There’s a lovely moment at the start of ‘Delete’ that plays with what was something of a popular Smallville theory at the time that Chloe Sullivan might turn out to be Lois Lane at some point in the future. That one of Clark’s best friends on the series is working her way to being a reporter, you could see why the potential plot twist might fester in the minds of audiences.
Written by Kelly Souders and Brian Petersen, who frequently turned in some of the best work on the series, the Clark and Chloe friendship is put under the microscope in a great way this hour, and if anything emphasises just how much that friendship is perhaps one of Smallville‘s strongest elements outside of the Clark/Lex dynamic. Somewhat regrettably, it also reveals just how much of a turgid soap opera the Clark and Lana relationship is becoming at this stage.
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The latter is perhaps the series’ weakest subplot, and once again it’s perhaps best to remind one that Welling and Kreuk are doing the best they can with it, but the inclusion of a pre-Vampire Diaries Ian Somerhalder to the mix just makes the whole plotline feel as if it’s typical WB/CW fodder compared to the more inherently interesting scenes between Clark and Chloe and the callbacks to previous episodes with the return of Dr Garner from last season.
Anytime a potential new love interest is brought into the series, it is inevitable that Smallville is going to go through the motions with certain scenes and plots playing out; Somerhalder’s character of Adam Knight might sound like he’s a future superhero who is making his grand appearance into the Smallville universe like an Easter Egg that’s popped up to tease fans over future developments, but he is another cog in the machine with which to keep the male and female lead apart, both of whom are playing around in a potential future relationship that we know will not last because comic book history dictates that it can’t or won’t.
Smallville has shown a knack for subverting expectations at this stage nicely, what with Jor-El being refashioned into something of an antagonistic figure and the series desperately making the audience cheer on Lex into not becoming a villain in the future, but the Clark and Lana stuff definitely is the weakest element of the series; something emphasised more by it being surrounded by some of the strongest writing on Smallville going on around it this season.
It’s made even more apparent by how Clark’s friendship with Chloe is put under the microscope in this episode. All season the two previous best friends have been at loggerheads, Clark especially being disdainful of Chloe’s deal with Lionel and his lack of trust which has only been fuelled by her actions throughout the series. Putting her life in danger allows the two to tentatively walk their way back to being friends and it’s amongst the best scenes in the episode which puts Clark being jealous yet again of another potential love interest in Lana’s life into sharp focus.
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It just reiterates just how much of typical soap those scenes are, a chance for another future CW star to make his mark on the series by being a flash in the pan love interest for the series’ lead female character (and we’ll get another future CW superstar doing the same thing next season). It’s an episode otherwise brimming with great scenes and moments of suspense, but it also sums up the series’ greatest strengths this hour, as well as its biggest weakness.