EPISODE REVIEW: Smallville : "Homecoming" (Season 10, Episode 5) (200th Episode!)

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Two Hundred Episodes of Smallville! That sounds like an occasion for a Very Special Episode. Does it measure up?

Recap

Clark is looking over some magazines, all of which have heroes on the cover. Lois comes in, and tries to convince Clark to go to the Smallville High Reunion with the famous last words:"What's the worst that could happen?"

At Smallville High, a guidance counsellor plots the death of Clark (He is, after all, the common thread of all the meteor freaks she's had to try to get into college.) As she plunges a letter opener into a Clark Kent voodoo doll, Braniac stops her and sends a probe into her brain to… calm her down?

Lois and Clark start up to the reunion, when Clark has a flashback of the first time he saw Lana. The guidance counsellor comes up to Clark and…. hugs him. They go through the school and visit the wall of weird. They meet a couple of highschool journalists who are convinced that the Blur was born and raised in Smallville… Clark is having a pity party, so he's not really that friendly. It just gets worse; Clark is Alumni Homecoming King.

Suddenly, time stops in the Smallville gym. Brainiac strolls out of a bright portal, and tells Clark that he wanted to slow down time so that this moment would last. What moment would that be, you ask? Well, this is the moment that everything changes…. (cue ominous glowering)

Braniac takes Clark out into the woods and shows Clark his Legion Ring. This is Braniac 5, the good guy. They begin to discuss their internal corruption, and Brainy takes Clark back to Jonathan's funeral. and the events that led up to him. Clark still feels guilty for Jonathan's death, while Braniac says that Jonathan chose his path.

He then takes Clark to see Oliver in the present, who is suffering without Clark's support. Brainiac tells Clark to stop punishing Ollie for past mistakes, that he should help Ollie be the hero he could be.

Lois is trying to hold her own at the reunion, as Brainiac notes that Clark has an odd way of expressing affection. One of the old 'meteor freaks' that Clark put away approaches Lois and Clark feels the need to spring into action. He tries to grab Brainiac's Legion ring and escape the time warp, but ends up in a future time.

He ends up at the Daily Planet in 2017. Lois finds him, slaps glasses on him and goes all "Lois" on him to protect his secret identity. The scene is nicely played… she obviously loves him very much and knows everything, but she doesn't catch on that he's a bit timelost. A confused but gratified Clark wanders into an elevator, and meets himself, glasses, slick backed hair and business suit.

Clark tells Clark he's right on time, and proceeds to bark orders. Superman flies off to stop a nuclear explosion while Clark stops Lois from falling off a roof in a helicopter. (She has a habit of that, you know). After saving Lois, she shows her appreciation… and Brainiac shows up, and chastises Clark for abandoning him in the dark ages. Clark realizes that he fears the future nearly as much as he carries the weight of the past.

They go back to the present, where Lois is talking to the 'meteor freak', who wants her to thank Clark for him. He never would've been able to recover without him.
Clark, standing in the shadows, realizes that he's actually even helping those he brings in.

He visits his father's grave to say goodbye and let go of the past.

Oliver grants an interview to Good Morning Metropolis and promptly starts to get grilled. Clark shows up, and Ollie remembers why he is a hero and (in the words of my teenaged sons- )'pwns' the interview.

Lois walks into the barn, which is decorated for a dance. Clark strolls out of the shadows, and starts dancing with her. She keeps babbling until he tells her to shut up. He then tells her that he loves her, and she responds in kind. They are perfectly in the moment, Lois dancing on Clark's feet, and they rise gently into the air….

Observations

"A hero is made in the moment, not in the past or what is yet to come." With those words, Brainiac defines Clark's central struggle throughout the series. He's guilty or he's worried. He's never just 'present', and that's the problem, that's what's keeping him from flying, both literally and figuratively.

Structurally, this episode is reminiscent of Dicken's "A Christmas Carol"; Clark is dragged through the past and the future in order to appreciate the present. As this season is all about Clark finally embracing his destiny, it's about time.

Clark's encounter with older Clark is funny, and slightly geektastic. We don't see the suit, just a blur (ironic…), but young Clark's reaction to his 'nerdy' older self is priceless. Older Clark is everything we expect in Clark Kent. Suit, Glasses, hair, manner… I really like the way Welling plays him. He's very obviously Superman, and has little patience for his whiny younger self.

Having Marsters reprise his 'Brainiac' role, except as Brainiac Five was a good touch. His explaning that Clark cured him as parallel to the meteor freak who thanked Clark (via Lois) made Clark realize that even those he fights and brings to justice are benefitted by his heroism.

Overall, a very good episode. Not quite great, but very, very good. It definitely pushes Clark's arc forward quite a bit.

Next week: Lois becomes … Isis?

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