Will Lois and Clark finally get together? Will Zod take over the world? Will the blur finally fly? Will Chloe find her true love? All these questions and many more will be answered in Smallville: The Complete Ninth Season, recently released to DVD.
Smallville recovered nicely from an uneven season eight. The loss of Michael Rosenbaum (Lex Luthor) and Kristen Kreuk (Lana Lang) made the season one of moving in new directions. Kreuk, whose chemistry with Tom Welling (Clark Kent) was central to the show’s longevity and popularity, brought her character to a close with appearances in five episodes. Both actors felt their characters had reached dead ends and after seven years were ready to move on to other opportunities. Kreuk’s exit was probably necessary as it allowed the relationship between Erica Durance (Lois Lane) and Welling to finally move forward unimpeded in season nine.
The series continued its use of a season-long arc, in this case revolving around a Superman comic book character who was the latest villain to challenge Clark Kent. Collum Blue as Zod was the latest threat to our world. Interspersed were a series of standalone episodes which allowed the various characters of the Smallville world to star and develop. Alison Mack as Chloe, who returned for her ninth season as a central character, and Justin Hartley as Oliver Queen, The Green Lantern, share top billing with Durance and Welling. The other brilliant addition from the Superman universe of characters was the appearance of The Justice Society Of America featuring Dr. Fate, Hawkman, and Stargirl.
Here are my top five episodes from season nine:
Episode 20: The always welcome Annette O’Toole (Martha Kent) makes a brief return as the widowed Martha Kent. Her new suitor is none other than the venerable Perry White. This new relationship in Clark’s life combined with the continued hunt for The Book Of Rad make for an entertaining hour.
Episode 9: The mostly evil Tess enters Lois’ mind and finds memories of the future where Zod is supreme and Superman is powerless. It is Chloe who leads the resistance.
Episode 4: Clark Kent acquires the the ability to read minds. His best use for this ability is to get a date with Lois. Also Oliver Queen becomes the target of the “Toyman Says” game.
Episode 11 (double episode): The aforementioned Justice Society Of America is being eliminated by the notorious Icicle. Another herioc team comes to the rescue, which quickly expands the Smallville cast of characters.
Episode 15: Lois and Clark finally take a romantic getaway. Who should also be at the same inn but Chloe and Oliver. Then there is the relationship between Zod and Tess. And let’s not forget the man-killing Silver Banshee.
Still, it is the developing romance between Lois and Clark that provides the heart and soul of the season. It has taken Durance quite awhile to erase the ghost of Kreuk but finally she and Welling have developed chemistry together which greatly enhanced the season.
The 21 episodes delve deeper into the Superman mythology. It is a series based on the beginnings of the Superman legend and comic book characters and they were wise to focus on a number of those facts.
Welling has certainly settled in as the comic book hero. He was always excellent with the action scenes but was a little awkward romantically which was more due to Kreuk’s presence as the long-suffering girlfriend. His character has developed a nice tension with Lois Lane. His journey from childhood to full Superman status is almost complete. Erica Durance is a different kind of Lois Lane. In addition to being smart she also kicks butt which brings a new dynamic to the developing romance with Clark. Chloe continues to be the pining and loyal sidekick. Their was talk Alison Mack would not return for the tenth season and then would only appear in a few episodes. Her journey from high school nerd to sophisticated companion to our super hero has also been a long one. If there was any justice she would end up with Clark Kent but we all know how the romantic angle is supposed to end.
There are a number of special features that should please most long-term fans of the show. There are commentaries on two of the episodes, a number of deleted scenes (although some are very short), the development and evolution of the Zod character, and a look at the Justice Society Of America which traced its history back to the comic book Justice League of the 1940s and how they came to enter the Smallville universe.
The tenth and last season will begin Friday, September 24 and by the time it finishes Smallville will become the longest running science fiction series in United States television history. Season nine is the set-up for the final season when the fates of Clark, Lois, Chloe, and the cast of characters which have become so well known will be determined.