It's been just over 9 years since Kal-El crashed his spaceship on the WB but Smallville's 200th episode is finally here. With a little help from a time travelling legion ring "Homecoming" shows Clark some past milestones, as well as a peak at himself as the man of steel.
The show opens with Clark still doubting his future as Earth's saviour after last episode's run-in with Darkseid. So after days of classic Clark Kent moping around at the farm Lois drags him to their 5 year Smallville High reunion for a pick me up. Walking those halls again and being back at the Torch starts to bring back old memories for Clark but when Brainiac 5.0 shows up he is forced to relive those memories of his past. Being a newly reprogramed, and now Legion member, Brainiac from the future he takes Clark on a time travelling life lesson to his past, present and to the future to help rid him of the darkness weighting on his shoulders.
The concept of Clark and Lois going to a 5 year high school reunion is a little weak yet it serves the episode's purpose. There's even a point in the episode where they admit the concept is a little thin when Clark calls Lois on the fact she was only ever enrolled for 23 days and she only showed up for 5. The reunion aspect aside "Homecoming" makes great use of flashbacks from old episodes to remind the audience, as well as Clark, how much history he has at that school. The original scene between Clark and Lana from the pilot, of him dropping his books in front of school the first day, is recreated as well as the actual footage shown in a flashback was a great way to bring the show full circle. This episode opens a little slow but once James Marsters arrives it really hits its stride.
Marsters as Brainiac is always great to watch because apart from Michael Rosenbaum's Lex Luthor he has been Clark's most challenging opponent. This time, being one of the good guys, Marsters gets to show a different side of Brainiac he wasn't able to explore. But the best part of having Marsters guess star again is that the writers give him some great material to work with. The scenes where Brainiac takes Clark to the past when Jonathan Kent died, the present with Olive needing his support, and him ignoring his feelings for Lois they have some great dialogue explaining this darkness he can't understand. This was much needed because of how vague the story arc has been for this season so far.
But what about the future, where is becomes Superman, do you get to see the suit? Nope (still have to wait sorry). However Clark's trip to 2017, that comes in last half of this episode, is the best part by far and they spend more time than I expected. Erica Durance plays a different kind of Lois since she now knowing Clark's secret and the two have some excellent banter in their scenes together. But as great as seeing the new Lois in her element my favourite scene is where Clark meets his future self. You get to Tom Welling in the 'Clark Kent' costume we all know from the Superman comics & movies. Not only does he pull it off but he acts as if he has been wearing that disguise for the last nine seasons. This wasn't the first time Welling has had to act with himself (ex. "Bizarro") yet he makes it so seamless it would put Michael Keaton's Multiplicity to shame.
After last week's episode, "Supergirl", "Homecoming" had a lot of explain to do (in more ways than one). The whole angle of Clark learning to forgive himself and stop worrying about his future explains this very vague description of his darkness they have been shoving in the audience's face for the last 3 episode. It was smart of the producers to not try and recreate the magic from the 100th episode because it would very have worked. Although using one of, if not the, most powerful scenes from that past milestone episode added to its effect of how Clark could have gotten to that place. The only draw-back for this 200th episode maybe that Welling was the only original cast member still around to celebrate. With the exception of a great guest star appearance from his first season bug buddy, Greg Raknid, Kristen Kreuk, John Schneider, Allison Mack, and Sam Jones III were all only shown in flashbacks with old footage. After seeing the previews of the next episode it looks like the story won't be serious anymore but more of a fun yet forgettable hour of television. Sigh!
Andrew Burns loves film and comics, and can be found writing about when those worlds converge. You can follow him on Twitter at @myAndrewBurns.