May 14, 2006

Finale Report: Smallville - "Vessel"

The fifth season of Smallville has come and gone, it was also the last new episode that will ever air on the network, as The WB will cease to exist as of September 2006. That is also the month that will likely see the debut of the early Superman years on the newly formed The CW network.

This finale has been building ever since the initial mention of Zod way back in "The Arrival," at the start of the season. There has been an increasing presence of Kryptonian influences, with the impending arrival of Zod, Lionel going through phases where he scribbles Kryptonian symbols, and of course, Professor Fine (aka Brainiac), who was created by Kryptonian technology. This season has also seen Clark dealing with the biggest tragedy of his young life, the death of Jonathan Kent, his adoptive father. He died as a result of a heart attack, shortly after becoming state senator, defeating Lex Luthor. The position has since been filled by Martha, who has hired on Lois Lane as her assistant. Enough of this, let's move on to the show.

The episode opens with Lex being compelled, or somehow controlled, to going to an open field. Lana follows him, and watches as Lex is abducted, leaving behind a burned in Kryptonian symbol. The man pulling the strings? Brainiac, who claims to be preparing Lex. The scene shifts to Lionel and Martha, encouraging her to use his jet to fly to Washington. There has been a growing, if odd, relationship between Lionel and Martha, especially since Lionel knows Clark's secret.

Lana goes to Chloe, telling her about Lex's abduction, how he was taken into the black ship. Chloe takes this knowledge directly to Clark. Thoughts of Zod's potential return resurface, all because Clark would not willingly let Zod out of his imprisonment. Jor-El then explains about Brainiac and his relationship to the ship, as well as Zod being the cause of Krypton's destruction. His body may have been destroyed, but he has the ability to take up residence in a vessel, a host body. Clark must kill the vessel to save Earth.

Clark and Chloe discuss the possibility of having to kill Lex, unfortunately, they did not take many safeguards in protecting their conversation, and Lana overhears. Clark then takes this information and has a great scene, where he informs Lionel that Lex is the vessel of Zod. Lionel's reaction is fantastic. Lionel goes to the abduction site, to discover a superpowered Lex there.

The next section of the episode deals with the Lex/Lana reunion. Lex showing her his powers, and her being slightly creeped out by it. Lex is acting a little more strange, saying he is the same Lex, and that he has to do something, leaving Lana confused and scared.

The episode builds to the inevitable revelation of Zod. But before we get to that, Clark and Lana have an argument. Lana complains about the killer conversation she overheard earlier, and how Clark hasn't been truthful. On a side note, I really haven't liked the direction of the Lana character, she has become rather nasty, a complete 180 from the previously sweet character.

Fine shows up, confronting Kal-El. He still wants Clark as the vessel, offering him the position, or the destruction of technology on Earth, a move to cripple the himan race. This is an interesting turn. Power goes down across the town, the city, the world. People rioting in the streets, how quick the deevolution of society facing the loss of power, and it is spreading fast. Clark and Chloe share a goodbye kiss, before he races off to destiny with Brainiac and Zod.

But before we get to the final act, we take a detour to Martha and Lois on the Luthor's plane, which seems to have taken a detour.

Lex and Clark bring up the past, and how Lex is pretty much an evil guy at this point. This leads to a bit of a physical confrontation between Lex and Clark, revealing Clark's abilities. The only thing is that he is unable to kill the vessel, instead he thrusts Jor-El's dagger into Brainiac's heart. This results in the opening of the portal, allowing Zod to come through and take over Lex. Zod then traps Clark in the Phantom Zone, a Kryptonian prison. It appears much as it did in Superman II, the flat glass like panels, spinning out into space.

The episode ends with Zod, as Lex, reuniting with Lana again, Clark spinning into oblivion, and riots all over the world. Lionel and Chloe are being attacked by rioters, and Martha and Lois slowly having the air removed from their cabin on the Luthor plane.

Overall, I liked the episode. I like how the scope increased to worldwide panic by the electro-virus. I like the darker bent that Lex has been taking, plus the Zod takeover. Would I have preferred a physical Zod, sure, but this is interesting too. Clark in the Phantom Zone is cool too. I think the worst thing is the Lana character, I could really care less about her. I love John Glover, he is brilliant as Lionel.

It will be interesting to see how they kick off next season. There is a lot that will need to be resolved, and I only hope that it takes more than a couple of episodes to clean up.


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