Tonight’s episode ought to have been called “Redemption,” for the complete 180 it did from start to finish. While the pre-credits scene showed us the return of James Marsters as Brainiac, a good chunk of the first half of tonight’s show was comprised of clips from old episodes. As Clark and Lois attend their Smallville High reunion – yes, they remind us that Lois attended for a little under a month – Clark sees flashes of the life he’s led and some of the people he’s left behind. I think I groaned aloud at the prospect of a clip show. But then the writers took a sharp left hand turn and the show got back on track in a big way. Be warned, though… the rest of this review is nothing but spoilers.
Marsters does indeed return in this episode as Brainiac, however it’s Brainiac 5 of the future, returned to give Kal El a good swift kick in the ass. The genius of tomorrow takes Clark on a quick trip through time, showing us a few more clips, and explaining to the boy of steel that the “darkness” within him comes from his unwillingness to let go of past mistakes – both his own, and others’ – and ignore his fear of what the future may hold. Bottom line? Live for the moment, something Kara told him while trying to teach him to fly last week, if you remember correctly.
Clark then tries to interfere with the Legion ring that’s transporting Brainiac and Clark through time and, in doing so, strands himself seven years in the future. This is a thrill-a-minute as he meets the no-nonsense Clark of the future, hair slicked down, glasses firmly in place, and trench coat covering his shirt and tie. It’s a Clark that honestly DOESN’T look like Superman. And yes, there’s Superman, too. Well, okay, it’s a red/blue blur, but the word is written plain as day on a newspaper headline and we see him off in the distance as he flies off to deal with a troublesome nuclear reactor. So what could top all of that?
A reassured Clark, back in the present, dons the red leather “S” coat from a few episodes back to visit his father’s grave. After saying goodbye and dropping in to offer Oliver Queen some moral support, Clark has a rendezvous with Lois back at the farm. They dance, her feet on his (just so he doesn’t step on her toes), and she prepares to address his little secret. Clark asks her just to let them have this moment, and as they hold each other tenderly, a close up shows Clark’s feet as he finally attains lift off.
Honestly, this episode couldn’t have done much more right. Tom Welling proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that he should be our Superman. As future Clark, he truly looked like a different person. At the same time, his new found confidence will only serve to feed his super-persona and differentiate all the more between the two facets of his identity. Justin Hartley, who has been wowing as Green Arrow from the get go, turns in what was perhaps his best performance yet as Oliver Queen tonight. After revealing his identity last week, Queen ends out this episode giving a press conference where he finally gets to flex some of the trademark Oliver arrogance.
Smallville season 10 is shaping up to be one hell of a blockbuster finale to a show that did its fair share of stumbling along the way. Homecoming, for its part, gets 4.5 out of 5 memories of lost loves and the deadly baubles they wore about their neck.