After a couple of episodes devoted to Oliver, positioning him as a hero again in time for the real fireworks to start, this seems like a bit of a transitional installment. It's focused mostly on the relationships and setting up subplots, and for that reason alone, it feels a little bit like filler. If progress hadn't been made on the Clark/Lois relationship, it might have been completely unnecessary.
As it is, there's not much to the episode. The playful banter between Clark and Lois does speak to their chemistry. After so many years together on the show, they've fallen into a good rhythm and the verbal sparring comes naturally. Erica Durance has really settled into the role, even to the point where she seems to be enjoying the chance to be more than the eye candy.
I suppose the writers had to address Lois' previous relationship with Oliver, especially now that he is back on the mend. It makes sense that Oliver would turn to Lois as "the one that got away", and it's a good mechanism for forcing Lois to admit openly that she's in love with Clark. Thankfully, the writers didn't try to leave the situation as a love triangle, because that would have gotten annoying very, very quickly.
I noted in the review for the previous episode that the writers were on the verge of repeating the mistakes of the past with Clark and Lois. It's too easy to have the two of them run hot and cold like a yo-yo to maintain the tension. For that reason alone, avoiding the love triangle was a good move.
But it's even better when taken in context. For quite some time, it's been clear that "Smallville" is not bothering to align with the other versions of the Superman mythos. While some plot points still pretend to adhere to expectation, others are a clear departure. I like the fact that they've stopped stalling with Clark and Lois for that reason alone. I still think the writers undermined the credibility of this obvious plot progression with the Lana arc in the eighth season, but at least they're trying.
The rest of the episode fell flat, particularly Oliver's subplot with Mia. A little research has revealed that this is yet another example of the writers porting a comics character into "Smallville", and I assume that this was supposed to be noteworthy, as it sounds like a fairly faithful representation. Unfortunately, to the uninitiated, it felt forced.
If Mia doesn't appear in later episodes to give this subplot a point, then it will feel like an even greater waste of time. The sad thing is, I think this has potential, if handled correctly. My concern is that the writers tend to assume that the audience knows the character history, leading to poor characterization for the "Smallville" version. (Catherine Grant was also apparently a well-known secondary character from the comics, but her appearance here seems incidental.)
The business between Zod and Tess is clearly setup for the long-term story arc. I was a bit worried that the writers would forget that Tess is supposed to be deadly in her own right, especially after they kept having Mia, the underground fighter, forget her skills whenever it was convenient for the plot. I thought the reference to Krypton's star was clever, and I look forward to whatever it is Zod is preparing to do.
Transitional episodes tend to be all about the setup for future payoff, and I can see how some of these elements could play into that kind of design. But the episode itself just didn't seem to shine on its own. Fans of the Clark/Lois relationship will be pleased, but now that the November sweeps period is finally here, it will be good to see the writers turn their attention to something a little more substantial.