How do you sum up one of the most amazing series finales of all time? Great Ceasar’s Ghost!!
The Plot: Lois is still having second thoughts about marrying Clark, but he refuses to let her call off the wedding. Her doubt makes him wonder if she is not right and he is destined to be alone — at least for awhile. His beautiful wedding vows change her mind, but in the meantime Clark visits the farm, where his mother reams him out for selling the property and attempting to forget the past. He also is visited by the ghost of his father, who reminds him that Smallville is what made him the man he is today. While possessed by Darkseid, Oliver creates chaos with his intention to slip gold kryptonite to Clark. And Tess is kidnapped by Lionel to finish his diabolical plan of resurrecting Lex from the dead through the use of clone parts. But that isn’t all. There’s a planet hurtling toward earth, on a direct collision course, and there’s only one man for the job… Superman.
If previous episodes were hinting heavily at the symbolism of Clark as a Savior, this time they unleashed it all, right down to referencing him as the Bringer of Light. In a way it is his Second Coming, because in this episode he transcends his former destiny and becomes the hero the world has been searching for. In his ascended state (literally and figuratively speaking) he learns to fly (it made me cry), he defeats Darkseid without breaking a sweat, and then he goes on to save the planet from implosion by hurtling that pesky fireball off in another direction. Doing this removes the Omega codes from the masses, who stand and cheer him on as their savior. If that isn’t symbolic nothing is, but the smaller moments are just as significant … namely, Oliver’s redemption. He has been on a journey of self-salvation for several weeks, ever since he was emblazoned with the mark. But he could not save himself — Clark had to save him.
There were several conversations about souls in the finale, the most memorable being between Granny Goodness and Tess, in which the old hag hints that she wants to “save” Tess — but Tess has chosen another path. Her idea of salvation is the mark, so Tess can belong to Darkseid and not be persecuted when he establishes his kingdom on earth. But Tess is immune to her persuasion, since she has chosen a Savior. Her final words are to that effect, when Lex indicates that in murdering her, he has saved her from becoming what he is — evil. But her relationship with Clark, her choice to be on his side, has already saved her.
Ten years, a decade in which Clark Kent became Superman. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I teared up multiple times as I watched the farm boy become a man. It was a tremendous finale to an incredible series. There were weaknesses in it, as there always are when dealing with this particular group of writers (they often get themselves in over their head with a lack of long-term planning, a fact that has caused many plot arcs to suffer mightily in the past) but its strengths surpassed the absurdities. My only real complaint is that the confrontation with Darkseid took no time at all. I think it is significant in the fact that the darkness is no real match for Superman (even though apparently in the comics, he is and their on-and-off battles can become quite brutal) but still, after building him up slowly through the season as a legitimate threat it felt rushed and as if dealing with him was an afterthought. I also have to say the scenes with Darkseid and Lionel were embarrassingly corny, but those are minor complaints.
I love how the first episode was all about the past and moving forward without forgetting what has come before. It surprised me to discover how much I have missed Jonathan’s presence, because having him there added a special resonance to the scenes with Martha and his encouragement for his son to become Superman was especially meaningful. It feels right that Jonathan should be the one to hand him the famous suit. Clark’s struggle with balancing his former life in Smallville with his new destiny in Metropolis was an interesting choice, because I don’t think the decision to sell the farm was the wrong one. Clearly, I was meant to feel otherwise and I’ll give them that, because it is meant to be a nostalgic, emotional stronghold of his childhood, but to me it makes sense to move on. Yet his mother has a point in her reminder that the past is part of who he is and should not be sacrificed.
Ambiguous endings are an interesting choice in any situation and this one is especially so when it comes to Chloe and her son. I loved the use of a comic book to bookend the beginning and end of the episode, but even more so for the fact that it leaves it up for the audience to decide whether or not the entire series has come to life through Chloe reading the comic books to her son, or if it all actually happened. I also noted the absence of her husband in that scene, indicating that at some point she and Oliver may have parted ways. (This is in keeping with the mythology, in which eventually he becomes involved with Canary.)
The producers were not kidding when they said Clark and Lois have the longest trip down the isle of all time — a seven year gap in which his responsibilities keep him busy and she continues being the top reporter at the Daily Planet. The scenes having to do with the wedding were lovely… I especially adore the fact that Lois did not have to walk down the isle alone. That look of horror on her face when she discovers Clark is not standing at the altar contrasted beautifully with him taking her hand and walking with her. I’m not a sap (or at least pretend not to be) but that choked me up. I also liked the end in which it is apparent that their destinies have taken them forward together and as individuals. Lois is the harried reporter running around the news office, and Clark is slamming into people and pushing up his glasses and constantly being yelled at and/or ignored. It felt like… well, the movies, and that’s a good thing.
Which brings me at long last to the return of Lex Luthor. The scene in the laboratory was dark… really dark. Lionel wanting to harvest his daughter’s heart to bring Lex back from the dead is some pretty hardcore stuff right there. Had they gone through with it, that twist would have been the envy of Stephen King. Even with Tess escaping that immediate fate, it was still disturbing how it ended. I think the conclusion to the Luthor Family story was magnificent — Daddy tries to kill Tess, so she shoots Daddy, who gives his soul to Darkseid so Lex can have his heart. Lex then turns around and kills Tess. Brilliant. I suspected all along Tess would die at his hand but his motivation was different than I anticipated; I thought it would be an act of revenge, but it was smart to reference his psychopathic desire to be “good” in the midst of his evil, and convince himself that he was “saving” her from a worse fate. That has always been Lex’s reasoning — the end justifies the means. His scene with Clark was incredible. I had forgotten their dynamic and how much it has shifted, assisted by some truly great writing. In my opinion it was always Michael who carried the most screen presence and I think everyone is going to be forced to admit that as they sort out their feelings about the finale.
I thought their means of tying it into the mythology of the comic books was clever in wiping Lex’s memories, even though in a way it felt kind of like a cop-out. (However, this is Lex Luthor we are talking about… he has backup data so we know his memories are not gone forever.) And on a purely shallow note, his scenes were gorgeously filmed, using a lot of the purple that became his signature color. The image where Tess crumbles in his arms is almost iconic in its framing. But not as iconic as the final shot, in which Clark rips his shirt to reveal the Superman logo as he runs across the roof of the Daily Planet.
It is the perfect ending to a show that for ten seasons has inspired and touched millions of fans worldwide.