After a heaping helping of mediocrity last week, ‘Smallville’ strikes back with a vengeance. This is the show I’ve loved, and it just underscores how low the show can go when you watch an hour of pure greatness. The overall season plotline has been one of the strongest over the life of the show, it’s just the ball seems to be dropped glaringly in single episodes. Writing that knows how to smartly deal with all the characters should be the rule, not the exception. “Prototype” gives us some of the best ‘Smallville’ has to offer. Let’s roll.

I can’t think of a better way to open this episode. Lex is at a facility that is under attack. As the intruders get closer and closer to his location we wait to see who it could be. Arrow? Flash? Clark? How about frickin’ Helo?!? I admit to immediately being amped the second Tahmoh stepped into the room. It turns out that this is part of a test, and Lex orders another one to be done as he was so impressed. Well, when you hire Helo you should expect nothing less.

Back at the Luthor mansion Lex and Lana are talking. He insists she see the doctor about her shoulder, but she quips, “It takes more than a bullet to stop a Luthor.” How true that is. AT that moment Senator Burke arrives and Lana excuses herself. The Senator tells Lex that there’s a mole within the Luthor organization, and he wants Project Ares shut down. Lex tells him, “That would be ill advised.” The Senator then loses his ever-loving mind and threatens Lex. Way to sign your own death warrant you tool. On top of that, Lana heard everything.

Lionel is watching a video of a Zoner attach when Clark walks into his office. The elder Luthor brings up a good point when he mentions Clark could use a phone, but then again maybe running is actually faster. Clark asks Lionel about what happened to Lana, and why she actually married Lex. Lionel simply states, “It’s surprising what people will do when they fell they have no other options.” “If I find out you had anything to do with Lana marrying Lex, the gloves will come off. How do you like that option?” Oh Clark, please speak in more cheesy comic book tones. It suits you.

Lois tells Chloe she has a hot lead on a dirty senator, and goes to leave as Clark shows up. Clark tells Chloe he wants to help Lana, and she tells him she does too. “If Lana is staying in that marriage, there must be a damn good reason,” she tells Clark. Meanwhile Lois catches up with Senator Burk. After he makes a few snide remarks about her employer, a mysterious force kills Burk and his men. Lois looks up and sees someone from her past. The prototype super soldier is Wes, a childhood friend. She explains to Clark about what happened. She can’t believe Wes could murder. Chloe shows up with information, as she often does. Wes was killed in Afghanistan and his military records are classified. When Lex is informed that there was a witness to Burk’s murder he commands, “Nothing can get in the way of this project. Take care of it.” So the scientists at the facility prepare Wes for his next mission.

Lois is staying at the Kent farm to keep her safe. She asks Mrs. Kent if she can use her influence to get Wes’ military record. Ma Kent says she’ll try. Wes shows up, literally appearing from nowhere, and punches Clark across the barn. He grabs Lois and disappears. Clark meets up with Chloe and tells her that it seems Wes has multiple powers, and the boy packs a hefty punch. She tells Clark that Wes is under some sort of mind control, and he decides to confront Lex. Chloe points out the obvious, that Lex will never tell Clark anything. He says he’ll find someone who will talk.

Back at the Luthor Mansion Lex’s security tells him the “asset” has failed to return. Lex steps out and Clark shows up. Clark asks if Lana has heard anything about a military operation, and she tells him about Project Aries. He wants Lois to help him find the man who has Lois, the same man who happened to kill Senator Burk. They then share one of those rare and genuine moments that the writers seem to have so much trouble with regarding these characters. Clark tells Lana the wedding was a mistake, and she responds that everyone has secrets and there is a good reason for her decisions. She’s not as clueless as he may think. As they lean in for a kiss Lex comes back in and Clark super runs away.

Lois is with Wes and he seems to be trying to carry out his mission. She pleads with him to remember her, telling him the story of how he got his scar and their first kiss. Finally he snaps out of it. Back at the lab Lex is a tad upset. One of his scientists explains about Titan being the key ingredient to getting so many krypto powers to work in a single subject. Lex demands they get the Aries Project back under control, and the scientist says he may be able to use the Luthor Corp. satellites to jump start Wes’ mind control again.

Lois asks Wes what happened and he explains about being in Afghanistan when his hit by an IED, next thing he woke up in a hospital when Lex showed up. Lex told Wes that Project Aries was intended to help soldiers, not make him into a super powered mercenary. As they talk the satellite pulse is starting to work on him and before he’s taken over again he tells Lois to run. The bad man is back, and he begins to hunt Lois.

Chloe explains to Clark that Oliver ran into an early super soldier prototype and it took a tremendous amount of power to break the force field and kill him. Using he patented quick and convenient thinking Chloe realizes Wes took Lois, but he didn’t kill her. So maybe he went somewhere familiar….like maybe the base where he was stationed. Clark heads off for battle.

Lois is trying to escape, except it’s kind of hard to run from a super soldier who can become invisible. Wes chokes her and then Clark shows up. He grabs Lois and puts her to the side. Wes walks up to Clark and punches him again. Wes then becomes visible and as he jumps at Clark the Man of Steel gets a case of the hot eyes and heat blasts the soldier. It powers through the force field and knocks Wes to the ground. Not bad considering a nuclear blast was needed for the other soldier Green Arrow faced. Wes lies on the ground as Lois wakes up and goes to him. He tells her he’d rather die than be used this way. “Don’t let them do this to anyone else,” Wes tells his friend before passing away. It looks like Lois has a story that can make her legit.

Back at the Kent house Clark asks his mother if she could use her connections to open an investigation. She doubts her influence reaches that high. It’s then that Lionel shows up and suggests expanding her influence. He spoke with the governor and they think she’d be perfect to replace Senator Burk. Clark tells her that she should take the opportunity to use her abilities to help people.

Lex and Lana have a little heart to heart. It seems he knew she was outside the room eavesdropping on his conversation with Senator Burk. “Every time I open my heart to someone I care about, I end up disappointed. If you ever betrayed me, I don’t know what I’d do,” Lex chillingly tells Lana. Oh, you’d probably have her killed at this point. Or maybe you’d tie her up about a shark tank to try and lure your nemesis into a trap. Lana quickly responds with the truth, “I’d never hurt the man I love.” She has really learned how to play this game. It’s going to be interesting to see how this ends in next week’s finale.

Unfortunately Lex was successful in getting Wes’ body, so there’s now no evidence against him. He won’t be going to jail, but Lois promises that Lex will pay for what he did to Wes. Back at 33.1 Lex is told there aren’t enough alien peptides left from Titan to continue Project Aries. Lex is not worried; he’s working on a solution. He flips on a light and we’re shown hundreds of bodies ready to become super soldiers. Thus ends the build up to ‘Smallville’s’ season finale.

What a complete 180 from last week. Episodes like “Prototype” are why we keep coming back to the show. While I’m upset Jimmy had to take a break after such mediocrity, the filth from last week has been washed clean. I don’t know about you, but I am ready to see this war begin next week. It should be epic.

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