STUDIO: Warner Home Video
MSRP: $59.98
RUNNING TIME: 925 minutes
• Commentary by Alfred Gough, Miles Millar, Ken Horton, and Steven S. DeKnight on Thirst
• Commentary by Steven S. DeKnight, James Marshall, and James Marsters (Prof. Fine) on Splinter
Smallville’s 100th Episode: The Making of a Milestone featurette
• Unaired scenes
• Excerpts from the documentary Look, Up in the Sky! The Amazing Story of Superman
Vengeance Chronicles: promo webisodes

The Pitch

Season 5 of super teen angst, meteor freaks, “I love you Lana, but I can’t tell you my secret,” with Brainiac, and oh yeah, Zod is coming.

It’s not the portal that led to the Phantom Zone that Clark was afraid of, it’s the one that led to
Terre Haute, IN that was so scary…

The Humans

Tom Welling, Kristin Kreuk, Michael Rosenbaum, Allison Mack, Erica Durance, Annette O’Toole, James Marsters.

The Nutshell

Season 5 found our Super Teen transported to the Arctic by a Kryptonian diamond pieced together from three stones he had been seeking during all of Season 4 as a second meteor shower rained down upon Smallville. And like before, this meteor shower hid a ship from Krypton. Lana gets caught in the meteor shower in a helicopter, crashes and is witness to the two Kryptonian villains that emerge and lay waste to a virtual brigade of law enforcement types. Meanwhile, Clark uses the diamond to form a certain fortress we’re all familiar with. But he soon returns and puts a stop to the Kryptonian rampage, almost French kissing the Phantom Zone in the process. But through a warning that Jor-El gave him, Clark loses his powers in order to save Lana. So this leads him to think that he can finally be with her, before his powers eventually return and he’s right back in the same pickle as before, having to keep his secret from her.

Cue: drool.

From there, Clark goes on to meet a couple of other super types, including Arthur Curry, aka Aquaman, and Victor Stone, aka Cyborg, and a dark Avenging Angel who got super courtesy of a kryptonite heart transplant. But the overall mythology of the season involves fallout from the ship that arrived in the meteor shower, because the two criminals weren’t the only thing hitching a ride. Brainiac also emerges, X-Files black alien goo-style, in the form of James Marsters; and his big plan is to get Kal-El to help him open the Phantom Zone gateway and release the former arch nemesis of Jor-El and person responsible for the destruction of Krypton – Zod. On the personal front, Clark’s up-and-down relationship with Lana deteriorates as his secret remains between them and eventually he drives her into the arms of Lex. And Clark suffers a personal loss that anybody familiar with the Superman mythos will come to expect. When Zod finally does come in the season finale, Clark gets stuck behind a piece of glass.

Finally, I understand how Ian Donnell is able to throw up so many friggin’ reviews so fast…

The Lowdown

I’m a big fan of Smallville; it’s just about the only one left on regular network TV that I have to see every week. I think that exec producers Alfred Gough and Miles Millar are doing a lot of cool things with the show, and taking it in some different directions that none of the other Superman properties have gone before, while also continuing to pay homage to the great Christopher Reeve Superman mythology of the theatrical films. Granted, it’s got a lot of issues, the two big ones being the fact that they’ve dragged the Clark / Lana romance out agonizingly long, and that the show continues to rely on krypto freaks-of-the-week in order to get suitable opponents for our hero.

But this season they definitely kicked things up a notch, and made some big changes, not the least of which was the death of Jonathan Kent. Clark and Lex’s friendship is definitely over and the groundwork is being laid more and more with each passing episode for Lex’s eventual turn to the dark side. And now it’s been revealed that Lionel Luthor was more than just a repository for Jor-El’s Kryptonian essence, he now knows Clark’s secret. Also, the emergence and frequent guest turns by Brainiac set the basis the entire season for the big arrival of Zod.

"Yes, Lana, now you know my secret…it glows…"

In the first episode, Arrival, two disciples of Zod arrive in the black ship during the meteor shower and set about tearing Smallville apart looking for Clark. When Clark encounters them, the confrontation is admittedly way too quick and unsatisfying, but Clark’s encounters with Brainiac, who has all the powers of a true Kryptonian, without the kryptonite weakness, prove to be a little more substantive. In fact, Brainiac spends a good part of the season masquerading as Prof. Milton Fine, at Clark’s local college. He tests Kal-El in various ways, including pricking him with a piece silver kryptonite, which makes Clark paranoid and dangerous. He then plays with Clark’s mind by making him think that he’s the ghost of Jonathan, warning him to do things to free Zod.

Much like Kreuk, Durance didn’t take the end of our highly-charged, perverted, toy-heavy sexual relationship well…

When Clark isn’t messing around with Brainiac, he has villains of the more terrestrial type in the familiar form of meteor-enhanced adversaries. These include a sorority of vampires in the episode, Thirst, which were all spawned by a girl named Buffy (nudge nudge, wink wink), who got bitten by a kryptonite-altered bat. Normally that concept would be fairly lame, but they also just happen to fulfill my personal vampire chick fetish by turning Lana into a fang girl. The next FOW to pop up is another shapely adventurer known as the Angel of Vengeance (Miss Universe 2001, Denise Quinones) in the episode, Vengeance, who has super strength via a kryptonite-related heart transplant and takes a job as street avenger in Metropolis. In Fragile, Clark happens upon a girl who can control glass and her father who has similar powers and uses them to kill. And in Fade, Clark saves the life of a hitman with ability to turn invisible and later lives to regret it as he goes after Lex and Lana.

"Well, Clark told me to go F myself, so I guess this is the next best thing…"

Word has it that in the current Season 6, the groundwork is going to be laid for the formation of the Justice League, and past guest stars, including the Flash, are going to be showing up. Two more characters that are going to be back were introduced in Season 5: including Aquaman (Alan Ritchson) and Cyborg (Lee Thompson Young). In the episodes Aqua and Cyborg respectively, Clark encounters these future superheroes and teams up with them to thwart a couple of Lex’s plans involving a water-based sonar weapon and a Cyborg program. Along with Ollie Queen, aka Green Arrow, Season 6 is possibly shaping up to be very interesting.

Lana…fangs…leather…pardon me, I have to uh…use the little boys’ room…

A major B-story that wound its way through Season 5 was Jonathan deciding to run for State Senate after his friend, Jack (guest star and former Good Ole Boy, Tom Wopat), has to vacate it after a scandal. Deciding to oppose him is Lex, and there is some heavy scheming by both Luthors to get their respective candidates into office. When Jonathan dies the night of the election, Martha decides to take Jonathan’s seat. And of course Clark’s and Lana’s relationship also dominates the season, inching along with Clark struggling to keep his secret from her. The 100th episode finally steers that dead horse to it’s final path when Clark proposes to Lana and tells her everything, but then she’s killed when Lex is chasing her. So Clark has to make a fateful decision to turn the clock back and do things differently, but he is shocked to find that fate winds its way to Jonathan, much as Jor-El warned him it would.

"Esto es un trabajo para El Hombre Estupendo, si?"

Season 5 was the most pivotal one so far in the show and my thinking is that Season 6 will probably be the last as Smallville has pretty much told all of the story there is to tell of Clark’s life before he becomes Superman (if I’m wrong, great, but I can’t help thinking that I’m right). But considering the choices that have been made in terms of the mythology, I’m wondering how things will resolve themselves considering the following: Chloe has completely replaced Lois in the Daily Planet reporter role, and there’s no way that neither Lex nor Lois aren’t going to know Clark and Superman aren’t the same person. So I wonder how that will play out. I don’t think the producers initially intended to keep Lois around this much after Erica Durance introduced the character at the beginning of Season 4. Lois has pretty much become the de facto Pete character on the show: completely disposable and serving whatever role comes along. But considering that I’d look at Durance painting a wall in coveralls all day, and the fact that she’s quite good in the Lois role in the confines of the show, I’m not complaining too much.

When she found out the Justice League HMO didn’t cover dental, Wonder Woman became the newest attraction down at the Cheetah Club to make ends meet…

The Package

This Season 5 set has all the stuff that any good box set should have. First of all, the show just looks great in widescreen and the audio is suitably decent as well. There are commentaries on two episodes: one by Alfred Gough, Miles Millar, Ken Horton, and Steven S. DeKnight on Thirst, and one by DeKnight, James Marshall, and James Marsters on Splinter. There’s also a good behind-the-scenes: Smallville’s 100th Episode: The Making of a Milestone, along with plenty of deleted scenes and a six-minute excerpt from the Bryan Singer documentary, Look, Up in the Sky! The Amazing Story of Superman. And the Vengeance Chronicles promo webisodes round out the special features. Good stuff.

Oops! Heh, how silly of me to have posted this twice…

8.8 out of 10