Smallville, on The WB (s1-5) / The CW (s6-10)
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Caution: major spoilers!
When the series starts, there is a meteor shower in Smallville, Kansas. It causes plenty of damage, including the death of Lana Lang's parents (she would be adopted by her aunt Nell). A young Lex Luthor is in town with his father, Lionel (John Glover). Lex is exposed to the meteors or whatever, and goes bald. Meanwhile, tons of meteor rocks are scattered around town. They're actually kryptonite, but that word won't exist for quite awhile. The meteors are of course fragments of the planet Krypton, which has exploded, far away (but we don't learn that for quite awhile, either). The last survivors of Krypton, of course, sent their son Kal-El to Earth in a small spaceship, which fell down in Smallville along with the meteorites. Local farmers Jonathan (John Schneider) and Martha Kent (Annette O'Toole) find the small boy, take him home and raise him, adopting him and calling him Clark.
But that's all sort of flashback. The series actually starts 12 years later, in the present (the show started in 2001), when Clark (Tom Welling) is in high school. He really likes Lana (Kristin Kreuk), but she's going out with a jock named Whitney, so Clark and Lana are just friends. Anyway, Clark works on the school paper, the Torch, with his friends Chloe Sullivan (Allison Mack) and Pete Ross. (Chloe is totally my favorite character on this show.) Um... and Chloe wants to be more than friends with Clark, though it takes him most of the first season to figure that out. They finally try to start a relationship, at the end of the season, but it doesn't work out.
Anyway... at the start of the series, Lex (Michael Rosenbaum) is also back in town, all grown up and put in charge of Luthorcorp's local plant, which employs a great many of the town's people and has a huge effect on the town economy. A lot of people don't trust Lex, especially Clark's dad. But Lex and Clark become friends after Clark saves his life, and Lex isn't as bad as his father Lionel, who's running Luthorcorp back in Metropolis (which seems to be fairly nearby, whereas in the Superman comics and other media, I think it's supposed to be much farther away, not even in the same state). Of course, Lex is also quite interested in the meteor shower from all those years ago. And he's interested in how Clark saved his life, which seemed impossible. So, he wants to figure out a lot of things, and has various people investigating things for him.
Meanwhile, there are all sorts of strange things going on, all directly related to the meteorites, giving people all kinds of different bizarre powers and stuff. Chloe loves to investigate and write about this stuff for the Torch, and keep track of it all on her "Wall of Weird." And Clark is learning to deal with his superpowers. (I guess I forgot to mention that, but you know the series is about the years before Clark eventually becomes Superman, so of course he had superpowers, though it will be some time before he develops all of the powers we expect of Superman, and he isn't supposed to ever start flying, during the series.) Anyway, he does a fair amount of rescuing people, and stopping people with meteor-induced powers ("meteor freaks") from doing bad things, and whatnot (not that everyone with such powers will necessarily be bad guys). All this, while trying to keep his own powers secret from everyone but his parents, and having to deal with school and friendships and his own emotional stuff, and all that. He'd also like to play sports in school, but his father doesn't want him to, because he'd have an unfair advantage, and also he'd risk exposing himself as having powers.
What else? At one point, Clark meets an old blind woman named Cassandra, who has visions of the future when she touches people; she has some troubling visions of both Clark and Lex's futures. At the end of the first season, Whitney joins the Marines and leaves Smallville. We also begin to see a kind of rivalry between Lex and Lionel; their relationship will be very complicated, throughout the series. But both of them have their own independent interests in the mysteries surrounding Clark. Anyway, the series was at its least complicated, in the first season. Aside from getting to know the characters and how they related to each other, it was mostly just freak of the week stories....
Pete learns the truth about Clark's powers, and that he's from another planet. Clark's happy to have someone to confide in about all this, but eventually it will put a strain on their relationship. We also learn that while green meteor rocks can hurt Clark, red ones remove all inhibitions, so he'll do whatever he feels like, which can often be bad. Also, the Kawatche Caves are explored, which contain old Native American paintings and such that seem to relate a prophecy which may be about Clark, and his ultimate destiny. Eventually, he puts the hexagonal key from his spaceship into a similarly-shaped slot in the wall of a cave, and learns the Kryptonian language. He'll then be contacted by Dr. Virgil Swann (played by Christopher Reeve, who of course played Superman in four movies). Swann had studied a signal from space, so he knew a lot about Krypton, which he began to share with Clark (who he informed as actually named Kal-El). After this, Clark also gets a recorded message from his biological father, Jor-El, saying that Kal-El was intended to conquer Earth (which of course Clark doesn't want to do). Eventually, Clark destroys his ship, and leaves Smallville. Also, Lex married a woman named Helen, but on route to their honeymoon, their jet goes down.
During the last four weeks of season 2, there was a series of webisodes called "The Chloe Chronicles," which were released on AOL, but I didn't get to see it.
Clark is again under the influence of red Kryptonite, and working for crimelord Morgan Edge, in Metropolis. However, Jonathan makes a deal with Jor-El (who in spite of being long-dead, well, his consciousness, or a recording thereof, is still around, sort of, which is confusing, but will often be an important plot point). Jor-El gives Jonathan temporary super-strength, so he can bring Clark back to Smallville. Meanwhile, Lex is stranded on a desert island, and everyone thinks he's dead, but he soon returns home. Later, we meet a formerly reputable reporter named Perry White (Michael McKean), who's now doing a tabloid show. He attempts to expose Clark's secret, but eventually goes back to serious journalism, and leaves town. At one point, it seems Lex has had a psychotic breakdown, and is committed to Belle Reve sanitarium (which, over the course of the series, we'll often see as a place to hold many meteor freaks, after they're stopped). Lionel later manages to get Lex to have electroshock therapy, which erases his memory. I think sometime this season, Nell moved away, and Lana lived on her own, at the Talon, a cafe she owned (or co-owned with Lex). Chloe also provides information to the FBI about Lionel having been involved in the death of his own parents (which leads to Chloe herself apparently being killed; even in prison, Lionel is dangerous). And at the end of the season, Lana moves to Paris. Also, by the end of the season, Pete left town.
Over the last several weeks of season 3, "The Chloe Chronicles, volume 2" was released on AOL, but I didn't get to see it.
Chloe's cousin, Lois Lane (Erica Durance) comes to town. She and Clark don't get along that well at first, but eventually they'll become friends. And we soon learn that Chloe's really alive. Lana returns from Paris, and now has a boyfriend named Jason Teague (Jensen Ackles), who becomes assistant football coach at the high school. We also meet a boy named Bart Allen (aka the Flash). Oh, and the major story arc of the season involves a search for three Kryptonian stones that have great power. Various people are looking for them, trying to assemble them all, including Lana, Lex, Jason's mother Genevieve (Jane Seymour), etc. So there's a lot of competition and secrecy going on. We also learn about a secret facility called 33.1, where Lex has a team conducting various experiments. Later, Chloe witnesses Clark using his powers, but doesn't reveal to him that she knows his secret (at least part of it). Also, Clark gets a dog named Shelby, who had super powers for a little while. Eventually, Clark gets all the stones and puts them together in the Kowatche Cave. He's transported to the Arctic. Meanwhile, a spaceship arrives on Earth.
The Fortress of Solitude (I don't think it was called that in the show, but we know what it is) is formed in the Arctic, where Clark will now be able to communicate with Jor-El. Meanwhile, the spaceship in Smallville contained two Kryptonian disciples of General Zod, an old enemy of Jor-El's. Later, Chloe reveals to Clark that she knows his secret. Eventually, Jor-El strips Clark of his powers for disobeying him. And Clark ends his friendship with Lex, which had been strained for a long time by the secrets they kept from each other. Clark is later killed, but Jor-El possesses Lionel (who I don't remember when he got out of prison), and resurrects Clark with all his powers, though someone close to Clark will have to die as a result. Clark will worry about everyone he knows for some time after this. Also this season, we meet Arthur "A.C." Curry (aka Aquaman). Also, Clark, Lana, and Chloe are all attending Metropolis University, this season, where Clark meets a professor named Milton Fine (James Marsters). We eventually learn that he's actually an artificial intelligence called Brainiac, created by Kryptonians, who is very dangerous. Meanwhile, Lex and Jonathan campaign against each other for the State Senate. Eventually, Lana dies, but Clark begs Jor-El to save her... which he does, but it means Jonathan dies, instead. This, of course, will cause Clark a lot of pain. Later, Martha is given Jonathan's seat in the Senate, so we won't see much of her anymore. We also meet Victor Stone (aka Cyborg). Clark dates Lana for awhile, but eventually breaks up with her, because of his secret. Clark eventually also learns that Lionel knows his secret. Also, Lana begins investigating a spaceship, along with Lex. And the two of them begin to get closer. At the end of the season, Brainiac forces Clark to release Zod from an interdimensional prison world called the Phantom Zone. However, Zod requires a vessel to inhabit, which turns out to be Lex. And Clark ends up stuck in the Phantom Zone, himself.
Near the end of season 5, a series of webisodes called "The Vengeance Chronicles" was released on TheWB.com, but I didn't get to see it.
Clark receives help in escaping the Phantom Zone from Jor-El's former assistant, Raya. Clark defeats Zod, but a number of prisoners apparently escaped the Phantom Zone at the same time as Clark, so he'll spend much of the season hunting them down. We meet Jimmy Olsen (Aaron Ashmore), a photographer at the Daily Planet newspaper in Metropolis, who eventually starts dating Chloe. Also this season, we meet Oliver Queen (Justin Hartley), aka Green Arrow, a former friend of Lex's, who soon begins dating Lois. Martha begins running for the U.S. Senate, and eventually moves to Washington, D.C. Lex proposes to Lana. We'll also meet John Jones, aka Martian Manhunter (Phil Morris), this season. Clark teams up with Bart, A.C., Victor, and Oliver, to put a stop to one of Lex's projects at 33.1, and all of them (except Clark) later leave town to track down the other projects he has going on around the world. Lana eventually learns Clark's secret (though he doesn't know this), and decides not to marry Lex, but Lionel forces her into it. Clark eventually tells Lana the truth about himself. We also learn that Lionel is working as an emissary of Jor-El. At one point, Lois is fatally wounded, but Chloe saves her life, using a newfound meteor power of her own, though its use seems to kill Chloe, herself. Meanwhile, Lana appears to be killed by a car bomb. We also see the final Phatom Zone escapee, who copies Clark's DNA and becomes "Bizarro" (though I'm not sure that name was used in the show, I'll use it for ease of reference).
In the middle of season 6, a series of webisodes called "Smallville Legends: The Oliver Queen Chronicles" was released as mobisodes on Sprint phones, before being released on CWtv.com.
Clark has to fight Bizarro. Lex is nearly killed, but is saved by Kara Kent (Laura Vandervoort). She's a Kryptonian cousin of Clark's, who was in suspended animation for 18 years, but now begins living with him. Chloe resurrects herself, and we also learn that Lana is actually alive, in China (but she eventually returns to Smallville, and resumes a relationship with Clark). Also, a crystal was stolen from Kara's ship. And we learn that her father, Zor-El, had plotted to kill Jor-El. Lana sets up a facility full of high-tech equipment to spy on Lex. She called it the Isis Foundation, and it was ostensibly to help people with meteor infections, but that was just a cover, at first. Eventually, though, that became its real objective. Also, the Daily Planet gets a new editor, Grant Gabriel, who eventually starts dating Lois. Though Grant turns out to be a clone of Lex's late brother, Julian. We eventually learn that Bizarro has been posing as Clark, who is trapped at the Fortress of Solitude. Bizarro tracks down Brainiac (who was supposedly destroyed, but wasn't- though he was now powerless). Brainiac directs him to Dax-Ur, a Kryptonian scientist who was secretly living on Earth. Jor-El releases Clark from imprisonment, to defeat Bizarro. But Brainiac gets his powers restored. Eventually, Grant is killed. We also meet Black Canary, who was working for Lex, but she eventually join's Green Arrow's team of heroes. For a time, Kara ended up living in Detroit, with amnesia. But Lex was looking for her, and eventually found her. At one point, Clark learns that somewhere in Lex's mind, his good side, represented by a young boy called Alexander, is still alive, and no matter how much Clark now distrusts Lex, he promises Alexander not to give up on him. Patricia Swann (the late Virgil Swann's daughter) shows up, looking for Kal-El. We learn that long ago, her father, as well as Lionel, the Teagues, and the Queens, had been involved in a secret group called Veritas, who were interested in an alien called the Traveler- apparently, Kal-El. Lex becomes obsessed with learning more about Veritas. Eventually, Jor-El restores Kara's memory and powers. She later leaves with Brainiac, in order to save Lana's life, but Lana nevertheless ends up catatonic, in a clinic. The Department of Domestic Security believes Chloe is a terrorist. Jimmy strikes a deal with Lex to clear Chloe's name. Clark is later sent to Krypton in the past to prevent a plan of Brainiac's, and he returns to Earth in the present with Kara. Eventually we learn that Brainiac has been impersonating Kara, who is stuck in the Phantom Zone. Clark destroys him, and Lana regains consciousness, but leaves Clark. She feels she's holding him back from his destiny, to help the world. The DDS arrest Chloe, and Jimmy tells Clark, who heads to the Fortress of Solitude, where he finds Lex. The Fortress collapses around them both.
During season 7, an animated series of webisodes called "Kara and the Chronicles of Krypton" was released on Sprint phones, and later streamed on CWtv.com. I guess the webisodes were also aired on The CW during several episodes of the TV show, so I probably saw them there, but I don't remember.
Green Arrow and his allies search for Clark. Tess Mercer, a former love of Oliver's and new head of LuthorCorp, searches for Lex. Clark is eventually found, without his powers, in Russia. Chloe wasn't being held by the DDS, but a secret LuthorCorp facility in Black Creek, Montana, which was experimenting on various people with powers. Oliver and Clark rescue Chloe and other members of Ollie's team. John Jones restores Clark's powers, at the cost of his own. Clark begins working at the Daily Planet (Chloe and Lois had both worked there for awhile, I forget how long). Chloe meets a paramedic named Davis Bloome, who develops feelings for her. And she likes him, but she's still with Jimmy. We also meet a girl named Bette (aka Plastique), who has a meteor power. Tess recruits her for a group she's putting together. Tess is also now in possession of a Kryptonian crystal (it's hard to keep track of all those things). There's a serial killer in town, and Davis, who suffers blackouts, begins to fear it may be himself. Clark begins doing heroic stuff under the alias "Red-Blue Blur," which interests both Lois and Jimmy (neither of whom know Clark's secret, of course). At one point, Clark and Lois are trapped in the Phantom Zone, where they find Kara, and escape back to Earth, along with Zod's wife, Faora. We learn that Davis was created because she and Zod couldn't have a child. Kara leaves Earth to search for Kandor, a city of possible survivors of Krypton's destruction. Chloe is possessed by Brainiac. She becomes far more intelligent, but begins losing her memories of everyone except Davis. Jor-El eventually restores her memories, except for her knowledge of Clark's secret. Jimmy and Chloe get married, but Chloe is kidnapped by Doomsday, a monster which Davis had transformed into. He takes her to the Fortress. Clark receives help from three members of the Legion, a 31st century group of superheroes who consider Clark the greatest hero in history. They manage to extract what's left of Brainiac from Chloe, and take it back with them to the future. Meanwhile, Oliver and Lana have each independently been searching for Lex. Later, Lana uses one of Lex's projects, Prometheus, to imbue herself with super powers. However, she eventually is forced to absorb a kryptonite-bomb explosion, which makes it impossible for her to stay with Clark, so she once again leaves town. And Lex is finally killed in another explosion. We also meet a magician named Zatanna. Eventually, Davis (who has been trying to prevent himself from turning evil, mostly by killing evil people instead of innocent ones), decides he has to die, but the attempt to kill him fails. And the only thing that can keep him from turning into Doomsday is Chloe's presence. Clark wants to send Davis to the Phantom Zone, but Chloe stops him, and she and Davis run away together. Tess believes it is Clark's destiny to kill Doomsday, and she's put together a team of meteor-infected people to track him. Clark wants to use black Krytonite to split Davis from Doomsday, and trap the latter in the Phantom Zone, but Tess destroys the crystal that opens the Phantom Zone. Rokk, one of the Legionnaires, returns and gives Clark a ring to transport Doomsday to the future, but instead, after splitting Davis and Doomsday, he buries the beast deep underground. Lois finds the ring, and disappears. Davis, no longer a monster, kills Jimmy out of purely human jealousy over Chloe. (At Jimmy's funeral, it appears Jimmy's little brother may actually be the Jimmy Olsen familiar to comic books fans.) Also, Oliver admits to having killed Lex. And Clark decides to abandon his ties to humanity. Meanwhile, Tess seems to be working for someone or something claiming to be from Kandor, but in the end, Zod is released.
Lois returns from the future after three weeks, with no memories of her missing time. Um... if I haven't mentioned it, Chloe has sometimes been referred to by the codename "Watchtower," but the term is confusing, because it also sometimes refers to the facility she created, full of computers, to keep track of and investigate all sorts of stuff. It kind of reminds me of the Isis Foundation, but now it's in a new location. Anyway, Chloe uses the place to stay in touch with various heroes she and Clark have met over the years; the whole thing is funded by Oliver. Also, Dr. Emil Hamilton (Alessandro Juliani) sometimes works at Watchtower. (I don't remember when we first saw him in the series.) Meanwhile, Zod and his soldiers emerge from an orb Tess had, but Zod is a major, rather than a general. The Kandorians have no memories beyond having their blood drawn back on Krypton, nor do they have any of the powers they should have on Earth. Clark is now wearing black clothes, and going by the alter-ego "Blur" rather than "Red-Blue Blur." We also meet a man named John Corben, who is turned into a cyborg after an accident, and becomes Metallo. Eventually Clark goes back to working at the Planet and staying in touch with friends, and after awhile, he starts dating Lois. Oliver takes on a girl named Mia Dearden as an apprentice. Eventually we learn that the Kandorians are clones of their original selves, and that Zod and Jor-El were once best friends. Jor-El wants Clark to prevent the new Zod from becoming the villain that the original eventually did. At one point, Clark meets a pair of aspiring superheroes, Jayna and Zan. Lois begins talking to the Blur (Clark phones her, using a voice-changer). Eventually, Tess kidnaps Lois and uses a device to restore her memories from the future, and also witnesses them herself. A solar power-plant LuthorCorp was building ended up being used to turn the sun red, which stripped Clark's powers and gave Zod and his people theirs, and they enslaved humanity. Clark is determined to prevent this future from happening, and wishes to convince Zod and the other Kandorians to assimilate into humanity peacefully. Some of them eventually join Clark, but Zod brands them traitors. At one point we meet members of the former Justice Society of America, a group of superheroes who no one seems to have been aware of, who had all been branded criminals, many years ago. But now they're all being killed off. One of the heroes, Dr. Fate, gives Clark some information, as well as restoring John Jones' powers. Others we see include Hawkman, as well as Stargirl, an apprentice of one of the JSA heroes who had been killed. We also learn of a secret government organization called Checkmate, led by Amanda Waller. They want to assemble heroes to fight the Kandorians, but their methods put them at odds with Clark, Green Arrow, and John Jones. And we learn that Tess is an agent of Checkmate. At one point, Zod gets shot, and Clark uses his own blood to save his life, but this ends up giving Zod his powers (which, unlike Clark, includes flight). Later, Zod will use his blood to give powers to his soldiers. Eventually, Chloe and Oliver begin a relationship, though it's meant not to have an emotional attachment, that can't really be helped, in the long run. At one point, Zod begins calling Lois and pretending to be the Blur, but Clark eventually puts a stop to this, by abandoning his own contact with her as the Blur, and telling her not to trust anyone claiming to be the Blur. Eventually, Clark and his allies as well as Zod and his allies begin searching for something called the Book of Rao, which is obtained by a mysterious woman called the Red Queen (possibly involved with Checkmate, or possibly not). We eventually learn the surprising identity of the Red Queen, who gives the Book of Rao to Clark, telling him it could be used to send all Kryptonians on Earth to another plane of existence, including him. We also learn that Martha Kent is now dating Perry White. In the end, the Kandorians learn of Zod's betrayal of them, and accept banishment to... wherever the Book sends them. Zod is sent away with them, but Clark manages to remain on Earth by being stabbed by blue kryptonite. Tess seems to die (from wounds incurred earlier from Zod), and Lois seems to learn the Blur's true identity. Oh, and there was a hint that Lex may actually return someday....
Let's see. Clark was healed by Lois, though he doesn't know it was her, nor that she now knows his secret. Also Tess was resurrected, and wakes up in Cadmus Labs, where she finds clones of Lex. We'll see a few different clones of Lex throughout the season, in roles both villainous and heroic. Most prominently was a boy named Alexander who Tess began raising in secret (and who grew up too fast). We'll see more of various heroes throughout the season, including Carter Hall (Hawkman), Stargirl, and Kara. Also, Lois was away from the Daily Planet for awhile, and Clark was assigned a new partner, Cat Grant, who was not a fan of vigilantes like the Blur and Green Arrow. Eventually Lois returns, but Cat still works at the paper. Meanwhile, the major story arc of the season involves an alien called Darkseid, who we never seen much of personally. But he does infest various people's minds with darkness, to prepare the world for his coming. (The main three of these are "Granny Goodness," who runs an orphanage; a radio personality named Gordon Godfrey, who's trying to turn the public against heroes; and a club owner named Desaad). We also learn a surprising fact about Tess's background. Also this season, Oliver reveals his identity as Green Arrow to the world. We also get a glimpse of what Clark's future will be like. Another major event is the passing of the vigilante registration act, which requires heroes to reveal their identities, though most don't do this. There's also a secret group called the Suicide Squad that is working to turn the public against heroes. And we see an alternate universe where Clark was raised by Lionel and had become evil. That universe's Lionel ends up coming to our universe and causing some trouble, and later on so does that universe's Clark. Also this season Lois and Clark get engaged (and he reveals his secret to her), though of course they have plenty of troubles. And um, I should say Chloe was missing for most of the season, but eventually she returns and we learn the reason for her absence. And eventually the vigilante registration act is repealed. And as the Blur begins to become more visible to the world, Clark begins wearing glasses and acting clumsier and milder, so people won't suspect he's the Blur. At one point Zatanna some magical champagne causes Clark, Lois, Oliver, Chloe, Emil, and Tess to have a wild night they don't remember in the morning, and it eventually turns out that Oliver and Chloe had gotten married. And um... there may have been less Lex clones than I thought. I got confused. I think the one Tess was raising was evil for awhile but eventually turned good and also had Clark's powers and started using the name Conner. We also meet a superhero from the future, called Booster Gold, as well as a teenager named Jaime who acquires a super-powered suit and becomes Blue Beetle, though at first he can't control it. Well, tons of other stuff happens throughout the season, but in the end, Clark and Lois have to deal with their impending wedding as well as the approach of Darkseid's planet, Apokolips, which could destroy the world. At the same time, yet another Lex Luthor clone shows up, this one more like the real Lex than any others. Meanwhile, we're reminded of lots of stuff from throughout the series, even while Clark is learning to move forward into his destiny. And then there's a flashforward seven years into the future. There were various things I could nitpick about the finale, but ultimately I was pretty well satisfied with how it all ended.
Anyway. A lot changes over the years, and it's all really complicated, and sometimes seemed to drag on too long. But there's lots of cool stuff that happens over the years, and good characters. And it can all be very operatic and stuff. I dunno.... it's a pretty good show, but it has its flaws. Whatever. Um, I've forgotten millions of things, and intentionally left out things, even though I've probably said way too much. I still feel like I should say more, like all the differences from the comics, and stuff. But whatever, it's time for me to shut up.
There have also been comic book tie-ins to the series, including a "Season 11" comic. But I'm afraid I haven't read any of them.