At least one critic on TV.com said that all this episode – “Homecoming” (the 200th) – does is tell us that Clark’s dark side is a combination of his troublesome past and his fear of the future, and the episode certainly does do that. BRAINIAC beats that message into Clark’s head, mentioning it several times in several different ways, and part of that is probably to add some wordplay because this year’s villain is Darkseid himself. Herself? Is Darkseid gendered? Anyway, it’s not about what the episode tells us, not directly anyway. For this one in particular, it’s about what it tells Clark and what that means for us. And that message? “Wake up! Forgive yourself, move on, and become Superman.” Seeing Clark realize that it’s okay to stop blaming himself allows the frustrated viewer to calm down; after 10 years of will-he-or-won’t-he, Clark is accepting his destiny, as well as the role his tribulations have played in forging it.
This episode has Lois once again dropping hints that she knows Clark’s secret, one of the most obvious being when she says, “This person, for one, is gonna stand by her hero no matter how much mud [the media] sling.” She later says, “I would date [a hero] again in a heartbeat.” Aww. While I adore Lois’ love for Clark, it’s about time for her to clue him in that she knows; thankfully, I happen to know that that is going to happen very soon, and there is even a hint of it later on in “Homecoming.”
Both literal and figurative flashbacks abound in this episode, as we see stock footage of Lana and Chloe early on. I forgot how much I missed the Wall of Weird and Chloe’s journalistic exploits. Even though I am now ambivalent about Lana, it was nice to see her reappear, even if it was just a flashback. Most importantly, though, I find the flashbacks quite organic for an episode that brings time travel and nostalgia into the fold. Clark is going back to Smallville High for homecoming and his five-year reunion, and before he can even get in the door, he remembers the time he ran into Lana outside the school ten years ago, the first time (I believe) we got to see these two characters together. “What are you, man or super man?” Lana says. It is a little cheesy and predictable, but I can’t help loving it, even now, regurgitated in the landmark 200th episode of the series.
It hasn’t occurred to me until now how much the show has changed over the years. It used to take place mostly at the Kent farm or Smallville High; these days, we rarely get to see the farm, as Clark spends most of his time in Metropolis. And while that makes sense for the show, because Superman/Clark Kent should live in Metropolis, it is kind of sad to see Smallville, the very title of the show, fade into the background. I, for one, hope Smallville makes one final, bittersweet appearance before the end of the show. We’ve seen glimpses of it, even in this season, but I’m hoping there’s a more substantial story they can tell. Maybe there isn’t. I don’t know. But it would be a good way to say goodbye to a series called Smallville, wouldn’t it?
Now – sorry for that digression – back to “Homecoming.”
I love the way BRAINIAC comes back. We have a glimpse of this crazy woman, hellbent on destroying Clark, and then time freeze and in walks James Marsters. But this time, he’s playing BRAINIAC 5, the reprogrammed, good version from the future. The time freeze effect is great each time it is used in “Homecoming,” at least for a show in its tenth season with budget cuts left and right.
Clark’s face as he and Lois sit on the thrones as alumni homecoming king and queen is superbly hilarious. I can tell he is uncomfortable being on a pedestal, which speaks to his humbleness. But then everything freezes for the second time in the episode, and Clark begins his journey through time with BRAINIAC 5.
The flashback to Jonathan’s death is perhaps the most important one. “Why won’t you forgive yourself?” BRANIAC 5 asks Clark, who finally sees exactly what happened when his father died. Clark sees Jonathan protecting him from Lionel. Most of all, though, he sees that it is not his fault. After five years of blaming himself, Clark can make peace with his dad’s death and move on. He can forgive himself.
Back in the present, the famous Lifehouse song comes back to Smallville for one last hurrah, and Clark sees Greg (a.k.a. “Bug Boy”), from episode two of the series, walking up to Lois. Naturally, Clark assumes the worst when Greg says he has a message for Clark. He acts impulsively, grabbing the Legion ring on BRAINIAC 5’s finger and promptly propelling himself into the future.
Which is no where near where he wanted to be.
Almost immediately, we see that the “real” Jimmy Olsen does eventually make it to Smallville‘s version of the Superman story. It’s only a glimpse, a byline in a 2017 Daily Planet article, but it’s there, and it makes me happy. But I am still a little annoyed that the Jimmy Olsen we watched on the show for a couple of years was not the actual Jimmy Olsen of Superman lore – was, instead, his older brother – a mistake the writers failed to correct when they brought in Cat Grant, but I digress. Back to the future…
We find out that Clark will, indeed, be wearing glasses in the future (as he should), and Lois will be just as adorably supportive as ever – even more so, in fact. I love that she wears glasses too and that they have a special anniversary (the day Clark told her the truth she secretly already knew, and that moment is actually coming up very soon!). Her knowledge of Clark will certainly expand between now and 2017, as we realize when Lois starts talking about “the last son of Krypton” and worrying that Clark has been infected with Kryptonite. Obviously, after Clark tells Lois his secret, he will be infected several times, which is evident in this line: “Kryptonite again? Blue? Red? Not green! Please tell me it’s not the black because that was a disaster.” She is genuinely concerned for Clark, and that’s something that will never change. As it shouldn’t. This is even clearer when she later says, “If you need me, I am there. No deadline is more important than you.” Indeed, future Lois and Clark form a power couple – in more ways than one.
Clark eventually runs into himself in the Daily Planet elevator, and we finally get to see the Clark Kent we know and love from the movies and comics: the bumbling, geeky (but can I just say still totally gorgeous?) reporter with glasses and a tan coat. Future Clark tells present Clark that he knew he was coming and needs his help. There are two disasters happening at once, and present Clark has to fix one, while future Clark goes after the other one. A little contrived, but I’ll allow it! Then future Clark flies across the screen in full costume, giving us a glimpse of the true red, yellow, and blue blur that we have been waiting for. Clark smiles, and then goes to the roof to save Lois’ helicopter from crashing. Yet again, Lois shows her devotion to Clark by knocking out the pilot because she sees that Clark isn’t in costume. These are small comic details (no pun intended) that simultaneously reveal the close relationship Lois and Clark will have in the future, when everything is out in the open.
Next, BRAINIAC 5 tracks Clark down and takes him back to the present. There, we are treated to a surprise: Greg the Bug Boy has no malevolent intentions. He only wants to have Lois thank Clark for helping him, all those years ago. I love this moment simply for what it means for Clark, as it gives him hope and lets him know that what he is doing is the very best thing for Earth. It’s also just nice to have a twist thrown in, and I love that this twist means there is no typical Smallville structure for this episode. This is the second episode out of the four that have aired this season to feature what seems like a “freak-of-the-week” structure, and then turn it on its head. The first time, it turned out that the bad guy broke out of the detention he was placed in well before the episode was over, presumably to come back later as part of the Suicide Squad, and Clark was marked, presumably a story for a future episode; this time, the episode is all about Clark’s growth, with no real bad guy to overcome. It’s a refreshing change of pace to see this this season.
The episode is almost over, at this point. Before the final scene, Clark visits Jonathan’s grave in order to let go. This is a beautiful, fantastic scene. “I have to say the one thing I never could,” Clark says, and then he buries his father’s watch on the grave. And I’ll admit it: I sniffled. Such a touching moment! Clark can finally let go of his guilt because he knows that he isn’t responsible for Jonathan’s death. He knows that his father was only protecting him, and now he can honor Jonathan’s memory in peace. “Goodbye, dad. I promise to be the man you knew I could be.”
In the final couple of scenes of the episode, we see a press interview with Oliver, as Clark stands around smiling, and then one of my favorite Lois and Clark moments. A cute little dance scene whose emotion comes comes from multiple sources: the actors, the characters themselves, what I think is the first-ever (on Smallville) “I love you” exchange between the two, and then a shot of Lois and Clark.
Floating. Clark probably has no idea, and he still, clearly, has no control over his flight, but it is telling that his power seems to come from love. Lois may not know it, but she is teaching Clark how to be the hero he needs to be.
In short, I love the episode. While not perfect, it is a landmark because it is the 200th episode and because it will go down in history as one of the most important turning points in Clark Kent’s life. I can’t wait to see how it all ends!
***Some quotes I couldn’t fit into the review but still wanted to post***
“He’s always so Oliver I didn’t know that he needed me.” ~ Clark
“You spend so much time dwelling on the darkness of what happened in the past, you’re missing the present that’s right in front of your eyes.” ~ BRAINIAC 5
“I wanted you to see that your darkness lies not only in dwelling upon the past but in fearing the future.” ~ BRAINIAC 5
“A hero is made in the moment. Not from questioning the past or fearing what’s to come.” ~ BRAINIAC 5
“I lost someone. She meant everything to me.” ~ Oliver
“In this world of armchair bloggers, who have created a generation of critics instead of leaders, I’m actually doing something. Right here. Right now, for the city. For my country. And I’m not doing it alone. You’re damn right I’m a hero.” ~ Oliver
“Just for now, can we leave tomorrow until tomorrow and just have this?” ~ Clark
You can find a list of the other TwitTV Smallville reviews here: www.rogermarket.com/twittv-smallville-10×01-lazarus-10thfinal-season-premier.