With less than 10 episodes left for this decade-long series about the development of Superman from reluctant high school hero to worldwide beacon of hope, the writers are certainly laying all the necessary groundwork to bring things to a rousing conclusion.
When they created the alternate universe and brought over that version of Lionel Luthor, I was a bit wary. It seemed like a way to cheat the death of the character, which was one of the few highlights of the seventh season. But this episode made it clear that it's all designed to restore the Luthors as Clark's true nemesis. It's all feeding into one of the most anticipated series-ending arcs in quite some time.
If this turn of events is unfortunate for anyone, it's Tess Mercer. Connecting her to the Luthor legacy was a nice touch, but I've never had the sense that the writers knew what to do with her. She was never a villain per se, so as a replacement for Lex, it didn't work. But as someone to mind the store until the Luthors return to menace the world, I suppose she served a purpose. Sadly, I think it will mean that her ultimate fate will be playing sacrificial lamb for Clark's benefit.
On the other hand, we really don't know how "Alexander" is going to factor into the story. All indications were pointing to his eventual transformation into the Lex we all remember, but the revelation at the end of this episode suggests otherwise. "Alexander" displays a resilience much like Clark. Some speculate that this may be a sign that "Alexander" will become Connor Kent, an incarnation of Superboy. If so, it complicates what seemed to be a straightforward return for Lex. After all, there's still a connection to the Darkseid season arc that needs to be made.
I'm not sure how to take this latest shift in Chloe's character. The idea that she intentionally left to allow Clark room to grow without her constant protection doesn't quite make sense, given that they weren't getting along for an entire season before she disappeared. And for that matter, he was making his own mistakes for years, with or without her and Martha around. Instead, it seems like a way to gloss over Allison Mack's decision not to be a regular for the final season. Granted, it's not a bad sentiment; it just doesn't add up.
Perhaps one of the most important elements of the episode, the end of the VRA threat and the revelation that Clark, as the Blur, as become a symbol for humanity's hope, was slightly overdone, but in the best way possible. The testimonials came across as heartfelt, and it fits into Clark's post-Smallville journey towards accepting a broader responsibility. It looks like we'll get to see Clark's final transformation into the iconic character(s) we know and love, which is really all we've ever wanted out of this series.