Final Season: Smallville & Redemption

Well, after last night we are down to the final four episodes of Smallville. Gosh, it feels weird typing that, like I am approaching the end of an entire chapter in my life. It is stupid to define your existence through a television series but when something has been a part of your world for so long and you have matured at times with the characters, approaching the end can be a bittersweet moment. I already know future tears are coming.
The Story:

Lois and Clark are barely seeing one another, what with her pulling all-nighters at the Daily Planet and him off saving humanity from natural disasters and crime sprees. His mother has sent him the deed to the farm and the duo wonder if it is time to sell that enormous part of their life and move to Metropolis. But before they have a chance to discuss it, Alternate!Clark turns up from the other universe and sends our Clark on a one way trip to his world. Our Clark must discover a way home in a world where everyone hates him and knows how to kill him — leading him to an important conversation with Jonathan Kent. Meanwhile, “Evil” Clark recruits an unwilling Tess into searching for Lionel with the intention of killing him.

The Symbolism:

I do not think I have loved Clark more than this season because he has finally overcome that stupid farm boy attitude and hypocritical attitude that continually ticked me off in earlier years.  During the hiatus I watched season two and the contrast is vivid — this Clark is much more mature and sensible in how he handles not only the situations around him, but also the people in his life. He’s smarter. He’s faster on his feet (no, not literally). He is no longer primarily emotional in his reactions. And whether intentional or not, he is very much a Christ figure this season. At first I thought this episode might have an undercurrent of “the darkness within,” and in a sense that is a very real part of it, but more impacting was Clark encouraging others to strive for redemption.

Essentially, the message of salvation is one of acknowledging that you are basically evil and fallen and that you need a savior in order to accomplish the required attributes to heaven. It also means (as discussed in my previous posts) that you repent of your sin and turn away from it. Clark in this episode seems on a course of determination to win over the souls of people in the alternate world. He encounters Lois and she is the only one who instinctively responds to the Truth and helps him. (Lois this season seems to represent, at least in my mind, the Believers.) Then he meets Jonathan Kent — a man who in the alternate universe has become bitter and full of hatred. His wife has left him, his farm has gone bankrupt, and he holds a great deal of resentment toward those responsible for his miserable state. He does not want to face the fact that his misery is his own fault — most of what has happened as a result of the meteor shower is in some way his fault. The meteor shower did not ruin his marriage; he did. The meteor shower did not fill him with anger, hatred, and resentment; those were emotions he chose.

But “our” Clark proves to be the shining light in Jonathan’s world, the otherworldly savior who steps into his miserable existence and tells him there is good in him, that he must embrace it and learn to build something for himself. He urges Jonathan to make up with his wife by presenting an alternate image of their marriage and lives together — rather like the ghost of Christmas Future with Ebeneezer Scrooge. In the end, Jonathan embraces Hope and Truth and the episode closes with him ringing the buzzer at Martha’s apartment. But Clark does not stop there — he returns to our world and rather than setting out to destroy the “evil” Clark, he offers him redemption by the assertion that he does not have to choose to be evil. He can choose to embrace Jor-El and his true destiny; he can accept responsibility for his behavior and change his world for the good. And interestingly, because Clark Luthor is still Clark Kent at heart, he embraces this and we are left believing his life will change course.

This season has an ongoing theme of Darkness vs. Redemption. It seems to be present in most of the major characters (apart from Lois). Clark has struggled with it. Oliver is struggling with it. Chloe struggled with it. And Tess is struggling with it — is she a Luthor or not? There is a certain amount of natural darkness in her that responded to Clark Luthor and I’m honestly not sure when it comes down to it which side she will ultimately choose. Up until now she has usually chosen the side of good, but last night she revealed that her fascination and loyal ties to her father are stronger than almost anything. It was moral of her to save him, but I’m not sure all her motivations were entirely good. Will Clark save her too in the end or will she choose another path?

Immaterial Thoughts:

I know how Lois feels about selling the Kent Farm — I felt an increasing lump in my throat as it was discussed. But I also agree with Clark that memories are not tied to places and he doesn’t need to keep the farm to remember what an awesome experience he had growing up there. They can make a new life in Metropolis together. Still, so much has happened on that farm that it makes me a little nostalgic. And normally, I am not nostalgic. I do have one minor complaint to make, however, and that is the fact that we haven’t seen Shelby this season. That dog supposedly has the run of the farm, so where is he?

Guess it is a good thing that Emil and Tess run around behind Clark’s back and take his things or he would not have been able to return. Still, how Luthor of her. I am still hoping she has a scene with Lex in the finale and I hope it will pay off in a big way. Once a Luthor, always a Luthor. Speaking of which, what happened to Lionel after his encounter with Darkseid? Hmm…

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