I only started watching the show this season, so I realize I’m not going to get the full impact here. Still, aside from not really having a feel for Lex Luthor, I don’t think I missed too much or was in any way lost. I’ve enjoyed the series, though I think the season didn’t completely fire on all cylinders because they only advanced the Darkseid storyline every now and then. As someone familiar with all the comics characters, I was surprised at the choice to make Oliver Queen so important and so close to Clark, and Justin Hartley was great throughout, adding humor, flirtation and occasional self-righteousness that Tom Welling’s Clark could not, due to how he has been written. Erika Durance as well has been an excellent Lois. A bit soft for a Lois this season, but I understand that as she and Clark have already passed those early relationship hurdles during seasons I wasn’t watching. I suppose the reason I never watched this series from the start is that I never cared all that much about Smallville itself, and Ma and Pa Kent were always best in small doses in the comics.
This episode had a lot to wrap up, and I have to say only the becoming-Superman part really was done adequately, not even great. The romantics in us were denied a real wedding for Clark and Lois. Lex’s return and Tess’ redemption were crammed in. I’m sure there have been some earlier fans of the show, or Superman fans in general, who were put off by Lex being killed a while back, as he’s Superman’s main nemesis and the Fourth World characters have rarely been used that well in the main DC Universe in the comics. I liked the takes on the minions this season, particularly Granny Goodness, but Oliver’s overcoming them and “the darkness” was too easy. The framing sequence made it clear from the start that everything was going to work out fine.
Using Lionel Luthor as the embodiment of Darkseid felt to me like a budget-driven decision, as it apparently wouldn’t have looked believable to have Superman fight the obviously CGI Darkseid of whom we’ve seen glimpses. It was really unsatisfying that all Superman had to do to stop the invasion was push Apokolips away. If that’s not what happened, it was unclear what actually did. A little fighting with some Apokoliptian soldiers would have been nice, along with something scientific that could have provided Emil Hamilton with a scene or two, along with glimpses of some of the other heroes fighting the invasion. I realize the writers and producers of the show are Superman fans, and probably floated a few of these ideas that then had to be compromised due to the limited budget, which looked to be not much more than a regular-length episode, especially since some of this one was padded (often suitably, sometimes just padded) with montages of bits of past episodes, plus it seemed to me that the establishing shots, such as the Fortress of Solitude, lingered longer than usual.
I liked the Pa Kent and Jor-El stuff just fine, though Ma Kent as a politician or whatever she is seemed too far from the original premise, which probably has something to do with her lack of impact on the season. Once you’re a Congresswoman, no one trusts your homespun wisdom. I do understand the dramatic reasons for giving first Lois cold feet, and then Clark, but it did not only eat up some valuable episode time but sort of diminish how destined they are to be together. Overall, not a bad finish, and the cast all did good jobs, but I’m betting almost everyone associated with the show has other episodes they think came out better.