Sometimes origin stories take 10 years — Ranking the episodes of Smallville, Episodes 114-80

After the positive response to my ranked list of Lost and Office episodes, I just had to do another. Heck, even if there wasn’t a positive response for those two features, I probably would have done another one anyway because I love lists. I’ve been thinking about what series to tackle for nearly a month and finally decided on the one that I may be more familiar with that any other television series on air and one that is very difficult to organize based on the sheer number of episodes alone — Smallville.

Click here to see some insight into my process for this list.

We’re crossing the halfway mark here during this batch of entries. Hope you’re still enjoy things, keep the comments and ReTweets a-comin’.

114. “Hothead” (S1): One of the better season one Freaks of the Week, and honestly explored the football issue. Though, of course, season four messed that up.

113. “Conspiracy” (S9): This episode brings forth a few things we had been waiting for since the beginning of season nine, most notably Zod getting powers, but the execution is sloppy, hackneyed and not too enjoyable. Just a weird episode.

112. “Relic” (S3): Though the season nine retcon totally negates Jor-El’s appearance and resemblance to Clark, I’ve always enjoyed this blast to the past. But of course, Jor-El would fall in love with someone who looks like Lana. OF COURSE!!!

111. “Turbulence” (S8): The Clark-Tess relationship is one of the best things about the current iteration of the series and this episode relies on that to its success. Sad about Jimmy, though.

110. “Eternal” (S8): Perhaps the biggest retconning in a series that just loves to jack up its own continuity. The stuff with Davis, Clark and Chloe in the Kryptonite cage is emotionally charged, though.

109. “Upgrade” (S9): This episode should have been fantastic, on paper: Clark on Red-K, the return of Metallo, lots of powerful Zod and Tess’ issues. However, like its season-mate “Conspiracy,” the tone and pacing of this episode are way off, resulting in a muddy 42 minutes that are hotly disappointing.

108. “Blue” (S7): I hate season seven for its lack of narrative drive, themes or general quality, and this episode kind of sums that all up. You’d think it would be cool and important to dip into Clark’s Kryptonian past with a look at his mother and uncle, but it’s mostly a lame excuse for more melodrama.

107. “Plastique” (S8): This episode is fairly basic in its set-up, but Clark starting at the Daily Planet, dressing better and saving all those people from the bus crash are the most obvious signs of transition and growth in the series’ history.

106. “Warrior” (S9): I know a lot of people hated this episode, but they’re wrong. It’s another goofy set-up, but “Warrior” is actually a nice little character story for Chloe in its examination of what it means to be a hero, the toll that takes on a person — especially one without any abilities. Surprisingly good.

105. “Sacrifice” (S9): I feel like I’m beating a dead horse here when it comes to season nine episodes, but this is another one that should have worked better than it did. I know that I’m supposed to care that Zod kills Faora and Clark finds out that all the Kandorians have powers, but because those supporting characters had been mostly MIA for the previous dozen episodes, the impact isn’t there. I get it, though.

104. “Scare” (S4): The “biggest fears” gimmick is certainly cheap, but is entertaining. Sounds about right for a season four episode.

103. “Whisper” (S3): Not one of the best Clark gets new powers episodes, but certainly not the worst.

102. “Jitters” (S1): Clark saving Lex and Earl from the falling scaffolding is an iconic moment in the series history, but one that I think has been lost along the way. Don’t forget people!

101. “Bound” (S4): “Bound” is a weird episode that doesn’t really fit into the normal Smallville formula, but I like those kind of episodes and this is probably the most successful one. If anything, this episode is just a straight police procedural case episode, and turns out, the series can do that.

100. “Skinwalker” (S2): The fact that there a few people out there in Smallville fandom who “ship” Clark and Kyla makes me LOL. It’s too bad, because this is a fine effort.

99. “Veritas” (S8): I think it’s obvious that this episode would have been so much more if the CW wouldn’t have ordered more content after the strike ended. “Veritas” would have reportedly jam-packed Clark’s flight attempts, Lana’s comatose-ness and Lionel’s death all in one episode. Too bad that didn’t happen.

98. “Obsession” (S3): As you’ll see later, I am quite found of Alicia Baker, and that’s not just because Sarah Carter is very attractive. The relationship between her and Clark is believable and important to Clark’s maturation process, even despite this episode’s events.

97. “Odyssey” (S8): A fine episode that more or less resets the series after seven long years, but as an individual episode, it’s not that great. The series definitely “feels” different here, but different doesn’t always equate to greatness.

96. “Fever” (S2): Early in its run, the series was very good at making simple stories — like this one, where Martha and Clark are both sick — seem extremely gut-wrenching even though it’s obvious that Clark Kent or even his mother are going to die in the middle of the season.

95. “Rage” (S6): Some people think that Oliver hijacked the series too much during season six, and they might be right. But with episodes like this, I couldn’t really complain much. The Lex-Oliver face-off here is a fine one.

94. “Echo” (S9): The greatness of season nine is that it takes some fairly lame premises, like this one that sees Clark learn how to hear everyone’s thoughts, and turns it into a nice, heartfelt story about paying attention. Oliver’s story is also really great here.

93. “Delete” (S3): The Lana and Chloe fight is awesome. That is all.

92. “Hourglass” (S1): Clark and Lex’s future visions were very creepy for the typically chipper season one.

91. “Crimson” (S6): Red-K Clark is always a hoot, and even though this version of him is particularly whiny and sullen, the chemistry between Welling and Durance carries this to entertaining heights.

90. “Oracle” (S5): The second half of season five is one of the most disappointing stretches in the series’ run thanks to the wonderful first half, but this effort somehow brings all the loose strands together while dropping the nonsense in preparation for a fine finale.

89. “Combat” (S6): It’s very pathetic that the series’ biggest and surely most expensive fight in its final five years will have taken place in this episode, between Clark and WWE’s Kane. A good episode that explores Clark’s Lana-induced rage, though.

88. “Siren” (S7), 87. “Cyborg” (S5) and 86. “Aqua”: I had trouble placing these episodes on the list, so I figured it was best to just put them all together in a bunch. Each brings something different to the table and expands the universe in a fun way, but none are as good as “Run” or “Arrow,” so here we are.

85. “Truth” (S3): Allison Mack’s charming grin while her Chloe discovers the truth about various characters is infectious.

84. “Cure” (S7): I used to be a much bigger fan of this episode, probably blinded by Dean Cain’s guest appearance and the great showdown with Lex. It’s certainly not a bad episode, but…meh.

83. “Freak” (S6): I still can’t get behind Chloe as a meteor freak, especially after it was handled so poorly, but this episode does fine legwork in trying to convince us that it’s a good idea.

82. “Splinter” (S5): Another episode that I used to be higher on, but it ended up falling this far once I actually finished the list. Well-executed and great at progressing the Brainiac story, however.

81. “Kara” (S7): I like Laura Vandervoort and I like this episode for the great Lois and Clark moments, but I really wish we could just pretend that this whole “arc” didn’t happen.

80. “Bulletproof” (S8): Despite Clark’s final choice, this episode is unfortunately derided just because it includes Lana. CK as an undercover cop is a great gimmick for an episode and really, for multiple episodes, and the lesson on caring about those closest to you is presented in a cheese-free way.

What do you think, folks?

Past entries
195-185
184-169
168-147
146-115

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Comments
6 Responses to “Sometimes origin stories take 10 years — Ranking the episodes of Smallville, Episodes 114-80”
  1. dashwoodsister says:

    I think your list, like your analysis of the Smallville fandom, lacks some depth. Your use of meta-textual analysis versus intra-textual analysis in some places further distracts from the quality of your list. I agree with some of your choices and some of your critiques. I also respect your opinions; although I feel you could have expressed them in a more thoughtful manner. However, given that this is a huge undertaking, which I’m guessing can feel tedious at times, I don’t doubt that you tried your best, which I appreciate.

  2. GSlayer007 says:

    The episodes deserve a much more positive reasoning for being where they are atthis point, and not feel like they are near the very bottom of the list, otherwise, the description contradicts the spot. Hopefully you correct the off-ness of the list for the next entry. But still, keep up withthe good job, you are closing in tk the end.

  3. Kizzy says:

    I was wondering what ‘arc’ you didn’t like when you mentioned Kara. I found season 7 really hard to follow simply because it wasn’t that interesting, so I just wanted to understand. :-)

    Great list so far, I’m working my way through, though I’ve had to google some of the episodes lower down the list, which explains why they are ranked so lowly!

    Thanks a lot, it’s been a great read (especially loved the Lana’s-million-stalkers comments)

  4. Sarita says:

    CONSPIRACY- Blasphemy! I screamed so loud when I saw Zod fly (eventhough it was obvious it was gonna happen) that he neighbors thought I was being attacked. lol.

    UPGRADE- I would have actually put this episode in the 185-180 crowd. Brian Austin Green is genius but the fight in the Fortress was disappointing, as was Clark on Red K.

    1) why did his eyes light up like 5 times? The only light up when he first comes in contact with the Kryptonite.
    2) Clark was not exposed to the Red K for that long and thus it should have not been in his system for that long
    3) Clark has broken into ATM’s, robbed banks ang run away to Vegas to get married on Red K and now that he’s actually and adult and full control of his powers the worst thing he does is make it snow? LAME!

    PLASTIQUE- You would think that would give it a little bit of a higher spot, no?

    WARRIOR- Thank you! I think you and I are the only two people on the p[lanet who actually liked that episode. Carlo Marks did an excellent job with the script he was given. I actually believed he was a 10-year old trapped inside an adult body.

    SACRIFICE- I understand where you’re coming from but this would without a doubt make my top 25. Plus, it has my all-time favorite Smallville quote.

    Zod: If I ever learned that insurrection had spread across my ranks, if I ever discovered that my men had aligned themselves against me, I would raze this planet. I would burn it to the ground till the last ember went cold beneath my boot!

    HOURGLASS: DUDE! Top 30. My favorite Season 1 episode and aside from Brian Austin Green, Eric Christian Olsen (young Harry) is one of the greatest guest star performances we’ve ever gotten.

    SPLINTER- Another one of Tom’s best performances. He played paramoid ridiculously well. That’s think he did with his hands and the stuttering while talking to Fine when they were walking out of the classroom was awesome.

    BULLETPROOF- I couldn’t agree more.

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