Season Nine of Smallville continued to expand its universe and mythology with its most ambitious season yet. This season introduced “Major Zod” (Callum Blue) as he and the rest of the Kandorian survivors are freed by Tess Mercer, but without their Kryptonian powers. The season also featured appearances by Metallo (Brian Austin Green), the Wonder Twins, The Silver Banshee, Checkmate, The Suicide Squad, Maxwell Lord and Amanda Waller (Pam Grier), and, in a two-part episode, The Justice Society of America!
The Zod/Kandorian was the main storyline throughout the year as Zod sought to gain his powers while trying first to ally with Clark, then using duplicity and coercion on Lois and the other Kandorians to convince them that Clark is their enemy. Clark and Lois have seen visions of the future with the world under Zod’s control and intend to use the Book of Rao to send Zod and the other Kryptonians off Earth and to their own world.
The Checkmate storyline was the most interesting aspect to Season Nine because it largely came out of left field. Checkmate was introduced during the “Absolute Justice” episode with Amanda Waller dubbed the White Queen. Icicle, an agent of Checkmate kills the Star Spangled Kid and Wesley Dodds, AKA The Sandman. Clark and Chloe discover old documents in the Daily Planet archives about a group of men: Carter Hall, Kent Nelson, Jay Garrick, Alan Scott, Ted Grant, Abigail Hunkel, Wesley Dodds, and Al Pratt who seemed to have been framed for crimes they didn’t commit. The men were released and disappeared but are now being hunted down and killed by Checkmate.
Clark eventually finds out that all of the men were members of the Justice Society of America whose real identities were exposed causing them to go into hiding. Clark, Green Arrow, and John Jones team with the remaining JSA members Hawkman, Doctor Fate and Star Girl to track down and stop Icicle.
“Absolute Justice” was a lot to take in…maybe too much. While it was a wonderful episode and the highest rated of the season, introducing so many new elements, even in a two hour episode was difficult to digest. They should have kept Checkmate a mystery, perhaps just showing the logo at the end, rather than reveal so much at once. Still, it was great to see the JSA, even if it was only a few members. You still got to see their artifacts like Green Lantern’s power ring. The Flash’s helmet, Wildcat’s boxing gloves, and Mr. Terrific’s weight belt. There in the JSA’s brownstone headquarters was a portrait on the wall of all the members, even HIM…The Spectre. You have to give kudos to the writers for including a glimpse of Ma Hunkel, the original Red Tornado. They did a fantastic job with the details that only true comic fans are going to recognize.
Other episode highlights included “Rabid” where a Krytonian plague is released that turns people into crazed zombie-like creatures; “Disciple” in which Oliver comes under attack by his old mentor; “Warrior” features a return appearance by Zatanna; Martha Kent and Perry White return in “Hostage” surprising Clark with their relationship but Martha has an even bigger surprise; and finally the season finale “Salvation” featuring the climactic battle with Zod.
Smallville threw a lot at fans this year as it heads into its tenth and final season. Clark is not in the costume yet but he is moving more in the direction of knowing and understanding what his responsibilities are on Earth. There’s still too much of the Lois and Clark romance which often comes off as forced and there’s not a great deal of chemistry between the two no matter how hard they try. Season Nine setup what should be a rousing final send off to the show after ten years.
Not the bounty of extras you’d hope for but a few cool things…
There is audio commentary on just two episodes but unfortunately neither of them is Absolute Justice which is monumentally disappointing since this was the season’s most anticipated episode and the highest rated. However…
There is a featurette Absolute Justice from Script to Screen (29:32) that does cover this landmark episode in great detail with interviews with the cast, producers, and writer Geoff Johns. They discuss how this was expanded to a two hour episode and used to launch Checkmate. Takes a look at the casting choices of the various JSA members. Also shows how the Luthor Mansion set was re-designed to use for the JSA brownstone.
Kneel Before Zod (15:14) Takes a look at the character of Zod onscreen in Smallville and also with Superman II and includes an interview with Terence Stamp who played the role on the big screen. Also includes an interview with Callum Blue, the current Zod
Deleted Scenes – There are select deleted scenes from a handful of episodes