The Husband:

As I mentioned in my previous update on this long-running WB/CW show, Smallville became the exception to the rule by becoming a better, more focused and more exciting show only after the resignation of its two creators, Millar & Gough, as well as two of its biggest cast members, Kristin Kreuk (Lana Lang) and Michael Rosenbaum (Lex Luthor). By shifting its focus now almost 100% toward Metropolis, the show has grown into something grander while at the same time more intimate. How is this possible?

While I loved the Freak of the Week episodes of the first three seasons, all set in Smallville, they began to pale in comparison to the season-long story arcs (season four’s finale, especially, proved how good that show could be over an extended period of time). But when the FOWs went away, the season arcs suffered too, a result of their stories being far too stretched out and altogether too formulaic. I thought season 7’s major story, about the creation of Isis and its relation to Kara/Supergirl, was piss-poor.

Still strong, after all these years.

Still strong, after all these years.

But with season 8, the great big story arc, a.k.a. the Rise of Doomsday, was mixed in far better with a resurgence in FOWs, but instead of the first three seasons, where the formula was a villain becoming exposed to meteor rocks (i.e. kryptonite) and then discovering their dastardly power, these Metropolis-based villains are true super-villains, those both in control of their powers and aware of their major fuck-with-Clark-Kent plans. All in all, it just worked.

And oh man, did Kristin Kreuk’s exit ever help the show. After what seemed like decades of the Clark-Lana-Lex love triangle, Clark was finally allowed to focus on other tasks, not the least of which saving the world (and, you know, finally doing some heavy flirting with Lois). But Lana did come back periodically throughout the season, and while I would normally cry out “How can we miss you if you won’t go away,” I confess that I found her spring season two-episode arc to be some of the best work this show has seen. The best moment of the season, by far, was her sacrificing her newfound superpower, allowing kryptonite to enter her now-with-alien DNA body from a superbomb atop a Metropolis skyscraper, to save the city, to save the world, and to save Clark. Finally, I felt like she was actually a part of the story and not just the unwitting victim she was for so many years.

As far as VOWs in the second half of the season go (to me, they should now be Villains of the Week, because the show has finally earned that), the best was probably “Infamous,” where Linda Lake (Tori Spelling, not great but serviceable as a silly villain), the nasty gossip reporter who can turn into water, threatens to expose Clark’s true identity as the “Red-Blue Blur” (we’re not up to him being called Superman just yet), and has the story stolen from her as Clark comes clean to the world about his alien origins and superpowers, only to have his life fall apart and him conveniently going back in time thanks to that Legion Ring and setting everything straight again.

As for the best silly episode, that’s a tie between “Hex” – where Chloe wishes she had Lois’ life and ends up actually inhabiting her body – and “Stiletto” where Lois creates her own crime-fighting persona and realizes that it’s really hard to kick ass in stiletto heels. I need an episode like this every once in a while, just for levity’s sake.

(I did not, however, like any episode related to the Legion, sent from Krypton to aid Clark. It was just too on-the-nose and somewhat antithetical to Clark’s true mission to find himself and not just use others for their strengths.)

But all the best drama came from Davis Bloome a.k.a. Doomsday, the EMT with a confused past and a really bad case of turning into an indestructible monster whenever he blacked out or got angry. After he ransacked Chloe’s wedding to Jimmy Olsen, he finally starts up a relationship with her, as he notices that, thanks to her meteor rock-received power of healing, that he doesn’t turn into a destructive force when around her. But this leads to the best episode of the season, “Eternal,” where Davis’ past finally comes into focus. It turns out that he came down with Clark in that meteor shower back in 1989, but was picked up by Lionel Luther, who thought that he was the fabled Traveler who would save the world. (The true Traveler is, of course, Clark.) Once Lionel discovered his mistake, he treated Davis like shit and finally gave him up for adoption, not knowing that Davis would play a major part in the Kryptonian conflict on Earth, because Davis is literally destined to battle Clark.

It’s all rather silly, I know, but Sam Witwer really put a great deal of effort into making Davis a fully sympathetic yet loathsome creature, a troubled man with uncontrollable urges. And even when black kryptonite was finally used to separate his two personalities, Davis and Doomsday, he was still murderous and jealous enough to murder Jimmy Olsen in cold blood. (That final decision, to kill Jimmy, is a bold declaration from this show that we shouldn’t really expect anything anymore, and that the show technically is its own beast and doesn’t have to follow Superman’s comic lore if it doesn’t want to, a welcome respite from all those in-jokes to the lore that got real old real fast.)

Next season, the show will finally move away from its Thursday at 8 p.m. spot, where I’m amazed it lasted so long all those years up against such shows as Friends and Survivor and be placed on Friday nights where it might die a slow death. Then again, the show has always had trouble cracking the Top 100, and if you don’t factor in its youthful audience and its DVD sales it’s simply amazing that the show has lasted this long. But Tom Welling is 32 now and the show needs to end at some point, and I’m hoping that the Zod-centric next season will be its last. Most would say that the show has lost all of its energy, and while I won’t agree with that, I do think it needs an endgame and stick to it.

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