With only one exception, all major characters that ever appeared on Smallville were brought back for the series finale. The 2-hour episode first reminded us why we cared for those characters in the first place. It then tied some loose ends before (and after) leading us through an epic and breathtaking — even if slightly imperfect — ending to the saga.
I think any modern Superman story is bound to put Lois at the center. It's a sign of the times and a good one, too. Before this ultimate episode, the series had already established Lois and Clark were made for each other, so bringing Lana back would not have been helpful and could have provided an unwelcome soap angle to a story that already had a lot going on. That is why I think keeping Lana away made absolute sense. I liked Chloe and Oliver discussing their own wedding and defining their relationship without any of the angst that seemed to surround it lately. The steps taken to bring Lois to reason and rein in Clark — who was himself starting to doubt — provided for truly beautiful moments and remarkable dialogues. Clark (to Lois): "You're not in my way, Lois. You're by my side." I think they did well to take the time to sort things out. It ultimately gave us the closed-door scene which was one of the best ever between the two. Welling was good but Durance was simply perfect in a scene that summed up what Smallville has done with these two characters over the years. One of my favorite scenes in the whole episode was the close-up of Lois's vows. The contrast between her blatantly unfinished vows and Clark's perfectly formatted piece spoke volumes on the differences that make them such a good match.
Lutessa's subplot was tragically beautiful. A story like this can't end like a romantic comedy. With so many evil beings and evil deeds around, not having casualties would be insulting. With Chloe safe — far away from Metropolis — Tess seemed like the next best thing and the writers outdid themselves. Every scene with her was perfect. She helped restore some level of continuity through her actions and by her death. Also, in spite of what she might have thought, I believe hers was one of the best redemptions ever on the small screen. I have never been and I am still not a fan of the ghostly appearances of Jonathan Kent, but at least here it was done with some care. Martha never saw him and the restoration of Jor-El had to be done by someone, so why not by the person most responsible for dragging him under the bus in the first place? The series brought back Chloe on several occasions this season but not like this time. In this final episode we had everything we've ever liked in the character. She was uniquely positioned to understand what happened with the ring because of her long history with Clark and her aptitude at connecting the dots, any dots. There was also no better person to help Lois shake off her doubts.
I believe one of the great achievements of Smallville is to have created a compelling Lex Luthor, undoubtedly the best one I have ever come across. The choice of the actor was certainly a factor, but the show designers made the right choices when allowing the character to grow as they did. Here as usual he spoke well and used the appropriate angle to motivate his archenemy. This was a bit ironic because one might say Lex needed Clark to save him to make their foretold — and blown out of proportion — confrontation possible. Speaking of villains, I loved the nanny. I think she had more screen-time (than the other prophets) because she was by far the best of the lot. Having Dark Side as the main villain helped elevate the level of diction, which worked very well for those who could handle it as well as the actress playing the nanny. Dark Side was also "grand" enough to make a disaster of biblical proportion believable. About the Bible, having Apocalypse as an actual planet was neat. It is obvious though that the handling of gravitational physics in this episode was horrible...
Finally, about Clark becoming Superman, I liked how it happened except for his reconciliation with Jor-El which seemed a bit rushed. With so many years of mistrust, I would liked to have seen a bit more from Clark on that front, but I guess two hours can only give us that much. What I liked was how the final teaching was integrated within his fight against Dark Side. I particularly liked that it was done by exposing him to every remarkable action he had performed in the past. When that final lesson ended, the shot of him floating in midair was perfect, simply perfect. Having Lex go through a similar sequence of flashbacks symbolically outlined the connection between the two characters and was equally brilliant. The episode had quite a few issues though. Moving from the license plate to the Luthor Mansion was ridiculous, just like Lois spewing some scientific analysis before sneaking into Air Force One. Except for his scenes with Chloe, I found everything Oliver did not right. It was extremely fitting that a comic book was used as material for the bedtime story, but even if we skip how it was all put together, we still have the fact that it holds so many secrets it can't just be freely available on comic stands in 2018. Plus there was a lot in there to take for such a young Queen.
For ten years I have followed Smallville on a ride that proved to be bumpy at times but never so that I would fall and never climb back. In this ultimate episode, the series that always did well with the sweet and tender was at its best in that department. The writers also managed to bring about the final confrontation while allowing Superman to emerge in a largely believable way. All this made for a memorable and, to me, a successful series finale.