Throughout its ten years on air, the Superman prequel series Smallville, starring Tom Welling as a young Clark Kent, had its lighter and darker seasons. As our young boy of steel was still finding himself and growing closer to his destiny as Superman, each season came with its own individual tone. The first two seasons had a steady balance of keeping Clark’s adventures both serious while also having a comic book feeling to it.
However, the third season is when things got a lot darker for Clark and the people in his life. After a dramatic Season 2 finale, the following year kicked things up a notch for our hero. With a full 22 episode season, there were both some great as well as a handful of weak episodes. With that said, these are the best and worst episodes of Smallville season three.
10 WORST: Extinction (Episode 3)
The third episode had one of the darkest freaks of the week. In this episode, Van McNulty (Jesse Metcalfe) is targeting Kryptonite-infected people around in Smallville.
Despite not having any powers, Van was still a threat to Clark, managing to shoot our hero and hurt him really bad. As dramatic as it was to see Clark severely injured, “Extinction” is easily wrapped up in the end after Clark defeats Van.
9 BEST: Exile (Episode 1)
Following his decision to leave Smallville in the previous episode, the Season 3 premiere follows a Clark completely addicted to the Red Kryptonite. Living life as a bad boy in Metropolis, Clark uses his powers to be a criminal. His actions don’t go unnoticed though as his friends and family back in Smallville hear all about it.
Jonathan Kent (John Schneider) decides to go after Clark and this leads to one powerful cliffhanger as Jonathan, after being granted temporary powers by Jor-El, takes on Clark.
8 WORST: Resurrection (Episode 15)
For ten years, Smallville always found crazy ways of infusing Kryptonite into the show's storylines and the early seasons didn’t hold back on that. The fifteenth episode of the third season is a testament to that. In this one, Garrett Davis (James Kirk) becomes the foe for the week in an attempt to save his brother Vince who had been resurrected by a serum.
But once the serum’s effect began to run out, it caused Vince to get weak, prompting Garrett to take some hostages at a hospital. He threatens to blow the hospital up with a Kryptonite bomb. As serious as that was, it’s still somewhat silly how a regular kid was able to make a bomb out of Kryptonite.
7 BEST: Phoenix (Episode 2)
Following “Exile,” the second episode is basically part two of the season premiere. Who would have known that we’d ever see Clark and Jonathan, with superpowers, having a showdown? It becomes one of the most unforgettable moments in the show’s history, as Clark is eventually free from the Red Kryptonite and becomes himself again. While Clark returns to Smallville, so does Lex (Michael Rosenbaum) who ends up having a confrontation with his wife Helen (Emmanuelle Vaugier ) who had tried to get him killed.
To make a long story short, the marriage comes to an understandably abrupt end. Clark also has to deal with the consequences when he was acting as Kal in Metropolis, via Morgan Edge (Rutger Hauer) who is connected to Lionel Luthor (John Glover). While he eventually saves the day, Clark now has to face the problems he tried to leave behind.
6 WORST: Velocity (Episode 13)
Pete Ross (Sam Jones III) didn’t have the best stories throughout his three-year run on the show. The thirteenth episode of Season 3 serves as the perfect example, with Ross getting involved with some bad people. The way Kryptonite gets incorporated into this episode is when it’s being used as a boost for race cars.
How this is even remotely possible is up for discussion to this day. When Pete decides to bail on a street race, Dante (Ryan Merriman) threatens Pete if he doesn’t do as he says and this is where the episode spirals away. Once again, it’s not one of Pete’s finest hours on the show.
5 BEST: Memoria (Episode 19)
The nineteenth episode is a personal one for both Clark and Lex, diving deep into their minds. Through a treatment administered at the Summerholt Institute, Lex attempts to regain some important memories; meanwhile, Clark tries to stop Lex from undergoing the treatment.
Unluckily for him, the treatment consists of Kryptonite liquid and Clark ends up being experimented on by the doctors. However, this has a surprising effect on Clark when he relives his earliest memory as a baby when his birth parents put him into the ship that would take him from Krypton to Earth. Not only that, but Clark also remembers his biological mother’s name, Lara.
4 WORST: Forsaken (Episode 21)
The penultimate episode of the third season has Lana having to deal with a familiar face when Emily Dinsmore (Amber Rothwell) reemerges. Emily is a clone of Lana’s childhood friend who died at an early age, but her father managed to clone her. But this clone came with her own powers, similarly to Clark’s while also aging fast.
While Lana is getting ready to leave Smallville for Paris, Emily forbids and traps her so they can be together forever. The plot is forgotten quickly because of Pete’s decision to leave Smallville because of the struggle he has to go through to protect Clark’s secret.
3 BEST: Legacy (Episode 17)
The seventeenth episode featured Superman actor Christopher Reeve returning as Dr. Virgil Swann, which sadly was his final appearance on the show before he passed away later that year. Not only do we get a final appearance by Reeve’s character, but “Legacy” is a big one for both Jonathan and Lionel.
This episode also sets up the history Lionel has with Swann that is explored later throughout the series. In addition to that, it also shines a light on Jor-El's complexity as a character.
2 WORST: Truth (Episode 18)
While Chloe (Allison Mack) gets powers later in the series, she actually gets a temporary one in the third season. In the eighteenth episode, Chloe gets exposed to a green gas that grants her the ability to force anyone around her to tell the truth.
Rather than being concerned with this gift, Chloe goes crazy with it and begins exposing people to themselves. While it almost kills her, Clark eventually finds a way to save Chloe.
1 BEST: Covenant (Episode 22)
The Season 3 finale went out with a bang in more ways than one. Jor-El (Terrance Stamp) is collecting on his deal with Jonathan as he wants Clark to leave his life behind so he can fulfill his destiny. “Covenant” is a constant emotional roller coaster as everyone on the show goes through big events. Clark finds out that Lex has been investigating him from the beginning which puts their friendship in a tough spot.
As he is going through all of this, a woman claiming to be Kara from Krypton shows up to convince him to return to Jor-El. But it’s all a trick as Jor-El had taken a human girl and reprogrammed her with powers so she could convince Clark to leave his old life behind. After Jor-El threatens to kill Jonathan if Clark doesn’t obey him, Clark gives in and is taken by his biological father who begins his rebirth.