I really enjoyed this season of Smallville. I've been a fan since the start and have watched this show fluctuate in quality over the years; yet it never really seemed to fulfil its potential. A potential it always had when armed with such a rich comic book mythos and such a talented cast of actors. Until this season that is. Not to suggest that this season is perfect and a year where Smallville fully realised that potential, but it is a season where the writers went a long way towards achieving this. It certainly helped that Smallville gained a new writer (Brian Q. Miller) whose episodes were excellent. And we were rid of Al Gough and Miles Millar (the old showrunners); this fresh blood helped inject the show with a renewed vision for its future.
The usual players that we've come to know over the years including daddy Lex, Lex himself and Lana Lang have all left the building. Leaving centre stage to Clark, Lois, Chloe, Jimmy, Oliver (he's back!) and two new characters name of Tess and Davis. I thought this change of line up truly reinvigorated the show and I particularly enjoyed Tess as a villain -- seeing Ollie again was also gratifying. Justin Hartley being well deserving of a regular spot on Smallville.
The season opens as Clark joins Lois Lane at the bull pen... as with anything hilarity ensues and Clark must learn to deal with this new situation. Something which takes him a good while. This season really sees Clark acting like a hero, accepting his destiny and going a long way towards mending the damage of his horrid relationship with Lana Lang. I found myself adoring Clark again. Something I didn't think would happen -- Tom Welling certainly looked a lot happier, as opposed to bored!
There are four main threads that hold together the plot of this season. The Doomsday arc, the relationship between Lois and Clark, Tess's machinations and Clark's alter-ego: the Red Blue Blur. These arcs make up the majority of the seasons story and are generally well constructed -- the development of the Clark and Lois relationship in particular has been excellent. It's a shame Erica Durance (Lois Lane) is only contracted for 13 episodes per season, as she was greatly needed, I felt, in certain episodes. I felt her missing presence keenly during that abominable Lana arc; fortunately Erica will be in eighteen episodes in season nine, yay! The beginnings of a romance between Lois and Clark was emotional, touching and well earned since their friendship has been bubbling up for a long time now. Lois was on the money in 'Bride' when she said her feelings 'just snuck up on her'. Not many TV couples can boast such a pro-longed build up whilst still maintaining such chemistry and tension.
Season eight is a year of romance, morally grey decisions, soul searching, crossroads and huge steps towards Clark becoming Superman. Episodes like 'Beast' illustrating the darkness that could so permeate the series at this stage amidst the lighter fares. For example, Lois dons a cape to save the city in 'Stiletto' and Chloe accidentally makes a fool hardy wish in 'Hex'. It's a mixed bag tonally with plenty of ups and downs -- but season eight always comes back to the man himself: Clark and his struggle to balance his new secret identity with his reporter persona. Not to mention some darker personal struggles. One good thing about this year was I noticed a vast improvment in the episode to episode continuity -- I was pleasantly surprised by some of the things the writers actually remembered!
There were things about this season that I detested. Notably the return of the Pink Princess. I wasn't happy how her return was handled and thought it made Clark look weak and stupid (not much change there). It just serves to show how much better off Clark is without her. I was (and am) willing to overlook that particular asinine Lana plotline mainly because I never EVER have to make myself watch those episodes again. She's gone. The end. Ding dong.
The season finale was a disappointment. I enjoyed parts of it but the whole season had been gearing up to what would be this huge cataclysmic clash between Clark and the enemy but instead... it just all fell a little flat. Chloe was let off the hook too much for my liking as well. But that's a whole other rant. Although, I must give props to Tom Welling. If nothing else he has improved immensely over the years and today stands as a very fine actor in my opinion -- you could definately tell he's much happier with Clark's direction this year. He even praised the 'Committed' episode script for its writing, which is quite a huge thing since he never talks about Smallville anymore... and the fact that he signed a contract for a season nine and possible season ten (if the network wants it) when he didn't have to also says a great deal. Clark Kent can be a thankless role and I admire Tom's fortitude -- he plays off Erica Durance particularly well. Scenes like the rooftop one in 'Hex' spring to mind with their mutual comic timing!
I for one look forward to season nine. I love this show and cannot wait to see where the writers go next, I've hung on this long after all!
Highlight episodes include: Bride, Committed, Hex, Legion and Bloodline.