Created by: Alfred Gough, Miles Millar
Cast: Tom Welling, Allison Mack, Erica Durance, Cassidy Freeman, Aaron Ashmore, Sam Witwer, Justin Hartley
Synopsis: With Lex Luthor seemingly out of the picture, Tess Mercer (Freeman) steps in to take over his empire, including the Daily Planet. Aside from his most popular nemesis being absent, Clark’s adventures begin to more closely resemble those of his comics alter ego. He has a job at the Daily Planet, which he uses to his benefit to save more lives in metropolis, he has the beginnings of a relationship with Lois, and his actions more frequently have him working with Green Arrow and the Justice League.
Given that this season has started to deliver on the more recognisable Superman storyline, for me it became much more entertaining and watchable. This is saying a lot given that up until this point, I have generally been able to praise the series, despite regularly griping about the interminable delaying tactics which have been used to keep Clark at more an origin story level rather than living up to his promise.
Admittedly, a large part of my enjoyment was perhaps also due to a significant lack of Lana. For a number of seasons now,no matter what attempts have been made to make the character interesting, the foreknowledge that the relationship was doomed to end to make way for Lois has made her story arc superfluous. She does appear again in this season, and those particular episodes are the only truly weak ones in an impressive season. However, all indications are there is no way Lana can come back and be a part of Clark’s life after this and relief is my main emotion.
Conversely, Lois’ role has been significantly expanded, and the developing feelings that both she and Clark share are being developed slowly but naturally. The longer that Durance has been inhabiting the role, the more humane and interesting she has made the character overall. She individually shines in a number of episodes, and as a result I found myself as an audience member cheering the relationship on, and eager to see every little chink in the chain of development.
Aside from Clark’s love-life, he faces new challenges, and more classic villains. Tess Mercer is the new version of Lex, and her introduction once again introduces the ambiguous motives that made Lex himself so interesting in the early seasons, as opposed to his later more clear-cut villainy. The seeds are also planted early on that the “Big Bad” is indeed Doomsday, most famous from DC comics “Death of Superman” saga. His origin story is slightly altered, with a human half of him portrayed by Sam Witwer. He ably fills the role, but the character can get a bit whiny and ignoring. His obsession for Chloe as well is a bit much, though at least the reason behind it is clearly developed. Chloe herself has a really tough time this season, but on more than one occasion shows why she has become such a fan favourite. After all, it is only really Allison Mack and Tom Welling that have featured in every single opening credits sequence for the show. She experiences love, including a wedding to Ashmore’s Jimmy Olsen, and reaffirms her role as Watchtower with the Justice League. Her story is also the one this season with the greatest emotional impact.
There have been a few seasons of Smallville that I have struggled to complete a post of decent length for. This was not one of them. I feel I could keep rambling about this one with no end to the post in site. Anyone who wants me to can leave a comment and I will happily do an episode-by episode breakdown. For now though I will say that Smallville has surpassed the already high quality of earlier seasons, and I am eagerly anticipating putting in the discs for Season 9.
4.5 stars out of 5
Season 8 opening credits