By Ken Tucker
Updated September 24, 2010 at 12:00 PM EDT
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Smallville began its final season Friday night with a quick resolution to last season’s cliffhanger before getting on to an hour stuffed with new revelations and juicy plot developments.

Clark, left stabbed with a blue-Kryptonite spike by Zod in the ninth-season finale, was helped by Lois Lane. She yanked the weapon out of the fallen hero, then hid while she watched him miraculously heal and blur off. Last season’s other, romantic plot-dangler — Lois getting a job offer from Perry White to cover the Africa beat (few media outlets have such super-resources these days) — seemed to have been nipped in the bud early on this week, as she said she’d decided to stay, to be near her Blurry-man.

The good thing about Smallville is that it’s a CW young-adult soap opera that is regularly redeemed from that fate (sorry, Gossip Girl fans) by solid super-hero action and mythology. Thus Chloe, worried about Oliver/Green Arrow (as well she should be — he’s been captured and beaten by… who?), defies Clark’s wishes and puts on Dr. Fate’s helmet to try and locate Oliver’s whereabouts. She suffers a nasty reaction to having her mind semi-blown by the power of the helmet, but also returns to consciousness with a message for Clark: In her vision, she tells him, “you were the world’s hero, and you weren’t in black.”

Which in turn yields to one of those iconic moments that Smallville at its best does well: Lois coming upon the red, blue, and yellow Super-costume we know so well. The symbolism may be cheesy — Clark has remained in black clothing, with a black t-shirt and “S” for a while now, to symbolize the blackness of a soul searching for redemption — but the visuals here were strikingly effective.

Tess, meanwhile, has had her face healed since last season’s end, and she awoke to find herself in a Cadmus lab breeding-ground for multiple Lex Luthors. Indeed, one of them, labelled “Lx6,” will later be the source of the episode’s most striking image: Lois Lane hung from a scarecrow cornfield cross, in a visual call-back to Smallville‘s pilot episode, except that Clark never filled out an “S”-scrawled tee the why Lois does. Luthor placed her there and set the field on fire, while also, in Metropolis, arranging to have the Daily Planet’s skyscraper globe begin to fall, endangering citizens below.

This Lex tells Lois she is Clark’s “greatest weakness,” because he’s so emotionally dependent upon her, and tells Clark that his sin of pride is the “S” on his chest, “a self-righteous symbol.” He (foolishly) thinks Clark will have to choose to either save Lois from a burning cornfield, or stop the Planet planet from crushing people, when of course, Clark/Blur/Superboy/man is swift and powerful enough to prevent both fates.

If this danger was too easy, the introduction of this clone variation on Lex is a very good villain, somewhat Nosferatu in appearance, and believably Luthor-like.

Announced guest star John Schneider appeared as Jonathan Kent in a vision Clark had, in which Jonathan served once again to offer the optimistic argument about Clark’s essential goodness to counteract the doom-struck message of “the evil in you” that Jor-El (Terence Stamp voice-overing) insinuates to Clark/Kal-El.

Still, Pa Kent has some bad news for Clark: “Something dark is coming… you’re going to be tested,” he says at the end of the episode. He ain’t kiddin’: In the final seconds of the hour, we saw a looming image of Darkseid.

All in all, a good way to start the end of Smallville, do you agree?

Follow: @kentucker


It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s the action and heartbreak of Clark Kent — before he was all things Super

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