Welcome back to ‘Smallville.’ In a season that has seen some great heights, and abysmal lows (Vine Lady…), the sixth season returns with the greatest television comeback of the last decade. That’s right, Tori Spelling is back! OK, so that’s not really why we tuned in. With the arching plotline getting into full swing, ‘Smallville’ enters 2007 and could be better than ever. It certainly has the potential judging from tonight’s episode. So let’s get right back in with Clark and his league of friends.

If you’re going to have a meteor villain, who better to cast in the part than Tori Spelling? The woman is as scary as it gets. While the whole Hydro story seemed to be a minor subplot, it’s this treatment that made it better than the myriad other meteor freaks. “Hydro” finally utilized this type of character in a way that was not subversive to the overall plot, and by being a catalyst for the major events was somewhat interesting to watch. There’s no real need to get into the meat of what happened with Linda Lake, as it was the events her column instigated that really matter.

Linda Lake, gossip columnist extraordinaire, gets her major scoops by becoming a pool of water. Where we’re interested is when she publishes a story after eavesdropping on a conversation between Chloe and Lana. Lana tells Chloe that Lex proposed, and she doesn’t know what to do. “When I was with Clark, I never would have hesitated,” Lana tells her friend. To which Chloe replies that maybe it’s time for Clark and Lana to sit down and actually talk. Wait; is this the same show that continually dances around the core issue between the perpetually unrequited pair? Tonight’s episode took a whole new turn in the Lana/Clark story, one that is welcomed.

After seeing the story in the Daily Planet, Lex is not happy. He talks with Lana about it. She’s still noncommittal about the proposal and about Clark. It’s a miracle Lana made any sort of decision by the end of this episode, the woman never knows what she wants. When Clark comes to talk with Lana, he is turned away by Lex. Smartest play Lex has made during his courtship of Lana. It certainly ensured him her hand in marriage due to events that followed.

The Lois and Oliver romance has been the driving force behind this season’s success in the love story department. It proves that ‘Smallville’ can travel the path successfully. Tonight a wedge is driven into the relationship, and the best part is only Clark has any sense of what could happen.

Getting a hot tip from Jimmie, who she “met” online while searching for Green Arrow photos, Lois comes to the conclusion that her Ollie (awww, how cute) is the Green Arrow. In her infinite wisdom, she turns to Clark for help in obtaining the proof. Knowing Oliver’s secret, Clark is hesitant, but finally decides to help. He and Oliver come up with a simple plan to dissuade Lois’ persistent snooping into revealing Mr. Queen as Arrow.

Lois invites Clark over to Oliver’s for a little party, but forgets to get ice. On the pretense of going out for the ice, she calls Oliver pretending to be in trouble. After making the hilarious “damsel in distress” call she is attacked by real thugs. Luckily Jimmie was there to get some face shots of the Green Arrow, and is able to stumble around the alley and hit a few of the “real thugs” while they wait for Oliver to appear. Finally, the Green Arrow shows up and tosses a guy across the street. Oliver must be working out. OK, the ploy was obvious from the moment Clark agreed to help Lois out. But what happened at the end wasn’t.

After being rescued, Lois says to Arrow, “Your secret is safe with me, Oliver.” Then she kisses him. Of course, it is Clark she kisses. Before Oliver walks up to the two, Lois realizes that the Green Arrow she just kissed is not her boyfriend. As Jimmy is trying to get his money shot, Clark kicks into overdrive and runs away. When he stops and takes off the hood we see a slight and confused smile play across his face. Not only does this start the Lois love story, but it also proves that Tom Welling can pull off more than a stony stare.

It’s at this moment where I think I’m finally invested in a relationship on the show (other than the phenomenal Lois/Oliver one). It’s truly a watershed moment in the series, and was handled very capably by Tom Welling who directed tonight’s episode. I’ve wondered about the transition from Lana to Lois for Clark on ‘Smallville,’ and with all that’s happening with Lana and Lex, I was worried about the show getting further bogged down in crappy cliché teen drama. If tonight’s any indication, that could finally be over. Let’s just hope it wasn’t a one-time reprieve.

At the end of the episode Lana finally goes to see Clark to have the talk Chloe suggested. Because Lex had stopped Clark earlier from speaking with Lois, he prevented their reunion. If for nothing else, you have to thank Lex for sparing us that trite storyline again. Clark has someone new to think about, and at the end of the conversation tells Lana, “I hope Lex makes you very happy.”

So now Lois is content in believing her man is not the Green Arrow. But she says something interesting about the stranger she kissed. She tells Clark that he (the Green Arrow) could teach Oliver a thing or two about kissing. Poor Clark, he now has another secret to keep. The struggle to keep it may not last too long.

Tonight’s episode of ‘Smallville’ gave us a great mix of what makes the show so wonderful to watch. A smartly written episode, with jokes that work from other characters than Lois, and a love story that didn’t make you wretch or desire to strangle anyone. It’s a great way to start off 2007 in Smallville. Here is to a healthy and hopefully Lana free year for Clark.

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