Smallville: Skippable Episode Guide
November 17, 2016 \ TV \ 12 Comments
Awhile back I offered to make someone on the Smallville subreddit an abridged guide to Smallville that skipped all unncessary episodes. My offer was ignored, but another user recently found my post and asked me if I would still be willing to make the guide. So here it is! The following is my skippable episodes guide to Smallville.
Please note that I created this guide to cater specifically to that reddit user’s request, who was only interested in the main storyline. This creates some problems because typically when you make a skippable episode guide you only include the best episodes (in addition to ones that follow the main plot) and Smallville‘s main storyline episodes aren’t the best episodes. For example, the Season Four episode “Sacred” is a terrible episode. But in that episode we learn about an important set of stones that are integral to the season. Following the main storyline also skips over a lot of great episodes, like the Ryan episode in the first season (which I snuck in anyway) and the Alicia episodes in the third and fourth seasons (which I also snuck in anyway).
Smallville is also unusual in that it continuously reinvents its history. At first we learn about how Clark fits in with the Native American legend of Naman. Later we learn about how Clark is also known among the Veritas group as The Traveler. By the time we’re learning about The Traveler, the Native American legend is hardly referenced again. So is the Native American legend really part of the main storyline? What I decided was that each season focused on a particular story or villain and I tried to include the episodes that developed that story.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. I’d consider reworking this in order to make the best possible list for the most number of people. For example, if you think the will-they-won’t-they, on-again-off-again Lana storyline is essential, I’m willing to hear that argument. Or if you would just prefer a list of the most pleasant Smallville episodes, let me know.
Final note: If you’re a first time viewer watching the show, I’ve separated the article into two parts: The first part is spoiler-free list of the episodes you need to watch, the second part is spoiler-heavy description for fans to explain why I cut what I cut.
Here is the abridged guide to Smallville that let’s you know what episodes you can skip.
- S01E01 – Pilot
- S01E16 – Stray
- S01E20 – Obscura
- S01E21 – Tempest
In some ways I enjoy Season One the most. It appeals to the part of me that wants mindless fluff and Clark saving the day in every single episode. Unfortuantely, the formulaic aspect of Season One means you don’t really have to watch most of it. There’s also no overarching story to Season One; in most episodes meteor rocks create a bad guy or a bad situation and Clark and his friends must investigate their way out of it. Kind of like Scooby-Doo.
You could make an argument that the main story of Season One is Lana and Clark’s relationship. Season One largely revolves around what it feels like to be in High School and Lana and Clark’s relationship is a big part of that. But throughout the series (not just Season One) their relationship perpetually flip flops so much that eventually people can’t stand Lana at all.
I’d also like to point out that if you stick to a pure, main storyline you don’t need to watch that Ryan episode “Stray.” But I can’t help myself. It represents the tone and spirit of the first season and is (in my opinion) the best of what Season One has to offer. So you’re welcome.
- S02E01 – Vortex
- S02E02 – Duplicity
- S02E04 – Red
- S02E05 – Lineage
- S02E06 – Skinwalker
- S02E17 – Rosetta
- S02E22 – Calling
- S02E23 – Exodus
The main focus of Season Two is the discovery of the cave with Native American paintings that foretell of Clark’s arrival. Half the episodes are dedicated to that. The other episodes are included for a variety of reasons.
There’s a consistent theme to Smallville in that the first and last episodes of a season resolve the previous storyline and start the new one. So if we’re following the main storyline these are going to be present in every episode. Some of my work on the list is just to make sure that these episodes make sense.
Sometimes I also include episodes so other events make sense in later seasons, like Pete finding out Clark’s secret, or the first red krypotonite episode. I don’t think either of these episodes are particularly great, but red kryptonite comes up a lot so it’s important to know how it works (even if they explain it again later).
Unfortunately, I didn’t feel it was necessary to include episodes that explained every subplot. So a few things are just going to show up and you’re going to have to roll with it, like the fact that Martha starts working for Lionel and the whole Helen and Lex relationship. I’m hoping that the episodes that do feature these subplots you’ll be able to piece it together.
- S03E01 – Exile
- S03E02 – Phoenix
- S03E14 – Obsession
- S03E17 – Legacy
- S03E19 – Memoria
- S03E20 – Talisman
- S03E21 – Forsaken
- S03E22 – Covenant
Season Three has more Jor-El story and more cave story. As always, the episode guide includes the resolution of the past season (in this case Clark living in Metropolis wearing a red kryptonite ring and Lex surviving the plane crash and going a little crazy on a desert island). I skip over the Lex insanity stuff in this season. That will make some of “Memoria” confusing, but the other option was to exclude “Memoria” all together and I think there’s some good Lex history in there.
Also the Adam character will be a little confusing because I don’t include any particular episode that explains who he is and why he’s there. If you are re-watching the series and need some explanation, he’s just a suspicious guy that moves into The Talon apartment for awhile. Everyone investigates him and warns Lana about him and then he goes away. Boom. Done.
I also included the first Alicia episode here, “Obsession.” You don’t need this episode for the main storyline. I could make an argument that the episodes in the next season when Alicia comes back are important because it is there where Chloe finds out about Clark’s secret, but that would dishonest. I really included the Alicia episodes because I love Alica and you should too.
- S04E01 – Crusade
- S04E02 – Gone
- S04E03 – Run
- S04E11 – Unsafe
- S04E12 – Pariah
- S04E15 – Sacred
- S04E22 – Commencement
If you felt compelled to watch a full season of Smallville, this would be the one. Season Four finds its comedic feet and its heart. The first three seasons of Smallville are like the awkward teenage years where the show is trying to figure itself out. Season Four starts to show the kind of confidence and humour you only get from experience. This is the season where we meet Lois Lane and another young hero from the DC Universe (Flash). It’s also the season with the most Alicia episodes (just sayin’).
But in terms of overall story, Season Four merely digs a little deeper into Clark’s Kryptonian history as well as his dealings with Jor-El, which means a lot of it can be skipped. A real shame. This leaves out some decent episodes like the episode where Lionel and Clark switch bodies.
- S05E01 – Arrival
- S05E03 – Hidden
- S05E04 – Aqua
- S05E08 – Solitude
- S05E12 – Reckoning
- S05E13 – Vengeance
- S05E15 – Cyborg
- S05E22 – Vessel
Season Five might not be about anything other than transitioning into a story without Clark’s parents. Sure, Kryptonian stuff happens, but that’s true for every season. Mostly the episodes here are resolving the previous season, getting into the next, adding more DC Universe heroes to the show, and Jonathan’s death, which I dedicate two episodes to because it deserves it.
As with previous seasons in this guide, there are a few bits in Season Five that will catch you off guard. I don’t believe I dedicated a specific episode to Jonathan campaigning, so all of a sudden he will be running for office. That’s less important, though. What really matters is that you know going into Season Five that Jonathan has had health problems and the guide shows that. Whatever else happens in Season Five Jonathan and Clark’s relationship is the most important part because Clark is deeply influenced by his Fathers.
- S06E01 – Zod
- S06E04 – Arrow
- S06E06 – Fallout
- S06E08 – Static
- S06E11 – Justice
- S06E15 – Freak
- S06E17 – Combat
- S06E21 – Prototype
- S06E22 – Phantom
Once Season Six starts it becomes difficult to pick out episodes, even if you’re just focusing on the main storylines. For example, in this season Clark returns from the Phantom Zone and unleashes some phantoms which he spends the season pursuing. So I included the episodes where he’s fighting them because that’s basically what the season is all about. Unfortunately that adds a lot of episodes in a pretty dreary season.
There’s good bits though, like Green Arrow who humanizes heroes in a way we haven’t seen with anyone else other than Clark. We also get our first Justice League episode, which is cool and establishes a group that we will see again. I also made sure to include the bit where Chloe finds out she may have powers because that’s a big issue throughout the rest of the series.
- S07E01 – Bizarro
- S07E02 – Kara
- S07E11 – Siren
- S07E14 – Traveler
- S07E16 – Descent
- S07E20 – Arctic
Season Seven is actually better than Season Six, but there are fewer episodes that matter to the story moving forward. From here on out, Smallville transitions away from the town of Smallville and deals more and more with Metropolis. So Season Seven is more about transition than it is about a specific story. As such, there aren’t a lot of episodes you need to see here. We meet Kara (the real one), and learn about Lionel’s secret Veritas society that is all about finding The Traveler (Clark). And we see Lionel’s death, which I almost didn’t include, but I guess Lionel is a big deal to the series.
I also included just one episode for Lois and Clark relationship development because that’s about to become a reliable cornerstone of the show in a way the Lana relationship never could, because in the Superman mythology he ends up with Lois.
- S08E01 – Odyssey
- S08E03 – Toxic
- S08E05 – Committed
- S08E09 – Abyss
- S08E11 – Legion
- S08E22 – Doomsday
Ah, Season Eight. I’m pretty cavalier with this season. I don’t include a lot to explain Tess Mercer and I don’t include a lot to explain Doomsday. I think Tess Mercer’s character’s motivations change so much over the series that it doesn’t really matter what episodes I include. I don’t think the writers knew what to do with her. But I did include an episode here to humanize her a bit and show her relationship with Oliver so that at least when she shows up you care about her just a little bit.
I removed the Injustice group from the season (because there’s only two episodes dedicated to them anyway), and I skipped right on through Doomsday because it’s weird and drones on with very little payoff. You could actually remove episode 9 and 22 and remove Doomsday from the season all together. But maybe that’s wrong.
I was a little on the fence about including the episode “Legion,” but the Legion rings show up throughout the series so here’s the foundation for it. You’ll also notice I skipped Lana’s return and goodbye. Because she’s the worst.
(And there’s one episode where Lois admits she loves Clark, because it’s good to hear it).
- S09E01 – Savior
- S09E06 – Crossfire
- S09E07 – Kandor
- S09E11 – Absolute Justice
- S09E19 – Sacrifice
- S09E20 – Hostage
- S09E21 – Salvation
I wish there was more I could skip of Season Nine. In this season a bunch of clones of Kryptonians (I think?) are on Earth, including Zod. I wouldn’t say they are important to the show, but they are what this season is about, unfortunately. So I show you the bare minimum of Kandorian stuff, giving you a little background with the episode “Kandor” then showing you when the army rises to power before showing its defeat.
I also included two Lois and Clark episodes, one with the first kiss and one with just some relationship building stuff (that also tells us where Martha has been).
Finally, I reluctantly included the “Absolute Justice” two-parter because these characters show up in Season Ten and DC fans will think the episode is cool. (Just note that depending on where you watch the series this may be broken up into two episodes: “Society” and “Legends.”)
- S10E01 – Lazarus
- S10E04 – Homecoming
- S10E09 – Patriot
- S10E11 – Icarus
- S10E20 – Prophecy
- S10E21 – Finale
Season Ten is about the Vigilante Registration Act, Darkseid, and love. I give each a little attention. One of the things about Season Ten is it references a lot of the previous seasons, so if you were going to watch Season Ten, you’ll need to have seen some of the previous seasons for it all to make sense. Don’t worry, I got you.
Season Ten does something very interesting with the “main” villain. Darkseid isn’t so much a visible presence, but instead a threat in all of us. So effectively, the villain this season is our doubts and fears. Which is a smart villain for a boy who is not yet a man.
Overall though, Season Ten is all about that final episode when we see Clark put on the suit and fly. There isn’t anything innovative about the final episode. A wedding, an ultimate evil, a reminder of the show’s past, a couple of montages, and a final step off that rooftop and into the sky, and MY GOD, it works.