Smallville, the ten-year-long story about Clark Kent (Tom Welling) before he became Superman, told the Boy Scout’s origin story from high school all the way to adulthood. But as the high school phase of the series came to an end, an even bigger one began in Smallville’s fifth season. This was also the last season to air on The WB before the channel merged with UPN which together became The CW, the home of all the Arrowverse shows and more.
The fifth year of the Clark Kent drama became the first true season where the deeper Superman mythology came into play. From a couple of Justice League characters coming to life as well as one of Kal-El’s most iconic villains, season five had a lot in store for their viewers. These are the best and worst episodes of Smallville season five.
10 WORST: Fanatic (Episode 10)
The fifth season gave Jonathan Kent (John Schneider) one of his biggest storylines of all time as he was running for senator. But what is a hot race without some Luthor competition as Lex (Michael Rosenbaum) was running against him.
However, the tenth episode gets a bit nutty when it’s revealed that a woman named Samantha Drake (Annie Burgstede) shows her deep devotion to Lex. Samantha begins harassing Jonathan so he will drop out of the race. The fanatic status comes full circle when Lex later finds her, with a shaved head, hoping he will recognize her devotion for him.
9 BEST: Solitude (Episode 8)
One of the best big bads in the whole show was the iconic Superman foe Brainiac (James Marsters) who became one of the main threats in season five. Posing first as a human teacher named Milton Fine when Clark began attending college; Brainiac was playing the long game. But in the eighth episode, Brainiac finally reveals who he really is to Clark.
As he gets Martha (Annette O’Toole) seriously sick, Brainiac tries to trick Clark into destroying the Fortress of Solitude, insisting that Jor-El is the one killing her. But the plan was to use Clark to get General Zod out of the Phantom Zone instead.
8 WORST: Fade (Episode 20)
One of the final episodes of the fifth season slows things in a weird way except for Lex as Brainiac is preparing him for the big finale twist. In “Fade”, it mostly deals with Clark having to take on Graham Garrett (Alex Scarlis), a dangerous metahuman who can turn invisible and is a hitman.
Being one of three final episodes of the season, it wasn’t just a filler episode; it was a weak episode in general.
7 BEST: Hidden (Episode 3)
After being without his powers for almost two episodes, the third episode becomes one of the most unforgettable hours in the whole series. Gabriel Duncan (Johnny Lewis), who is planning on taking out every meteor-infected person in Smallville through a dangerous missile plan, ends up killing Clark by shooting him. Clark has been shot before, but without his powers, he ends up dying in the hospital.
However, at this point in the season, Jor-El takes Lionel (John Glover) out of his catatonic state and uses his body as a host by taking Clark to the Fortress of Solitude. Clark gets resurrected with all of his powers back as Jor-El, through Lionel, tells his son that there is no way his destiny can’t be sacrificed. The episode only gets bigger as Clark goes after Gabriel’s missile by super-jumping onto it and stops it in space.
6 WORST: Tomb (Episode 14)
Chloe (Allison Mack) gets an incredibly weird episode in the middle of the season. The threat in “Tomb” is a teenager’s spirt that possesses Chloe so she can go after her killer. But because Chloe was possessed, it gave viewers some very dark scenes with her.
The only memorable takeaway is the emotional ending when Chloe goes to see her mother who we find out has mental problems.
5 BEST: Arrival (Episode 1)
The season premiere is where Clark’s next chapter in his journey to becoming Superman took a massive step. Following the season four finale, Clark activates the Crystal of Knowledge that becomes the iconic Fortress of Solitude that is important in the Superman mythology.
But that is just tip of the iceberg of all the insanity that is going on. Smallville is being invaded by two Kryptonians who are searching for Clark who finds out what is going on. But as he saves the day, Clark fails Jor-El who ends up taking his powers away which is what gets Clark killed two episodes later.
4 WORST: Hypnotic (Episode 16)
The sixteenth episode is perhaps one of the few all-time cheesy episodes in the whole series. Clark ends up being hypnotized by a magical charm that belongs to a woman named Simone (Nichole Hiltz.) She gets Clark to fall in love with her while also making him go after Lex to kill him.
“Hypnotic” feels silly and unnecessary as it was done to basically break him and Lana up.
3 BEST: Reckoning (Episode 12)
The 100th episode of the series is both pivotal and heartbreaking all at the same time. While Clark decides to tell Lana his secret, he doesn’t stop there as he also proposes to her! But this episode is the one where Jor-El’s warning comes to fruition. Because Jor-El resurrected Clark in “Hidden”, the life of someone he loves would be taken in exchange. As Jonathan wins the senatorial race, things go all wrong when Lana dies in a horrific car accident after Lex chases her, as he finds out that she knows Clark’s big secret.
Heartbroken, Clark asks Jor-El for help and is given a crystal that allows him to reset the whole day, despite being warned by his father that someone will still die regardless. After using the crystal, Clark decides to not tell Lana his secret nor does he propose to her. But Clark’s darkest hour hits him as Jonathan, after fighting Lionel, pushes his heart to his final limits and dies in front of his family. All of this is why the 100th episode of Smallville became such an unforgettable milestone.
2 WORST: Thirst (Episode 5)
A guest appearance by the late iconic Carrie Fisher couldn’t save the fifth episode from being a disaster. “Thirst” was a Buffy the Vampire Slayer-esque episode, with the main villain being named Buffy Sanders as an homage to the Joss Whedon drama.
The episode was even written by Steven S. DeKnight who wrote for Buffy and Angel. But it still doesn’t change the fact that “Thirst” didn’t work, especially by turning Lana into a vampire temporarily.
1 BEST: Vessel (Episode 22)
The season five finale became a game-changer for the series as we go even deeper into Superman lore. After having been prepared by Brainiac, Lex becomes the vessel for General Zod as Clark accidentally releases the iconic foe from the Phantom Zone. Despite trying to save Lex, Clark’s plan backfire big time as everything goes absolutely wrong after that.
Before Clark realizes it, Zod banishes him to the Phantom Zone as the cliffhanger features Clark prisoned before he drifts further into space. Having started big, the finale wrapped the season up even bigger as it set things up for the next season.