smallvilleThe ninth season finale of Smallville aired on Friday, concluding a very odd season of the long-running television show.  Though this season introduced us to the first live-action appearances of many DC characters, it also focused mainly on the relationship between Clark Kent and a newly resurrected group of Kandorians, led by Zod.  We met Metallo, saw Clark take on an actual “costume,” and were treated to the beginning of the classic Lois/Clark relationship.

The conclusion to the season, “Salvation,” resolved the season-long Kandorian storyline, while also setting up for some interesting new characters and storylines for the coming season.  In addition, a certain long-time character bit the dust (again), and we were treated to a glimpse into the future.

But was the episode any good?  Check my review after the jump!

To tell you the truth, I’m shocked Smallville is going to make it to ten seasons.  It seems like for the last five years, there have been so many talks of budget cuts and actors playing hard to get, I’m surprised no one just said “screw it,” and threw in the towel.  After all, the ratings aren’t stellar (are any CW-shows’?), and they seemed on a steady decline since the how was moved to the dreaded Friday death slot that has killed many a genre show.

I watched Smallville when it first came on, dropping off around the fourth season sometime when it seemed like the show was going nowhere.  The season premieres and finales have typically been the show’s strong point, but typically everything was back to status quo, and we were given 20-episodes of same ol’, same ol’.  I hopped back in for the finale of the show’s seventh season (the last episode to feature Michael Rosenbaum as Lex Luthor) and have stuck with it since then.  I have to admit, the show’s move to being Metropolis-based, rather than taking place primarily in Smallville, seemed to give everyone increased motivation – acting and storylines were better and more imaginative, and the show took on more life than I’d seen in it in a while, especially with the introduction of the Lois/Clark relationship.

Season nine has been up and down – while the show has had a consistently high quality this season (despite numerous budget cuts), it seemed a little lost about what to do with its characters and plotlines.  Tess Mercer, the replacement for Lex Luthor as the show’s “evil” lead, betrayed so many people and switched sides so many times, I’m not even sure she knew who’s side she was on.  The introduction of Checkmate in the “Absolute Justice” two-parter (which also introduced the Justice Society) seemed like a good idea…until they kept popping up with seemingly inexplicable reasoning and results.  And all the time, weaving in and out of the story were Zod and the Kandorians.  It was almost as if the show had two seasons worth of “big bads” and “mythology storylines” that they tried to connect at certain points, with mixed results.

Still, there were some shining moments.  Brian Austin Green played a pretty good Metallo/John Corben, even if he did end up being a good guy.  We got a pseudo-Superman costume on Clark finally (but no flight).  Callum Blue had a rough start as Zod, but grew more into the role as the season went on.  The relationship between Lois and Clark was fantastic, and led to some of the best moments of the season.  Chloe and Green Arrow started sleeping together, which worked out better than I think anyone expected.

As the finale begins, we get a glimpse of the future – 2013 to be exact.  While I believe the show’s tenth season will be it’s last, at least we know that, by 2013, Lois will know Clark’s secret (actually, she figures it out in this finale episode) and Clark will actually be in the red and blue costume.  After the brief “flash forward,” we come back to the present.  Clark has the Book of Rao, which will send the Kandorians to another place where they can live, but the problem is that, since he’s Kryptonian too, he’ll get sucked up with the rest of them.  Zod, meanwhile, wrecks the Fortress of Solitude and burns Tess Mercer to a crisp.

While Tess in the hospital (where she ultimately dies for the second time this season), we see an old woman, knitting outside her room, who enters as soon as Tess has flatlined – a hint of things to come, perhaps?  I was thinking (and I’m sure it was intended as much) that this was to hint at Granny Goodness, as Apokolips has been mentioned numerous times this season.  With her face obscured, we’re still left wondering who will ultimately have the role next season.

Chloe and Green Arrow come under siege in Watchtower, but not by Kandorians.  Though we don’t know who, and never see who, my guess is Parademons.  Right before losing radio contact with Chloe, they admit their love for each other.

Clark says an awkward goodbye to Lois, before deciding to send the Kandorians away.  As “The Blur” he gives her a farewell kiss, enough for Lois to realize they are one and the same man.  Zod fights Clark with a Blue Kryptonite knife, and Clark takes it in the gut, falling off a building.  With his Kryptonian powers now gone, he’s not taken away with the rest of the Kandorians (though Zod is), and is (seemingly) falling to his doom as the show fades to black.

While not the most spectacular episode, I’d have to say that this season’s finale was ultimately successful in what it set out to do.  Checkmate’s storyline was (kind of) resolved a bit in previous episodes, where Zod goes and burns down the headquarters.  I honestly think that’s not why Geoff Johns introduced them to the show, but Checkmate seemed like something the writers wanted to keep, but weren’t sure what to do with.  The Zod and Kandorian storyline wrapped up nicely – again, it seemed a little lost throughout the season, as a glimpse of the future seemed to go nowhere, and certain storylines were started and sidelined a couple of episodes later (like Clark trying to get the Kandorians identities and jobs on Earth).

The final battle between Clark and Zod was intended to be the highlight of the show, a slow motion Matrix and Watchmen style fist fight with lots of broken glass and blood.  While I liked it, I have to admit, all the slow motion grunts and flying through glass had me laughing after a couple of shots, as it seemed a bit melodramatic.  I’m not saying we needed Bourne-style shakycam, but note to future directors – use slo-mo in moderation, k?

With the show rolling steady into its tenth season, I’d like to see Lois actually knowing that Clark is “The Blur,” the introduction of the “real” Jimmy Olsen and yes, Darkseid.  At this point, the hints are there and, though I don’t anticipate frequent appearances by a giant rock man with a blue skirt and red laser eyes, I anticipate we’ll get something more akin to the Grant Morrison Seven Soldiers version, with Darkseid disguising himself as a crime boss.  The introduction of Kirby’s Fourth World could lead to some very interesting new characters, like Mister Miracle, the Furies, Granny Goodness, and perhaps a whole host of other characters.  It certainly would allow the show to go out with a bang.

What would you guys like to see in the tenth season of Smallville?  What did you like or dislike about the ninth?  Talkback below!