Created by: Alfred Gough, Miles Millar
Cast: Tom Welling, Michael Rosenbaum, Kristin Kreuk, Allison Mack, Jensen Ackles, John Glover, Annette O’Toole, John Schneider, Erica Durance, Margot Kidder, Jane Seymour.
Synopsis: Three months after the events of the season 3 finale, Clark returns to Earth as Kal-El, on a mission from Jor-El to collect three Kryptonian stones. He has no memory of being Clark Kent, and is discovered on his return by one Lois Lane (Durance). She is in town to investigate the apparent murder of her cousin Chloe, but sticks around to regularly spend time with her very much alive relative. This season sees Lex and Lionel also after the Kryptonian stones, Lana in a new relationship with Jason (Ackles) whom she met in France but indeed seems to know more than he lets on, and also Chloe finally learns Clark’s secret, and without him actually knowing it, helps him keep it.
For me, this was the best season to date of Smallville. The drama had me hooked, with me finishing the whole season i record time (a bit of time at home sick also aided me in this pursuit, I must admit, though do not let this detract from the quality of the season). A lot of the more frustrating elements of the previous seasons were disposed of. The balance of character story arcs, mixed in with a few monster of the week episodes and some more comic elements, also made this the most balanced season to date.
It starts off at thrilling pace. Having Kal-El start the series introduces a fully fledged Kryptonian on Earth elements, it is great to see Clark finally fly, even if he is incapable of remembering how after his memory does return. Subsequent to this, Clark gets some genuinely great storylines, which are fitting given that this is also senior year. He has out of necessity been a person wise beyond his years before now, but despite this the reasoning behind his decisions has matured, and in this season he makes some really tough choices, yet they are choices for the best, and this is indicative of the man he is to become.
Better than that, this season finally introduces Lois Lane. Though I have read she was originally only intended as a cameo, it is clear to see why she kept coming back to Smallville. She is a feisty but fun, well-written character. Cleverly, they did not have Clark immediately smitten, but if anything, he loathes her. The sarcastic interplay between the two is fantastic, and provides some of the seasons best moments. Even better, Margot Kidder guest stars in her first episode, acting on behalf of Virgil Swann, the character played by Christopher Reeve, whom sadly passed during the airing of the early episodes of this season. There is an episode that pays tribute to him, with his character also dying in the series, and this moment is used to fitfully progress the story, as Swann’s character was always used to do.
The other major new character introduced is Jason Teague (Ackles before Supernatural fame). His character is at first quite likable, and as Lana’s new love interest, he is quite fun to have around. I feel his character later, though it evolves, does not evolve well. In fact, he is outshone by the brilliant Jane Seymour, whom regularly guest stars as his mother. In the end this is quite disappointing. I feel the character showed a lot of promise, but was then under utilised, just as Sam Jones III had been, whom he ironically replaces in the opening credits. What also doesn’t help his cause is the other element of Lana’s story with which he is entwined. Lana is this season possessed by the spirit of her ancestor, the witch Margaret Isobel Theroux. This story, though it does retain elements of credibility, does stretch a little far at times, even for a series as out there as this one.
What stands out for this season though are the true indications of the man Clark is to become, and of those characters that will be significant to him. Lois Lane is a big part of that, but an interesting episode in which Lex’s dark side is literally set free promises of the evil which he will at one stage be capable. Fortunately for Clark, he suffers amnesia from these events (something that actually happens a lot this season… to Lionel, Lex, Lois, Chloe, and to Clark twice), such that the true battle between them can remain after high school.
Being senior year, this is a season all about graduating, and not just from high school. Clark becomes a true adult in the course of this season, and the climax of the season strongly hints that he is to come into possession of a significant element in Superman folklore. It is all I can do to have the patience to write this review before I go ahead and put in disc one of season 5!!
4 stars out of 5
Season 4 opening credits [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YnAPBhatOHA]