The Smallville finale aired on May 13 and re-aired for an encore on May 19. The producers said it was a stand-alone and they were right that it was and it works that way. However, when putting the final with the rest of the final season and the series, it felt like one big lightswitch. The show had a rule of No Tights, No Flights. That may have worked in the first four seasons when Clark was in high school, but the problem here is that the payoff to Clark’s journey is becoming Superman that would involve tights and flights. The rules had to be lifted. The No Tights rule I can understand as they pointed out that Clark will not wear the suit until the Finale, but I have a problem with the No Flights rule. There were teases and loopholes of Clark flying through floating and out-of-character devices, but they didn’t break the rule. They were going around it. To see Clark flying for real on his own only in the Finale was a big lightswitch. There was no buildup of Clark flying and Supergirl saw Kara teaching Clark how to fly, but Clark didn’t practice since then. I’m not interested in offscreen development as that means nothing. There should have been scenes of Clark practicing flight prior to the Finale, but we didn’t get that. Instead he suddenly flew in the Finale after he was still having doubts as this could have put his 10-year journey in vain if he wasn’t shown his trials. The way he flew in the finale was great, but it was too sudden and it didn’t feel like a final Smallville episode but rather a Superman episode instead.
As for the suit itself, that wasn’t shown that much in the final season. We’ve seen the suit in Lazarus, Prophecy, and Finale. Clark didn’t know that Jor-El took the suit to the Fortress nor did he saw it Prophecy thus making that scene pointless. To hear him say that it’s not the suit that makes Superman or that he will fly in the real world someday was the producers way of saying that the No Tights, No Flights rule is still in effect. Clark debuted his red shield jacket in Shield, but he barely wore it and was used in action in Ambush, Masquerade, and Booster. It’s odd to see a group of costumed superheroes be led by someone not wearing the tights like the rest of them. In the Finale, we didn’t get a full shot of Clark wearing the suit as we only got close-ups and CGI’s. The shirt rip at the end was him wearing the top part of the suit only. Luckily, we got Superman in action saving Lois and the plane and pushing Apokolips out of Earth wearing the suit and flying with it. Without that, I wouldn’t accept a shirt rip alone as they wouldn’t build 10 years towards that.
Yes, we’ve seen Clark overcome the darkness since Homecoming and becoming a beacon of light to others. When it comes to flight and suit, we have not seen any buildup towards those two things. Clark becoming Superman involves flying and wearing the suit and it’s the payoff. That’s where my criticism comes in when it comes to flights and tights. To see Kara flying without the suit on regular basis, or seeing Zod and the Kryptonian army flying in the 9th season, or Clark Luthor flying would tell me that the stalling of Clark flying on his own accord had more to do with the producers than a story reason. He should have been confident and ready to become Superman and he wasn’t as he still has doubts. Luckily him being shown his trials prevented his journey from being in vain. So this destroys the notion of Lois being the key here as she was more of a distraction much like Lana was in the first 8 seasons.
I’d accept Clark wearing the suit and flying in the finale if there was buildup towards it, but there wasn’t. It was one big lightswitch after 10 years.