The longest running comic book-based series in television history, “Smallville” debuted on the then-new WB network in 2001 with the goal of retelling Superman’s origin, from the rocket crash all the way to his decision to don the cape and tights. On Friday, the ten-year-long saga ends with the rise of Darkseid in a two-hour long finale that brings back old friends, older foes and sees Clark finally wearing the iconic red and blue suit.
In preparation for the end, executive producers Brian Peterson and Kelly Souders spoke with CBR News and members of the press about the final episode, beginning with a screening of an unfinished promo for the two-hour finale. Without gong too far into spoiler territory, the promo highlighted the return of Chloe, Oliver Queen punching someone (possibly Clark) through a window, the planet Apokolips rapidly advancing on a collision-course towards Earth and Lois Lane decked out in full bridal gear, running down the aisle — in the wrong direction. The promo also showed Granny Goodness attempting to get Tess to join her side and a very quick shot of what appeared to be Clark’s first flight, sans Superman suit.
Most importantly, the promo featured the return of Lex Luthor, played once again by Michael Rosenbaum, confronting Clark in the ruins of the Luthor mansion and insinuating that without help against Darkseid, Earth is doomed.
â€¨”We were thinking about Rosenbaum coming back and what Lex, our Lex, what his purpose was. It was always not quite what you expected and much more human and emotional than I think any of us starting out on ‘Smallville’ would have expected,” said Souders. “We really went back to the pilot and thought, ‘There’s that guy who showed up and was totally personable and super sympathetic and just wanted to thank a guy for saving his life.’ So when we looked at having him back for the finale, it was the same thing, which is, they’re going to go on to be huge enemies. So what is it that’s pivotal at this moment is, that’s our Lex Luthor and our Clark Kent, and how do we wrap up their relationship that has been so complicated and mixed with emotions for ten years?”
Interestingly, according to Peterson and Souders, this last and biggest reveal almost didn’t happen.
“We only had Michael for one day, so there was only so much we could do with him in the story,” said Peterson. Souders explained they were unsure whether or not Rosenbaum would come back, and thus wrote and prepped a version of the finale without him, just in case.
“There were a couple of things we had planned on planting in the season that we didn’t because we didn’t know that we were going to have him,” Peterson added.
Yet another character reappearing in the finale is Jonathan Kent, who died of a heart attack in season five and has shown up in subsequent episodes as a spirit. Played by actor John Schneider, Jonathan’s part in the finale is unclear, though the executive producers promised not to leave fans hanging.
“I think it will become really clear what role Jonathan plays and why he shows up the way he does in this episode,” said Souders, adding, “Every time I see certain moments with Jonathan I still get a tear in my eye, even after all these weeks of watching the footage.”
Rounding out the returning cast members is Allison Mack who reprises her role as Chloe, a character who has not been seen since “Fortune,” the fifteenth episode of the current season.
“I think there are a lot of different ways people want Chloe[‘s story] to end, and so we, I think, serviced her character in a way that is right for who she was and who she’s becoming. She has one big moment with Clark where we get to see her shine,” said Peterson, commenting on Chloe’s role in the finale.
Added Souders, “I will say that Chloe fans should definitely stay tuned through the whole show — there’s a jewel!”
While “Smallville’s” entire cast has undergone tremendous change throughout the show’s history, the executive producers agree that Clark (played by Tom Welling) has changed the most, both to his benefit and detriment. Peterson and Souders pointed specifically to Clark’s choice to sell the Kent farm against Martha’s wishes as part of his growth process.
“I think that final step of trying to figure out as an adult if you are friends with your parents, or are your parents still your parents — I think he’s really trying to figure out all those last relationships as he takes this step into complete super-manhood. It’s still a complication in his life he needs to make peace with in the finale,” said Souders.
“He’s trying too hard to be a hero and too hard to force his destiny. So some of the problems he’s facing at the top of the finale are about that; trying too hard to decide who he is and not letting it happen as it should,” added Peterson.
Though neither Peterson nor Souders know of plans for a “Smallville” spin-off, they believed there may at least be one more “Smallville” related comic book miniseries in the works, though they said they were not privy to further details.
Overall, when it came to summing up “Smallville’s” legacy, the executive producers admitted they were huge fans of the Superman mythos and that the show represented a spectacular time in their lives, one “never to be duplicated,” stated Souders.
“What I would hope is what ‘Smallville’ did was make one of the most recognizable heroes in the world accessible, made him human to people so that they could relate to him and be inspired by him,” she added.
“I think, to me, we got to see the immense struggle it took to get to that point, and to fill in the space to when [Clark] decided to be that inspiration for people,” said Peterson. “We didn’t just want to do an ending, we wanted to do a beginning.”
Ultimately, Peterson and Souders feel that fans and those working on the show would take away from “Smallville” is a simple idea: its OK to have faith in heroes.
“Honestly, I think it’s the theme that emerged this year, which is ‘believe in heroes.’ That has become incredibly important to us that we were able to work on a show that had a positive message,” said Souders. “That’s why [the fans] watch. Not because we have the biggest visual special effects you’ll see on a screen or because of anything else. I think they want to believe in the heroes.”
The two-hour “Smallville” finale airs at 8PM Friday, May 13, on The CW