Smallville is returning from its last midseason hiatus this Friday, and after 10 years you wouldn't think now would be the best time to start watching. But actually, there's never been a better time to delve into the world of Clark Kent.
Yes, you've missed the early season-10 returns of Jonathan Kent, Supergirl, Jor-El and Lara, Aquaman, Stargirl and Brainiac; you've missed Teri Hatcher's guest appearance as Lois' mother; and you've missed the epic death of a new but beloved character. But there's a lot more in store in the upcoming weeks.
Here are a few reasons why you should catch Smallville while you can:
The return of Lionel Luthor
Although Lex Luthor was one of the best villains on Smallville, his father Lionel was one of the best villains on television. Lying, dominating and manipulating were as natural to him as swirling a glass of scotch, and actor John Glover played him with villainous glee. Even when he turned good, you still feared that Lionel would do the wrong thing, even if for the right reason.
A few episodes ago, an alternate version of Lionel cropped up in all-out bad-guy mode, demanding and receiving our attention in every scene he's in. This Earth-2 version of Lionel is about to remind us how much we've missed him, despite the, ya know, evil.
Even more DC Universe characters
As mentioned in the intro, many familiar characters have returned for season 10, but there are other DC characters to look forward to. Black Canary will be returning to Smallville, as will Dr. Emil Hamilton. Booster Gold will be flying in for an episode, along with his partner Blue Beetle. An unconfirmed rumor suggests both Kara and Zod might come back. Supervillainy also gets a shot at the spotlight: Amos Fortune, leader of the evil Royal Flush Gang, is the bad penny of episode 15, "Fortune."
Importantly, Martha Kent is coming home to Smallville, and it really will feel like a homecoming. Clark's mother, played by Annette O'Toole, was so important to Smallville that her absence really made it feel as if Clark had grown up. Best of all, she'll be appearing in the same episode as Lionel; even though she was faithful to Jonathan, she and the elder Luthor absolutely had chemistry. His romantic interest in her, particularly when we weren't sure if he had reformed, creeped us out ... in a good way.
Solving the mystery that is Chloe Sullivan
Chloe Sullivan appeared in the first episode of Smallville, and with the exception of her absence in part of season 10, she's been Clark's friend (and in seasons two and three, sometimes frenemy) ever since. But who IS she? With the exception of Tess Mercer, introduced after eight seasons, there hasn't been a single main character in Smallville who hasn't come from the pages of the DC Universe. In fact, her presence was noted by 31st-century members of the Legion of Super-Heroes. As fans of the famed Kal-El, they had studied his life's history. Legion member Cosmic Boy pointed out, "We've heard of Lois Lane, Lana Lang, even Jimmy Olsen. But we've never heard a thing about any Chloe Sullivan."
In all of these years, Chloe, played by the delightful Allison Mack, has been the heart of Smallville, sharing in Clark's triumphs and tragedies and aiding him in his Hero's Journey. We know that the end of the show is the beginning of Superman; we hope that an equally magnificent fate awaits Chloe. She's earned it.
Clark is finally manning up
Clark's first romance was with Lana Lang, a girl he frequently loved and lost. Why did their relationship never flourish? Because Proto-Superman lied to her for more than six years about his alien origins and superpowers. And knowing that he was keeping some important secret from her diminished her trust in him. Even after she learned about his abilities, the relationship couldn't survive the years of lies. Lana left him—and rightly so.
Clark has done better with his relationship with Lois Lane, which has evolved since season four from friendly rivalry to friendship to romance. In episode five of this season ("Isis"), he finally admitted that there's more to him than Clark Kent. Now the bulk of Smallville no longer hinges on "I have to keep my secret from the woman I love." Being honest doesn't just make him a better person ... it makes him, and the plot, more interesting.
Clark is finally Supermanning up
Clark has known for years that he was sent to Earth to save it, and so far he's managed it a few times. (Another thing we love about Smallville: Jor-El, Clark's bio-dad, is NOT a good guy. Equal parts withholding and demanding, he's stripped Clark of his powers on more than one occasion. But Jor-El has always been firm about Clark's role as a savior.) His current nemesis is Darkseid, who is as cunning as any enemy Clark has ever encountered. We know he's almost the Man of Steel. Now he's becoming the Man Who Can Think His Way Out of a Problem.
For the last two seasons, Clark has been aiding citizens in distress. To keep his identity secret, he moves faster than a speeding bullet, which has earned him the nickname "the Red-Blue Blur" or just "The Blur." Really, we're hoping to see Clark Kent pick up the name "Superman," as well as the gift that comes with it:
Ten seasons of Smallville have been about Clark Kent learning to metaphorically spread his wings. In the end, we want to see him fly.