TV Discussion

Smallville 4×20 – ‘Ageless’ – TV Rewind

Beginning with an intense birth sequence that will have you screaming at the television at the cowardice of the father-to-be, ‘Ageless’ eventually leads to a grandiose visual callback to not only Smallville‘s origins, but one that also gets to place Clark Kent into a sequence that cannot help but recall his own arrival on Earth: the crater in the field, the baby that has seemingly arrived out of nowhere, two young characters facing being responsible for a child they had no idea was going to come into their life; all of which is playing out amongst a small Kansas town with an iconic water tower.

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Steven S DeKnight’s script for this episode, which he also directs, leans nicely into that callback, and the way in which such visual imagery will no doubt ping within the mind of the audience, but it soon turns into Smallville‘s own version of Francis Ford Coppla’s 1997 film Jack, in which the child Clark and Lana discover soon ages at an alarming rate, and before you know it, he’s a teenager with very intense issues.

© Warner Bros. Television.

Smallvillle in the past has frequently gotten a lot of storytelling mileage in having Clark become a mentor or older brother figure to younger characters who are facing similar physical developments within the superhero realm due to those pesky green rocks. This episode initially makes you think of the episodes featuring ‘Ryan‘ from the first two seasons, with which it shares similar aesthetic DNA in many ways, right down to the tragic ending, although this is more explosive in nature, but which also sees DeKnight playing nicely with both the idea that Clark and Lana are getting older at this stage of the series and the frightening possibilities that come with the end of high school and becoming adults.

This has been a season of change and transition for the series, even if the season overall has been the weakest so far. We even see minor cosmetic changes starting to develop with Lex here. He’s not full villain yet, but the final scene of the episode hints that the series might finally be starting to move its way towards the character being somewhat duplicitous and manipulative in both his motivations and friendship with Clark. Not only are Clark, Lana and Chloe moving beyond their lives and who they are at this stage, but there is now a darkly enticing notion that Lex is too.

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Some marks might have to be detracted for Lana playing mother figure and talking about having a purpose (as if being a mother is all she really has to offer), but credit where credit is due for finally delivering an episode where the character actually has a function and gives Kristen Kreuk some great material to work with outside of the entire Jason and Guinevere Teague storyline, which turns up like a bad penny again but which doesn’t detract too much from the episode’s other core strengths.

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