It took seemingly forever, but I finally started and finished my season 2 re-watch of Smallville. I have to say that while I think this season has stronger episodes than those in season 1, as a whole it’s a weaker season. That’s due to a few factors. The first is that the Clark/Lana/Chloe angst is really dialed up here. With Whitney gone there wasn’t any good obstacle in Clark’s way so the show started contriving new ones and made Clark keeping secrets a central part of why he and Lana couldn’t get together. Chloe also mopes a lot about not being the one Clark wants to date. Lex also vacillates between distrusting Clark one episode and being his best friend ever the next. There’s definitely some major whiplash going on.
There’s also the fact that the show is random about what story threads to follow and which ones to drop. Take Kyla, who becomes a love interest for Clark in one episode and she believes she is his soul mate. He tells her about his powers and alien heritage. She ends up dying and is only mentioned once or twice after, never by Clark. This should have been a big impact on Clark, yet he acts like it never happened.
That being said, there’s a lot to love in this season. For starters, it really starts to embrace the mythology. Clark gains heat vision in a fun episode where his heat vision is activated every time he gets aroused. It leads to some fun and awkward moments. Red K is also introduced, and here it gets rid of all of Clark’s inhibitions. There are two episodes where he’s affected by Red K and they’re both pretty fun. He also willingly puts on a Red K ring in the last episode so he doesn’t have to feel bad about what he accidentally caused.
The Kawatche caves are introduced this season, and are major part of this season and will be a major part for the next few seasons. The caves basically tell the story of Superman being sent to Earth, having one true love, and how his best friend will become his greatest enemy. Lex becomes deeply involved with the cave, and a lot of story arcs revolve around the cave and the language written on the walls.
One of the biggest revelations however comes from Doctor Swann, played by the great Christopher Reeve. He contacts Clark and tells him about his alien heritage and where he came from. It’s an electrifying moment seeing these two on screen together, and I got goosebumps as Swann was revealing this information to Clark and the Superman movie theme started to play.
This is a pretty big season for Clark (though that’s true for all of them). By the end of the season it seems like his life is going pretty well. He’s finally got together with Lana, he knows more about his origin, he’s going to be Lex’s best man, and he’s going to be a big brother. This all comes crashing down when he decides to destroy the ship he came in because it houses an A.I. of his father, Jor-El, who is telling Clark to embrace his destiny. Since Clark believes part of that destiny is to rule the planet he’s not entirely wrong to want to destroy the ship, especially since it branded the house of El’s glyph on his chest. His actions cause Martha to lose the baby, and he decides everyone would be better off without him. He puts on the Red K ring so he doesn’t have to think about the consequences of his actions and drives off.
Just like Clark, this is a big season for Lana. She learns that Whitney died overseas, only after shape shifter Tina returns and pretends to be Whitney. Nell moves away, so Lana moves in with Chloe. She also discovers that the man she thought was her father wasn’t. Her biological father is Henry Small, a lawyer in town. Over the course of the season she bonds with him and tries to get a father/daughter dynamic going.
This is a weak season for Chloe, because so much of her character is wrapped up in the love triangle. She’s not the feisty young reporter that she was in the first season. She doesn’t really get any major arc of her own. There’s potential for one, since she makes a devil’s bargain with Lionel at the end of the season. She’ll report to him all she knows about Clark and he’ll ensure she gets to write for the Daily Planet. It’s one of the low points for Chloe.
I was thinking that Pete’s presence would be upgraded now that he learns the truth about Clark. Instead, he’s still a background player for most episodes. The show just doesn’t seem to know what to do with him.
The Luthors have a great season. Upgrading John Glover to series regular was a brilliant move by the show. Lionel Luthor is such a devious character and he makes every scene he’s in just pop, especially his one on ones with Lex. It’s interesting to watch him try to discover Clark’s secret knowing about the whole Veritas storyline that will play out in later seasons.
Lex himself finds love in Dr. Helen Bryce, who he eventually marries by season’s end. He also gets more caught up in his father’s game, and engages in some corporate espionage that ends very badly. He’s dipping his toes into darker, murkier waters this season. Another Kent is added to the fold as Lex learns that he has a younger brother out there named Lucas. He eventually shows up and gets involved in the games between Lionel and Lex. It’s too bad they never brought Lucas back.
The Kents have a couple of good storylines this season. Martha becomes an assistant to Lionel, who was temporarily blind. This gives her something to do outside of the Kent farmhouse and it works. She also ends up pregnant towards the end of the season. Jonathan is about the same, trying to keep the farm out of debt and perpetually angry at the Luthors. He hates that Martha is working for Lionel, and it puts a strain on their marriage.
Like I wrote above, the episodes are much stronger overall this season. The show knows that it can do episodes without a super powered enemy for Clark to fight, and varies up the problems that arise. There’s still plenty of freak of the week episodes and they range the gamut from bad (a cheerleader that has to suck the youth out of people to stay young) to really good (Jonathan Taylor Thomas as a teen who can literally be in two places at once). The show also knows that it doesn’t need a big threat to have a compelling episode. The season finale has no real bad guy, unless you count Jor-El wanting Clark to accept his destiny. Instead it’s all about the characters and their interactions. It’s an amazing finale and a good end to the season.
Ryan returns in a heartbreaking episode that had me getting choked up. In a surprising turn, Sheriff Ethan is replaced by a new, tougher sheriff who doesn’t look the other way when it comes to trouble on the Kent farm. While I liked Ethan, the new sheriff is a good addition to the show.
Least Favorite Episodes
Season 2 proves the show can handle more than just freak of the week episodes and that it can delve deeper into Superman’s mythology. If it had just dialed back on all the angst between Clark, Lana, and Chloe it would have been much better. Unfortunately, it’s really just the start of the Clark/Lana roller coaster that would continue until season 7. Still, it ended on a great episode that set things up quite nicely for season 3.