Well after 218 episodes, 10 seasons, 1 network change and a writers strike Smallville goes the distance a finishes their 10 year run. The two-part finale answers many questions, ties up most to the loose ends, and will satisfy most of the series true fans. All these positives aside this ending won't be everything Superman fans were looking for, as it will leave most wanting more.
That intro maybe pretty vague but I'm not one for ruining endings. If you haven't gotten around to watching the final episodes or haven't already heard the ending somewhere else online don't read any further. [Spoiler Below]
Smallville's two-part final episode, appropriately entitled "Finale", all depends on what kind of Smallville fan you are to appreciate this ending. For starters there is the casual viewer that may tune from time to time, hoping to see amazing stunts and special effects of Clark in a superhero moment. Then there are the comic book fans watching to see if their favourite characters are being done justice on the small screen. Then there are the fans who have watched from the beginning and who watch the series for what it is really about; family. Yes Smallville was always about a young Clark Kent's journey to become the world's greatest hero in Superman but the series was also always grounded by his family and his close friends. Both of these dynamics are what made Smallville so successful in it's beginning (arguably only up to season 6-7). Having the 'family' element return after a couple of absent seasons for the end of the series, in the way it was done, couldn't have been presented any better.
The first half of "Finale" is almost entirely devoted to Lois and Clark and their relationship. Then a large chuck of the ladder half of the episode devoted to Clark and his family. Smallville, almost surprisingly, decides not to spend a lot of the episodes time on the villains but to uses the bulk of the two hours to reiterate that most important attributes Clark acquired over the years on Smallville aren't his super powers but the guidance he received from his parents; the Kents and Jor-El.
"Finale" starts by taking its time to get Lois and Clark to fully appreciate their relationship and each other. It gets emotional at times but this stuff had to be done early in the episode as Clark later becomes occupied with saving the world later on. Welling and Durance have a great scene at their new Metropolis apartment as they discuss their future. Although the two actors are never face to face there, as they are separated by their front door, but with a series of rotating camera tricks and movable set pieces the scene works perfectly.
When it comes time for the big wedding it was done beautifully, in a throwback to the once typical WB fashion of having the sappy/trendy music playing over the dialogue; accompanied by slo mo camera transitions. That is until Olivier goes all darkside (or darkseid) and stops the nuptials. My only criticism for the wedding would be the 50 random people there were to fill the seats for both the bride and groom's sides. There was a half-assed explanation of why exactly Lois' father and sister weren't going to be there but Chloe was at least there. As for Clark he had Oliver as his best man, his mom, and even his dad's ghost was there for the big day. No Martian Manhunter, no Aquaman, no Impluse, no Cyborg, no Black Canary, and no Lana Lang (not that surprisingly) make any appearance what's so ever or later in the episode for that matter. The only past cast member that I knew won't make an appearance was Sam Jones III as Clark's old school friend Pete Ross. Jones III in real life recently got mixed up in Hollywood's underground drug scene a couple of months back so having him return to Smallville after that wasn't in the cards anymore. As great as the wedding looked, the lack of past characters that early into the finale was a sign that Samllville didn't get a financial increase most series may get for a proper send off.
It's no secret that Smallville's effects and stunts have gone downhill since the primary show-runners, Al Gough & Miles Millar, exited back in season 7. Partly maybe because the current producers and show-runners had a smaller budget for the final three seasons but they also had lower expectations than Gough & Millar had. These problems affected the quality of Smallville in these final years in ways they shouldn't have if the writing was written towards the show's strengths not their weaknesses; being the fewer/smaller funded effects.
Taking Smallville's funding into account the show-runners and producers brought back key cast members for "Finale" and wrote top quality scenes for them to compensate for the lack of action (with the exception of the big ending) they might have wanted to do. The one everyone wanted to see was Michael Rosenbaum's Lex Luthor comeback to the show and he did not disappoint. One could make the argument that "Finale" could have used more of him but in the one scene Rosenbaum and Welling had together was amazing to watch even if it didn't impact any of the story-lines for this finale episode. I was disappointed however about the way they brought him back as one of those Lex clones because I always thought that story arc was done so poorly. Smallville brought Lex back for the right reasons, so Clark had an adversary when he became Superman in the future, so I linked that he wasn't forced into the Darkseid story-line when Rosenbaum said he would return one last time. As exciting and brilliant as Rosenbaum's long awaited return as Lex Luthor was his special guest appearance was surprisingly only the second best of the episode to John Schneider's return.
Coming back to the theme of family who better to be there for Clark at the end of his time on Smallville than his parents? Annette O'Toole returns as Martha Kent, and so does Terence Stamp as the voice of Jor-El, but it's Schneider's return as Jonathan Kent that helped really make this episode. Because Schneider's character has been dead since the middle of season 5 it has always been tricky trying to bring him back for episodes over the years. Having him return as more of ghost type figure than some kind of memory was the right choice as it made for both the most emotional and the best scenes in the whole finale (maybe even the last 3 years). Welling and Schneider have really made Clark and Jonathan's father/son dynamic a fall back for the series, in the best possible way, in it's beginning when other story-lines may haven't been able to pay off the way they may have hoped. Between the 'freak of the weeks' or the villain for the season there was always Clark's relationship with his father that help ground him as well as anchor the series from becoming something it wasn't. Schneider's exit was necessary for Clark in the series but having him return one last time for Clark was just as necessary for his final stages before becoming Superman.
Since Clark becoming Superman is the obvious final step for Smallville as a series it took a couple of days to reflect about how it all ended before I wrote this review. I'll admit my first reaction was extreme disappointment after seeing how Clark was shown as Superman. Welling is never given a suit to wear when he became the iconic character every person worldwide can identify. Instead, when we first see Clark donning the suit for the first time it is done with a very wide angle shot to mask the fact it is only a CGI character flying through the skies and not Welling himself. After he saves Lois and the Air Force One plane from going down he stops the giant planet sized force Darkseid set after Earth by pushing it back into space. Both are a bit of a rip off from Superman Returns if you ask me. After Clark is floating in space watching Darkseid's planet go off into the distance the camera rotates around a close-up of Welling's face, hinting and teasing about pulling the camera back to reveal him in the suit, and ultimately ends with only a very bad CGI cape rippling behind him. Then in the final image of the show they flash forward 7 years, where Clark has been Superman since, and they have Clark on the roof top of the Daily Planet ripping open his buttoned up dress shirt to reveal some kind of actual suit underneath but nothing more as the credits start to role before anything else can be revealed.
If I didn't take a couple of days to reflect on this final episode the sour taste of this ending would have over powered all the great moments that happened before the last 5 minutes. I was angry and upset that both the show's producers, the CW network, and Warner Brothers/ DC Comics wouldn't at least try to give this huge pop culture character a proper send off with an actual Superman suit for Welling to wear. I understand that it would cost a great sum of money to produce one suit for only a small portion of only one episode. Financially it doesn't make a whole lot of sense, I get that. But Superman is a huge part of our modern day mythology its shocking to think that the networks, studios, and producers would just settle for good enough. Fans have had a growing problem with Smallville's new show-runners after Gough & Millar left because their replacements never fought the CW network enough to keep up those high standards for the show and its promotion. The CW network is more of a women's network and that's fine, but over the years that translated into less advertising, funding, and a poor time slot change as Smallville slowly became the last of male targeted series for the network (Supernatural being the other). These entire points aside if you were as disappointed as I was about there not being a suit for Smallville's Superman the blame ultimately lies with Warner Brothers and DC Comics. Since they both own Superman and his image it was ultimately up to them to control and brand their biggest product, especially since they have an upcoming Superman movie next year.
In closing "Finale" gave Smallville, as a series, a great send off but miss the mark on the episode's ending. To quote the character of Chuck from last year's Supernatural: "Endings are hard...the fans are always going to bitch, there's always going to be holes". Other than the last few paragraphs I tried not to bitch because I believe, for the most part, Smallville did a good job with everything considered. Thanks for the ten years Smallville, but you still owe me a suit.
Andrew Burns loves film and comics, and can be found writing about when those worlds converge. You can follow him on Twitter at @myAndrewBurns.
I love this brilliant supercomic show and never want it to be end. I want more other smallville episodes to be aired after the end of season10 , As this show become a part of my life. But now i am looking for some new series released kinda smallville. I hope entertainment world try to make some other shows like Smallville.