The villainous ruler of LuthorCorp plans world domination with Major Zod

Cassidy Freeman plays the calculating villainess Tess Mercer on the CW's Smallville. Despite Mercer's proclivity for crying alone, the CEO of LuthorCorp is a brutally violent force to be reckoned with. She's proven herself to be one of television's all-time greatest bad girls, and this season, she's going that extra mile by hooking up with the legendary Major Zod (Callum Blue). Last week, the poor girl was turned into a zombie in a plot by Zod to out Clark Kent as a Kryptonian. Having recovered, she is now set to force Oliver (Justin Hartley; aka The Green Arrow) to a Queen Industries gala that is interrupted by the evil Toyman (guest star Chris Gautheir). We recently caught up with Cassidy Freeman to learn more about this week's episode Echo, as well as the rest of season nine. Here is what she had to say:

Last week you were turned into a zombie. Are you ever surprised by what happens to your character from week to week, and how do you continue to add those little nuances to your character's structural arc in the long run?

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Cassidy Freeman: I am always surprised. I wanted to know how I was going to get turned back from being a zombie. But it all worked out. How do I add those nuances to my character? I try to stay true to whom Tess Mercer is, and I always try to remember what she would do in any given circumstance. I want to stay true to the history I have made up for her. I want to stay faithful to her personal story. And I add into that whatever amazing creature they turn me into from week to week.

At the end of each episode Lois is getting flashes of the future where Tess seems to be romantically involved with Zod. Can you give us any insight into what we can expect from this upcoming relationship?

Cassidy Freeman: Sure. Her business future is something you will find out about mid-season. Everything is going to be figured out, and it's a really great episode, so fans should be excited about that. About Zod and Tess' romantic relationship? I'm not sure which flash says that we are romantically involved. I know there is a flash where I am kneeling in front of Zod (laughs). I think it is more a touch on my connection with the Candorians, and less a romantic relationship between the two of us. I think we are attracted to each other. But that attraction is about power. I think they are gearing up for a power play between Tess and Zod.

What sort of evil love triangle is going to form out of your relationship, be it romantic or not? And please tell us it has something to do with Lois Lane.

Cassidy Freeman: Are we hoping for a triangle between Lois, Zod, and I? No. That's not going to happen as far as I know.

That's certainly a disappointing answer for a lot of the fans out there.

Cassidy Freeman: Oh, no! There are plenty of triangles on this show. If there is one between them, I'm not sure I would call it a love triangle.

So maybe they'll engage in a hate triangle?

Cassidy Freeman: (Laughs) Yes, maybe we will have a hate triangle. That would be fun.

How do you think Mercer's quest for Lex Luthor this season is set to change Tess' relationship with Clark?

Cassidy Freeman: Mercer's relationship with Clark has always been one of respect and awe. I think Tess is still on a quest for him to come out as who he truly is. She knows so much more about him. Even more than Chloe. Tess is trying to help him. I don't see her relationship with Clark as being one built from hate. I don't think she is trying to hurt or out him.

It seems that Tess is completely convinced she knows Clark's secret identity as "The Traveler", is there any evil underlying motive to control Clark and his powers?

Cassidy Freeman: I think Tess' main underlying motive is to save the earth. She wants to save human kind. She sees Clark as a really great tool in that. He has these special powers, and he could be the leader in helping humanity. She thinks he needs to come out with that. And if he wont do it, I believe she is willing to do whatever needs to be done. Even if it includes evildoing. Though, I don't think her evildoing is necessarily pointed towards Clark. Tess believes its all for the greater good.

Even though Tess's plans for an "evil justice league" (aka 'The Legion of Doom') backfired on her last season, can we possibly expect to see more from this story-line in the future? What does she need her army for, anyway?

Cassidy Freeman: I don't know if the Justice League from last season, or the Legion of Doom, is ever going to come back. They haven't come back in the first part of this season yet. Tess needs her army because she believed that when she released the orb, the Candorians were going to do good for the world. She is pretty upset about the way the world is going. She thinks that humans are going to ruin themselves. She thinks her army is an army of good that will save the planet.

Lois isn't Tess' biggest fan. How is their relationship going to evolve over the course of the next year? Do you see the two girls getting closer, or do you think they will always be at opposite ends of the spectrum?

Cassidy Freeman: I don't see Lois and Tess becoming bosom buddies by any means. I do see that they are very different characters. And I think they hold very different places in the show in terms of woman. I think that dichotomy is going to continue to be played throughout the show. I don't think our relationship is going to change for the better. But who ever knows? We are on episode nine of the ninth season right now, and no one ever knows what is going to happen by episode twenty-two. We only get these scripts three days before we start shooting.

In this week's episode, Toyman tries to out Green Arrow as Lex's killer. How does that change Tess' relationship with Oliver? Or is Tess behind the Toyman's arrival at this gala?

Cassidy Freeman: I will tell you, Tess is not in cahoots with the Toyman. His arrival is as much of a surprise to Tess as anyone. She actually needs him for different reasons, and she has a scene with him that is very informative on what she intends to do in the long run. It doesn't really have much to do with Oliver. To be honest. Tess just wants Oliver to come to terms with the fact that he's been a sack of crap lately. He really hasn't been there for their company. Her connection to Oliver doesn't have much to do with Toyman. She has two very different storylines with both men.

What can you tell us about Toyman? Was it fun getting to work with Chris Gautheir?

Cassidy Freeman: Chris was amazing. I didn't get to work with him the last few times he'd been on the show. This time, I did. He is a very gifted actor, and a really nice guy. It's weird to talk to him on set, and then see him switch into this Toyman character. He is super creepy. It was so much fun to work with him.

At Comic Con, it seemed to be a big joke when I asked if the Wonder Twins were going to be on the show. But its been revealed that they are indeed going to make an appearance this season. Have you worked with them yet, and what can we expect out of Gleek the monkey?

Cassidy Freeman: I do know that the Wonder Twins are going to definitely be on the show, but I am not actually in that episode. I didn't get to work with them. I heard that it was a lot of fun. And kudos to you for figuring that one out. It does sounds crazy, but if its crazy, you can beat its going to happen on Smallville.

Who else is set to make an appearance by year's end? Do you think there are some shocking character introductions heading our way soon?

Cassidy Freeman: What's funny is that I know a lot of unexpected characters are coming up. Usually, these characters are introduced as normal, human characters. But then you find out that they reflect back on something from the comics. I always think that is really clever. Unfortunately, most of my storylines are based on Clark and Zod. And not really with these outer characters, like the guys in the Justice League. Or some of the other comic book characters that everyone will know when they show up later this season. I am not in those episode arcs. So I can't really speak on that too much.

How do you see Tess evolving by the end of this season?

Cassidy Freeman: I don't really know where she is headed. I think she is caught in a world that is made up of her own pride. And her own wish for power. And her own wish for control over things. That doesn't usually seem to be congruent with heroes. Because heroes look for only the good in things. Even in their own demise. I don't know what is going to happen to Tess by the end of the season, but I really see her as a glowing character that always strives for the best thing she sees fit in life. Whatever that is. And often times, those ideals pit her as the villian.

When can we expect to see Lex Luthor (Michael Rosenbaum) return to the series? Do you know what is being planned as far as Tess' quest for her boss goes?

Cassidy Freeman: I wish that I could answer that. I so wish I could, but I don't know. None of us know if he is ever going to return. I have heard ideas that they want him back. I haven't heard any affirmative cry from Michael that he is coming back. I just don't know what to tell you.

What are the future plans for Smallville? Do you see it continuing into seasons ten, eleven, and twelve? Or do you think it could end this season?

Cassidy Freeman: This show has had an amazing run so far. I have been lucky enough to be a part of the end of that. It all has to do with the network. And if they want to keep going on the air. I know that Tom Welling is locked in for another year. If we were to go with season ten, I know that we would all be there. I think that is mostly up to the producers and the network. I don't know how far it would go beyond season ten, though.

Even this year, more and more fans keep coming to the show. What has that experience been like for you? Do people recognize you on the streets?

Cassidy Freeman: People just scream at me, "Tess Mercer!" What's funny is that I don't get recognized a lot. As you saw at Comic Con, I don't really look like Tess too much. They do a lot on screen to make me look evil. I haven't had that fan recognition. I know some of the others have. Tom Welling and Justin Hartley can't walk down the street without getting hounded. The only people that recognize me are the hardcore fans, and I always find that really flattering. I think it is super cool. I dig that they are so into something like this.

Callum Blue is so good as Zod, what has it been like to work alongside him this season?

Cassidy Freeman: Callum is wonderful. He has been acting for a really long time, and this role has been different for him in a lot of ways. We will be laughing off screen, and then the camera starts rolling, and we have to be evil, angry people. Its fun when, in person, it's a little different.

And there has been murmurings of a Smallville movie happening forever. Any progress on that front?

Cassidy Freeman: To be honest, I haven't heard them express any more interest in that. But I will tell you, it certainly would be a lot of fun.

Created by The latest season nine Smallville episode entitled Echo airs this Friday night at 8/7 central only on the CW.

B. Alan Orange