During the past seven years, I have wondered on several occasions why I was still watching Smallville.
Now that the show has ended, I have looked back, searching for those
episodes that kept me going. The list is based on my own emotional
reaction to — and on my overall assessment of — each episode within the context of the series. Our
various lists my not exactly match, but I hope some of the episodes
below will resonate with many of the series regular viewers.
Season 1, Episode 1 Pilot Smallville's pilot episode remarkably sets the tone for what is to come during the first three seasons. Not only does it bring our favorite alien to earth, but it also touches on themes that will stay with us for the entire series. All major characters are appropriately introduced, and the dynamics of the relationships between them are skillfully layed out in a story in which no frame is wasted. Memorable scene: Lex's car falling off the bridge, and Clark amazing rotation alongside it all the way down.
Season 2, Episode 12 Insurgence In spite of the appearances, I believe this episode was all about Lex. It was the first major step into him becoming Superman's Lex Luthor. I think up until this point, for all his bravado, Lex still hoped for his Father and the Kent's affection. At the end of the story, he feels or rather knows, he has lost them or at least will have to work a lot harder; therefore, for him it is becoming more tempting to simply give up. Memorable scene: Martha Kent staring disapprovingly at a blind Lionel Luthor when she realizes the extent of his inquiry into Clark.
Season 3, Episode 16 Crisis This episode stands out to me because it is the best portrayal of the simple and straightforward relationships between our teenage heroes before the radical changes of the next season. It is also a gripping story involving a whiff of time travel that the writers — wisely — do not try to explain. Memorable scene: Toss-up between the (always entertaining) female sheriff interrogation and Clark saving Lana.
Season 4, Episode 2 Gone Lois and Clark discover that Chloe might not be dead and start looking for her. It turns out Lois's father, General Lane, helped Lex get Chloe to safety. I liked this episode mainly because of Lois and Clark chemistry. Durance and Welling succeeded in portraying two teenagers that simply just didn't get along, but who were obviously developing some sort of connection. Nothing romantic necessarily, but something strong and noticeable. They both carried the episode and it helped that they both had a lot of screen time. It took several seasons for the relationship to find its way back to this level. Memorable scene: Martha finding Lois and Clark in the bathroom and the ensuing talk.
Season 5, Episode 19 Mercy After their "friendship" was over, Smallville occasionally had Lex and Clark team up. This is one of the earliest occurrences and, for me, one of the best. Here Lex realizes that his father has an overt admiration for Clark Kent, and to Lex's frustration, Lionel is playing obstructionist by casually dismissing his allegations about Clark. This is another milestone in Lex's journey. There is a wonderful scene between Lionel and Martha in an elevator. When she realizes that their lives are in jeopardy because of Lionel's attempt at teaching Lex a lesson, she is outraged and with a voice that betrays her frustration and anger she says, "Did you ever think of just talking to him? Father to son?" Memorable scene: Martha and Lionel in the elevator up until Clark's intervention.
Season 7, Episode 8 Blue Kara's father, Zor-El, emerges from her kryptonian crystal with Clark's mother Lara. Clark gets to meet his mother and to find out (yet another time) that he should have heeded Jor-El's words. I liked the main storyline and the character Lara who was appropriately ethereal. I found the episode to be very well written and to be a good reinterpretation of the mythology. I think one of the reasons why it worked is the fact that the two Kryptonians who emerged from the crystal made everything happening around them more stately, more dignified. For me, undoubtedly the best episode of the Lara arc. Memorable scene: Lara moving about and talking with, well, anybody...
Season 9, Episode 9 Pandora Tess finds a way to peer into Lois's memories and we finally see what happened to our favorite Daily Planet reporter a few months earlier when she disappeared. Showing Chloe as head of the resistance is extremely fitting. The storyline skillfully uses Lois without allowing her to learn the truth about Clark in a setting where a lot of things revolve around him to her dismay. This is also a good turning point for Tess as it gives her the opportunity to reevaluate her choices later on. This episode was, for me, the best of the Kandorian arc. Memorable scene: Toss-up between Tess watching her own burial and the sequence between Lois and Clark at The Daily Planet.
Season 10, Episode 4 Homecoming This trip down memory lane and into the future works for the characters as well as for those who have been following the show for a while. There are few awkward moments but what's done well is done extremely well. In terms of story structure, there might not be a better Smallville episode. Memorable scene: Toss-up between the helicopter scene in the future and the Lois-shut-up dance in the barn.
Season 10, Episode 5 Isis This episode is a bit atypical in this list, but it is filled with delightful moments and it did two things very well. It redeemed Tess in a beautiful way and allowed Clark to finally reveal himself to Lois. I was relieved to see that those events were part of an episode they (and us) didn't have to be ashamed of. The main plot was tolerable, but Durance portrayal of Isis was bewitching, just like her playfulness in the wonderful closing scene in which Clark revealed himself. Freeman almost stole the show by offering us a very touching Tess. The image of her staggering then weeping in the hallway after being welcomed to the team was perfect. Oliver and his banters were at their best, and even Cat Grant helped with the humor ("I will never understand liberals!"). Memorable scene: If I had to rank them, this would not be the best episode of the list, but somehow, it had so many memorable scenes that it is hard for me to come up with only one. But if I really had to, it would have to be Tess in the hallway...