: he’s accidentally allowed several criminals to escape with him from the Zone. Though he should be at the Fortress completing his training with Jor-El, he sees it as his duty to hunt down and imprison the escaped Zoners before he does anything else. Lana marries Lex [DRAMA!!] and Lois begins dating billionaire playboy Oliver Queen, who secretly parades the streets at night as the Green Arrow! In a landmark episode, Clark and Oliver are joined by Aquaman, Impluse, and Cyborg to take down Lex and his evil Level 33.1 facilities, where he is gathering superpowered individuals for inhumane testing and experimentation.
Season 7: Heroes & Villains
Clark’s DNA gets mutated, creating a Bizarro version of himself. Kara Zor-El, Clark’s cousin, arrives on Earth expecting to take care of him, but instead he teaches her several valuable lessons and helps her adjust to life in Smallville. Clark and Lana give their relationship an honest try, but she eventually leaves town completely breaking Clark’s heart. Chloe is fired after three years at the Daily Planet, while Lois begins a new career there. Lex goes on an obsessive chase for someone called “The Traveller,” who turns out to be none other than Clark himself. He murders Lionel and then leaves Clark to die as the Fortress collapses around him.
Season 8: Doomsday
Lex and Clark have gone missing, Chloe has been kidnapped, but most importantly, Lois is a brunette now. Wait…sorry, wrong article. Tess Mercer is promoted to CEO of LuthorCorp and spearheads the search for Lex while a merry band of superheroes look for Clark. Once he’s recovered, Clark tries to settle down with his new job at the Daily Planet, but ominous signs begin appearing. Davis Bloome, a well-meaning, charismatic paramedic, begins to realize that he is both man and beast; more Mr. Hyde than Dr. Jekyll. Chloe’s mind is gradually taken over by BrainIAC and the Doomsday monster that is Davis Bloome is drawn to her on the day of her wedding to Jimmy Olsen. Clark battles the monster and defeats it (for now), but Jimmy pays the ultimate price. Clark is discouraged by what he sees and decides he’s no longer a true hero.
Season 9: Darkest Hour
Seeing Metropolis’ need for a symbol of hope, Clark begins committing random acts of kindness and bravery around the city at superspeed, which gains him the nickname “The Blur.” Clones of a young Zod and his fellow Kryptonians make their way to Earth, causing Clark to struggle with his identity. Is he human, or Kryptonian? Which path should he choose? Clark and Lois begin dating and grow closer, while Chloe and Oliver lose some trust in Clark because of his Kryptonian sympathies. Martha is extremely proud of her son and sends him a red, yellow, and blue token of her appreciation, which he brings to the Fortress for safekeeping. In the end, Clark realizes Zod’s true intentions and sends the entire group of Kryptonians to another dimension where they will not cause anyone harm.
Season 10: Man of Steel
The end of the beginning. Clark embraces his role as the defender of Metropolis, shares his secret with Lois and proposes to her. But just as he is ready to embrace his destiny full-on, the evil Darkseid begins planting his minions on Earth in an effort to eat away at the goodness inside of Clark and make him a weapon. The works are further gummed up when an extremist group lobbies for the Vigilante Registration Act (VRA), which requires all costumed heroes to step forward and reveal their identities for the public good. In reality, this is a conspiracy to undermine Clark and company. Tess discovers a lab of failed Lex clones, and even adopts the youngest of them. Little Alexander ages rapidly and we soon learn that he is a hybrid of Clark and Lex’s DNA, and even has Clark’s powers. In an alternate universe, Lionel has raised Clark as his own son, but decides to come to our Earth and mess it up some more, because that’s what he does. Oliver has been branded for Darkseid and tries to free himself of the darkness, but he can’t quite succeed. Lois realizes that others need Clark’s help more than she does, and tearfully calls off their wedding the night before it should have taken place. Cliffhanger!
And with that, you’re ready to hear the words, “Previously on Smallville” and jump right into the two-hour finale tonight! It’s been one hell of a journey from 2001 to 2011, and I think this creative team still has an entire book full of tricks up their sleeves. This finale is shaping up to be one of the most memorable events in the history of Superman and the superhero genre.
Will you be watching with me? Why or why not? Are you sick of Smallville, or have you never given it a try? Sound off! Up, up and away!