Ten years with the same cast is a long time for any TV series, and with over 200 episodes to choose from, boiling down the stand out shows to a mere top ten is a bit of a tall order. It is a credit to the series’ constant sense of re-invention that there are so many remarkable episodes to choose from. But here goes it nonetheless! (*Feel free to add your own Top 10 in the Comments section if you disagree with ours!)
1 - Pilot
The first episode of Smallville stands out not simply because it’s the pilot, but because it lays out the premise and themes of the show effortlessly and engagingly. It sets up the crush with Lana Lang, explains the premise of the show and introduces Lex Luthor as a friend of Clark. It’s also the episode that gives us the iconic image of a young Clark Kent, tied to a scarecrow post with an S daubed in red paint upon his chest.
2 - Heat
If you ever want to sell someone on the series using a single episode, Heat is the story to use. The premise is simple; Clark has started developing his heat vision powers. However, being a teenage boy, they only seem to manifest when he becomes sexually aroused. This is unfortunate, because teenagers aren’t well known for their ability to control their emotions. Add a femme fatale to the mix and what we get is an amusing and rather brilliant episode.
3 - Rosetta
The second season storyline is often praised simply because it features former Superman actor Christopher Reeves as a wheel-chair bound genius professor. Reeves’ performance (despite his physical disability) is strong, but this is not the reason the episode is so strong; the revelations of the Kryptonian agenda (one of invasion and world domination) makes this story really stand-out, and throws a much needed curve ball into a show that had already begun to suffer from cliché.
4 - Commencement
The fourth season of Smallville is not seen as a very good one – the show’s direction is lost due to pointless supernatural elements being added. Commencement not only signifies the end of this dull season, it also redeems it by having a second meteor storm, buckets of action and most importantly of all, the arrival of Superman’s secret base, the Fortress of Solitude.
5 - Lexmas
Despite featuring two clichés that any long running series is guaranteed to have (a Christmas story and an extended dream sequence), this is the show’s take on It’s A Wonderful Life. Lex finds himself in a coma following a mugging, and is presented with a world in which he is a nicer, kinder person. It presents the arch-villain with a chance to mend his wicked ways and become a hero of sorts. Though we know what’s coming, the performances are perfect and it’s nice to see Michael Rosenbaum in a role where he doesn’t have to chew the scenery.
6 - Kara
This is the episode that introduces Laura Vandervoort as Supergirl. 'Nuff Said.
7 - Arrow
Not the TV series of the same name, but certainly the reason why that series came to be. Arrow features the budget Batman, The Green Arrow, and introduces the vigilante as a major character. Lacking the permission to feature the real Batman, the show’s producers decided that The Green Arrow was a close enough fit.
8 - Justice
Up until this point, Smallville had been very sparing with adding additional superheroes to its universe. With Justice we finally get to see them all team up and fight crime. It marks a welcome change in the ethos of the show and ushers in a heroic age. Though we don’t see much of most of them after this, it lends a sense of depth to the series that up until this point, it had lacked.
9 - Absolute Justice
A deeply silly two-parter, this feels much less like a Smallville episode and something that could have been lifted out of a regular DC Comic book. Though it suffers from having the budget of a TV show (whilst trying to have a Hollywood movie feel), it’s a worthy addition to the top ten simply because it features the Justice Society of America, including Michael Shanks as Hawkman. Seeing the chap who plays Dr. Daniel Jackson in Stargate ham it up as a winged hero is a real treat.
10 - Homecoming
The 200th episode. Clark travels into his future and past, and discovers all sorts of rich and wacky things there. Not only is this a bit of a clip show, it’s also a homage to the rich heritage of Superman. We get a touch of Lois and Clark, a little poke at the 1980’s Superman movies and there’s even a reference to the awful Superboy series from the nineties. In many ways, it ends the series perfectly, even though it’s not actually the last episode of the tenth season.
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