We all know that, at the conclusion of Smallville, Clark Kent must become Superman. We know that he and Lex become mortal enemies. We know that Jimmy and Lois must survive and still work at the Daily Planet. And yet, despite all of these things that we "know", the creators of the show sure do a great job keeping us in suspense.
When Season Seven ended, Lana was gone (presumably for good), as were Kara and Braniac. Chloe had been taken away by the Department of Domestic Security (DDS), Jimmy felt guilty about it, and Lex and Clark were in the Fortress, with Clark powerless and the Fortress coming down around their ears. All in all, it was terribly unfair to the fans of Smallville that we had to wait all these months to get some resolution. But fortunately, we have now had the Season Seven opener, Odyssey, air. And it sure sets up the rest of this season with bang!
Four weeks later, a helicopter and search team is up in the arctic. We get our first glimpse of Tess Mercer, who is the new acting CEO. Who is, on Lex's orders, here to take charge of the rescue operation. The folks on the site are resistant to her new commands, but they do say they found traces of human life. Before they can act on their new data, the site is attacked by Green Arrow, Black Canary and Aquaman. The three of them, after taking down the Luthorcorp crew, investigate the site, and do manage to find Clark's red hoodie - but no sign of either Clark or Lex.
Back in Smallville, Lois is investigating Lex's mansion for any information she might be able to scrounge up, while dressed as a French-maid. She breaks into Lex's safe and finds a number of USB data drives, and she pockets one before being discovered by Tess, who has apparently decided to take up residence. Tess immediately recognizes Lois, and calls her out on her disguise. She also identifies herself as Lex's replacement. In turn, Lois tells Tess that she isn't here as a reporter, but to look for her cousin, Chloe. After being taken away, on Lex's call, Chloe now isn't in any records. Tess also displays a remarkable conviction in Lex's judgement, and shows an overwhelming sense of loyalty.
So, where is Chloe? Well, according to the caption at the bottom of the screen, she's in Black Creek, Montana, where she's being subjected to experiments involving memory. Chloe's memory is now superhumanly good, and she's able to identify dozens of items that are flashed on a screen in front of her. Chloe's brain is a supercomputer now, but she's still really upset about being held captive. Hmmm, could this possibly have something to do with Braniac? Despite her protests about wanting a lawyer and a trial, she is given a fairly simple (if unpleasant) choice. She can work with them, for 12 months. Or she can go on and be tried for treason and spend the rest of her life in jail.
While one missing hero has been identified, Clark is still elusive. And so we cut to the Justice League's HQ, where Canary, Arrow and Aquaman are digging through databases looking for info about Clark - with no luck. Canary tries to convince Ollie that it's time to give up the search (and explains that Cyborg and the Flash are off searching the southern hemisphere, just to answer the question about where those characters are.)
Finally, the audience at least does get an answer to Clark's whereabouts. He's in a camp in Russia, doing hard labor. Clark wants to get in contact with the people he knows, but the guy who runs the camp refuses to let him make a call until he's worked off his debt. Clark seems to be without his powers, but he remains a determined man, and he tries to make a break for it by stealing a truck. Unfortunately, his escape attempt fails and Clark is beaten severely. (And for the record, between this episode of Smallville and the climactic fight between Superman and Lex in Superman Returns, I am really tired of seeing Superman be curb stomped in the rain and mud.)
Tess goes to confront the head of the arctic dig, who tells her that before the Justice League attacked them, they got a satellite signal off. Tess also tells him that she's discovered that he was the one who flew Lex to the arctic, and then hid the fact. The two of them posture, with him saying he knows all about her rags-to-riches story, and her making it clear that if he is doing anything other than his absolute best to find Lex, she will terminate him.
Back at Chloe's new home in Montana, the government agent is explaining what it is they want her to do. With her new superbrain, they're going to have her decode terrorist transmissions. After only a few moments, she finds the data they're looking for - three cell phone numbers. But what Chloe doesn't realize until she's working on the third number is that the phone numbers are that of the JLA. Cut-away scenes show Black Canary and Aquaman get taken down, but Chloe stops during the third number, presumably because she recognizes it as Ollie's. When pressed for the number, Chloe realizes that they're using her to track down the superheroes, and she turns and attacks the agent. She manages to get him down and escapes out into a hallway, but is captured again before she could leave the building. We then see that the guy in charge of the "agent" is the same Luthorcorp flunky Tess has been threatening.
Clark gets awoken by a splash of dirty water into the face, and again makes another escape attempt. He is thwarted, once again, and is about to be executed for it, when the execution is stopped by a wealthy American industrialist who wants to make a purchase. Which industrialist could this be? Why, none other than Oliver Queen. Ollie and Clark end up staging a fight which Ollie easily gets the better end of that ends with Clark at knife point. Ollie ends up making a purchase for some goods, and "this pathetic little punk." As Ollie leaves with Clark, Clark jokingly asks "What took you so long?"
Ollie and Clark share info back on the Queen Industries jet. Clark wonders if the destruction of the Fortress and the removal of his powers is part of Jor-El's plan, and Ollie states that it's better than Lex having control of Clark and his powers. Clark is convinced that Lex survived the incident at the Fortress, but Ollie is less sure. Regardless, Clark didn't see any evidence of Lex's survival. Clark blames himself for all of this mess, saying that this is because he didn't take his responsibilities seriously enough. Ollie also lets Clark know that Chloe was never taken by the DDS, and that he knows that Lex had the work site in Montana, but no one has ever left that place once they entered. Furthermore, Ollie tells Clark that Dinah and AC both vanished looking for him, and he points out that Clark is fairly useless without his powers. Still, Ollie and Clark aren't going to let Chloe rot, and so Oliver tells his pilot to change course to Montana.
Fortunately, in that way which only happens when you're dealing with superheroes, Aquaman and Black Canary are being kept in that same facility in Montana. And we see that they're being interrogated by Luthor-flunky #1. He knows that the JLA was there looking for "The Traveler", although he doesn't know that the Traveler is Clark. Aquaman and Canary deny that they were there for any reason other than to find Lex. When they refuse to answer, he suggests that perhaps Green Arrow will.
As if on cue, Clark and Oliver arrive in the facility. Over Ollie's objections, Clark insists that they split up to cover ground faster. This turns out to be not, perhaps, the best of Clark's plans, since it leads him into a group of guards escorting Lois through the building. Lois and Clark overpower her guards and continue the search for Chloe.
Hopefully they'll find her soon, since Chloe is now painfully aware of the fact that she has now been hunting down people that are enemies of LuthorCorps. Luthor's goon then comes in and reveals that they've used the spinal fluid from Chloe's mother to create a serum that allows them to control people's minds for a short period of time. Injected into Chloe, she gives them the final three digits of Oliver's number, and the GPS system pinpoints his location as being within the facility.
Ollie finds his fellow JLA members but is ambushed by the LuthorCorp guards. He is then injected with that same serum and told to "Do whatever it takes to find out what happened to Lex Luthor." The bodes ill for Clark, obviously.
And right on cue, we cut back to Clark and Lois who are still making their way through the building. Clark is somewhat nervous around the gun-toting Lois, but she shows that she has all the resourcefulness we should expect from a future Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter who grew up around the military. Lois and Clark find Chloe, but Lois gets tazzed by Chloe's minder. Clark lays him out, and while Lois remains unconscious, he fills Chloe in on his current non-super status. They also discuss the fact that all three members of the Justice League are here. Clark tells Chloe to watch Lois while he looks for the JLA, although Chloe again points out that Clark is powerless. Clark finds Ollie, who while under the control of the serum, ends up killing him in his efforts to "question him" about Lex. Chloe tries to use her healing powers on Clark, but it seems that whatever process gave Chloe her super-brain also took away her healing powers.
Clark lays in Chloe's arms, dying, and has a vision of his loved ones (Ma and Pa Kent, and Lana), which ends just as the Martian Manhunter appears. The Manhunter flies Clark into space, heading towards the sun.
The next thing we see is Clark laying on the couch of the barn, with the Manhunter standing watch over him. He asks how it feels to be whole again, and Clark finds that he has his strength back. The Manhunter then explains that he flew Clark into the sun, where his powers and his health were regained. He also explains that Jor-El knew that Clark's task was nearly impossible, which is why he was there. Clark comments that being both a near-god and a human almost require him to be two different people, showing the eventual road to Clark's dual identity. As they talk, the Manhunter tells Clark that while Clark's powers were regained, the Manhunter lost his. He also says that Clark must now find the path to his own destiny without Jor-El's guidance. Clark finally comes to the realization that he must let the past go, and move forward. He decides to leave the farm, to seek his destiny.
But while one person has made the decision to leave Smallville, another is moving in. Tess takes charge of the Luthor mansion (after glancing at a newspaper article explaining that the flunky has "gone missing". It seems that Tess meant he would be terminated in the all-too-literal sense. When her aide comes in to congratulate her on the position, Tess again shows her unmistakable loyalty. The aide explains that the Montana base has been dismantled, and that from the artic they found two things: A footprint, which wasn't Lex's (but probably belonged to Clark), and a crystal. What crystal? Why the very one that the Fortress was created from.
Tying up loose ends, Chloe is back at the Talon and testing her new superbrain as she quickly assimilates everything she sees on a computer screen. Although she worries about what has happened to her, it isn't enough of a worry to keep her from being incredibly overjoyed at seeing Jimmy again. Chloe comments that they hadn't finished the business of the engagement, and Jimmy says that he now realizes it wasn't the right time. But Chloe tells him that she wanted to say yes. She is now completely over Clark, and loves him, and wants to marry him. So, while there is definitely some romantic tension here, it seems all is well between the two, and that her unrequited love for Clark is a thing of the past.
Clark meets with the Justice League in the streets of Metropolis. Clark and the JLA discuss their future plans, and their plans for how to find Lex. They agree to split up and lay low.
Finally, we get to check in with Lois at the Daily Planet. She's doing her report on the events at the Montana facility. Clark and Lois engaged slightly strained compliments on their work out in the field, and then Clark lays a bombshell on Lois. He's decided to take her up on her offer to come work for the Planet - and will, in fact, be working at the desk directly opposite her.
So, we got a lot of action, met our new arch-villain, and put Clark much more firmly on the path to becoming Superman. Not a bad season opener by any stretch of the imagination. And next week, we'll get our first glimpse of Doomsday. See you in seven when Plastique airs.