12. Legion (Season 8, Episode 11)
Ricky: One of Superman’s strongest traits is his ability to effortlessly inspire those around him. While Smallville delved into this trait with other heroes and Clark’s friends a bit, none was stronger than in ‘Legion’. As Brainiac inhabited Chloe’s body and attempted to destroy the world, the young Legion of Superheroes came back in time to help Clark, but believed the only way to do so was to kill Chloe. Clark’s emphatic refusal to consider that path not only saved Chloe, but was enough for the Legion to change their ways one they went back to the future. A very creepy performance by Allison Mack as Brainiac elevates ‘Legion’ even further, but it also helps this episode was written by DC superstar Geoff Johns.
11. Pilot (Season 1, Episode 1)
James: There are so many great things to say about “Pilot,” but I’ll try to keep this short. The episode is a perfect introduction to the world to Smallville, and still holds up to this day. The episode perfectly captures the tone and mission that would carry throughout the entire series: That this is not a Superman show, but a show about Clark Kent, and his journey from young man to Superman. The episode does a fantastic job of introducing us to Clark, the kind of person that he is, and why his various relationships are so important to him.
Ricky: Without a doubt, the very first episode of Smallville ranks among its best. Right from the opening moments as a meteorite shower pounds Smallville, ‘Pilot’ delivers a lot of fun, emotion and some stellar performances. You immediately buy into the relationship Clark has with his parents as Welling, John Schneider and Annette O’Toole have great chemistry while Michael Rosenbaum easily makes you believe Lex Luthor was truly a good person once upon a time. ‘Pilot’ also has one of the most iconic images not just of Smallville, but of the Superman mythos: Clark Kent tied to a scarecrow’s pole with an ‘S’ spray-painted to his chest.
10. Labyrinth (Season 6, Episode 12)
James: “Labyrinth” is another bright spot in Smallville’s mid-seasons, and while it’s a bit of a filler episode, its cleverness and ingenuity lands it a spot on our list. I love how the writers handled the various reveals that things we’d been watching unfold on the show for the past 5 years – including Clark saving Lex in the Pilot, the Fortress of Solitude, Level 33.1, Kryptonite, the Phantom Zone, and Jor-El – were actually things Clark has made up while inside an insane asylum.
9. Transference (Season 4, Episode 6)
Ricky: Earlier I said I wasn’t much of a fan of Smallville’s fourth season, but among the handful of Season 4’s great episodes was ‘Transference’ because it focused so heavily on the elder Luthor. Even behind bars, Lionel continued his machinations and this one was nefarious. Intending to swap bodies with Lex, he instead switched with Clark thanks to his intervention. If you thought Lionel was evil before with the millions of dollars at his disposal, that’s nothing compared to Clark’s abilities at his fingertips as he abuses them in various ways. What makes this episode standout though is Tom Welling and John Glover’s acting as the other by copying their speech patterns and body language.
James: I’m a sucker for body-switching episodes, especially those done well. “Transference” was a lot of fun because it gave Welling and John Glover a chance to try something new and play each other. The result is pretty stunning – to this day I’m still convinced by their performances. It’s also a great emotional Clark/Martha episode, and does a good job of driving some wedges between Clark and his various friends/romantic interests.
8. Metallo (Season 9, Episode 2)
James: Clark may have gone by “The Blur” for the majority of its final seasons, but Smallville was basically a full-blown Superman series by season 9, complete with a House of El shield on his chest, phone booth calls with Lois, supporting characters like Dr. Emil Hamilton, and iconic villains like Metallo. I’ll never forget the “What gives you the right?” speech Metallo gives to Clark in this episode, about his sister being killed by a prisoner that Clark had saved as the Blur. Smallville was always at its best when it examined why Superman saves lives, and the weight and consequences of his actions.
Ricky: Aside from Lex, Smallville rarely used any of the known villains from Superman’s rogues gallery unless it was a big occasion, such as with Zod, Brainiac or Doomsday. As Clark stepped closer to embracing his destiny, the show introduced John Corben in Season 9’s premiere, but didn’t waste anytime turning him into Metallo in the next episode. Corben’s turn to Metallo was sympathetic, but it also brought to light some interesting questions regarding Clark’s role in humanity because someone Clark once saved later killed Corben’s sister, prompting Corben to ask what right Clark has to change the destinies of those around him? It’s a heavy question as Clark and Superman are rarely affected by any negative implications of saving someone’s life.
7. Memoria (Season 3, Episode 19)
Ricky: As well as being Clark’s evolution into Superman, Smallville was also about Lex’s transformation into the villain. There are plenty of great episodes that examine Lex’s journey, but ‘Memoria’ is one of his outstanding episodes by taking a look at his childhood and tense relationship with Lionel. Growing up with Lionel Luthor as a father proved to be just as twisted for Lex as a child as it is as a grown man. The revelation of what happened to his younger brother is truly tragic, showing just how messed up the Luthor family was. Its not all dark, though, as Clark has his own very heart warming revelation about his birth mother Lara-El this is sure to have you thinking someone is cutting onions in the room. I’m not crying. You’re crying!
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