This review may contains plot spoilers.
Long-time fans of Smallville may have felt that the series has been dragging its feet plot-wise, becoming distracted by unnecessary complications and losing its focus on its basic conceit: how Clark Kent truly embraces his destiny and finally dons the blue and red suit to become Superman.
While the show has seen him make a name for himself as the unseen hero known as The Blur over the last couple seasons, Clark (Tom Welling) is only now truly beginning the final lap to becoming Super. In Homecoming — the monumental 200th episode of the series — Lois Lane (Erica Durance), who is still secretly in possession of Clarks secret, drags him along to their five-year high school reunion even though Lois only attended the school for a total of 23 days : and attended five.
Their relationship has been in a funk as of late, and she sees this as a chance to cheer him up and give herself an opportunity to try and rekindle the flame between the two of them. This season, Lois is trying to decide if she and Clark could have a future together, given his abilities, and Homecoming gives her plenty of chances to weigh the pros and cons of life with a superhero. Durances portrayal of the character has gotten better and better over the course of the series. This episode is no exception.
As is typical for Lois and Clark, things dont go as planned when they arrive at Smallville High, and Clark is confronted with old foe Brainiac (special guest star James Marster, still best known as Spike on Buffy the Vampire Slayer), who has journeyed from the future to deliver a message to the young Mr. Kent.
However, this time hes not looking to cause mayhem but rather to offer Clark a glimpse at the future he has to look forward to, one in which he lives a dual identity shares his secret with Lois Lane (Erica Durance), whom he works with at the Daily Planet. In essence, it is the Superman mythology we all know and love.
For years, Clark has been dwelling on the past and fearing the future, but in Homecoming, he finally comes to realize that only person stopping him from creating the life hes always wanted is himself. Its a powerful message and really the whole point of Smallville. Kudos to the writers for so elegantly getting it across.
In particular, the scene in which Brainiac shows Clark his fathers death, emphasizing that Clark himself was not to blame is especially effective, and by the end, Clark knows his place in the world, as evidenced by his unintentional levitation while dancing with Lois. Superman is who he needs to be, and where he belongs is with Lois.
Now that Clark knows his destination, its up to the writers to ensure that the remaining episodes of the season keep the show on course, right up to the super series finale next spring.
Where to begin? For a show that has experienced such tumultuous ups and downs over the course of its ten years on the air, Homecoming offers a refreshing glimpse at why fans have hung on this long. Durance and Welling continue to have firecracker chemistry onscreen, and the episode provides plenty of exciting glimpses at what the Superman story would look like if the two of them could carry these roles into the next chapter of Lois and Clarks story. Are you listening, Zack Snyder? Heres your cast for the Superman reboot, primed and ready to fly!
In addition, Homecoming does a good job at tying in some old plot threads, including the return of one of the meteor freaks from the very first season and even a couple of flashbacks from the pilot episode. The writers are making every effort to provide the series with a sense of closure and establish connections between the shows seemingly disparate stories, as if its all been building to this episode.
The subplot in which Oliver Queen (Justin Hartley) deals with the consequences of revealing his identity as the Green Arrow to the general public is also nicely addressed. Clark realizes that he needs to do a better job of supporting his friends, especially his fellow heroes, and his appearance at Olivers interview gives Oliver just the confidence boost he needs to proudly proclaim that he is a hero. Its a great moment for the character of Oliver, who has struggled with being a hero since his first appearance on the show and does a lot towards strengthening the bond between him and Clark.
What Didnt Work
For the most part, Homecoming hits all the right notes, pushing the story forward while giving both Clark and the fans one final visit to the high school where the story began. The absence of Allison Mack, who has played Chloe since episode one, has definitely been felt this season and especially in this episode, but Homecoming does its best to make her a part of the story, if only in spirit.
While many of the subplots from the serieshistory alluded to in Homecoming – especially the consistent mishandling of Brainiac – are majorly flawed or were just poorly executed, the episode itself does an excellent job of hitting the highlights without allowing itself to be infected by the poor writing that has plagued Smallville intermittently throughout its decade on the air.
As a 200th episode milestone, Homecoming works well, and as an introduction to Clarks final major hurdle before becoming Superman, it works even better. Heres hoping the show keeps the momentum going until its all over.
Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due
Smallville stars Tom Welling, Erica Durance, Justin Hartley, Cassidy Freeman and Allison Mack. Homecoming was written by Brian Wayne Peterson and Kelly Souders and directed by Jeannot Szwarc.
Smallville airs Fridays at 8pm E.T. on The CW.