The fact that Smallville‘s season six premiere is called ‘Zod’ feels like a declaration of sorts that the series has shifted gears into something genuinely less afraid of its comic book origins.
While previous seasons played around with the lore that inspired it, by this stage of the series, references to previous Superman live-action stories and usage of core elements from the comics are swirling around its storytelling. It can no longer hang around high school delaying the inevitable, it has to embrace its destiny, or as close as it can because at this stage the series is far from over.
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It’s hard to believe, but Smallville is only literally halfway through its run, even though there was maybe a feeling that seven seasons was about as far as it was going to go, but television networks always have other plans when it comes to these things.
Placing Clark into the Phantom Zone and surrounding him with criminals that Jor-El put away is a neat concept with which to begin its sixth year. Lex being possessed by Zod is itself a great way to bring in an iconic villain without betraying too much of the comic book mythology (which season eight will struggle with in comparison when it comes to its usage of an infamous villain from the source material).
Season premieres of Smallville are always grandiose little events and the one thing that is noticeable about the series is that its writers know how to open and finish seasons with a flourish. This builds upon season five’s cliffhanger with entertaining gusto and even manages to throw Jimmy Olsen into the mix for good measure.
The season that is about to follow is perhaps a more mixed one, although still far and away from being as bad as season four. What is most entertaining about it is that it’s not shying away from the advancing years and changes in the characters and their place in the world. The Daily Planet is fast becoming a frequent setting for the series, Lois Lane is around more than ever, and now Jimmy Olsen is along for the ride too and we’ve got Lex finally off the leash as the antagonist of the series.
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In terms of where the characters are and where the story is going, there is an assured confidence in this, although I should point out that I will develop major issues with what happens in the second half of the season. As for where the series is as it begins season six, this sets up the season in a wonderfully entertaining and epic way. We are for sure a long way away from the monster-of-the-week high school stories that populated the series in those early days.
Adulthood is just as scary and complex as growing up, especially when you’re either destined to become the hero or the villain of the story. Clark having lost Lana to Lex, Chloe finding solace with Jimmy Olsen and our future Superman facing the possibility of having no access to Jor-El anymore leaves the character at a nice crossroads going forwards, and one that is an enticing prospect for the season ahead.