Season 5 Episode 22


Aired Friday 8:00 PM May 11, 2006 on The CW
out of 10
User Rating
1,139 votes

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Episode Summary

Professor Fine has unleashed a virus that will kill millions. Clark must put a stop to him, while Lex wonders what will happen when he tells Lana his latest secret.

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  • Dawn of Lexod

    Vessel-Professor Fine has unleashed a virus that will kill millions. Clark must put a stop to him, while Lex wonders what will happen when he tells Lana his latest secret.

    Well, who would have thought after a powerful season premiere that features Clark building the classic Fortress of Solitude would then become a season of possibly the worst episodes ever! Season 5 had so much promise and I still remember that ads that the WB ran saying, "All that you been waiting for are about to happen." How wrong they were! Like Season 4, the writers create a good story arc for the season, but instead of fleshing it out, they write a bunch of crappy fillers because they really don't know how to make a good story arc anymore at this point! Don't get me wrong, Season 5 had some of Smallville's most saddest moments (Reckoning), some episodes just kicked a$$ (Hidden), and the development of Lex's evil persona, not to mention Clark and Lex's rivalry were handled well. But the main storyline involving Fine/Brainiac shouldn't have been put into the background for the majority of the season. "Vessel" suffers from the fact that the writers develop plot developments that were almost never laid out at the beginning of the season and most of the episode feels rushed because of it. Don't get me wrong, "Vessel" is excellent finale, especially compared to the crap of most of this season. But some cliffhangers like Brainiac kidnapping Lois and Martha, Brainiac using Lex as Zod's vessel, the vaccine, and the world beginning to riot seem well...sudden! It just feels that too much is happening too fast, especially with the events cause a worldwide apocalypse. But regardless, "Vessel" has some truly stellar moments that out way the obvious plot holes. The opening teaser is both intriguing and impressive with Brainiac kidnapping Lex and preparing him for Zod's arrival. James Masters always works wonders with his scenes, not matter how few they were in this episode. I loved the Fortress scene where Jor-El describes the threat of Zod and reveals Brainiac's agenda all along while giving Clark the kryptonian digger. I love how Brainiac just puts all the pieces into place and even though I would have liked to have seen more of him this season, he still proved to be the show's most impressive villain yet (well besides Lex and Lionel anyway!) The cast also does great here like Michael Rosenbaum as when Lex discovers he has Kryptonian powers. Its great reveal scene as Lex sends Lionel flying into his own car. I liked the scene where Lex reveals his powers to Lana. Despite by feelings toward the tasteless character, Kristin Kreuk was very convincing as Lana is in such disbelief and horror of what Lex has become. John Glover is just perfect as Lionel throughout as both Clark's ally and showing concern over Lex's transformation. Although, the scene in which Clark confronts Lana about Lex's new abilities left me numb. Possibly the most selfish and ignorant moment of any character, Lana has the nerve to tell Clark, "I don't know how I ever could have loved you." Excuse...WHAT!? Lana, I don't know how Clark could have loved your irritating, hollow, degrading, worthless behind. At this moment, the character loses all credibility and wish she would have been killed off. After that, the episode like I said moves quickly, too quickly! Brainiac appears and unleashes a kryptonian virus that pretty much shut off all the power in the world. I have to admit even though the episode loses the right pace, it actually nice to see an event this massive that doesn't just affect Smallville but the world. Its gives the episode an epic feel because it gives Clark a greater duty to stop the chaos. Some of the scenes during the apocalypse are so memorable like Clark saving Chloe from car that crashes into the Daily Plant basement and both characters sharing an unexpected, touching kiss. So they're not gonna hook-up of course, but it speaks volumes to how close both Clark and Chloe have become this season that they can have that moment. The episode concludes with a stunning showdown between Lex and Clark. It's shocking to see to what looks like both characters about to fight to the death which is kinda bringing their relationship full circle from friends to enemies. Come to think of it, this was a much better written scene and conclusion of the Clex journey to nemesis than their beyond anti-climatic conclusion in "Arctic" 2 years later. I loved Lex coming to the conclusion that Clark was just a liar all along and how he was only friends with him to steal what he always wanted. A brief fight occurs before Brainiac appears. Clark makes the chose to destroy Brainiac instead of killing Lex, which is what Brainiac wanted all along. Brainiac becomes a portal to which Zod comes through and takes over Lex's body. Zod's arrival and Clark's imprisonment into the Phantom Zone is an epic moment that never gets old to this day when I re-watch it. The final cliffhangers are great as well with the world in chaos, as Chloe and Lionel fight for their lives in the deadly streets of Metropolis and Lana arrives on top of the Luthorcorp to Lexod. They both kiss while Metropolis literally burns to the ground and the world begins to end. Clark floats away into the Phantom Zone with no hope of returning. Despite some plot holes and rushed developments, "Vessel" ends Smallville's fifth season strong with anticipation for Clark's freedom and what Zod's plans are on Earth.moreless
  • Everything about this episode is PERFECT!!!

    I have only seen Seasons 1, 5, and 7 so far, but this ep has GOT to be one of my faves (if not my actual fave) ep I have seen so far! First off, GO CHLARK!!!!!!! I am so glad that they kissed in this episode and for once, CLARK KISSED BACK!!! I swear, I was so freakin' happy when I saw that, also with all their other scenes, how much they care about each other... *screams*! The writing was magnificent in this episode, too, along with the acting. OMG the acting was AWESOMEE!! And the special effects were fantastic. Everything looked so real. And there were actually some parts that scared me, like Zod. He creeped me out! And that scene on the rooftop getting close to the end of the ep with Lana and Lex/Zod, I don't why but it gave me chills. But, there is only one part that will always make me cry: Seeing Clark trapped in the Phantom Zone with the sad look on his face overlooking the Earth right at the end of the episode... I swear, that made me cry seeing him like that! But, overall, definitely one of my favorite episodes ever on Smallville!!!!!!moreless
  • After Lex is chosen to be a vessel for Zod's return, Jor-El gives Clark a dagger, instructing him to kill the vessel. When Clark fails to do so, he becomes trapped in the Phantom Zone, while Fine unleashes a virus that plunges major cities into chaos.moreless

    After being drawn to Mayer's Field, Lex is abducted by Milton Fine and the black ship (see ARRIVAL), and given Kryptonian powers. Lana, having witnessed the abduction, immediately tells Chloe, who warns Clark that Zod's "calling card" was left in the field. At the Fortress of Solitude, Clark learns from Jor-El that Zod intends to use a human vessel for his return, then is given a Kryptonian dagger with instructions to destroy the vessel. In order to force Clark's hand in releasing Zod from the Phantom Zone, Fine, a.k.a. Brainiac (short for BRAIN InterActive Construct), unleashes a deadly virus that plunges major cities, Metropolis included, into chaos. When Clark confronts Lex, he stabs Fine with the dagger instead, inadvertantly releasing Zod, and ends up trapped in the Phantom Zone. Meanwhile, when their flight reservation is lost, Martha and Lois are forced to borrow the LuthorCorp jet, which crashes near the Fortress of Solitude when Fine hijacks the plane.

    My Review: As far as season finales go, this one wasn't bad. It wasn't the best, and certainly pales in comparison to COMMENCEMENT, but it wasn't bad. The acting was great and the plot was good, but what really made this episode was the awesome effects. I mean, there were some physics-related inconsistancies, such as Lionel suffering only minor injuries from Lex's sudden superstrength, but they can easily be forgiven in light of the rest of the episode. It was a brilliant move to have the camera spin around with Lex in the beginning, as it let the audience better understand the madness he was experiencing, and I especially enjoyed the effects for Zod's release and the spinning Phantom Zone "window". I give this ep a rating of seven-and-a-half Kryptonian daggers out of ten.

    Highlights: Lex being drawn to Mayer's Field and abducted; Clark in the Fortress of Solitude; Clark telling Chloe about Zod's vessel; Clark telling Lionel what Jor-El wants Clark to do; Clark and Fine arguing over releasing Zod; Clark saving Chloe at the Planet, and getting kissed; Clark inadvertantly "[opening] the portal for Zod" (I love that line!); Zod greeting Clark and sending him to the Phantom Zone; Zod and Lana on top of the LuthorCorp building; and Clark trapped in the Phantom Zone.moreless
  • Great Episode

    Fine unleashes a crippling computer virus, which will lead to the destruction of Earth via pandemonium, and refuses to stop it unless Clark agrees to release Zod. Clark turns to Jor-El, who informs him that Zod needs a vessel to inhabit. Clark must destroy that vessel, and that vessel is Lex. Lex is stunned by his newfound powers and shares the discovery with Lana, who decides to stand by her new man, unaware of Fine's true intentions. Smallville has came to an end ones more, this has been the best season ever. With the 100th episode, the death of Jonathan Kent and Tom Wellings direction debut. And know we have came to the season finale, and I much say that this was the best cliffhanger ever on Smallville. Zod has returned, the world is about to fall apart and Clark has been sucked into the phantom Zone. Lana doesn't know that Lex isn't Lex, Martha and Lois is in grave danger 10.000 feet in the air and what happened to Chloe and Lionel in Metropolis. Every thing is good about this episode, the script the acting (as usual) and the greatest season finale ever on Smallville.moreless
  • Im sure I missed a few things. Ill add them when my heart stops racing. The verdict 10/10!!!! and my vote as THE BEST episode this season. come on season 6!!!!moreless

    Clark: Poor guy. Twice he's been told by a father to kill someone. Only this time he may have made a mistake not listening. I really didnt see a choice for him. Brainiac manipulated him in a no win situation. And the most logical answer (The one I was rooting for him to do) led to the release of Zod. How was I supposed to know (or Clark for that matter) the the knife was connected tot he fortress. That by impaling Brainiac with it, he would unwittingly transfer the Virus to the Fortress. Thus opening the Phantom Zone (Yes, we got a name!!!). Brainiac is a master manipulator. I loved Clarks interaction with everyone. To his heroics with Chloe (a little on this later), to his confrontation with Lana, even his showdown with Lex. And then with Zod. You knew he was scared. His ps trembled as he spoke with the Genral. But he remained headstrong. Even as he saw the Phantom Zone open behind him and KNEW that he was defeated. The look of desperation as he left the planet he had failed. Wow. I imagine his only hope is the combined efforts of Lionel and Chloe. But how much damage would have been done by then? Speaking of Chloe, as much as I HATED the rumor that she and Clark would lock lips, it felt....right somehow. Im hoping it wont develop into anything more however. I sense that when Clark is released, he'll have flight and all his powers. How else is he to help the world at a global scale. Probably even seeing other heroes helping him (Flash and Aqua).

    Chloe: Not that much helpful this time around. Without computers she more or less got her feet cut under her. I love dher moment with Clark, and it was well played by her part. I mean, what else does she have to lose when the worlds coming to an end. I loved her rescue by clark with the Car. For those superman nuts out in the world, you would have noticed the pose as the same pose that was on Action Comics #1. The same issue that Superman premiered to the world. Lionel: I love his action. to his guidance towards Clark, the face he put on when he learned Lex was the vessel. he really does care for Lex. On the field, I would have been more compasionate, and I honestly thoguh he bought the big one when he hit the car. Wow, it was BEAUTIFULLY shot. Brainiac: this guy is one BAD MOTHER*&^%$ER!! Everytime you think you have his plan thought out, he pulls another little thing on the side. Who would have known that part of his plan was to get stabbed with the knife. He KNOWS evreyone and what theyre going to do. Notice the change of tactics this time around. He truly is a living, learning computer. And im also glad to see that The Spaceship was explained. I mor eor less suspected it, but its good to be proven right. The Ship is Brainiac. The indicidual bodies are his extension. So thats 3 bodies down. two to go. One is on the plane with Lois and Martha and the other...who knows. Lex: The vessel. Another mystery put to rest. He wasnt a distraction. And were also informed as to his intention since season one. He was never good. He was always bad. He just wanted to be Clarks friend because he coveted EVERYTHING he had. His family, his friends, and Lana. And then, rubbing it to Clarks face that he at least got the last one. Wow. All sympathy I had for the character washed away. He played everyone just as much as Brainiac did. Zod: No phrase. But that didnt make him the least bit interesting. were shown WHAT exactly happened on Krypton. Jor-El banished him, without a body. cruel. but deserved. Where did he get the phantom Zone Disc though? Hmm, thats a plot hole. But Ill bite for now. Maybe Brainiac transported it in his pocket while no one was looking. His reasons for destroying Earth sent a shiver through my spine. Revenge. Plain and simple. No one messes with Zod.

    Martha and Lois: In the back seat on this one. I wonder what Brainiac has planned for them? I liked how Lois used her military training to analyze the situation and come up with a solution. A little too late, but it was good to see none the less.

    Im sure I missed a few things. Ill add them when my heart stops racing. The verdict 10/10!!!! and my vote as THE BEST episode this season. come on season 6!!!!moreless
Terence Stamp

Terence Stamp

Voice of Jor-El

Recurring Role

James Marsters

James Marsters

Professor Milton Fine

Recurring Role

Bud the Dog

Bud the Dog


Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (13)

    • When Lex was teleported to the Black Ship why was it so important for Fine to bring him to the field? He could just teleport him at any suitable moment from any place including inside the mansion.

    • According to Al Gough, Fine's abduction of Lex is intentional so that Clark becomes involved, gets the dagger from Jor-El, etc. But then why does Fine use Lana as his only witness, leave a black Zod mark, etc.? He knows that she isn't involved with Clark and is trying to avoid him. There are a hundred ways he could "leak" the info to Clark - why involve Lana who is probably the last person to talk to Clark about it?

    • When Clark sees the Phantom Zone ring, why doesn't he run or something instead of just looking at Zod?

    • When Clark hits and knocks Fine down in the Luthor mansion, Fine can be seen and heard breathing heavily. Since he is a machine he should not need to pant.

    • Where's the driver of the car that comes through the Daily Planet window? Or the people who pushed it through? Shouldn't they be around to notice Clark catching it?

    • Given the tendency for dangerous things to fall out of the sky and hit Smallville, why is Clark so unconcerned when the big black shadow goes over the Kent farm? He just kind of shrugs and goes back to his chores.

    • This is the first time we see horses in the Kent barn (at the beginning). in the past it's been a plot point that the Kents don't have horses.

    • Lex throws Lionel approximately 80-90 yards into a limo windshield in half a second. This adds up to about 350-400 miles per hour. Lionel hits the windshield face-first. Not only is Lionel not killed, but he seems to have minimal injuries and is in good enough shape to pull Chloe bodily into his limo at the end.

    • How did Lionel manage to get to the hospital? Lex abandons him and Lionel appears in no condition to drive.

    • If Fine wants Martha and Lois dead, why doesn't he just stab them through the heart, cut their throats, whatever, with his finger-knives? Instead he just veeerrrryyy slowly deprives them of oxygen.

    • Why does Jor-El give Clark a knife that can be used to open the portal? Not only does he give Clark such a weapon, but he doesn't even warn Clark that the knife can be used to create a link to the vessel if Clark uses it on Fine. Worse, Fine apparently knows that the knife used on him will create the link, as he goads Clark into throwing it at him. So how does Fine know this but Jor-El, the person who created the knife, doesn't?

    • Lana sees Lex disappear. So she drives three hours to Metropolis to tell Chloe instead of making a phone call. Then, Chloe drives three hours from Metropolis to Smallville (in the middle of the working day) to tell Clark. Then after visiting the Fortress, Clark goes to the Daily Planet where Chloe is back there after another three hour drive. Plus during Chloe's six hours of driving, where was Lana during all this time? She apparently waited for Chloe in Metropolis for six hours just to come in when Clark talks about killing Lex.

    • Last week's episode took place on or around May 4. This episode, which is happening days later, would be toward the middle of May. However, in all of the scenes shot outside as Lex and Lana run through the trees and into the open field, there are no leaves on any of the trees and both of them are wearing light coats. If it is springtime in Kansas, there should be new growth everywhere.

  • QUOTES (16)

    • Lana: Lex. You know, part of me thought this was another one of your tests. You've been abandoned and betrayed so many times, how could you know that I wouldn't be next? Well, I'm not. I'm here. In spite of everything that's happening out there, I'm here. I don't know what it is you and I have, but I'm here because I wanna find out. Do you? (Zod in Lex's body begins kissing Lana)

    • Lionel: He wasn't raised like you, Clark. I taught him to survive at any cost, to be completely ruthless.
      Clark: Maybe that's what'll save him. There's still a part of Lex that can fight this.
      Lionel: You see that in him because you want to. There's always been a dark force at work inside him.

    • Lionel: (noticing the Kryptonian dagger) You know, Clark, in certain cultures, when a father presents his son with a knife, it represents a rite of passage.

    • Jor-El: Hello, my son.
      Clark: I had no other choice but to come here.
      Jor-El: I know you are still angered by the loss of Jonathan Kent.
      Clark: He was my father.
      Jor-El: I am your father. Pain is part of life, Kal-El. But you cannot let it blind you.

    • Clark: I don't feel like I've made any of the right choices. I've been so angry with Jor-El, I didn't listen to his warnings.
      Chloe: It seems every time you turn to Jor-El, something bad happens.

    • Martha: It's a national education summit. There will be over 3,000 people there. I'll be wearing my inexperience like a badge.
      Lionel: Well, experience is often overrated, especially in Washington. You... You've got integrity, Martha. It's one of the rare qualities you possess.

    • Lois: (on the phone with the airline company) People have been buying airline tickets long before computers. So glitch or no glitch, there has to be some record of us being on this flight. Can I talk to your supervisor? Actually, let me talk to your supervisor's supervisor.

    • Chloe: Okay, I've heard of fathers demanding a lot of their sons, but asking you to commit a murder? That goes way beyond domineering dad.

    • Lex: Ever since that day on the bridge, you've always seen yourself as my savior--the one thing that would pull me off the dark path I'd started. See, that's why you cling to the idea that there's still some good in me. You don't want to face the fact that you might have failed.
      Clark: Or maybe I just can't believe that someone would have so little willpower.
      Lex: It's a little hard to compete with the iron willpower it takes to kill one of your best friends.

    • Clark: If you thought this friendship was so doomed from the beginning, then why did you fight so hard to keep it?
      Lex: Because I wanted everything you had--the family, the inconspicuous life, the loyal girlfriend. Well at least I walked away with the part you love the most.

    • Lex: You tried to warn me about Fine but I didn't listen.
      Lionel: You never have. No matter what I've given you, the things you've always wanted were beyond your grasp. This time you've overreached yourself.
      Lex: Did you come out here to lecture me or to help me?
      Lionel: It's too late to do either, isn't it? You made a deal with the devil. He always comes to collect.

    • Lionel: Clark, the real test of a hero is knowing when the greater good will be served by an evil act. To save the Earth, the cost of one life is the price that must be paid.

    • Clark: All Jor-El told me was that Zod's spirit would possess a human being
      Chloe: And this is the same Zod whose hobbies include mass destruction and world domination.

    • Chloe: (to Lana) Hey. I was beginning to think I was living with a ghost. Not that it would be the first time.

    • Chloe: The entire city is shutting down. I mean, it's like Y2K on acid.

    • Lex/Zod : You have your father's eyes. Hello, Kal-El.
      Clark: Where's Lex?
      Lex/Zod : Lex is dead.
      Clark: Why are you here?
      Lex/Zod : For the same reason as anyone who'd been imprisoned like a beast--revenge.

  • NOTES (9)

    • Jor-El calls Professor Milton Fine a Brain InterActive Construct, or "BrainIAC." Brainiac is the name of Professor Milton's Fine alter ego in the Superman comics.

    • Deleted Scene: Lois' computer is malfuntioning while she and Martha are preparing for their flight to DC. Martha thanks Lois for her help, with Lois mention that she enjoys having a motherly figure in her life. Though she states that she could do without her surrogate step brother (Clark). Shortly after, the computer functions again, only to state that their flight is delayed. Meanwhile, Lex is being prepared by Brainiac to become Zod's Vessel.

    • The Phantom Zone crystal which imprisoned Clark was also featured in the Superman and Supergirl movies.

    • Al Gough revealed in an interview for TV Guide that in "Solitude" when Clark impaled Fine on the Fortress console, Fine infected the console. Fine modified the dagger within the console to make a portal out of the dagger. This was cut from the episode.

    • When Clark was floating away in the Phantom Zone at the end of the episode bits of the Krypton and Superman themes (slightly modified) from the Superman Christopher Reeve movies.

    • In the commercials for this episode, there was a clip featuring what looked like Lex emerging naked from a cocoon of some type. This scene must have been cut from the episode for some reason. It is included on the Smallville Season 5 DVD's Cut Scenes extra.

    • When you see "New York," it's actually the producers using footage of Paris during the suburb riots in November 2005.

    • Although credited (presumably for the last time), John Schneider does not appear in this episode.

    • Terence Stamp and James Marsters are billed as Special Guest Stars.