Lex continues his pursuit of the Veritas secret control of the Traveler, using an antiquities dealer to examine the cryptograph found in the Zurich safety deposit box. The storyline becomes a "Quest" for one object after another - first it was the keys to the box, then the object in the box, and now, it seems, this will lead to yet another mysterious object. Just when you think the Grail has been found, the writers slip in another complication.
After the dealer leaves, Lex is assaulted by the bank manager who attacked him in Zurich - we have to assume he's someone dedicated to protecting the Veritas secrets. He slices into Lex's chest and leaves him on the floor. At the hospital, Lex recognizes the sutures as forming symbols, and believes the assailant is after the cryptograph.
Jimmy shows Chloe photos of the wounds on Lex. Nice tension buildup as Chloe knows enough to understand that the symbols mean something - to Clark. He reads "Traveler," and "Saviour," which may mean a member of Veritas has survived. The manager has found the dealer, still examining the cryptograph, and receives instructions from an unseen conspirator to retrieve it, but the attempt fails as Lex arrives in time to commit another murder. Two guards and the manager - three bodies to dispose of - no small task, even for Lex.
Examining the photos of Lex again, Clark discerns another symbol - for "Sanctuary," and some too-quick insight has him and Chloe looking for the patron saint of Travelers - or Saint Christopher, and Chloe quickly identifies the only cathedral by that name - in Montreal. So some pretty big deductions here, but we'll go along with it - it's better than a couple recent episodes where the entire cast acted clueless. If I complained about that, I can't complain when they become brilliant.
The dealer has identified the maker of the cryptograph - a German watchmaker named Dietrich Brauer, who went into seclusion after being commissioned to manufacture a magnificent clock, which disappeared after WW II, resurfacing only recently as a gift from a wealthy philanthropist - Dr. Swann. Well, that revelation brings Lex full circle - and he now knows the clock's location. But Clark arrives first, easily finding kryptonian symbols along the rim of the baptismal font.
Clark is found by Edward Teague (Robert Picardo), the last survivor of Veritas, now serving as a brother at the Cathedral. He kneels before Clark, ready to serve the Traveler, believing him to be the next Saviour. Teague confirms that Lionel Luthor killed the Queens and Teague's family to gain sole control of the Traveler. One clue to control exists in the cathedral, unknown to anyone - but Lex. Clark has no intention of being worshipped, or accepting a destiny defined by Veritas - in anger, Teague turns on Clark, using kryptonite (why would he have it so close by?)
Lex is near the truth - he tells the reluctant dealer that his father's obsession with the Traveler made him a virtual orphan - and the cryptograph will give him the answer to his life. The dealer continues reassembly of the mechanism. Teague prepares to sacrifice Clark in an ancient Kryptonian ritual to prevent Lex from gaining control of a being who would become the destroyer of Earth. More chest-carving ensues; the symbol he slices into Clark is the El family "S," and Clark bleeds as a mortal.
Lex has landed, and in the cathedral, he finds a grandfather clock, inserts the cryptograph into the clockworks, and...stand back! It starts to play, as the gears mesh, and Lex listens and watches quietly. Is this finally the scene in which Lex discovers the truth about Clark? Then the clock hands and face move, revealing another shield-shaped object - somehow Lex knows this is the key to the next step. But Teague enters and tells Lex he is too late - why bother with Lex if he is confident that he has done away with Clark?
Teague - "If there is no Traveler, there can be no Destroyer," and a battle with Lex begins. The rescuer arrives - it's Chloe, strolling in to spot Clark near death. She drains the lethal fluid - Clark's healing is instantaneous. He intervenes in the battle, saving both Lex and Teague, but does not realize that Lex dropped the shield, only to find it after Clark disappears.
More obscure deductions come from Lex and his bodyguard - from a small island off the coast of Scotland. An old book reveals that a wealthy American bought a castle on the island and moved it to the U.S. - it was Lionel - and the castle is the Luthor mansion. Lex believes that the next clue must be in his own home, something Lionel never found.
Chloe struggles to keep Jimmy from getting too much information from the caves and about kryptonian symbols - she has to deflect his interest just as Clark has had to deflect Lana for so many years. Cave symbols infer a final battle between the good and evil, with the outcome unknown. This is an obvious lead-in to the next episode, and a good tension-builder as the season approaches the conclusion of the Quest by Lex.
"Some day you are going to have to play God," Chloe tells a reluctant Clark, who has yet to formulate a plan to deter Lex, the only real threat. Lex has the mansion searched in detail to find the next step, finally realizing that a Scottish folk song has lyrics giving clues - "above the hearth of home shines the north star." And in the fireplace mantel, Lex spots a symbol matching the shield - behind it a cloth bag - containing an octahedron with a space for the shield. When it's inserted, the object animates - projecting a translucent sphere - the Earth, with a shrinking circle pinpointing a location in the north of Greenland. The next stop for Lex.
"Quest" is a stirring episode, almost overloaded with developments, and some of the complications approaching mumbo-jumbo, but it all works largely because of the relentless pursuit of the truth by Lex. He is more single-minded than Clark, who has yet to accept his destiny without reservation. This difference means that Lex will continue to thwart Clark and move closer to discovering the Traveler, while Chloe and Clark will be on the defensive. Clearly this episode is essential viewing by Smallville fans, and is now part of four episodes that should be seen together, starting with "Traveler" and "Veritas." These are some of the best of the series, re-run rating B+.