Smallville – Season 4 Recap – Commencement – Season Finale

Episode Title: Commencement
Original Airdate: May 18, 2005

Episode Recap:

The finale of Smallville’s fourth season begins with an awesome clip show giving a summary of the past season. Story arcs to take particular note of: Lex telling Clark that there’s a darkness inside of him that he can’t fight off, the three elements hidden around the world, Chloe finding out Clark’s secret, Clark and Lana rekindling their relationship, war, fathom, and the world’s destruction resulting from people searching for the stones, and Jason getting shot by Lionel after telling Lex that Clark is connected to everything. Another significant thing: Lionel telling Lex that you can’t fight your true nature (from “Onyx”), Clark telling Martha it’s time for him to fulfill his destiny (from “Crusade”), followed by Lex declaring “I am the villain of this story” (from “Onyx”). An incredibly well put-together summary of the events of the past season. Very well done.

Lana walks into her apartment at the Talon only to find Genevieve waiting inside. She takes out a gun and points it at Lana, demanding that she give her the stone. Lana obliges. Genevieve seems confused (since it’s not the stone she had given Lionel), and in her moment of distraction Lana hits her with a spin kick. The two start wrestling each other when Genevieve manages to get the upper hand and begins strangling Lana. As Lana gasps for breath, suddenly her eyes glow and she becomes possessed by her countess witch ancestor lady. Lana (as the witch) straddles Genevieve, grabs the stone, and stabs Genevieve with it. Lana starts glowing (like in the season premiere) and her mysterious tattoo disappears. Lana is back to normal, but notices the blood all over her hands. She looks up and sees Lex standing at the doorway.

Clark is asleep on the couch at his house. Naturally, his blanket is red and his sheets are blue. He awakens when the lights start flashing and all the electronics start going crazy. The dog starts whimpering at the door, so Clark goes outside and looks up and sees blue, yellow, and red beams in the sky. The three beams come together to form a bright light. Turns out it was all a dream, and Clark was yelling “It’s coming” over and over. Meanwhile, a meteor heads towards earth, followed by a mysterious countdown of 14 hours and 20 minutes. An incredibly cool opening six minutes.

Lana is at Lex’s mansion washing her hands and freaking the hell out. By the way, you know you’re rich when you’re washing blood off your hands with bottled water in a silver bowl. Lana (still freaking out) says that she has to tell Jason what she did, but Lex says he’ll handle Jason. Lex tells her that even though it was self-defense, Genevieve was married to a very powerful lawyer and he’d make it seem otherwise. Lex tells her he has a lawyer coming from New York, but he doesn’t want her talking to anybody until he arrives. Lana asks where her purse is, and Lex tells her “Don’t worry, it’s still there. I’d never take it from you.” Interesting how he knows she has a stone.

At the Kent house, Clark believes that his dream was some sort of warning, but his parents insist it was just a nightmare. Lois comes down wearing PJs and bunny slippers. For some reason I don’t picture her as the bunny slippers type. Lois breaks the news that her and her father are leaving for Europe tomorrow to search for her sister. In a nice bit, Jonathan tells Lois that she’s always welcome, and just as Clark says “Actually…” Martha cuts him off and says “We’ll all miss you very much.”

Lex walks into Lana’s apartment to discover that Genevieve’s body and any evidence of the murder are gone. Lionel is responsible and wants to offer a trade: Lana’s freedom for the artifact she has. Okay, we’re calling it an artifact now. Interesting lighting note here: During the altercation between Lionel and Lex, a red and blue light shines on Lex’s face. Lionel threatens to deliver Genevieve’s body to the sheriff if he doesn’t get the stone by tomorrow at noon.

Meanwhile, fragments of the meteor that is heading towards earth strikes the moon. Some satellites pick it up on radar. Apparently the meteors came from nowhere and are heading straight to earth. The countdown is now at nine hours, 18 minutes.

At Kent farm, Clark unsuccessfully attempts to tie his tie before Lois comes to his rescue. It occurs to me that every time Clark attempts to do a tie, somebody ends up having to do it for him (Lex in the first season, Lois now). The two discuss what their respective futures hold for them, and predictably Clark tells her that she should try journalism. Lois says “the last thing I’d want to do is spend my time in a newsroom. With my luck I’d end up across the desk from the most bumbling reporter.” Did anyone NOT see that foreshadowing coming? The two have a nice little bonding moment as they essentially say good bye to each other.

At graduation, Chloe and Clark both acknowledge the fact that Lana is not present. Chloe seems worried. After Clark gets his diploma and Lana’s name is repeated a few times, an army of military vehicles crash the party. In a (I assume) non-intentional humorous moment, the military asks for everybody to keep calm as a bunch of soldiers jump out with guns. Apparently a meteor shower is heading for Smallville in about three hours and everybody needs to evacuate. Clark gets Chloe and Lois to leave as he goes searching for Lana. There was also a humorous moment where Lois tells Clark he needs to remain calm as she begins to panic.

The Kents attempt to pack up as much as their belongings as they can. Random thought, but it seems sad that all these cows are going to die. Well, I suppose they’ll only get slaughtered anyway. Clark thinks that there’s something he has to do, but Martha tells him there’s no time. Clark tells her he doesn’t have a choice.

The meteors continuing heading towards earth, and the countdown is now at two hours, 21 minutes.

In the loft of the barn, Clark grabs the octagonal key to the cave. He turns around to see Lex standing there. He wants to offer the Kents access to his private jet, but Clark turns it down. Lex reveals that his scientists discovered that there seems to be an inner chamber in the cave wall (which Clark accidentally revealed to him in “Blank”), and asks if Clark’s research showed the same thing. Clark says no, but wonders why he’s asking about this in a moment of crisis and disaster. Lex says that the caves are irreplaceable if the meteors hit. Lex warns Clark to stay safe.

Clark walks into the inner chamber of the cave wall and asks to talk to Jor-El as he puts in the key. Jor-El tells Clark that he’s responsible for this, because he didn’t put together the three pieces of the stone. He tells Clark that human blood stained one of the elements, and that the three stones must become one or nothing can save earth from total annihilation. If Clark does not find the three pieces, even he won’t survive what will happen to mankind.

The meteors begin breaking into our atmosphere, and the clock is at 45 minutes.

The Kents finish packing their stuff into their truck, but Clark tells them they have to go without him. Jonathan reminds Clark that the last meteor shower was made of Kryptonite. Clark tells his parents that he’s the only one who can do this. In a powerful moment, Jonathan tells Clark “all the years that your mother and I spent raising you from a wide eyed toddler running around on this farm to the man standing in front of me right now was for this moment. You do this and make us proud.” All three actors did a tremendous job in this scene. What made it particularly moving was the fact that, for the first time, Clark actually seemed scared and unsure of his abilities and the fact that he will succeed and survive.

Clark retreats the barn, where Lana is inside waiting for him. She gives him the stone she has. Well, that was easy….he didn’t even have to ask. She tells Clark that whatever it is, she somehow knows it’s meant for him. When Clark asks about the blood, Lana tells him that she’ll have to trust him, like all those times she’s asked her to trust him. Lana tells him that no matter what happens, she’ll never forget him, and that she loves him. They kiss, and he tells her he loves her too.

The countdown is now at 19 minutes.

At Lex’s mansion, Lana leaves a voicemail message to Chloe telling her that she’ll be okay. Lex walks in and hangs the phone up, telling her she can’t contact anybody. He asks her if the stone is safe, and she says “As safe as can be.” Lex suggests putting it in the vault, but Lana resists. Lex tells her it isn’t smart to travel with the murder weapon, and insists that she has to trust him with the stone. Lana answers “I’m sorry Lex, but I can’t do that.”

The Kents drive out of the farm but are cut off by another pick up truck. Inside is a bloodied Jason, who pulls a rifle on them. He asks them where Clark is. When they won’t tell him, he shoots the windshield of their pick up truck and demands they tell him.

The countdown is now at 14 minutes.

Everybody is attempting to evacuate Smallville, creating a massive traffic jam. Chloe and Lois are suspicious of the fact that Lana is at Lex’s mansion. Chloe says she can’t abandon Lana, so Lois distracts the soldier as Chloe runs back into town towards Lex’s mansion.

Clark walks into the inner chamber of the cave walls and is about to place the second stone (the one Lana gave him) into its place.

Lex walks into his office and asks Lionel why he’s still in town. May I just mention the fact that nobody really seems in that much of a rush to evacuate town? I mean the Kents are packing up their entire house, Chloe’s running back into town, and the Luthors are just kinda chilling out. Anyway, Lex tells Lionel he doesn’t know where Lana is, so he doesn’t have her stone.

Clark is still in the cave, about to place the stone in its place. Again, he’s not rushing much either. He knows he has limited time, yet he’s spending ten minutes just staring at the damn thing.

Back with the Luthors, Lex tells Lionel that if he leaves Lana alone, he’ll tell him where the element belongs. He’ll take him there right now, but Lionel insists he doesn’t have the stone.

Meanwhile, Clark FINALLY gets around to putting the stone where it belongs, and suddenly Lionel’s jacket begins glowing. He collapses to the floor and begins seizing uncontrollably. Lex comes to his side and grabs the stone, but gets sent across the room. Upon getting back to his feet, he goes over to Lionel, who is lying lifelessly. Lex tells somebody to take Lionel upstairs. Lex says to him “can you hear me dad? Before you leave this earth, I want you to know….you did create the son you always wanted.” Looks like evil Lex is taking over.

In the cave walls, Clark begins hearing a very high pitched ringing (from the remaining stone at Lex’s mansion). He uses his super speed to get into Lex’s office, where the stone is inside the vault. He tears the door open, only to find the Kryptonite filled artifacts seen in “Sacred” inside. Clark uses what little strength he has to grab the stone, but then collapses.

The countdown is now down to five minutes.

At the Kent house, Jason points the rifle at Martha as she ties up Jonathan in a chair. Jason demands that they tell him where Clark and the stones are.

A helicopter arrives on Lex’s property so that Lana can evacuate. Okay, once again, they knew about three hours ago that these meteors are coming…why exactly are they waiting five minutes before they strike for her to finally leave???? One last time, Lex asks Lana to give him the stone she has. She tells Lex she doesn’t have it, and Lex accuses her of lying. Lex frantically grabs her purse from her and starts searching it. She tells him this was never about her safety, he just wants the stone. Lex tells her that her safety is more important to her than anything, and that she means more to him than she knows. She gets on the helicopter and it flies off.

Chloe walks into Lex’s office looking for Lana. Instead, she sees Clark collapsed outside the vault. She sees he’s holding the stone, and the Kryptonite around him. She drags him to safety just as Lex walks in. We hear (but don’t see) Clark using his super speed to leave. Lex asks Chloe what happened to the vault and who took the element. Chloe insists she doesn’t know and that she just got there, but Lex doesn’t believe her. She tells him they need to get out of here, but Lex says that he’s going to find the element even if he has to dodge a few meteors. He grabs her arm and tells her that she’s coming with him.

The countdown is now down to one minute, 25 seconds.

Jason points his rifle at Martha’s head and tells her and Jonathan that if they don’t start talking he’ll blow her brains out. Finally Martha tells him to go upstairs to Clark’s room, just as Jonathan jumps up and tackles Jason. Martha tries to stop Jason from grabbing the rifle, but gets tackled to the ground. Jason begins strangling her before Jonathan comes to the rescue. Jason grabs the rifle and points it at the two of them, but before he can shoot everything starts rattling. A piece of the meteor crashes right into the Kent house.

A piece of meteor strikes a semi-truck, and the driver dives out. Damn, that guy basically took a nosedive into concrete. Pieces of meteor land in various areas of Smallville as people try to run to safety. A father calls out for his young son, as a little boy runs through the street looking for a toy. He grabs the toy truck (which is blue and red, of course) as a meteor heads directly for him. Seconds before it hits him, Clark runs to the rescue and saves him.

Lana is in the helicopter as it literally attempts to avoid the hundreds of meteors flying past it. Finally the tail gets struck, and they begin spinning wildly before crashing into the ground.

Meteors continue heading towards Smallville as Clark sloooooooooowly walks into the inner chamber of the cave wall. A little quicker than usual he puts the final piece of stone into place, as a giant meteor crashes into a cornfield.

Lex takes Chloe into the cave as she wonders why they’re there. Lex angrily demands that she tell him who she’s protecting. Lex asks if it’s Clark, but Chloe insists it’s not. She’s a much more convincing liar than Clark.

Meanwhile, the three stones have combined to create a crystal shaped like the Superman symbol. It begins floating in front of Clark. Shortly after, it starts glowing.

Inside the cave, Lex sees the golden glow from inside the walls, and wonders what it is. As he starts walking towards the inner chamber, Chloe yells “Watch out Lex, it may be dangerous” as she pushes him into the cave wall, knocking him to the ground. Chloe walks to the inner chamber to see Clark standing there in front of a bright light. Clark finally grabs the crystal, and screams in agony.

Meanwhile, Lionel lies unconscious in a bed at the mansion. The camera zooms in real close to his eye where symbols of the Kryptonian language scroll across his iris.

Clark, meanwhile, vanishes and appears in a mysterious area completely covered with snow.

Lois drives Chloe’s car to a plateau of Smallville. Her eyes are watery and emotional looking. She runs to the peak, and looks down at the smoke and destruction of Smallville below.

Lana, meanwhile, regains consciousness in the crashed helicopter. She’s all bloody and cut up, and the pilot is dead. She crawls out of the helicopter. Her leg is bleeding profusely, so she cannot walk. She crawls to the top of a massive crater, and inside sees a black spaceship, similar to the one Clark arrived in. A light shines as it begins opening.

Clark is still in the snowy terrain as Superman-esque music plays in the background. The symbol floats out of his hand, but Clark grabs it and throws it as far as he can. Superman music continues to play as the crystal (shaped like the Superman symbol) comes toward the camera.

To Be Continued…..

Episode Review:

Wow. In my last review, I suggested that the past two episodes may have stalled because they were saving everything big for the finale, and boy did that end up being the case. This was not only an incredible finale, but it may have been my favorite Smallville episode ever. It effectively wrapped up a lot of the ongoing story-arcs of the season, and even acknowledged seemingly insignificant events in the past.

The opening six minutes were incredible. The clip show briefly summarizing the season was especially well done. It not only did a nice job of recounting the major events of the season (like Chloe finding out Clark’s secret, the ongoing struggle for possession of the stones, etc.), but it also reminded viewers of some things they may have forgotten (such as Lex’s continued effort to fight off the darkness within him), and effectively set the tone for some major character changes (such as Lionel telling Lex he can’t fight who he is, Clark mentioning destiny, and Lex declaring he’s the villain of the story).

The countdown used throughout the episode was a fantastic way of making the viewer anticipate the oncoming meteors. When the viewer realizes that there are only five minutes left before the meteors strike Smallville, it adds a great deal of intensity to each scene, especially when you know none of the major characters have a chance of getting out of the town in time, and you’re left wondering if Clark will combine all three stones before it’s too late. Splicing the countdown in between scenes was another effective tool, and the pulse pounding (no pun intended) sound in the background every time the countdown was shown really furthered the intensity of it all.

I have not been a fan of Lana’s witchcraft story, but tonight they wrapped it up and made sense of it. When Lana became possessed by her ancestor and killed Genevieve, it was as if everything became full circle. In the season premiere, Lana was overcome with a shining light and a tattoo mysteriously appeared on her back. Tonight, after she murdered Genevieve, she was again overcome with a shining light and her tattoo disappeared. It had been said before that Lana’s ancestors would take their vengeance out by eliminating Genevieve’s family tree. She essentially accomplished that tonight, so her job was done. That said I’m interested in where her story is going next season. If Lionel is dead, one must assume that Genevieve’s body will never be discovered (in which case Lana basically got away with murder). Her discovering the spaceship at the end of the episode certainly brings up a great deal of questions. Somehow I think that this will create a wedge between her and Clark, preventing them from getting together despite professing their love for each other tonight.

I predicted that Genevieve would bite the dust, but I was pretty surprised that Jason ended up still being alive. Nevertheless, I’m betting that he’s going to get killed in the meteor shower, since he’s going to be in another WB series next season (and along with that, his character is pretty much pointless now). Anyway, despite not being a particularly big fan of his character until it was revealed he was evil, I really enjoyed his role in tonight’s episode. He was a good excuse to keep the Kents in Smallville during the meteor shower, and a little more was revealed about his character as well. We discovered that he did research before coming to Smallville, and that he was onto Clark a lot more than he ever let on. It adds a new layer to their past interactions and explains a lot about why Jason protected Clark so much when he was on the football team.

Chloe’s scenes were brief, but important. I enjoyed the way she saved Clark from the Kryptonite and how she attempted to protect him after Lex found out that somebody had broken into his vault. I liked how she threw Lex into the cave wall so that he wouldn’t see Clark combining the crystals. This was Chloe’s strongest season yet, and once again she’s proved herself worth Clark’s trust.

I’m not really sure what’s going to happen to Lionel. Lex seemed to indicate that he was going to die soon, but with the implication that Lionel is now connected to the stones, Lex’s comment about Lionel soon leaving the earth takes on a new meaning. I’m intrigued about what’s going to occur next, but it was strange seeing Lionel lying there lifelessly, followed by the Kryptonian language scrolling across his eyes. I think Lionel is a tremendous character and John Glover is an incredible actor, so I’d be disappointed if he left the show. On the other hand, with Lex apparently taking over as the new villain, Lionel may no longer be necessary. As it is, his character was underutilized this season anyway.

Well, it certainly looks like Lex is making his way towards the dark side. His comment to Lionel was noteworthy, telling him that he did create the son he always wanted. He also seemed coldly unemotional about the fact that his father may soon be dead. The past couple of weeks I’ve wondered why Lex was so bitter and harsh towards Lionel instead of feeling remorse for basically turning him evil again. The answer now seems obvious: Good Lex WOULD feel remorse. Evil Lex would not, he’d just treat somebody with cruelty. Throughout the episode Lex was uncaring towards Lionel, near physically assaulted Lana and Chloe, and lied to Clark. He was frantic and violent (especially with Lana and Chloe), and seemed ready and willing to turn his back on Clark. In fact, he had no qualms whatsoever about putting Chloe’s life in danger by forcing her to stay with him in Smallville despite the destruction that would soon come.

The whole stones/elements/artifacts storyline was finally fully explained to us. All of Jor-El’s threats early in the season about not allowing humans to get in possession of them, along with his urging for Clark to accept his heritage and destiny finally became clear. The fact that human blood stained one of the stones caused the destruction that Smallville faced. Jor-El was right: Had Clark accepted his destiny earlier, that destruction may have been avoided.

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen any of the Superman movies, but I vaguely remember an ice-kingdom type place in one of them. If I’m not imagining this, I have a feeling that that’s where Clark is right now. What his purpose is, or what will happen next, I do not know. Nevertheless, it looks like for the third year in a row, Clark’s gonna vanish for the summer.

Finally, I have to give a great deal of credit to the actors in tonight’s episode. Kristin Kreuk did an amazing job in her scene in the Luthor mansion after Lana murdered Genevieve. I honestly felt that she was in a complete panic, and she truly seemed like she was hyperventilating. It was perhaps the most realistic acting I’ve ever seen her do.

Tom Welling, Annette O’Toole, and John Schneider also deserve a great deal of credit for their scene together where Clark told them that they need to evacuate without him. Clark genuinely seemed scared, and it wasn’t because of anything he said or the tone of his voice. You could just read it on his face. For the first time, he seemed extremely unsure of himself. Jonathan and Martha seemed realistic in their roles as well: Parents who were worried about the fate of their son (who they love), but they know he needs to do what he has to do, and they have faith in him.

Michael Rosenbaum did a fantastic job as Lex Luthor, as always. While in “Onyx” he very effectively played “good Lex” and “evil Lex” as two separate characters, tonight he did a great job playing them as one character. You could sense the inner conflict within him, and as the episode progressed you saw the dark side of him take over. The episode started with him assuring Lana he would never take the stone from him, then he went to asking her for the stone, then he went to physically attempting to take it from her. By the end of the episode he was so frantic and desperate that he willingly put Chloe’s life in danger in order to get his stone back.

Erica Durance’s final scene was also powerful, in my opinion. The expression in her eyes as she looked down at the destruction of Smallville was very moving. I can’t really explain the look, they just seemed very emotional, as if she was in disbelief of what had just happened.

Next season looks very promising, although I’m really disappointed that they’re moving the show to Thursday nights. Competing with the OC is a terrible idea, and doing so might end up being the proverbial “kiss of death” for the show. If that’s the case, it’s really too bad because there’s a lot more exploration for the show to take.

And since there was a ten minute preview of it, I might as well give you some quick thoughts on Batman Begins. Looks really good to me, and much like Clark Kent is an interesting character without being Superman, I think the same is even more true with Bruce Wayne. Because of that, I’m glad that this movie is focusing a great deal on the man behind the mask. However, Christian Bale’s “Batman voice” is a bit too raspy for my tastes. Nevertheless, it looks really good, and will undoubtedly be better than the atrocity known as Batman and Robin.

Let me know what any of you would like to see me do over the summer, while the show is on hiatus. I have all three season’s DVDs, so let me know if you’d like me to do briefer, full-season reviews, or individual episode reviews. Or, I can do reviews for most requested episodes, or my personal favorites. Let me know!