When we last saw Clark Kent, he was disappearing before our eyes, having turned away from the humanity that made him vulnerable, determined never again to be influenced by his feelings for those he loved. The Metropolis he left behind was a place of death, destruction, and darkness. Jimmy Olsen was gone forever, Chloe Sullivan was destroyed by that loss, the heroes of the Justice League had scattered, and Lois Lane had disappeared in a mysterious flash of light. In the wake of Doomsday's defeat, Tess Mercer prepared to welcome an unknown alien presence to Earth. Our show had never seen darker days. So imagine my surprise when Smallville returned with a Clark who gave me hope, who made me proud, and who I have no doubt will soon become the hero the world so desperately needs. In the early seasons of Smallville, Jonathan and Martha Kent sought to shield Clark from his biological father, and encouraged him to embrace his human side. Clark fought for years against the destiny Jor-El tried to force upon him, but last season came to realize his Kryptonian father had a critical role to play in his journey. After his feelings for Chloe allowed her to manipulate him into letting Davis escape the Fortress, which ultimately resulted in Jimmy's death, Clark concluded his humanity had become a liability, and he decided to fully embrace his Kryptonian side. He returned to the Fortress to finally begin his long-delayed training with Jor-El. We all know that what makes Superman the world's savior are his Kryptonian powers and knowledge combined with his human morality and compassion. First Clark looked to his adoptive parents for guidance, and now he's doing the same with Jor-El. But only he can find the balance between his two sides, and only when he learns to trust himself, and let his own heart guide him, will he be able to complete his journey. That's a struggle I long to see, and what I hope for in the season ahead. Clark's training hasn't stopped him from keeping his city safe. Indeed, the Blur is busier than ever before. And it is in the midst of one of his rescues that he is stunned to discover that Lois is alive. Seeing her again awakens feelings buried deep inside him, and he finds himself pulled back to humanity once again. Perhaps Clark's love for Lois was always there, under the surface, or perhaps it was born at the Daily Planet, as they worked side by side together every day. Certainly it snuck up on Clark, because he is just now beginning to realize what is truly in his heart. He can't deny his need to be in her life, and finds himself unable to say this one last goodbye. Jor-El says he must experience the pain of that loss, and then return to his training, but maybe Clark can find another way. Already Clark has changed in so many ways. Gone is the uncertainty about his destiny, and his doubts about his ability to fulfill it. He's actively pursuing the skills and knowledge he needs, undaunted by the challenges he must overcome. And he is resolute about what he has learned so far. When Chloe asks him, awash in guilt and grief, to go back in time and save Jimmy, he refuses, having traveled that ill-advised path before, with dire consequences. And when Chloe pushes him on it, he passionately pushes back. He will no longer be swayed. Throughout the episode he maintains a quiet dignity and inner strength, never once losing control, or rising to the bait when Chloe's frustration causes her to lash out. I've never been more proud of our boy. On a shallow note, I love Clark's new look. I know it's temporary, Supes does not cloak himself in darkness, but it's also hot. :) Tom Welling was born to wear black, and he moves beautifully in that long coat, which only serves to accentuate his delicious height. The black tee with the prototype Superman shield makes me squee like the fangirl I am, especially when it's stretched across that magnificent chest and hugging those amazing arms. Clark's new biker boots are a lot more fun than the farmboy work boots we're used to, and his shaggy hair is drop dead sexy. Rowr. Believe it or not, there were some other characters in this episode. :) Chloe has taken up residence in the Watchtower, high above the dark and dangerous streets of Metropolis, sleeping with a gun by her side. She's been all alone the past three weeks, and she is understandably on edge. When Clark reappears, things are strained between them. Chloe resents the way he deserted her, and is visibly hurt to find out it was not so easy for him to say goodbye to Lois. She feels guilty over Jimmy's death, and grieves for the love she let slip away while he was still alive, but holds Clark equally responsible. And she's devastated to realize Clark has done what he promised he never would: outgrow her. I think Clark will always need Chloe's friendship and help, but he will never again need her support and validation as he has in the past. Chloe says she always knew this day would come, but she sounds more bitter than sincere. Finally, when Clark refuses to change the past, Chloe breaks. Being Clark's secret keeper has come at a price, and she reminds him of all she has given up for him. I see a bumpy road ahead for these two. Although I feel for Chloe, I'm still angry with her. Yes, she has good reason to be upset, but she betrayed Clark, using lies and manipulation to sabotage his plan to deal with Davis, and she never apologized. She has put a wall between them, and I don't think it will be easy to tear down. I don't think Clark trusts her completely anymore, and I'm not sure he should. But the conflict made for some wonderful, emotionally charged scenes between them in this episode, and I'm excited to see where they go next with this. Lois was at the center of much of the action in Savior, and at every turn showed us why she is the perfect woman to stand by Clark's side. Strong, resilient, and resourceful, she refused to be defeated by the chaos that welcomed her back from the future, and immediately set out to defend herself from the assassin who was inexplicably hunting her down, and to reconnect with the Blur. And throughout it all she kept that uncrushable spirit that makes her a force of nature, and such a joy to watch. The girl is no damsel in distress. The show is setting up the iconic Triangle of Two, and it totally works for me. Last season Lois fell hard for Clark, or maybe just recognized for the first time feelings that had been growing inside her for years. But when she laid her cards on the table, Clark couldn't bring himself to step up. She thinks he has closed the door on a relationship between them, and is doing her best to move on. In her mind, Clark joins her father and Oliver Queen on the list of emotionally unavailable men who have always been at the center of her life. She still loves him, but she's not going to pine. At the same time, she has a bad case of hero worship for the Blur. Her father is a larger-than-life hero, and she's fiercely proud of that, but he never had time for his little girl. Oliver left her behind to go fight the good fight, and when he returned for her, his love wasn't enough to guard against that pain. But the Blur is different. He reached out to her, and opened up, becoming her own personal hero as well as the world's. She matters to him, and can finally believe she makes a difference in someone's life. And in this episode, when he tells her he can't disappear, she knows he means because of her. Pretty heady stuff. Who wouldn't fall for that? Especially when behind the disguise, it's the man she's loved all along. I think this is going to be fun! Oliver has been missing since Jimmy's funeral, but Lois figures out how to track him down, and they share a sweet scene. Lois gives him a pep talk, but doesn't indulge him when he chooses to play the martyr. I like that. Oliver has plenty to beat himself up about, but I have no patience for how he's choosing to deal with his guilt. Man up, take responsibility for your mistakes, and salvage what you can of the Justice League. And get down on your knees and beg Clark's forgiveness while you're at it! Grrr. I did love that we got one of Ollie's trademark shirtless scenes, though. Justin Hartley is a beautiful, beautiful man, and I deeply appreciate every moment he spends lifting weights and doing crunches to give us that perfectly chiseled body. Yum. Lois also shares a couple of scenes with a new reporter at the DP, John Corben. He's smart, arrogant, and HOT. :) He and Lois have loads of chemistry, and their scenes just sparkle. I love how Lois sticks up for both the Blur and Clark with him. You go, girl! Lois's unshakable loyalty is one of the things I admire most about her. I'm so thrilled to see Brian Austin Green on Smallville, and he seems to be having a lot of fun with the role. I'm just sorry he's only in two episodes. I don't know why Corben holds such a grudge against the Blur, but I guess we'll find out next week. Emil Hamilton is back, and I couldn't be happier to see him. He was a great addition to S8, and I hope we'll see even more of him in S9. I guess he and Chloe are all that's left of the Justice League at the moment, and between their combined smarts and Oliver's money, the fight for truth and justice will go on. Emil and Chloe are adorable together, and it's nice to see Chloe exercise her mental muscles with someone who is clearly at the very least her intellectual equal. I also really enjoyed the dynamic between Clark and Emil last season, so I hope we'll get to see more of that in the episodes ahead. But Emil, for the record, the Justice League didn't turn on each other, Oliver and his partners turned on Clark, in a despicable act of betrayal. So I think that's all of the good guys, what are the baddies up to? Callum Blue is awesome as Zod. He has dived into this part head first, and I think we're in for a wild ride. Although his evil ruthlessness is somewhat offset by his pretty eyelashes. ;) I can't make heads or tails out of his storyline, and I don't know where all those pseudo-Nazi minions came from, but nevertheless, I'm in! Okay, actually, I do have a theory, do you want to hear it? I figure the orb was like Kara's crystal, it carried the DNA of all these Kryptonians, and they're essentially clones. When they gave their blood in Kandor, the Kryptonian technology evidently captured more than their biology, it also preserved their memories and experiences up to that point in time. So while time went on, Krypton exploded, and General Zod languishes without a vessel in the Phantom Zone, Major Zod has been reborn on Earth as part of some Kryptonian backup plan. What do you think? Cassidy Freeman was amazing as Tess Mercer in Savior. Tess is in over her head, but she's far from drowning. She's fighting for her life and her planet, and she's a force to be reckoned with. She and Zod are playing a game of one-upmanship with each other, and I can't quite figure out if they're adversaries or allies. What I do know is that they're both enjoying themselves, their chemistry is off the charts, and I can't wait to see more. The other big bad in this episode was the assassin who was after Lois, but only as a way to get to Clark. She's from the future, and she seeks to kill Clark, because somehow he is going to destroy the world. She has Clark's watch that she says he gave to her, and she seems to truly care for him, and yet she battles him to the death all the same. What the hell is going on? And when we see her face among Zod's minions, it only adds to the confusion. We learn from the watch she brings that Lois traveled only one year into the future. I expected her to jump 1,000 years, to the time of the Legion. Could it be that she jumped just one year because on the timeline set in motion by the events of Doomsday, that was all the future Earth had left? Lois doesn't remember anything that happened in the future, but her dream in the final moments of the episode gives us a glimpse. Among other things, we apparently see Clark as the Blur, but wearing the symbol of Zod, Clark and Lois making love, Chloe dead, Oliver, hands bloody, digging a grave, and Tess kneeling before Zod, all against the backdrop of a world burning under a giant, unrelenting sun. And Clark has one year to figure out what went wrong, and put it right again. Wow. Bring it on, show! Random thoughts: This show continues to have the most beautiful cast in television. Guh. I don't understand how the symbol for the House of El went from looking like the number eight to the letter S. We know Clark isn't the most talented artist in the world, is that the answer? ;) Tess's battered face was horrifying, and hard to watch. Did Ollie get a new haircut, or was that just what his hair looks like without product? And I like the new opening credits! It cracks me up that they changed Oliver's signature scenes, but they still included a shirtless one. It's just a different shirtless one. :) Savior was very dark, in color, lighting, and tone. But the message I took away from it was anything but depressing. We have a hero we can believe in, who is fighting to find his way to the man he is destined to be. I don't dread the obstacles I know Clark will face, I welcome the chance to see how he will conquer them. He gives me hope for the future, even in the face of a terrible prophecy. And this season, for the first time, we may actually see him find the love that will complete him, and that he so richly deserves. After eight seasons, I love this show more than ever, and I can't wait to see everything that this premiere promises S9 will bring. Okay, did anyone else squee when you saw Tom's co-executive producer credit for the first time? And you didn't think I would forget the pretty, did you? There's no way I could limit myself to just ten for this one, so here are my twenty favorite caps from Savior: Screen caps courtesy of Home of the Nutty , with my thanks!