So, if you’ve been following my list of what I’m watching on DVD, you’ll see — for the next little while anyway — that I just finished watching the entire series of Smallville, from start to finish. And in my opinion, the series should have ended after season 7 … and, particularly, at one scene.
Before describing that scene, I want to set up a little bit why Smallville Seasons 8 – 10 could have been tossed without losing anything. First, both Lex Luthor and Lana Lang left the show at that point. With Lois entering the picture, Lana wasn’t as important a character, but Smallville had been set around both Clark and Lex, with us watching Lex’s change from a not-so-villainous character into the villain he’d be at the end. So, Smallville lost its best antagonist, and the one the series had been built around for so long. At any rate, starting Season 8 we were missing Lex, Lana and Lionel. This left the second spot in the opening credits list to … Chloe. Now, I really like the character and really liked Alison Mack, but when the second character you list in the credits is an invented character with little tie to the canon, that should really scare you. In place of Lex we got … Tess Mercer, who was a lackluster villain that turned into a bit of an ally later. And then they added officially … Green Arrow, who was lackluster and didn’t really have that much of a roll in the series. So, since Tess Mercer was a lackluster antagonist and a character that we hadn’t seen before, she certainly couldn’t fill the big shoes of Lex Luthor as an antagonist. So the series was in trouble, in my opinion, from the start.
Now, ask yourself what storylines from the last 3 seasons you really would have missed. Again, Tess’ were lackluster, and so we can lose her antagonist path completely. Doomsday was a big storyline, but with the “We should feel sympathy for Davis” line it was, in my view, botched. There just wasn’t the emotional connection that we would have had in debating over whether to just kill him or not — because Clark’s view of not killing him and taking the other option made too much sense until the very end where Davis, for no real reason, goes bonkers — and the ending was just too insane to buy. Zod was more interesting, but not necessary. The whole “Lex’s death and Lana killing him and getting power” storyline was only added because they needed to move the series on without them, and the ending of the Clark/Lana relationship was badly done, as instead of them breaking up by, say, realizing that they aren’t right for each other it’s only because Clark literally can’t stand to be around her that it happens, implying that if he could he’d leave Lois in an instant … which carries on to the ending. Darkseid was interesting … but seemed rushed, and could easily have carried a movie on its own with all the set-up that we didn’t really have.
So, really, there’s nothing that we couldn’t have lived without. But, then, would ending it at Season 7 have been better?
To me, the ultimate ending scene for Smallville was at the end of Season 7, right after Lex kills Lionel. Lex is standing at Lionel’s grave, and Clark arrives as well. They look at each other and at the grave in complete silence, Lex with an expression of distaste and Clark mostly the same. It’s clear in Season 7 that their friendship is over, and Lex is making it a goal to get rid of “The Traveller”, who is Clark. In the end, Lex walks away and brushes past Clark as the music plays. It’s a brilliant scene, and worthy of an ending. Sure, one could argue that the more hopeful ending of Season 10 works nicer, but I’d say that for Smallville as it was written this is the ending you need, the one that sets up the canon for Superman and why Lex will hate Superman. And having to remove Lex’s memory to fit into the canon cheapens the entire series because the series really did show his development … but he forgot all the bad things that happened, so why does all of that still matter to him? Why is he still evil after that?
What I would have done is, again, made that episode the last of the series. Resolve the Brainiac line earlier in the season — Chloe even comments that it’s odd that Clark is chasing Brainiac while Lex is off to find the thing that controls Clark — and then set-up the end of the Traveller arc in the last episode. Have Clark stop Lex … as Clark. Have some kind of effect throw Lex off the scent, and in some way present the Traveller as not being Clark. I mean, it’s not like that’s never been done, right? So, Clark breaks the key or something like that, opposing him mostly because he wants to keep himself safe but, to Lex’s eyes, because he wants to respect Lionel’s wishes. And in that moment, Lex realizes that Clark was more a son to Lionel despite all of Lex’s efforts. Again, a big part of Smallville was Lex trying to be what Lionel wanted him to be, and constantly feeling like he was failing. At the end, he realizes that he did well and truly fail … and that a lot of that was by trying to be who Lionel wanted him to be. It’s reasonable for him to see this as a wasted effort, that all of the time he put in trying to be Clark’s friend while still trying to be what Lionel wanted didn’t matter at all, add in his belief that the Traveller was a threat and that Boy Scout’s like Clark were going to interfere because they couldn’t do what needed to be done, and it’s reasonable for him to conclude that he needs to be ruthless … and a villain.
And then, ending it here allows for them to do one of two things:
1) Open with a new series aimed at Superman itself, where a lot of the Season 8 – 10 storylines could have been covered better, in a different context.
2) Since they wanted to do reboots of Superman around that time, move the Smallville universe to the big screen, bringing along the Smallville fan base while having a better universe to start from. Heck, if it was just movies Lana and Lex might have been able to stick around and do other things, meaning that you might not even have to recast.
As it is, Seasons 8 – 10 are disappointing, and do things that Superman should do, not what is the equivalent of Superboy. It would have been so much better to end it after Season 7 and be done with it, ending on what I think is the absolute best scene in the entire series.