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The end is very near and for anyone who has spent the last 10 seasons enthralled in the journey of Clark Kent (Tom Welling) from high school teenager to full-fledged Superman in the CW series "Smallville," tonight wraps up what undoubtedly has been one hell of a ride. While a few spoilers have leaked out on the web since shooting wrapped on this last installment, during a Q&A session earlier this week at the Warner Brother offices in Burbank, Executive Producers Brian Peterson and Kelly Souders told a group of journalists (including our Jim Halterman) that there are still more than enough moments that will truly prove to be a surprise during tonight's broadcast.
Peterson was the first to admit that maybe the finality of it all has not quite hit him yet. "This was a huge endeavor and it had a lot of challenges," he said, "so there's a big weight that's been lifted but, to be honest, I think we won't know until it really airs and it's done forever." Souders said the sentiments for her came up during the moment in tonight's episode when someone from the early seasons of the series shows up. "Every time I see certain moments with Jonathan [Kent, played by John Schneider] I definitely get a tear in my eye after all these weeks of watching the footage."
While it's no longer a surprise that Schneider is returning in some capacity, Peterson teased that there is a purpose to the part that he plays in the series finale. "We very purposely platformed his role in the finale with what we did in the season premiere this year with that final scene that Clark has with him... so the whole point was to bookend the final season with Jonathan so he's introduced in that same type of way."
Another return to the final episode that fans have been hankering for all season is that of Michael Rosenbaum, who returns as infamous Superman villain Lex Luthor. Since it looked for a long time like Rosenbaum would not agree to reprise the role, how down-to-the-wire did it come? "It was over the wire!" said Souders with a laugh. Peterson revealed, "we had published and prepped an entire finale without him in it... not that we didn't want him but we just thought that was never going to happen." In fact, Peterson also said they would have done things differently this season if they'd known earlier that he was going to reprise the role. "Honestly, there were a couple of things that we had planned on planting in the season that we didn't because we didn't know we were going to have him so we wrote the scenes... I won't say hurriedly because we spent all weekend writing these two big scenes for him but it did throw a couple of the other storylines... it changed them a little."
In figuring out how to bring Lex Luthor back, Souders offered that having Lex show up as a full-on adversary for Clark was not exactly the Lex they decided to bring back. How did the writers come to that conclusion? "We went back to the pilot and said, 'There's that guy who showed up and was totally personable and super sympathetic and just wanted to thank [Clark] for saving his life,' so when we looked at having him back in the finale it was the same thing. They're going to go on to be huge enemies so what is this pivotal moment which is our Lex Luthor and our Clark Kent and how do we wrap up the relationship that has been so complicated and so mixed with emotions for 10 years?"
Another beloved character that returned for a portion of this final season was Allison Mack's Chloe. While the show has always been grounded in the Superman mythology, fans of "Smallville" cannot deny the impact of Chloe. In thinking of how to wrap up Chloe's piece of the story, though, Peterson said, "I think there are a lot different ways that people want Chloe to end so we, I think, serviced her character in a way that is right for who she was and who she is becoming and she has one big moment with Clark where we get to see her shine." Souders, with a grin at trying not to give away too much, teased an important piece of information for viewers who have always loved Mack's character. "I should say that Chloe fans should stay tuned through the whole show. There's a jewel... "
And with all this talk about the returning characters, what about Clark, who may or may not be marrying Lois Lane (Erica Durance) even though she called off the wedding at the end of last week's penultimate episode? Peterson explained that Clark's story culminates after a season-long of a unique problem - his knowing his destiny as a hero. "What we purposely chose this year to be [Clark's] stumbling block is the fact that he's trying too hard to be a hero and trying too hard to force his destiny." Souders said the 200th episode earlier this season was the point where even more pressure was put on Clark. "When you've seen your future," she asked, "how does that start adjusting what you do on a daily basis because you have a mindset of 'I gotta do this, I gotta do that in order to be this person?' I mean if we just jumped 10 years into our future and spent a day there I can't even imagine what sort of impact we'd come back with. It would be a real challenge just to really stay present and stay in your present mindset."
Peterson and Souders did say that as much as they would have liked to service all the heroes, villains and other cast members past and present, it just wasn't possible. "I think what it just came down to was the finale had a lot of people in it," said Souders, "and at a certain point you tip the scale and you're not servicing the people on screen but there are a lot of beloved characters that we wanted to see again that we didn't quite get to but in general we were pretty happy with everything that we were able to do."
As the end came to one of their final Q&As about "Smallville," what did Peterson and Souders hope people have taken from the entire series? "It's probably the theme that emerged this year which is 'believe in heroes,'" said Souders. "It's become incredibly important to us that we were able to work on a show that had such a positive message and I think the fact that we have such hardcore fans that have followed the show... I think that's why they watch. It's not because it's the biggest visual effects they'll ever see on a screen and it's not because of really anything other than I think they want to believe in heroes." Peterson agreed by adding, "I think Superman was born in a very tumultuous time in our history and I think we're facing a lot of other challenges right now and it's inspiration, for sure."
In the end, Peterson teased one last moment that fans of "Smallville" (and I suspect Superman in general) will more than likely enjoy immensely. "There's a very good scene with a door," he said. "It's probably one of everybody's favorite scenes in the show... there's one shot that is just like the 'Smallville' shot. You'll see it and you'll be like 'This is what we needed in the finale!' You'll know it the second you see it... "
The two-hour series finale of "Smallville" airs tonight at 8:00/7:00c on The CW.