After five years on The WB, the Superman prequel Smallville was in for a big change as it moved to The CW, which is better known as the home of all the ongoing Arrowverse shows that Smallville in many ways paved the way for. With the DC Comics drama going into its sixth year, we began seeing the characters grow further away from their high school years as they moved into adulthood.
With Clark Kent's (Tom Welling) continued growth, the Phantom Zone's introduction, and the formation of a proto-Justice League, Smallville had a lot of things going on that season. But it also became one of the show’s more dramatic runs as it kicked off a surprising love story between Lana Lang (Kristin Kreuk) and Lex Luthor (Michael Rosenbaum). With all of that said, these are the best and worst episodes of Smallville season six.
While Welling was actually quite stellar as a director, the series' star wasn’t always given the best episodes to helm. One such weak one that he directed was the tenth episode of the sixth season. Here, Hydro introduced Tori Spelling in the role of Linda Lake, a nasty gossip reporter with the power to turn into water.
Though Linda returned once more in a later season, her first outing made the character feel a little too ridiculous even for Smallville’s comic book sensibilities.
Following the end of season five, the season six premiere didn’t hold things back as we followed Clark into the Phantom Zone. The show’s interpretation of the famous prison was done really well and was a solid kick-off to one of the ongoing stories in season six, with Clark capturing the Zoners who escaped.
In addition to that, we saw Rosenbaum do a solid portrayal of General Zod as he had taken over Lex’s body. Zod lived up as one of the best season premieres of all time with Clark getting to take on one of his biggest foes.
One of the big things to come out of season six was the introduction of DC Comics’ Green Arrow (Justin Hartley). While he had a solid arc, the seventh episode was a bit of a misstep. Titled Rage, we follow Oliver’s struggle with a mysterious drug that has special healing effects.
It always felt like a weird decision to give a character, someone who had just been introduced a few episodes ago, this heavy a problem so early. Despite the episode wrapping this issue up, Rage still felt like an unnecessary episode for Oliver’s story.
While Oliver made his debut in episode two, it wasn’t until the fourth episode where we got to see him as the Green Arrow. Appropriately titled Arrow, Clark begins to form a relationship with Oliver that would evolve over the following seasons.
Even though Hartley was only signed on for a couple of episodes in season six, you could tell from Arrow that Oliver would play a large role in the Smallville universe. As this was Green Arrow’s live-action debut, the people behind Smallville along with Hartley did a solid job bringing him to life.
Throughout its run, Smallville enjoyed its moments of Clark under the influence of Red Kryptonite, giving fans a dose of bad boy Clark. The thirteenth episode, however, was a bit of a disaster.
After Lois (Erica Durance) kisses Clark with lipstick made of Red Kryptonite, Clark goes on a wild ride. But this Red K trip becomes a mess as he decides to crash Lex and Lana’s engagement dinner. Later, Clark has to face the consequences. Especially as Martha (Annette O’Toole) points out that all the rude things he said were things he was bottling up.
One of the strengths of season six was the continuous destruction of Clark and Lex’s friendship. As the two began growing more toward their respective destinies, the nineteenth episode put their relationship to the ultimate test.
Nemesis features the two of them getting trapped underneath the ground after Clark, in an attempt to save Lex, is weakened by Kryptonite that gets released thanks to an explosion. With the two former friends trapped together, we get some of Welling and Rosenbaum’s best scenes together in the whole season.
No matter how much the show tried to convince its fans, the romance between Lex and Lana never felt natural. As Lex began to get more clouded by darkness and embark on his path towards villainy, his relationship with Lana was never meant to last for long. But season six still put the viewers through a wedding between the two of them.
The biggest takeaway from Promise is Lana finally learning Clark’s secret as she sees him using several of his abilities. Aside from that, Promise is one of the cringe-worthy episodes in the series.
After a long season of capturing several Zoners, Clark faced Bizarro, the toughest one in the season six finale. Rather than following his comic origin, Smallville depicted Bizarro as a Zoner who needed to clone the DNA of the perfect host in order to survive. That’s where Clark comes in as the phantom took his DNA and became his literal Bizarro version.
Phantom didn’t hold anything back in terms of drama and cliffhangers. From Lana’s “death” to Lex being arrested and Clark getting his butt kicked by Bizarro, Phantom holds up as one of the best season finales.
For one of their final three episodes of the season, Smallville gave its viewers one of the biggest filler episodes of all time. The twentieth episode was a Jimmy Olsen (Aaron Ashmore) centric hour, as the Daily Planet photographer begins to dream in black-and-white.
Noir features a Metropolis in 1940 and while it puts the characters in a different light, it did nothing to progress the season further. While props are given to the powers that be to do an experimental episode, a novelty like Noir should never happen this late in a season.
After introducing several DC heroes, the eleventh episode finally brought them together as Smallville’s proto-Justice League. Fittingly titled Justice, the episode brings back Impulse (Kyle Gallner), Aquaman (Alan Ritchson), and Cyborg (Lee Thompson Young) as part of Oliver’s unnamed team.
Justice is one of the show’s strongest hours as it becomes a light for Clark, knowing that he has all these super-friends he can turn to. While we’d only have a handful of Justice League themed episodes in the later seasons, Justice will always be remembered as the origin of Smallville’s version of the iconic DC team.