Unsurprisingly, the first season of Smallville dealt with a lot of firsts. First new power, first time Lex uses manipulation to get what he wants, first time a girl on Smallville dates a villain (and second time), first time someone other than Clark defeated a villain, first time there was a freak of the week (FOW) that wasn’t a villain, the first in a string of surprising appearances of Metropolis, first time Chloe kisses Clark (which turns into a seasonal tradition), first time there were villains that WEREN’T infected by kryptonite, first mention of Warrior Angel…for a ten-year series, there is obviously going to be a lot of firsts.
What is really important about the season was the story lines. Each character seemingly had a different story to tell. For Clark, it was less about a story than it was about trying to fit in, develop his abilities, and develop friendships. For Lana, it was her relationship with Whitney and her friendship with Clark, which begins to turn into an attraction later in the season. Whitney surprisingly had a very loud and developed story all on his own this season, which was his ill father, and decision to go into the marines. For the Luthors, it was about feuding over the LuthorCorps Fertilizer plant in Smallville, and for Lex, it was about watching his steady descent into the temptations of power and revenge against his father (only slight, his true nature doesn’t come till much later). The biggest story of the season was Lex trying to figure out what truly happened on the day his car crashed into Clark (See: “Pilot“), and when he drops it, Roger Nixon continues on his own, and immediately finds out the truth.
The best episode (by far) is “Tempest”
The worst episode is “Zero“
You can find a list of mini-recaps of each episode after the break.
Episode 1: “Pilot”
This 50-minute episode is probably the episode that I have seen the most amount of times. Not because it is the best episode (because it’s not), but because I always try to start to watch the series again, and fail those attempts. No this isn’t the best episode, but it is very important if you can look past the pretty bad CGI effects and acting that doesn’t seem to get much better than mediocre (it gets better later). This episode introduced us to 15 year-old Clark Kent, whose abilities are limited to super-strength and super speed. He is in love with Lana, and he is allergic to her meteor rock necklace. Lex Luthor also plays a vital role in Smallville…yes Clark’s teen years, and yes, he knows Clark and they are friends after Clark saved him. In the midst of everything else, this part made the least sense, but oh my gosh…if you are a fan of the series, it was one of the smartest decisions they could have ever made. The freak of the week dealt with a prank that football players play on high school freshman, by seemingly crucifying them in their boxers with a big red “S” drawn on their chest (Superman). The FOW gained electrical powers and went after the football players that initially pranked him and then went after all of Smallville High. Clark saves the day.
Episode 2: “Metamorphosis”
This may be the only episode that didn’t continue on from a “To be continued” ending that instead continued directly after the first episode ended. Both are completely separate, but are connected seamlessly as if it were an episode of 24. This episode dealt with our FOW (Freak of the Week) having the abilities of pretty much any bug, making him bug boy. Now, if you are actually paying attention, there is only one type of krypto-bug that bites him, so theoretically, he should only have that bugs abilities. Also, the special effects are still less-than-par and the music-editing is actually terrible. There are cuts within the songs on the show that are obvious and makes no sense. The same happened in the first episode as well. I’m hoping it gets better because I am literally surprised at how bad a lot of things just look and sound so far. BTW: This was also the first episode that Clark flies…really…it happens (for a split second), but still.
Episode 3: “Hothead”
Now we step away from important episodes for a bit and just throw some random one in (for the most part). Then again, there are a lot of these filler episodes in the earlier seasons of Smallville, because there wasn’t a very clear seasonal arc going on in the show. At least not until later. This episode was all about Bobby Knight, err…about Smallville High’s Football coach as the FOW. You see, he uses the high school’s sauna (yeah right) to sweat off his frustrations, and on one particular day, he used meteor rock, which gave him the ability to, well, make things very hot and on fire. Meanwhile, Clark decides to join the football team, and Lana starts working at the Talon, but only for a single episode. So this episode wasn’t the greatest, but the next episode was!
Episode 4: “X-Ray”
Now, finally we have an important episode, and I mean…in a lot of aspects. First of all, we have a few firsts, one of those firsts was the first female FOW, then there was the first time Lex used manipulation to get what he wanted, the first appearance of the first season’s main villain, Roger Nixon, who will be showing up later, as Lex hired him to investigate the mystery surrounding the car crash between himself and Clark, and finally…the first new superpower from Clark. So the FOW was Tina Greer, a role played by Lizzy Caplan. When Clark gained his new ability (x-ray vision), he noticed that Tina could shape shift because something in her bones was glowing green…gee I wonder what. So Clark had to defeat her. BTW: This is the only episode in the series that provided an x-ray vision where Clark saw muscle tissue instead of an X-Ray effect, and you may start noticing how many times the main character already knows the villain of the episode, which is okay now, not so much for later seasons.
Episode 5: “Cool”
This time on Smallville, we have a filler episode. However, this is the first time that Chloe dates a villain in the show, actually all the girls on the show continually date bad guys…it gets repetitive. Anyways, our FOW is a guy who falls into a lake of ice (filled with meteor rock) that gains the power of turning things to ice by a simple touch. Interesting note, he does it by sucking OUT the heat of the object. Also, the Kents are in debt, which is kind of important, but not really. It is more important for the Kents relationship with Lex Luthor, and how he continually tries to build trust in them. Also, Clark had his first non-date with Lana, to which he ran off and left her in a coffee shop, that also turns into a repetitive tradition. You’ll see.
Episode 6: “Hourglass”
When I first started to watch Smallville, I wasn’t so sure about how different it was. Clark in his teen years, going through teen things, and well…a lot just didn’t seem as genuine and good as what Superman typically brought to the table, but…again, the teen years are the most troublesome. This episode really sucked me in, even though it is mostly filler. Complete with a stellar performance of the old woman who played Cassandra (the blind old woman who could see the future), as well as Eric Christian Olsen as our main FOW. Basically, this old fart that used to be a murderer falls into a lake that turns him young again, and he uses his new found youth to kill the people that put him in prison so long ago. Funny, Cassandra was also a FOW, but the first in the series that was actually good. The only real thing in this episode that was actually important was Lex showing Clark that he still has his crashed car and that he has been investigating the mysteries that surround it (that shows a bigger importance to the show later on) and Lex’s future as the President of the United States, and how his power turns to bloodshed. All this ending with Cassandra dying after seeing such an impossibly difficult future. Very good episode, and well-acted all around. BTW – for the first time in the series, Clark didn’t defeat the villain…Martha did.
Episode 7: “Craving”
This episode isn’t terrible, but I like it more for the special guest star than the story. Amy Adams plays the FOW this week, initially a fat girl, but drinks krypto-shakes that immediately drop her weight. The only problem is by doing so, she super-speeds up her metabolism, and cannot control her urge to eat fat, and ends up eating the body fat of her fellow students, and Clark must stop her…obviously. For the overall arc importance, Lex meets up with Dr. Hamilton for the first time, a scientist who studies meteor rock and their effect on regular people. This starts a very important story arc of an obsession that Lex has with meteor rocks. The most interesting note of this series marks the first time an actor/actress from another Superman universe shows up in ‘Smallville’, and it’s Amy Adams, who plays Lois Lane in the upcoming Superman movie, ‘Man of Steel’; although it is clear that that wasn’t the reason why she was casted. Later on, several other Superman universe actors and actresses show up in the show.
Episode 8: “Jitters”
Remember the guy who played the Devil/Death in the Final Destination series? Well, he played Earl Jenkins in this episode, the FOW with the power to shake his booty…and every other part of his body. Yeah, he was super-seizure boy. Something was wrong with him and he claimed the existence of a third level at Luthor Corps fertilizer plant in Smallville (which existed) that focused on experimentation that led to his medical condition. This was more of a character-driven episode, as it shows how secretive the Luthors’ are, and the lengths they are willing to go. Especially for Lionel, who was willing to sacrifice his own son. Also, Earl wasn’t really a bad guy, he actually had good intentions, and unfortunate circumstances that led him to be seen as an antagonist. While it’s not the worst episode in the world (trust me, I have a short list of bad episodes handy), it certainly is probably one of the most annoying episodes I have ever seen, and that’s mostly because this was also one of the most repeated episodes shown on The WB/CW. I’m like…there is 10 years of material, stop playing the same so-so episode!
Episode 9: “Rogue”
The last episode was the first appearance of Metropolis, and immediately continuing on from that is the episode where Clark stops a bus in downtown Metropolis. The only thing is that he was caught by a dirty cop who travelled to Smallville in order to blackmail Clark into doing his bidding. This of course, isn’t the only time Clark is blackmailed by bad men. There is some interesting parts to this episode, but maybe not so much with important. The interesting parts included the first non-meteor-infected bad guy, and maybe even the first glimpse at Chloe’s love for Clark, and even though it is for a few seconds and very subtle, you can tell Allison Mack is a great actress. The important parts for the series included Lex’s new girlfriend, Victoria (sort of) and Lex watching a video of a blur (Clark at super speed).
Episode 10: “Shimmer”
Ah yes, the episode with the ghost, or rather, FOW with the power to become invisible (sort of). In reality he just bathed in some krypto-cream. It had a stronger focus on Victoria and her malicious plans against Lex, not that we knew what they were. This invisible person hated Victoria with a passion, and it just turns out to be the brother of a girl that liked Lex. Well here is what was interesting about the episode – this is one of the rare episodes where the audience doesn’t know who the FOW is (probably because they can’t see them), but it does remain a pretty good mystery. Clark also gets closer to Lana in this episode, but when he learns Whitney’s dad is in the hospital he backs away and lets Lana comfort him.
Episode 11: “Hug”
This is another episode that is one of my favorites, even though it is again, mostly filler. It revolves around these krypto-partners that can influence anyone to do whatever they want, and they are businessmen. Long ago they split ways, and when one of them was able to get the Kents to sell their farm, they were in a world of hurt as well…Clark. Clark was friends with the other businessman, who in the end saved the day. Already in the show, there is a surprising amount of consistent scenes taking place in Metropolis so early in the series. There was a couple of firsts in this episode – which was the first time Chloe kisses Clark (under a spell), inching closer to her reveal to him about her feelings. This is also the first time Clark realizes he is bullet proof at the hands of none other than his future arch nemesis, Lex Luthor (he lost his memory by the end of the episode. We also get a closer look at how much Lex maybe suspects of Clark based on his reactions to seeing Clark use his power before he lost his memory.
Episode 12: “Leech”
This is the first of MANY episodes where Clark loses his power, and this time it was to Jimmy Olsen’s twin brother, Shawn Ashmore, no really, the actors are identical twins. Basically he loses his powers with a mixture of electricity and a transference with kryptonite. So this was a character-developing episode for Clark. He had to learn to save the day as a regular person sure, but it was more than that. Roger Nixon returns in this episode with his (correct) theory of what happened with Lex and Clark’s car crash, and Victoria reveals what she has been up to, which was to steal Lex’s company, but of course…Lex thwarted it by playing her at the same time. These episodes with Clark losing his powers do get annoying, and they typically happen every season, but my understanding of their importance is simple: 1. It helps his credibility as a human: The show isn’t the best at keeping his powers secret, so Lex accuses him of powers, but sees him sweat and bleed instead, throwing him off. 2. Helps him remember the joys of life and to take a break once and a while: For the first time, Clark played basketball without worrying he would hurt anyone and it felt great. 3. To learn how to be human when the time came: There isn’t a whole lot of Clark planning to be bumbling in the future, so these episodes help in that fashion.
Episode 13: “Kinetic”
We have our first real “group” of FOW’s in this episode where krypto-tattoo ink meets the ability to walk through solid objects. Among the group is Whitney (for a short period when the group took advantage of his depression). Interesting note: the high school was not even shown once in this episode (for the first time), which I’m okay with because the actors are clearly in their upper 20’s and early 30’s…it’s stupid to call them high school freshmen. This was also an important episode for character development, as all interpretations of Superman have Clark learning he can’t always save everyone all the time (Chloe is sent to the hospital). Finally, the importance to the arc of the show is Lex buying out the Talon and Lana going into a business partnership with him to rebuild the talon as a bookstore/coffee shop. Right…again with the freshmen doing things they normally wouldn’t, but it was good as the Talon is almost a character all on its own in the series as a whole. Also: This is the first of five episodes Evangeline Lilly plays an extra in.
Episode 14: “Zero”
Zero refers to Club Zero, a club that three years prior, Lex apparently shot a man in self defense, only in the present, the same man resurfaced demanding to know what really happened that night…really dude? You were there. Well the explanation as to who this guy really was…was so uncreative. Just some random guy that looks exactly like the other guy? Really? The real man who wanted to know what happened was the real dead dude’s fiancé’s brother…yeah the writing here was a bit messy, and it is one of my least favorite episodes of the season (but not series). It’s just one of those really…so-so, no one cares about it episodes. The most important part of the episode (and best part) was when even after Clark asks her to stop, Chloe decides to continue researching Clark’s past. Dun dun dun!
Episode 15: “Nicodemus”
Continuing on with the worst episodes of the season, it’s “Nicodemus”, the episode where the antagonist was not a FOW or even a meteor-infected…anything! In fact, the antagonist of this episode was…a flower. That’s right, a flower. This flower makes main characters really mad and do things that they really want to do but don’t because it isn’t good in the long run. Was there really anything particularly important about the episode? Not really, other than Pete coming out about his feelings for Chloe (a little bit), and endless foreshadowing to Jonathon’s inevitable demise, but then again, it gets annoying at how often Jonathon almost dies and doesn’t in the show.
Episode 16: “Stray”
Getting back on track with better episodes was “Stray”, where the FOW was the good guy (also, wasn’t actually a meteor freak, but had actual powers), and his evil step parents were the bad people that he was trying to get away from. This boy could read your mind, but he couldn’t read Clarks. When Martha accidentally hit him with her car, he claimed amnesia and they temporarily took him in, and so Clark had a sort-of-brother for a while. Warrior Angel, the comic book series, is first mentioned in this episode (the comic that is pretty much Superman). This episode was mostly filler, but Ryan serves a greater purpose in a later episode.
Episode 17: “Reaper”
Another filler episode, almost completely, but a pretty good one. This one focused on an FOW with Grim Reaper abilities. That’s right, everything that he touches instantly dies. Eventually, he kills himself by touching his two hands together, realizing what he has done. Nothing substantial honestly happens in the entire episode, but at least no one was trying to sell Stride gum.
Episode 18: “Drone”
Yes, Lex Luthor calls his father’s employees “drones”, but that is not what this episode is about. No, this more closely resembles the second episode of the series, which is about a FOW that has bug-like-powers. In this instance, it would be a queen bee. This queen bee wants to win class president, and since popularity usually wins each year, her rage causes her to put her fellow running-mates in the hospital, thanks to bee stings. In the end, I guess the bees couldn’t take any more of her ruling, and turn on her.
Episode 19: “Crush”
This is an interesting episode. It stars Adam Brody as our FOW, but it doesn’t seem like he is actually effected by meteor rocks. He has the power of telekinesis. When he returns to Smallville High, he starts dating Chloe, which both gets Clark worried and jealous. That’s right, this is one of the few episodes where Clark realizes he might have feelings for Chloe, which in turn gets Lana jealous. Looks like we have a good old fashioned Mexican crush stand-off. For the show’s arc, the only real important things you should know is that both Principal Kwan and Whitney’s father die in this episode, and that this episode helps progress the relationships of a lot of the characters. Story-wise? It’s pretty tame, but again, the filler episodes in Smallville are pretty good all on their own (for the most part).
Episode 20: “Obscura”
This is another one of those important episodes, but primarily because it is wrapping things up before the finale. In this episode, Lana gets to be the FOW, because everyone on this show needs to have some kind of superpower at some point or another, and that was the power to see through the villains eyes as he kidnaps Chloe. Clark worries as his feelings for Chloe grow. Finally, Clark saves the day and the killer is killed. Clark asks Chloe to the Spring Formal dance, which is seen in the next episode. Jonathon almost accepts Lex’s money, Lex finds the key to the spaceship for the first time, and Roger Nixon has been keeping a very close eye on Clark.
Episode 21: “Tempest”
It’s not hard to even guess that this episode is among the most important in the season, as it is the finale. It is also the best episode (in my opinion) of season one. In this episode, it’s the spring formal, and Clark and Chloe are ready to start dating…well…almost that is. You see, Roger Nixon is hot on Clark’s tail, inching closer to the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about Clark’s history. While this may be so, he isn’t really the antagonist of the episode, he is, but he’s not, a storm is. When Lana gets trapped in her truck, swept away by a tornado, Clark had to leave Chloe alone at the dance to save Lana, which led to a, “to be continued” overlay. In this episode, Clark found out that Lex has the key to his spaceship, Whitney is off to war, Roger Nixon finds Clark’s spaceship, Lex’s evil persona shows it’s ugly face for a moment in this cliffhanger, when deciding to let his father die or not, and finally…Remy Zero made a cameo as the band for the dance, singing none other than the theme song of the show. Amazing episode.