Woooo Hoooo! It’s finale time. That’s right, we made it to the Season One finale, only like nine more of these to go. Since I am such a nice guy, I will do both the finale “Tempest” and the Season Two premier “Vortex” in the same article. So in terms of what a Smallville finale looks like, “Tempest” weirdly does not fit the mold all that well. There is no gigantic reveal, but rather some sizeable changes in the universe that make for a fun change of pace, but this is not “Commencement,” “Vessel,” or “Phantom.” “Tempest” and “Vortex” are by no means bad episodes, rather it is in terms of the pantheon of great finales that this one falls oddly short. I know this will be a fun one to recap and explore with you all so let’s dive in and finish the season on a strong note!
So yeah in terms of a big bad final confrontation, or a major shake up in the dynamic of the show “Tempest” falls short of the bar. It’s the Freshman Spring Formal and everything seems to be coming up Clark, as he has a solid life and a great date to the dance. Meanwhile, Lex is making progress on The Key, Lionel attempts to shut down the Smallville plant to bring Lex back under his watchful eye, Nixon is still snooping around the Kent’s, and Whitney has decided to join the Marines in an effort to further find himself. All of this, of course, conveniently happens while Remy Zero, the guys who do the opening music, are playing the formal. And these plotlines all come to a head as a severe weather pattern is barreling down.
With a lot of material to cover and only forty two minutes to do it, you know there is going to be some give and take. The problem with “Tempest”, and for a large part Season One as a whole, is that it lacked a centralized villain and favored a larger character study. In most cases I do not have a problem with this, but the fact is that having villains like Lionel, Zod, Doomsday, The Phantoms, and Brainiac, who all gave the series so much more to do and explore as the tensions were building up to the final confrontations. We managed to have in depth studies of what motivated our villains and made them be a large part to the structure of the season. While Clark fighting a tornado is great imagery, it lacks the effectiveness of him squaring off against someone who has been challenging him all season long.
Even though “Tempest” is weaker than most of the finales, it makes up for it by having all of the side characters really have great storylines. In fact I would say that this is the finale that has the least to do with Clark. Lex’s confrontation with his father and decision between letting Lionel live or die was fantastic, it gave you one of those great Lex moments that help to make him one of the stronger characters of the series. Plus, you have Nixon finding and activating Clark’s ship. That is a wicked awesome image. Sadly, Whitney got canned and shoved off just as he was starting to be likeable, but at least he is serving a purpose in introducing a cool villain… in Season Three. A fun finale, just not full on “Phantom” or “Commencement” levels of amazing in my opinion.
Final Grade B