The Complete Eighth Season
Very little of the eighth season of Smallville takes place in Smallville itself. Most everyone has moved away; some to Metropolis, some farther. Clark himself still lives on the farm, mostly due to super speed making the commute largely irrelavent.
A number of actors left the series after season seven, including Clark’s nemesis, Lex Luthor; his super cousin, Kara; and the love of his life, Lana Lang (Kristin Kreuk). Their absence weighs a lot on the season. It all just feels a little hallow, like going back somewhere you haven’t been in a long time, only to find that it’s not like you remembered it.
Despite living on the farm, Clark doesn’t seem to have a ‘home.’ His family is gone, and his only real friend, Chloe (Allison Mack), is busy with her own stuff, most notably trying to build a family of her own. Clark has started his job at the Daily Planet, and made a routine of his superhero work, under the guise of the Red-Blue Blur (I know they don’t want to tip the SM hand, but I can’t believe that the mystery hero would ever get the nickname ‘Red-Blue Blur,’ it doesn’t role off the tongue). He doesn’t really do much ‘living’ this season, it’s all about the work. In a way, Clark seems like more of an alien this time than he ever has before, probably because he is so removed from his old human connections.
Clark’s ‘alien-ness becomes a running theme in the story, as the gulf between his ideals and the realities of the real-world grows wider; creating a similar gap between him and his friends, who are forced to do some bad things in secret so that Clark can continue living in his perfect, sunny world.
The most interesting character of the season is Jimmy Olsen, Chloe’s oft-put-upon boyfriend, who just has the $#it piled on him over and over again throughout the entire year. He’s a likable character, so you can sympathize with his problems, and despite being reckless at times, he still seems more on-the-ball than any of the other characters.
While lacking in character depth, this season does have a far stronger story arc than the previous seasons. We have one central villain, Doomsday (famous in the comics for being the thing that killed Superman), who is built up slowly over time, twists some established characters in new directions, and presents a genuine threat to Clark, without resorting to the super-inconveniently placed Kryptonite. Davis Bloom, Doomsday’s human alter ego is kind of whiny and bland, granted that fits his character, but he’s not very sympathetic or interesting in his own right.
Another new addition to the cast is Tess Mercer, the new CEO of LuthorCorp. She would have been a nice foil for Lex; she’s just as conniving and crafty, but she’s less evil. Tess is not so much a nemesis for Clark as she is a conflict; that is, she wants to find out his secret, but she probably won’t kill him if she does.
Clark Kent’s story stumbles in this season of Smallville, but Jimmy Olsen’s makes it worth watching anyways. The story arc is better plotted and more complete than in previous seasons. Adding up the pros and cons, it’s about as good as the earlier seasons of Smallville, just so long as you’re not in it solely to watch the antics of Clark’s daily life.