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"Reckoning," Smallville's milestone 100th episode, is probably the WB/CW drama's most important episode. Airing during the show's fifth season, that episode's impact was felt all the way through to the final season and shaped young Clark Kent's (Tom Welling) heroic journey. As the iconic superhero series celebrates its 20th anniversary, EW decided to look back at that game-changing hour with the show's cast.
"That was a really, really pivotal episode in the history of the show, losing Jonathan Kent and John Schneider," said Kreuk.
A quick refresher: "Reckoning" opens with Clark taking his then-girlfriend Lana to the Fortress of Solitude and revealing his secret right before he proposing. It was a moment five seasons in the making. Unfortunately, the happiness didn't last long because Lana dies in a car crash shortly thereafter.
"It was [directed by] Greg Beeman, and it was bloody," says Kreuk, recalling Lana's heartbreaking death scene. "He loves blood, and it was cold. I spent a lot of time on the cold concrete on Smallville. And I remember him just like [saying], 'More blood!' It was something that does stick in my mind. That was an intense sequence."
In the wake of Lana's death, Clark rushed to the Fortress and begged Jor-El to bring her back, because her death was the result of Jor-El resurrecting Clark several episodes earlier. Jor-El decided to use this as teaching moment, and allowed Clark to travel back in time and relive the day to prevent her death — but with the knowledge that someone else would die in Lana's place. In Clark's do-over, he decided not to tell Lana his secret.
"It was such an emotional episode. And I think that it was kind of fun to be able to play all that wish fulfillment at the top of the episode and then kind of undo it," said Kreuk. "It's sort of like Clark has this unraveling in a way. All his wishes are fulfilled. And then the worst thing that could possibly happen does, and he has to make this sacrifice. I think it really does epitomize Smallville at its best, when Clark is put in these very complex situations where he has to figure out how to use his powers in a way that doesn't do much damage.
Unfortunately, Clark's do-over doesn't solve anything because sure Lana survives the day, but his father Jonathan Kent dies instead. Clark would spend the rest of the series blaming himself for his father's death.
"Losing John Schneider as a character and an actor who was on the show for a long time and saying goodbye to him, I think for the cast and crew was just an emotional episode," said Rosenbaum. "It was heartbreaking. It was heartbreaking to not only the characters, and I think Clark and Lex were going through a tough time, but him losing his father. And here I have this father who's alive and is the worst father in the world. And yet he loses the best father that anyone could have.
Welling added: "That was a big thing. John very much understood that this was a show that families would watch together, and he really wanted the heart to come through. When he puts his hand on Clark, he would grab me hard. It wasn't just an acting thing. He was like, 'Look at me right now. I'm going to talk to you.' But it was very important. And John didn't want to go away. He didn't want his character to die, so all of that is in there. And Kris and I agree, and maybe that's why you bring it up too, that's one of those episodes that just changes everything."
Michael Courtney/WB TV
Welling also shared how he made sense of Clark's stoic demeanor during Jonathan's dialogue-free funeral scene. "What actually helped me on that episode, if you see Clark there, as the casket goes down and the snow's falling, there's not much happening in the sense, there's not a lot of action, But I also knew that there was a scene later in the episode with Martha, where that was going to be where it comes out," he said. "So that was helpful from a script point of view and an acting point of view of sort of choosing your choices of how you're going to let that out. Because Clark easily could have just been bawling, and everybody's like, 'Clark, stand up.' Even Lana letting go of Clark's hands sort of being like, in a sense, understanding that he needs a moment."
In light of what Clark experienced in the 100th episode, EW asked the actors if there was an episode they wished they could revisit. Rosenbaum picked his final episode as a series regular, season 7's "Arctic," which ended the Fortress of Solitude collapsing around Clark and Lex. (Rosenbaum left at the end of season 7 when his contract was up.)
"I wish there was more finality," said Rosenbaum. "I wish there was more of a conclusion. I wish that it was drawn out a little more. I think that they perhaps didn't believe me when I said I wasn't coming back, even though I had done seven seasons. And I really was just like, 'Hey, guys, I'm done.' I would've liked a little more closure in season seven. I got that a little bit in season 10 on the series finale. But yeah, I'd say that was it."
Smallville: The Complete Series will be available on Blu-ray starting Oct. 19.