If there’s one thing that you can fairly reliably predict about a Smallville season finale it’s that by the end of it most of the good guys will be either dead or dying or otherwise in dire shape, evil will appear triumphant as the episode ends and the summer begins leaving us on that edge of a cliffhanger. Smallville 7×20 Arctic is certainly no different and before it’s over Chloe Sullivan has been hauled off by the fantasy version of Homeland Security, Kara is in the Phantom Zone, Clark is under Lex’s control and possibly dead and Lois is off investigating oil spills. So bad news all around.
The problem isn’t any of that, it’s everything that leads up to it. Smallville s7e20 Arctic ends Michael Rosenbaum’s last season on the cast which means it also jettisons Lex Luthor and allows the show to finally let Clark and Lex come face to face, but like his murder of Lionel Luthor this is a clumsy and anticlimactic moment. It isn’t simply rushed and lacking in any real impact, but conceptually it requires Clark to stand around begging Lex not to take control of him all the while he could simply move at the blink of an eye and snatch the orb out of Lex’s hand. The Kara scene suggests he wouldn’t succeed, but it makes no sense whatsoever that he wouldn’t try, barring some kryptonite.
As it turns out, unsurprisingly, Kara is Braniac, while the real Kara is in the Phantom Zone. This would seem like another great plot by Braianiac, except as it turns out, Braniac infected Lana and kidnapped Kara into the past on Krypton all in order to… trick Clark into thinking he’s Kara. As plots go this is vastly overshooting the mark. Before it’s all done Clark has supposedly killed Braniac with a whole lot of electricity in yet another anticlimactic scene that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. This is followed by another anticlimactic scene in which Lana breaks up with Clark via videotape right after getting out of a coma, but apparently she had time to do a video and burn a CD. Some of this mess may be the fault of the WGA strike, but a lot of it has to be the fault of the writers and producers and it. Under the clumsy weight of all this ridiculousness piled into one episode, Smallville 7×20 Arctic flounders even long before it gets to the frozen north.