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SV characters: their best & worst seasons [May. 24th, 2011|09:10 pm]
tasabian
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Er, no, I'm not quite done talking about SV yet!

I'm been rattling this question around in my head for a bit: in which season was each of the characters at their best? (And worst?)

Obviously this is just my opinion but I am interested to hear yours as well!



*I have based my rankings around how enjoyable the character was for me to watch

Jonathan

Worst: Season 5

"Exposed" for me encapsulates all the problems with this character. Jonathan defends Old Friend against charges of having flings and going to strip clubs, deciding it's all Lex's fault somehow. When it turns out Old Friend is doing all that stuff, it's still all Lex's fault, even though he assisted Clark in stopping a killer. Therefore Jonathan must run against Lex for office, kicking off a very boring plotline.

Best: Season 2

I found Jonathan much more human and less speechy in S2. Favourite moments: the wonderful scene with Clark at the end of Rosetta, where Jonathan for once doesn't have a pat answer; the revelation in Lineage that Jonathan was willing to make a deal with Lionel, thus screwing over the Rosses; the banter with the new Sheriff, highly unimpressed with good ol' boys of Smallville and most of all this perfect line (from Rush): "And tell Pete to stop cutting donuts out in the field. He's scaring the cattle!" Best episode: Rosetta.

Martha

Worst: Season 4

While I didn't like Red Queen Martha in S9, her worst full season by far was S4. Yes, Annette got to sing "La La" one time but that didn't make up for suddenly working for the Talon (?) accepting relationship advice from Lana (??) and worst of all, tearing a strip off a weeping Clark for marrying Alicia on Red K. Nasty stuff.

Best: Season 2

The baby plot put an end to the good times, but while the Luthor plot lasted it was fun to watch AOT get off the farm and interact with the Luthors. Lineage is a lovely Clark/Martha story. And Clark frantically appealing to "Mom!!!" when Jonathan won't let him go on a date with Lana in "Rush" shows who really rules that roost. Best Episode: Insurgence.
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Lionel

Worst:Season 6
Lionel is a great original character, one of SV's best contributions to canon. But by the middle of the series there was writer-flail about how to deal with him. The confusion set in after the magnificent Transference. After having Clark inside him, Lionel becomes "kinda" good. Not to the extent of not having people killed (Lexmas) but good enough to offer advice to Lana Lang. (Sacred.) The Jor-El possession supposedly makes him even less bad, with Martian Manhunter around to vouch for him...but he never actually stops doing bad stuff, which leads to the puzzling schism of S6 in which Lionel can have cozy confabs with Clark (and Thanksgiving dinner!) but still indulge in blackmail & death threats when the plot requires it. (Promise.) It was like the writers' room was battling over Lionel's soul.

Best: Season 3
Hard to pick a best because Glover is so consistently awesome. But S3 is Lionel-unleashed. We find out he killed his parents, see him experiment on his son's brain, order the mass murder of a lab full of people and scariest of all, shave his head to an opera soundtrack! He's expanded from terrifying Lex to scaring the heck out of everyone. (As a side note, when other fans were debating the Chlois theory at TWoP, there was one lonely fan who kept arguing for the Lexionel theory - that Lionel would turn out to be the real Lex. The heart-transfer finale kinda proved him right & I hope he took some satisfaction from that!) Best episode: Asylum
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Lana

Worst: Season 6
KK does a stand-up job with the material and once cited this as her favourite season. But this was a hard slog for any actor. Not only did they air episodes out of order, disrupting Lana's arc, Lana as written in S6 totally plays against Kristin's strengths. We're supposed to swallow that Lana goes immediately from being madly in love with Clark to blindly in love with Lex. The show tries to posit that Lana has no choice but to go live with Lex: I mean, Zod wrecked her dorm! (Er, both Lois & Chloe managed to house themselves just fine.) So she has to move in with him and start having sex with him and no, it's not just fun casual sex because Lana's a good girl. She loves Lex so she's blind to his faults and it's her intrinsic purity that stops her from listening to any advice on the subject.. except she keeps hinting to Clark that she'd ditch Lex in a heartbeat to come back to him. The show keeps hammering the "It's not Lana's fault!" soapy-martyrdom mantra when it would have been a lot more fun if Lana simply wanted Lex because he was hot, the sex was great and she was willing to overlook a few clones about the place.

Best: Season 2

Kristin has a dry wit which comes out in interviews. But she has never seemed like the "swept away by passion" type. One of the biggest failings of SV was not letting her play to type: the grounded, sensible one who cuts through other characters' silly moments. The season that came closest to achieving this was S2. I can believe Lana running a coffee shop - after all Kristin was running her own career at the same age. The scene where she gently fires Clark for being the world's least reliable waiter is perfect. S2 also lets Lana mess up a few times, in plausible ways. Looking at Clark photos of Chloe's computer? Skeevy, but I'd be tempted too. Breaking up with Whitney by video? In 2011, it would be by text message, and yes, I believe a 16 year old might do it. Barging in on her birth father? ("He called me a Nazi!") Heh. Dodging visiting sick Clark because she's afraid of her feelings? I can get that. And there are empowering moments too, particularly telling Clark she doesn't always want to rely on his rescues and learning some self defense moves herself. Best episode: Lineage.
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Chloe

Worst: season 9
This is an easy choice - Chloe's S9 plotline making not a whit of sense to me. She's presented as all tense and stroppy with Clark and it's never explained why. They seemed to be building to a confrontation which would have worked very well - she could have found out he'd messed with her memories and been cross about that; Clark had every reason to be carrying some resentment over the Doomsday debacle and the unasked for surveillance. Also, Chloe and Clark fight well - Tom & Allison rocking their conflict scenes in Zero & Lineage particularly. But Chloe's plotline goes nowhere and we don't get a big acting moment or any catharsis - I had to wonder if the writers dropped whatever they'd originally planned for her. (And if so, why?)

Best: season 3
The SV girls generally get judged more harshly on moral grounds than the guys do, as though SV was a virtue contest. "She's not morally upright enough to be Clark's girlfriend!" et al. I judge characters solely on their entertainment value to me which is why Lionel > Jonathan and Tess > all other Gals. So the fact that Chloe is doing some shady dealings in S3 doesn't bother me one bit because it's very entertaining to watch. Part of the enjoyment of high school Chloe is that the way she runs off the mouth and thinks she's ready to play in the grown-up pool is completely relatable. I knew that kid, who always seemed to be on first name terms with grown-ups and you half envied her and half wanted to smack her. I also like Chloe best before she knows Clark's secret. Because before she knows, she's his friend but her curiosity makes her a bit of a threat, which gave the relationship an interesting tension.
Best moments: Extinction: "He had GILLS, Clark!"; the trip to the morgue with Lex; a most excellent & believably angry quarrel between Chloe & Clark in Exile. Best episode: Truth.
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Oliver

Worst: season 8
Of all the wasted opportunities of SV, the writing of Oliver as an angsty murderer has to belong at the top. Oliver should have been a light-hearted character, comic relief in the show's darker moments, a sidekick for Clark, Instead, this season ends with him stabbing Clark in the back, literally, then expecting an apology from Clark for getting in his way. For me, the character never recovered from this.

Best: season 10
There was some fan-complaining about how the relationship with Chloe had "ruined" Oliver. I don't have much interest in that 'ship but it did make me wonder - what good old days are these folks remembering: Ollie being introduced as a kidnapper who condones torture? Flashbacks to his bully Excelsior days? The times he tried to kill Lex and then succeeded?

If I had to choose one episode for Oliver's best, it would be "Kandor." Oliver gets to be funny and Justin has never looked lovelier. But overall, S10 was a step up for him. He doesn't murder anyone, he mostly stopped whining at Clark and being in a relationship seemed to ground the writers conception of him. Plus, he made for one awesome showgirl!
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Lois

Worst: season 5
After a great intro in Crusade, Lois spent a lot of time over the next four seasons consigned to the "C" plots of the episode, the writers slotting her in wherever there was a gap. So she doesn't usually get the juicy plotlines; she gets the "working on Jonathan's campaign" plotline and a lot of her scenes ended up deleted. I chose S5 as worst because I hardly remember her in it - it's a memory-blur of bikinis, horrible banter with Aquaman, a head-to-toe pink outfit which made her look like the pink panther...

Best: season 8
Part of the charm of Lois in S8 is Erica's palpable excitement at finally getting plotlines, some decent dialogue and a much better wardrobe. Yay, I'm off the bench! Sure, she's not in every episode but she gets to represent the light-hearted side of a a thematically dark season and ED relishes every moment. The character has also been rebooted: this a gentler, more fleshed-out Lois and at last the writers seems to know how to write her. Best episode: Bloodline
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Tess

Worst: season 9
Cassidy never fails to rock her dialogue but Tess in S9 is all over the place, the same "good or evil" waffling that affected mid-period Lionel. Sleeping with Zod seemed random. It was also distressing to see Clark choke Tess twice this season.

Best: season 10
A coherent arc, a redemptive ending and a big juicy kiss from Clark Luthor - Tess had it going on in S10! Best episode: Luthor
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And now my two favourites....it's hard to choose for these two because they're the reason I watched, singly & together.

Lex

Worst: Season 6 (I'm ignoring fake Lex in S8)
The biggest mistake with Lex was depriving the audience of his POV after S4. In the earlier seasons, we got to see through Lex's eyes a lot and it was a fascinating vantage point; Clark has a secret, why won't he tell me? But by S6, the writers won't let us into his head, preferring to keep Lex enigmatic. Which makes for a lot of cryptic, dead end dialogue. Lexana scenes are shown from Lana's POV and mostly concern their relationship. Meanwhile, Lex is taking huge steps offscreen - reviving 33.1, starting his cloning project but we get only glimpses of this, in between relationship drama.

The other mistake is denying Lex any victories. To be a Clark's nemesis, he needs a few checks in the "win" column, ie he wins the election, kicks Oliver's ass, Lana really falls in love with him. As victory succeeds victory, Lex would get more arrogant and more dangerous. But by S6, the show lacked the confidence to step away from the relationship drama and Lex isn't allowed even a momentary victory. Consequently, he never poses a real danger. Even the finale, he re-appears dramatically....to shake his pom-poms and urge Clark to defeat Darkseid! (From a Clex viewpoint, I'll confess to loving that.)

Best: Season 1
Michael recently said that season one was his favourite. It's hard to pick...I adore S3. But from a character standpoint, S1 might be his best. Because Lex in S1 gets shit done! He's not beaten down by Lionel yet, is still willing to take him on. Clark is the smitten one at this point, ordering Lex to drive more carefully and sulking at the arrival of Victoria. Lex chalks up a series of victories in S1, outwitting Nixon, Victoria and her father, Carrie Castle and Dominic. He's sexy, likeable and trying to be good - but he's also a bit of a menace.
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Clark

Worst: season 7
Episodes like Promise, Pandora, Persuasion and Doomsday were worse to me than anything in S7. However, it is extremely low on Clark. Tom has his lowest screen time in the history of the show and Clark mostly reacts to other characters. He also gets rescued by other people a lot.

Best: Season 1
One thing I realized while watching the finale: I preferred when people didn't know Clark's secret. The first hour of the finale is one long succession of people lining up to advise and pep talk Clark. The difficulty with others knowing Clark's secret is inevitably the writers portray them as Clark's advisers. Yes, it solves the writers' issues of how to integrate other characters into Clark's life but it also makes him seem like he can't do anything without a team of Life Coaches hovering at his elbow.

Now, look back to Jitters and 15 year old Clark solving a crisis, completely on his own. He strategically uses his powers, makes a plan, saves everybody and even has sympathy for the krypto-villain. Clark in S1 trusts his own judgment and his judgment is good. He's got the confidence to disregard his parents' advice when he thinks they're wrong (Zero, Tempest), his crush on Lana doesn't prevent him from telling her she's being unfair (Hug), when he wants Chloe out of his business he tells her (Zero) and though he's bighearted enough to eventually forgive Whitney, that doesn't come right away. Contrast that to S9, where Clark isn't allowed even a momentary anger at Oliver for the knife in the back.

Another thing I realized watching the finale - perfect adherence to canon was ultimately not that important to me. As with the Justice League shows, Smallville's innovations to canon were often the best bits. There was fan-fussing that Tom wasn't shown in the suit head to toe at the end, that no one called him Superman. But to me, he was Superman right from the start, perhaps never more so when he was doing it all on his own, by instinct, sans support group.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: frelling_tralk
2011-05-25 12:19 pm (UTC)
My least favourite for Martha is probably season 6 when they were kind of flirting with the Mionel but not really, and didn't seem to have a clue what to do with her. I'm not sure I've got a best season for her really? The show always kept her so in the background. I suppose that season 2 was the closest to interesting for her. It's funny because I hate how much they were playing up her possible friendship and closeness to Lionel AFTER Johnathon had just died, and Lionel had done terrible thing to her son in Memoria etc. But back in season 2 I could buy her gradually becoming fascinated by Lionel, while the plausible set-up was there for the spending time together because Matha was working for him. It could have been a pretty intriguing plot if they had done it then maybe, especially all the issues it would have brought up for Clark and Lex back when they were still close friends, they could have had some fun moments with trying to put an end to it*g*

Johnathon I never cared for much frankly because of the way he treated Lex, while the show constantly wanted to tell me what a morally upstanding and non-judgemental fellow he saw himself as. If I focus on the Kent family scenes alone (cause yeah they were nearly always great), I'd go with season 1 for best. For worst it would have to be season 2 because I was soooo pissed at Lineage revealing the real reason that Lionel was able to convince the Ross's to sell to him, when we had sat through a season of Jonathon lecturing Clark on Lex being the one partially at faut for what Lionel had done to the town of Smallville. And the way he speaks to Lex in Red, after Vortex had suggested he could be softening towards him, grrrr. I have Lex POV issues :P

Lionel's best season was definitely season 3 when he was one of the most awesome big bads ever, I never understood why John Glover was talking even back then about how his favourite thing was when people ask if he is playing a good or a bad guy, and it's very important for him to bring that moral ambiguity into it. He seemed so hung-up on not making Lionel an outright villain, but that WAS Lionel from the first three seasons, he was a magnificent bastard and he was awesome in that role. He didn't need to be wishy-washy to be interesting.

Least favourite is I guess anything from season 4 onwards where it was so obvious they were just trying to find reasons to keep the actor around. I guess I'll go with season 6 because I didn't understand what they were trying to say with his character that season, and (my Lex POV issues again!), I hate how the show constantly told us he was now a good guy just because he was protecting Clark, and it was cool for him to be downright cruel still in the way he spoke to Lex in episodes like Phantom about losing his mother, Lana never loving him etc. At least season 3 never tried to present him as a hero when he was screwing with Lex, but in later seasons it was like he was a good guy now just because Clark said so. And the show never treated his attitude towards Lex as problematic in those years either, so yeah drove me crazy


Chloe's worse season was absolutely season 9. It always frustrates me when people try and manipulate screentime totals to claim that she wasn't underused that season cause look overall she got more time than season 3 or whatever. She was still only being used for like 2-5 minutes of exposition in nearly all episodes from the first half of season 9! And yeah the screentime totals started catching up in the second half once the Chlollie pairing was taking off (although even that was still mostly developed off-screen...) but that still doesn't excuse them using her purely as an exposition tool for so long, and not giving us a clearer Chloe POV. After everything she had been through in season 8 with Jimmy, Davis, Lois disappearing, Clark walking out, she should have been very sympathetic for the audience in season 9, and the writing just wasn't there at all, and it seemed like Allison stopped trying too after the first couple of episodes :/ Best season is season 5 for me as that's when I really fell in love with her character, and thought she and Clark made such a great team, and she was having so much fun with Clark's newfound powers in episodes like Mortal, Lexmas etc.
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[User Picture]From: frelling_tralk
2011-05-25 12:34 pm (UTC)
For Lana my least favourite is season 2. I actually didn't find her so bad in season 1 compared to how she was viewed by a lot of fandom from the beginning. But I thought that she just became ridiculous in seasons 2 and 3, and maybe part of it was the excessive ue of pink, headbands, and the little girl clothes :is shallow:, but also I thought the writing of Clana was such a mess at that time. In season 1 they at least introduced Whitney as a plausible obstacle, but in seasons 2 and 3 it was long stretches of angsting about secrets and lies and keeping Clana apart just because. And the plots they did give Lana, like finding Henry Small or suddenly learning self-defense, seemed so badly thought-out and just thrown in there to give Lana something to do for an episode

My favourite seson for Lana is definitely season 5. That seemed like the first year they really got a handle on how to write her as a relatable and everyday teenage girl, and I could so relate to plots like her being desperate to be intimate with Clark LOL, or being drawn to Lex after Clark kept on lying to her and pulling away. Her character just made so much more sense to me at that time than she ever did in the earlier years of being this fantasy girl for Clark

Oliver's best season for me is his intro in season 6, I loved him that year and thought he brouught a lot to the show. Worst for me is season 8 because I was so excited for him being a regular, and I thought they then used him horribly and made him way too surly compared to the fun-loving playboy of season 6. And nearly all Oliver-centric episodes after Arrow were such utter fail too

Lois's worst season is either 5 or 7 for me. I wasn't a big fan of Julian and the way she got into the DP, and then it felt like they were almost making a joke of it with the scenes of her making out on the editor's desk while Chloe warned her how it might come across Idk, but I suppose that season 5 is the worst overall for me because at least season 7 gave her something to do. For many episodes in season 5 (Solitude, Hypnotic, Fragile etc) it was just like why is she here again. She just popped in for a few mildy amusing scenes and that was it

Favourite is probably either season 6 or 8. I thought she worked well when paired with Oliver in season 6, but then season 8 is the first time the character really grew on me and it felt like the writers had any clue how to portray her, so season 8 I guess

For Clark and Lex my favourite seasons for them both will always be season 1 :D Least favourite for Clark is season 9 because he seemed to get a bit violent and closed-off that year. And least favourite for Lex is season 4 because he was hardly in the bloody season! Hee I still have my DVD of Lex minutes that were being passed around at the time because everyone was so frustrated at the average two scenes in the darkened mansion that he was getting a lot of the time. It felt like there was such an effort to lighten things up after season 3 that his character really suffered from that

Edited at 2011-05-25 12:36 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: tasabian
2011-05-26 03:48 am (UTC)
That seemed like the first year they really got a handle on how to write her as a relatable and everyday teenage girl, and I could so relate to plots like her being desperate to be intimate with Clark LOL, or being drawn to Lex after Clark kept on lying to her and pulling away.
I would also demand sex from Clark on a regular basis!

I wasn't a big fan of Julian
Me neither. Awful character, the actor clearly not knowing how to play this. Terrible plotline for both Lex & Lois.

For Clark and Lex my favourite seasons for them both will always be season 1
They are so young & sweet & in love!
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[User Picture]From: frelling_tralk
2011-05-26 09:47 am (UTC)
Oh and for Lana there was also suddenly making her an artist in late season 3 good enough for Paris art school, and then never mentioning it again! Her use in the early years always seemed so random and people said stuff like her picking up self-defense skills in one lesson or managing the Talon single-handedly and advising Martha made her a Mary-Sue at times, and yeah maybe that was kind of it, but also I think it was that the writers often didn't have a clue what to do with her. I think they were so blinkered on only seeing her as someone to use in the Clexana triangle, or as the girl next door for Clark, that her character suffered a lot from what when they tried to add new ~skill~ to make her more interesting, but not coming from an organic place and a clearer view of the character

And yeah I couldn't picture Grant as a Luthor at all, and I think that twist kind of blindsided the actor as well *g*
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[User Picture]From: tasabian
2011-05-26 03:45 am (UTC)
Johnathon I never cared for much frankly because of the way he treated Lex, while the show constantly wanted to tell me what a morally upstanding and non-judgemental fellow he saw himself as.
There's a lot of hypocrisy there - and weirdly, the show tend to accept Johnathan at face value, even when the plot proves him wrong.

I hate how the show constantly told us he was now a good guy just because he was protecting Clark, and it was cool for him to be downright cruel still in the way he spoke to Lex in episodes like Phantom about losing his mother, Lana never loving him etc. At least season 3 never tried to present him as a hero when he was screwing with Lex, but in later seasons it was like he was a good guy now just because Clark said so.
They kinda "fixed" that in S10, with Clark blaming Lionel for "destroying his closest friend" but yeah, Clark working with Lionel was really unpleasant. JG always had more fun being bad anyway!

After everything she had been through in season 8 with Jimmy, Davis, Lois disappearing, Clark walking out, she should have been very sympathetic for the audience in season 9, and the writing just wasn't there at all, and it seemed like Allison stopped trying too after the first couple of episodes :/
It was a bit like Lex in the latter seasons - they kept her enigmatic & we didn't get any POV, so it became impossible to bond with the character any more. Must have been frustrating for AM too.
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[User Picture]From: frelling_tralk
2011-05-26 09:40 am (UTC)
and weirdly, the show tend to accept Johnathan at face value, even when the plot proves him wrong

It always made me laugh in Vengeance when a big deal was made about Clark controlling his temper because of his father's example, when Johnathon was losing it with people all the time. His death occurred because he was raging so much at Lionel that it brought on a heart attack!

They kinda "fixed" that in S10, with Clark blaming Lionel for "destroying his closest friend" but yeah, Clark working with Lionel was really unpleasant.

It was confusing when Clark was shocked in Fracture to see Lionel shouting at little Lex and being rough with him, it was like the wind-wipe happened to Clark after Shattered and Asylum! How could he forget the years of awful treatment that Lionel put Lex through, and even lecture him on how he should have tried harder to win his Dad over :/

And yeah it seemed like everyone on the show kind of gave up on Chloe for a while there, perhaps because it was Allison's assumed final year in her contract? Because they similarly neglected Lana in season 7 after the initial episodes that seasn seemed pretty intriguing for her character, and then she was kind of shuffled off center-stage once she had reconciled with Clark
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