6. Descent (Season 7, Episode 16)
James: I can think of a few really defining episodes for Lex, who had a pretty fascinating and entertaining arc through the series. “Descent” is probably the best Lex episode, as it brought the darkest parts of him out into the open, and lead to him killing Lionel, something we’d been waiting for for a while. It really positioned him as the villain Lex Luthor; like we’d reached the end of his origin story.
Ricky: For those waiting for Lex’s full turn to villainy, this was it. The series had steadily been building to a confrontation between Lex and Lionel since the very beginning and ‘Descent’ featured Lex murdering Lionel not in the closing moments, but at the very start of the episode. What made this even more powerful was the thematic nature of the story; the last couple of seasons Lionel had actually been on a redemptive path, becoming an important ally of Clark’s, while Lex slowly succumbed to his darker urges. Throughout the episode Lex tossed and turned with remorse, but embraced his full Luthorness by the conclusion. Lex’s final line to his father remains one of the best of the series: “I grew up in your shadow. Now your going to die in mine.” Pure chills thanks to Rosenbaum’s delivery.
5. Rosetta (Season 2, Episode 17)
Ricky: Despite how Man of Steel has modernized Superman for today’s audience or how Smallville examined Clark’s youth and development into a hero, many still hold Christopher Reeve’s Superman films as the pinnacle of the character’s mainstream appeal, even with the cheesiness associated with the old movies. It was a big deal, then, when Christopher Reeve made a very rare guest appearance on Smallville as a man holding the answers to Clark’s heritage. Seeing Reeve next to Tom Welling, along with musical cues to John Williams’ famous Superman score, was an excellent passing of the torch moment that not only reminded viewers of Superman’s legacy in cinema, but just how much we appreciated Reeves dedication to the Man of Steel.
James: While Smallville’s first season had a heavy freak-of-the-week focus, season 2 began really diving into actual Superman mythology. No episode is proof of that more than “Rosetta,” the famous hour when Clark learns about Krypton – from none other than former Man of Steel Christopher Reeve! As someone who loved Reeve’s Superman films as a kid, it was great to see him pass the torch to Welling, who was really “my” Superman right up until Henry Cavill hit the big screen (sorry Brandon Routh).
4. Reckoning (Season 5, Episode 12)
Ricky: In this day and age of television, it is very hard for any series to reach 100 episodes. Smallville’s 100th episode was a big one with several twists for fans as Clark finally revealed his secret to Lana, got engaged, but then lost Lana to a tragic accident, forcing him to go back in time and relive it all again. Fate’s hand targeted many of the special people in Clark’s life to balance things out (tellingly, fate choice to target Lois after Lana), but ultimately, it was Jonathan Kent who passed in an eerie homage to Superman: The Movie. Jonathan is one of the most important characters in the Superman mythos and throughout his time on the show, John Schneider imbued a great sense of fatherly love, wisdom and compassion. Schneider and Welling shared an immense chemistry with each other and Schneider’s loss was felt throughout the rest of the series’ run.
James: “Reckoning” is undoubtedly one of the most important episodes of the entire series. It remains one of the brightest spots of the show’s mid-seasons, which were famously bogged down by frustrating storylines designed only to keep Clark from becoming Superman too soon. It’s also the show’s most heartbreaking episode. The death of Jonathan Kent would continue to have an impact on Clark until the series finale, and while the Clark/Lana relationship was at times incredibly frustrating (and would only get worse in the following two seasons), “Reckoning” knew exactly how to handle it.
3. Absolute Justice (Season 9, Episode 11)
James: With the Arrowverse currently in full swing on the CW, it’s easy to forget that just a few years ago, full-blown comic book television and superhero team-ups were not par for the course. “Absolute Justice” had everything we expect from shows like Supergirl, The Flash, Arrow, and Legends of Tomorrow (and debuted characters that have now become staples on several of those series). Hawkman and the Justice Society of America teaming up with Clark Kent’s “Blur” and Green Arrow??? Back in 2010, that was revolutionary, and a dream come true. It’s the one episode I always point to when a friend or colleague tells me they abandoned the series at an earlier point. Who would have thought that a show that began with such a strict “no tights, no flights” rule would have reached this level of comic book-y Geoff Johns greatness?
Ricky: The only episode of Smallville to have two words in its title, ‘Absolute Justice’ deserves its name. While ‘Justice’ served as the first adventure of the proto-Justice League, its spiritual sequel raised the bar and showed what lengths the Arrowverse could eventually achieve. Clark’s team-up with the Justice Society was nothing short of awesome. One aspect that really stood out was the costume design as the show faithfully adapted the comic book looks of Hawkman, Stargirl and Dr. Fate in particular. It really examined the concepts of legacy and heroism within the DC universe, but could you expect any less from something written by Geoff Johns?
2. Finale (Season 10, Episode 21)
James: “Finale” is, in my opinion, the greatest and most satisfying series finale on television. Part of that is undoubtedly because it had a very simple goal: Turn Clark Kent into Superman. But the way it handled that goal, while tying up loose ends and bringing back characters like Michael Rosenbaum’s Lex Luthor, was truly impressive. While the show itself was ending, it truly felt like it was setting up stories that, in another series starring Tom Welling as Superman, could be told for years and years to come. I dare you to show me a more satisfying and exciting final shot of any television series.
Ricky: Smallville’s finale is among the best episodes of superhero television ever produced and surpasses all but one episode of the series. It took its time to get Clark in the suit, letting it build steadily to that epic moment. Though I do think that after 10 years it would have been cool to see a full shot of Tom Welling in the suit, the brief glimpse at the end as he does the traditional shirt-pop set to John Williams’ soaring score was the best way to close out the series. We also got some very emotional performances by Welling and Durnace, specifically when each of them are reading their wedding vows when they’re on opposite sides of a door to the reunion of the Kent family. That is one aspect that actually surprised and impressed me most about that finale: rather than featuring all Smallville’s heroes in an epic brawl against Darkseid’s forces, it instead brought back much of the original cast, John Schneider included, to focus on the characters. The fact that it was the vision of Jonathan Kent who handed Clark the suit was just icing on the cake.
1. Homecoming (Season 10, Episode 4)
Ricky: Earlier I said it is difficult for TV shows now to reach 100 episodes, so you can imagine how hard it must be to reach 200. Who could have possibly thought when Smallville began it would go on for so long? The show’s 200th episode brought it all back home as Clark and Lois attended his high school reunion, taking a look at just how much had changed for them. It was a complete examination of his journey as Brainiac 5 took him through the past and present, letting Clark see some of his defining moments in a different light, but it was the bit in the future that really stole the show as Clark briefly glimpsed his life with Lois and his future-self in all his nerdy and heroic glory. The episode even brought back one of the very first meteor freaks, but rather than seeking vengeance against Clark, he actually shows how he’s changed thanks to Clark’s actions. The real kicker, though, is just how emotional it is as Clark realizes just how important Lois is in his life, sharing a heartfelt dance where Clark is fully confident and sure of himself that, unbeknownst to either of them, he actually flies. That is what Lois Lane brings to Clark Kent: an assuredness of who he is and what he is meant to do. ‘Homecoming’ was nothing short of a celebration of everything Superman and Smallville stood for.
James: I was tempted to list “Finale” as the best episode of the series, because it finally lead to the moment we all waited ten years for, but “Homecoming” was the purest Superman episode Smallville ever had. I’d argue it’s also the best written episode of the series. It could have easily been bogged down by its obvious A Christmas Carol inspiration, but perfectly displayed past, present, and future events in a way that helped propel Clark to his destiny, and address some of the biggest issues that had been holding the character back for several seasons. We all assumed that the series would end the moment Clark donned the cape and costume, so seeing a glimpse at what the Smallville universe would look like after the series itself would come to a close was both exciting and bittersweet. The episode tied up some loose ends, showed Clark that he was truly needed not only by the world, but by his friends, and that – most importantly – he needed to embrace his relationship with Lois. The final moment of the two of them hovering in the barn, dancing after professing their love to each other – will remain my favorite moment of the entire series.
What are your favourite episodes of Smallville? Let us know in the comments below…