Smallville teaches us that even parallel universe dads need marriage counseling

Yesterday's episode of Smallville, "Kent," marked the return of Clark's evil alternate universe doppelganger, Clark "Ultraman" Luthor. Despite being one of the last episodes of Smallville ever, not a lot of consequence happened here, but there was some hefty foreshadowing.

Spoilers from here on out...

After a month-plus hiatus, Smallville has returned for the last time. Counting the two-hour series finale, we have four more episodes left. Given this limited time frame, you'd think the show would flesh out any number of dangling subplots (alternate universe Lionel's deal with Darkseid, Oliver succumbing to the darkness, and so on).

Instead "Kent" revisited Smallville's Earth 2, where Clark was adopted by Lionel Luthor, grew up to be a complete tool, and fools around with his (non-biologically related) sister. The last time we saw Earth 2 was in December's episode "Luthor."

At the end of that episode, Clark Kent and Clark Luthor switched dimensions, and when it was time to switch back, Clark Luthor was going to materialize into Earth-2 Oliver's Kryptonite trap, where he would presumably get his face smushed in.

"Luthor" wrapped up rather neatly — Ultraman was at the mercy of Oliver, who was presumably going to clean up his world without any Kryptonian help. Honestly, there was no real reason to burn another episode on the Earth 2 saga.

But "Kent" assumes we're invested in the redemption of Clark Luthor (who's not a particularly interesting character, barring the fact that he's a sexual libertine doppelganger of Clark Kent). The episode opens with Martha bequeathing the Kent farm to Clark and Lois. As Clois debate whether to sell the family homestead, Clark Luthor materializes into their dimension using Earth 2's version of the Kryptonian mirror box. Both Clarks occupy Earth 1, until Clark Luthor exiles Clark Kent to Earth 2 using the E2 mirror box (phew).

Clark materializes at Oliver Queen's funeral (guess that Kryptonite trap didn't work), which is a Very Depressing Place, seeing as how everything is perpetually in a blue wash. It turns out that Oliver spent his last days arming every citizen of Metropolis with Kryptonite doodads to foil Ultraman.

Ultraman's not happy that everyone carries meteor rock on their keychains, so he uses the mirror box to escape to Earth 1. Oliver's funeral is interrupted by a despondent Earth 2 Jonathan Kent, who's irked at the deceased magnate for buying out the Kent farm in a mad quest to dig up green meteorite.

Clark follows his pseudo-papa to the dilapidated Kent farm. Pa Kent gets the jump on him, reveals that he's digging up Gold Kryptonite to save his farm, and is going to turn him in to the cops until Clark plays pan-dimensional therapist and convinces Jonathan to reunite with an estranged Ma Kent. Their reunion is cut short when Tess and Emil activate Earth 1's Kryptonian mirror box and teleport Clark back home.

Barring the obvious nostalgia value of bringing John Schneider back for an episode, "Kent" didn't really need to visit Earth 2 again. While Clark K. is giving his alternate universe poppa marriage counseling, Clark L. wants to murder Lionel and is simultaneously wooing/threatening to kill Tess — we saw this all before in "Luthor."

Heck, we don't even get a satisfactory Superman versus Ultraman battle when Earth-1 Clark returns — Clark K. puts on his therapist hat once again and persuades Clark L. to stop being an evil bastard, and Jor-El magically whisks Ultraman over to Earth 2's Jor-El for some hard tutelage. Too easy!

What did "Kent" give us at the end of the day? The left-field revelation that Gold Kryptonite can depower Clark permanently (and Tess is looking into Gold K), some more relationship tension between Tess and Emil, and Clark and Lois' decision to move to Metropolis. Visiting an alternate universe this late in the game was some thin gruel. At least next week's Geoff Johns-penned Booster Gold (and Blue Beetle) tale looks like total batshit fun.