Smallville was a Superman show about Clark Kent before he became Superman and was developed by producers and writers, Al Gough and Miles Millar. They had a vision and a challenge to make Superman accessible to the 21st Century and one of their solutions was the rule of No Tights, No Flights until the end. In other words, we will not see Clark fly and wear the suit during the course of the series. The show will see Clark Kent on a journey of a teenage-angst and confused boy with powers to a fully-grown Superman. AlMiles casted their triangle of Clark, Lex Luthor, and Lana Lang, played respectively by Tom Welling, Michael Rosenbaum, and Kristin Kreuk as all were relative unknowns until the show debuted in October, 2001 a month after the 9/11 tragedy.
The first season, like any other show’s 1st season, was to establish the characters, relationships, and the journeys. In addition to Clark, Lex, and Lana, there was Jonathan and Martha Kent who were Clark’s adopted Earth parents. Pete Ross and Chloe Sullivan, who are Clark’s childhood friends. Lionel Luthor, the tycoon of LuthorCorp and Lex’s father. Finally, Whitney Fordman as Clark’s rival and high school jock for Lana’s affections. The theme of the 1st season was Who Am I? This was where Clark discovers the powers he had such as heat vision and x-ray vision. He learns from his father that he’s not from Earth. Meanwhile, Lex’s relationship with his father is strained after the meteor shower. Lionel puts him through trials that made and define him to become the villain we all know him to be. Lana Lang was Whitney’s girlfriend who had the meteor rock for a necklace that was the one thing that kept between Clark and Lana. The end of the 1st season saw the departure of Whitney.
The second season took it to another level where Clark learns where he’s from through the mysterious Dr. Virgil Swann, played by the late Christopher Reeve. Rosetta was the highlight of the 2nd season as it was the passing of the Superman torch from one generation to another. The theme was Where Am I From? It was the highest-rated season and had the highest-ratings ever. Lex continues to be fascinated with Clark and was in a relationship with Dr. Helen Bryce, whom he would marry at the end. It was also at the end where Clark was running away from his origins. Red Kryptonite was introduced that would affect Clark mentally and Pete Ross was the first person outside the Kent family to learn his secret.
The third season was the first dark season where its theme was Superman and the Crime World. This was too early for the show as Clark would be in his junior year in high school. It started with Clark robbing banks in Metropolis while wearing the Red Kryptonite ring. We were introduced to Intergang leader, Morgan Edge, while Clark’s relationship with Lex took a turn when Clark finds out that Lex was investigating him all along. This was the perfect opportunity to give Lana Lang the sendoff she would have gotten. The third season ended with Clark being enveloped inside the Kryptonian cave while there were 3 things going on. It had one of the best cliffhangers ever and I wondered how they were going to resolve it. Unfortunately, they didn’t.
The fourth season was the turning point of the show when they introduced Lois Lane before she was a reporter. The characters and the relationships were destroyed and they didn’t resolve the cliffhangers, except for Chloe’s. The show broke the No Flights rule when Clark flew under the Kryptonian influence and it was grand and spectacular. This was what got Superman Returns to be made. We also saw Clark interacting with another DCU character named Bart Allen that would start the influx of DCU characters. Another development had Chloe learning Clark’s secret without Clark realizing it.That season was Clark’s graduation from high school, but both Lex and Lana ended up being the ones investigating the Kryptonian crystals while Clark was out of the loop until the season finale, Commencement, which was one of the best finales. It ended the high school years and into another phase.
The fifth season signaled the end of the high school years and the beginning of the adult lost years. The Fortress of Solitude had made its debut and the theme was supposed to be Superman-In-Training, except Clark only trained against his will by Jor-El in the premiere episode Arrival and Chloe has become his sidekick after learning his secret. Unfortunately, she became his brain. Brainiac became the villain of the season as he disguises himself as a college professor named Milton Fine and his purpose was to get Clark to release Zod from the Phantom Zone. More DCU characters debuted with Aquaman, Cyborg, and the future Acrata, Andrea Rojas. The highlight of the episode was Reckoning where Jonathan Kent died for the wrong reasons and this destroyed Clark as a character almost forever. The Clark/ Lex/ Lana triangle began here as Lex and Lana were in a relationship.
The sixth season was the culmination of what AlMiles felt Smallville was about as opposed to what it’s really about and that was the Clark/ Lex/ Lana triangle. For them it was that triangle more than anything else. We saw the Phantom Zone and the debuts of Green Arrow and Martian Manhunter. Green Arrow’s storyline would conclude with a team-up of 5 heroes to become a nascent Justice League and was the highlight of the season. Also, Lex and Lana got married and he and Clark became enemies not because of Clark’s secret, but because of Lana altogether. We also saw the debut of the Phantom Zone that came out very well. The end of the season saw the emergence of Bizarro.
The seventh season was considered to be the shortest and worst season of all time. It was the lowest point for both Clark and the show as it had the debut of Supergirl Kara Zor-El, who flies and Clark still hasn’t. AlMiles wanted her to illuminate his Kryptonian heritage but what they really did was have Kara upstage Clark at every turn. Clark was portrayed as mindless and lost who was stationary at the farm and there was no movement forward whatsoever. He didn’t join Oliver’s superhero group, walks away from the red cape, and refuses to learn how to fly twice. This made Kara popular and Clark unpopular with the viewers. The season saw the debut of Black Canary and the return of Brainiac. After this season, there many departures – AlMiles, Michael Rosenbaum, Kristin Kreuk, John Glover, and Laura Vandervoort.
The eighth season was the first season without AlMiles and the show was run by Brian Peterson, Kelly Souders, Todd Slavkin, and Darren Swimmer. After three seasons of being stationary, Clark finally moved forward as he worked at the Daily Planet with Lois and developed a superhero secret identity of the Red-Blue Blur. Lex Luthor was replaced by Tess Mercer, who became acting CEO of LuthorCorp, and the season villain Davis Bloome aka Doomsday. Despite Clark moving forward, this season clearly belonged to Chloe who was in the center of the Doomsday storyline and the death of Jimmy Olsen, who was revealed to be the faux Jimmy. The season finale changed Chloe into a darker character. Oliver Queen had become a series regular and Allison Mack started directing an episode for the first time. Lana Lang returned for her final 5 episodes to part ways with Clark one last time, but whatever momentum the season had was derailed by Lana herself. After the season, Slavkin and Swimmer departed after being responsible for the Lana arc.
The ninth season is considered to be the best post-AlMiles season ever as they decide to go mostly all out where we had Major Zod as the season villain and Clark wearing a black prototype suit with the symbol on his chest. Oliver and Chloe were starting to form a relationship that would be the counterpoint to Clark and Lois. This season had its first-ever feature film called Absolute Justice which has the debut of the Justice Society of America teaming up with Clark, Oliver, and J’onn to battle the Icicle. Other villains include the shady government organization called Checkmate, lead by both Max Lord and Amanda Waller. Tess was all over the map in this season compared to the 8th season as she was many things. The season finale called Salvation saw the future in 2013 where Superman made his first appearance and Clark would have the suit given to him by Martha Kent. Salvation was Clark-centric in that he battled Major Zod and saved the world once again.
The tenth season was the final season and its theme would be Ghosts of the Past when it should have been Birth of Superman. It started out good with the first 3-4 episodes. Homecoming saw Clark interacting with his future self wearing glasses and flying in suit as he they teamed up to save Lois and the people once again. From Homecoming, the bulk of the season was a mess as one storyline was followed by another storyline and it lacked cohesiveness. Even more disturbing was that they had Supergirl for a title and they couldn’t the same thing with Superman. Instead of focusing on Clark’s transformation into Superman, they brought in past characters to fit with the season theme. The focus was mainly Clark and Lois, who became a full-time regular. There was no buildup to Clark flying or wearing the suit as it was done in teases and loopholes. It all culminated into a spectacular 2-hour finale where Clark finally flew and wore the suit. The Finale worked as a stand-alone, but put it with the rest of the season it felt like a lightswitch. The tenth season could have been the best season, but it wasn’t until the Finale. Lazarus, Homecoming, Booster, and Finale were the highlights of the season and without these episodes, the season itself would have been a mess. The Finale was a spectacular end to the series, despite good and bad points and I don’t think there will ever be another series to match the accomplishments of Smallville. It’s been a great ride that will be a part of me forever.