Following what I thought was a disappointing half-season opening episode of Smallville last week, Bulletproof (episode 8.12), brought the series back to the higher quality level it’s shown this season.

The episode opens with fan favorite (and one of mine as well) Detective John Jones (aka Martian Manhunter and played by Phil Morris) chasing down a murderer. He catches the perp and hands him off to an obviously unfriendly police officer when suddenly his car is peppered with shots from a sniper.

He does NOT get away.

John is rushed to the hospital with a critical chest wound, where Clark runs into Oliver Queen (aka The Green Arrow played by Justin Hartley). They butt heads a bit even though they’re both concerned about John, and decide to go their separate ways to try to track down the shooter.

Clark (Tom Welling) determines the shooter is a Metropolis cop and enlists Chloe (Allison Mack) with her amazing hacker/forgery skills [note slight sarcasm] to get him into the Metropolis PD as a transfer from another city. He is partnered up with a young police officer (Dan Turpin from the comics) and starts asking questions as nonchalantly as he can manage about John’s shooting.

He meets the young officer’s wife and son and the guy seems decent enough. However his two cop buddies are obviously much slipperier characters. They’re all called away and it turns out it’s to beat and murder the man who killed the officer Clark has replaced, who was released on a technicality.

Of course Clark is mentally scrambling trying to figure out how to stop this when The Green Arrow swoops in to stop the corrupt cops from carrying out their intended deed.

In the meantime Lana (Kristen Kreuk) confronts Tess Mercer (Cassidy Freeman) and surreptitiously steals some data via wi-fi (unsecured wi-fi? in the Luthor mansion?). The newer and tougher Lana doesn’t blink when Tess tries to intimidate her.

Eventually these two ladies come to a showdown and I have to admit it: I really enjoyed seeing Lana on the show for the first time in AGES in this hand to hand fight scene. It was a pretty serious beat-down on both sides until Lana got the upper hand (ie. the gun). Unfortunately after this cool scene the show veers off into the ridiculous with Lana having determined that there is some “nano technology implanted in your [Tess Mercer’s] visual cortex.” It seems Lex did it when he found her near death and has been watching EVERYTHING Tess has done through her eyes.

Clark keeps appealing to the good he sees in the one police officer and eventually of course, the guy rises to the expectation. He turns on his bad cop buddies and turns them in after a tense scene where he and The Green Arrow are trying to avoid sniper fire.

Tess figures out how to block the signal allowing Lex to spy on her, but not before she tells Lex (in the mirror) that she’s going to divest him of everything he owns. Cut to a newspaper with “Lex Luthor Confirmed Dead” as a huge headline in the Daily Planet.

I know this show isn’t Shakespeare… heck it’s not even close to the likes of Battlestar Galactica – but for what it is, when it’s at this level it’s pretty entertaining. I enjoyed this episode as much as I did the first half of Smallville‘s 8th season – which is to say: Quite a bit.