Smallville has had many marvelous hours of television — over 200 episodes, in fact. But I think this is their strongest episode ever. It made me laugh, it made me cry, and brought out some incredible canon storytelling. Not to mention that it burned down a certain residence with a diabolical glee — and I thought nothing would shock me after the “will he, won’t he?” angst of the last few months. It’s official now, by the way — Michael Rosenbaum is returning for the finale. I take back everything bad I ever said about him. But on to the brilliance of last night’s episode, which makes up for the total crap-fest that was last week.

The Story: Martha Kent is out campaigning to raise support to repeal the act that would make all superheroes register with the government. Lionel Luthor has returned to take control of Luthor Corp, much to the distress of his illegitimate daughter, Tess Mercer… and Alexander has grown up. Clark is somewhat melancholy in the belief that everyone hates The Blur, so Lois and Chloe decide to cheer him up. When a bullet nearly takes out Martha Kent, laced with green Kryptonite, Clark realizes Alexander has not forgotten his collective memories and will do anything in his power to kill him. And he’s not afraid to take out his father or Martha, either, even when Lionel attempts to placate him. Tess manages to talk him out of killing Clark but her own plan to disable him backfires. The voters repeal the registration act, leaving The Blur free to roam the streets in safety. Clark believes in order to fulfill his future, he must don a disguise… time to break out the geek glasses and bad haircut.

The Symbolism:

Throughout this season we have seen Clark persecuted and distrusted, even in his own mind betrayed when Chloe abandoned him. Though she was still looking out for him, she was not physically present and it has done a number on him. Clark is still somewhat human and needs his friends around him; even the most determined warrior can falter if he is not given affirmation. Lois is his constant supporter and biggest fan but he needs more than she can give him — he needs hope that The Blur has a purpose, that the masses will not hate him, that his actions are making the world a much better place. This is a beautiful touch and further underscores the fact that we all need friends and affirmation. It is easy to take our friends and supporters for granted, or to forget to reach out to others in need of moral support, but the fact is that life is not easy. It is a long, hard road and we are not meant to go at it alone. Even Jesus had need of His disciples — of their friendship and support, for He became frustrated with them when they could not stay awake and pray for Him in his darkest hour.

Most humans go through this world without much acknowledgment and that breaks my heart, because it is our job to show them how much they are needed and what they contribute to society through their actions. Everything you read was thought through and written by someone. Everything you see outside nature (and even then sometimes in it) was created or dreamed up by someone. Our own fears can be our worst enemies, as Clark’s fear is tearing him down. He believes he is not needed, that the people hate him and will vote to continue the registration act, because he has not been taught any different. The media is not being fair and balanced in their reporting. (Gee, who would ever have thought?) Yet Chloe and Lois still find a way to show him that the opposite is true — that the people love him and support what he is doing. I must admit, I cried — not only because I watched it lift Clark up emotionally, but because those were not canned videos. Those were fan videos submitted to the show for that specific purpose, and it illustrated just how many different kinds of fans the show has, and what it means to them. Older, younger, black, white, it didn’t matter — they were all united in finding hope in the series. That to me was very touching.

One particularly haunting parallel is that while Clark is gathering the forces of good around him — of moral support, family, and friends — Alexander is alienating everyone and thus alone will become a villain, because he will reject everyone who might have helped him. His kinship with Tess will not last long; I know Alexander and he is using her. If she can figure out how to stop the aging process, he will have no more use for her and will dispense with her, just as he will attempt again to be rid of his father. Alone, you are vulnerable to outside influences. Alone, you can become something you might not have become otherwise.

Lionel also reaped the benefits of years of mentally torturing both his sons — he nearly got what was coming to him and would have gone up in flames if it were not for the heroism of Clark in always doing the right thing, even if it means saving the one man determined to make your life a living hell. 

Immaterial Thoughts:

“The Luthor gene pool is a shark tank, and you’ve just chummed the waters” — Lex, Prodigal
I do not even know where to start with this episode — I loved everything about it. I was surprised how touching the reunion between Martha and her son was, but even more so between her and Chloe as they both realized that in attempting to help and protect Clark, they had drawn too far away from him and left him needed them more than ever. Martha has never been the smartest bulb in the box in my opinion (falling for Lionel the first time around pretty much cemented her in my mind as a moron) but she was spot-on here, particularly in her confrontation with the AU Lionel. That was a classic scene — him being charming and going for the jugular, and Martha holding her own and taunting him just a little bit. (Did I or did I not call it that he would hit on her?) I also loved her scene with Lois — her future daughter in law trying to impress and being told that she’s wonderful just as she is. Martha, you have more than redeemed yourself.

Honestly, I have never liked Tess Mercer. She habitually ticks me off. The Lex fan in me started hating her when she had the nerve to slice and dice up Luthor Corp and merge it with Queen Industries. What an insult. I am waiting for the moment when Alexander tosses her off a building. You know it’s coming. So I enjoyed watching her father dress her down and boot her out of his office. I’m mean. =P

Lets not even go into how much I love the Luthors. I have a perverted interest in seriously messed up families (there’s a reason I enjoy The Godfather! — it’s fascinating) and they put the “fun” in dysfunctional. Everything about their inclusion here was solid, from Lionel being back to his usual bad-ass self (I never cared for “wimpy, touchy-feely Lionel”) to him seriously underestimating his son. That was a nice twist he never saw coming, but everyone knows you do not mess with the Luthors. He wanted a shark for a son, he got one — and stupidly, he stuck his hand into the shark tank. Lionel is nothing if not fun — he takes immense pleasure in being a total slime wad, and had a great comeback for everything. I kind of drew in my breath in horrified amusement when Oliver accused his other self of killing his parents “in this universe,” and Lionel retorted, “Mine too! I had my reasons.”

But the award for most chilling exchange of all time goes to his conversation with Alexander on their first meeting:

Alexander: “I remember watching you fall from a forty-story window. It was the happiest moment of my life.”

Lionel: “Well, every father wants to make his son happy.”

Oh, yes.  If this is a sign of things to come, bring it on.