Clark has given up his football scholarship, and gets a package from Dr. Swann in New York - just as the news reports that Swann (Christopher Reeve in previous episodes) has died. His final note to Clark urges him to contact Jor-El, and the package includes a cave key. When Clark takes it to the cave and inserts it in the proper receptacle, he makes contact with Jor-El, whose voice says that the knowledge of the Kryptonian civilization was encoded on three stones hidden "at the far reaches of the world," and he warns Clark that he must find the stones before any human finds them and destroys the Earth through their power.
Jason calls Lana, telling her he's working for Lex in Metropolis, but we see that's a big lie, as Jason is actually in Shanghai, China. Lex suddenly appears there too, so he's been tracking Jason's movements, and knows Jason has a map from Lionel (last episode) which leads to a Kryptonian stone. Looks like Jason gets two business partners.
Clark persuades Jonathan and Martha that he must find the stones first, despite their misgivings about contacting Jor-El again. Lana seeks Jason's whereabouts from Lionel, who drops the news that Lex and Jason are in China, and he's been studying Lana's ancestor Isabelle. He names Isabelle's archrival as Gertrude, obsessed with finding three mythical stones, but Gertrude found only maps leading to China. Isabelle stole the map, and Gertrude had her executed back in the 16th century, but the spirit of Isabelle lives ("Spell," earlier this season) and is using Lana for her quest. Some pretty important plot clarifications here. Why did Lionel give Jason a copy of the map? To circumvent Lex's quest to find the stones first?
Lionel reveals to Lana that Jason is a direct descendant of Gertrude, a duchess, so Lana and Jason's ancestors have a lot of pre-history. This exchange between Lana and Lionel is critical to anyone wanting to follow the stones storyline, which extends through numerous episodes. How will Clark start his search for the other two stones? Clark sees Lana, who is packing for China - all at the expense of Lionel. Lana can't trust Jason, she says, and Clark insists on joining her. Hey, no airline ticket involved, just per diem.
Over in Shanghai, Jason says he's searching for the stones because Lana will not be safe from his mother until they are found. Sounds plausible - if Genevieve thinks Isabelle is threatening her through a descendant, she's going to pursue that one - Lana - to the death. Just then, Lex and Jason are captured by Chinese federal troops, as Clark and Lana fly along a great circle in Lionel's Hawker-Siddley HS-125. Oops, the interior aircraft shots are from a much larger aircraft. Lana and Clark discuss the stones - Lana thinks something far more powerful exists within her - a foreboding that will become apparent in future episodes.
In a Chinese dungeon, Lex tells Jason that Lionel already had the temple searched and found nothing. While Lex and Jason are undergoing a bit of torture, Lana and Clark arrive in Shanghai and are met by a woman who knows of the map, and they immediately trust her. She describes a legend about an all-powerful god who secured a treasure in the temple centuries earlier but it was stolen by Europeans. The Chinese torturers are discovered to be in league with Lex! But they soon betray him, having sold out their services to a higher bidder. Led to the temple, Clark sees, through an altar, a hidden garment, but it's laden with kryptonite and Clark is disabled. Troops invade and capture Lana and both Lex and Jason spend more time in the torture chamber - the troops demanding to know the location of the stones.
They bring in Lana to the dungeon for some high-voltage treatment, which brings out her Isabelle-witch side and there's no fooling around with this gal! She quickly frees herself, leaving Jason and Lex hanging. Lana/Isabelle knocks Clark for a loop, and she's suddenly dressed in an ornate Chinese gown and headed to the temple. Lex, Jason, and Clark return to the temple, where Lana/Isabelle has a map too - it doesn't show the location of the stone, it shows how the surroundings would look if one were standing where the stone is located, under a tree on the temple grounds. A couple incantations and she digs up the stone. There's a nifty sword fight, but then zap - Isabelle is gone and so is the stone.
Back home, Lana and Clark have a quiet talk about the events - everyone revisits the situation as this week's epilog, including Lex and Lionel, and Jason and Lana. As a last kicker, we see that Jason is the one who secretly retrieved the stone, just not sure we can trust this guy. In the final scene, Clark is in the cave, with the key and one stone. Any Smallville fan can't miss this episode - many major story developments have been revealed this week, so see it again. Re-run rating A.