"Homecoming," this Friday's episode of The CW's "Smallville," will be the show's landmark 200th episode. While it is an impressive feat for any scripted to show to hit 100 episodes - roughly five years of production - doubling that number is quite rare, offering viewers and fans a unique milestone that invites a look back at the series as a whole. Producers Brian Petersen and Kelly Souders tell CBR News that natural impetus began the development of the episode.
"We had all these ideas. One was, 'What if Clark goes back revisits his past' because it's the high school reunion," recalled Petersen. That premise, however, proved slightly at odds with the more optimistic tone the producers are striving for this season. "We thought we wanted it to have this hopeful push off. So we thought, 'Well, what if we scrap that and go to the future?'" he continued. Halfway through breaking down the episode's story, the producers decided on employing a familiar structure: "A Christmas Carol." According to Petersen, "[The plot] ended up being, 'Well, what if we do past, present and future?' It seemed to make sense at that point."
Early in the development of the episode, a villain was intended to take Clark on his journey with the two clashing at the end of the episode. "Once we looked at the outline, it looked unnecessary because the battle is really within [Clark]," the producer remembered. "It almost felt like it cheapened the moments that we were trying to build by capping it [with a fight]. We'd rather spend the time and the money with the characters and being able to go back to school."
With the villain scrapped, the team went looking for another character to accompany Clark. "When we thought of Brainiac 5, there was a big sigh of relief; everything suddenly gelled," Souders said of their choice. In the episode, Brainiac 5 is played by James Marsters, who also played the villainous Brainiac in earlier seasons.
Petersen added, "He perfectly embodies where we've been and where Clark's going, just in one character."
Since the episode looks back on the show's history, the producers discussed a couple of key moments from past seasons that stick with them. Petersen offered, "I think [Jonathan Kent's] funeral. Kelly and I wrote that and we were up there [in Vancouver] for the 100th, and it was such an emotional, big pivotal moment for the cast and the crew - not just on screen, but behind the scenes, too. I think that, for me, stands out."
According to Souders, Jonathan Kent's death has been hanging over Clark for the past 100 episodes. "We were really discussing it. It's the last season, what are the emotional binds for Clark? Jonathan's death kept coming to mind. It changed the show. It changed Clark forever and he hadn't gone back and dealt with it," Souders explained, hinting the 200th episode may see some resolution for Clark in that regard.
For Souder, Clark's first meeting with Lana Lang was an important moment to echo. "I really wanted to revisit it and [see] how far he's come from that moment," the producer explained. "Clark seeing Lana for the first time and fumbling through that."
"The Lana meet is probably the moment we all fell in love with Clark Kent, because we saw his struggle that would launch the whole series," added Petersen. "Because it's the 200th, we really wanted to look back at the pilot and the 100th, because those were such big benchmarks. That's why we focused on those."
Looking forward, Clark's outlook will change following the landmark episode on the way to the series' finale in 2011. "I would say it galvanizes his confidence, which is something that has been wavering at the top of this season after everything Jor-El said to him," Petersen said.
"This is a very pivotal moment and I think that is something that you see; his leadership skills jump up to the next level. That sort of maintains throughout the rest of the season," explained Souders. "The first thing we're going to do is see some ramifications of Oliver [Queen, aka Green Arrow] stepping out. For Clark, it's very impactful in his life because the thing that he's struggled with from the beginning is whether to be open with who he really is. He's now watching his best friend go through exactly what he'd do," she added.
"It's almost worse to watch your friend take the heat because you're still hidden than to take it yourself. I think that's going to be a big part of this first journey for Clark is watching what happens to Oliver," Petersen commented.
The producers also promise a "big League presence" in the middle of the season. "We're actually in quite a few contract conversations right now," revealed Souders. "You won't have to wait until the end." She also offered this intriguing statement: "You'll see more than one [team] assembled at a time, and soon."
The Legion is not expected to make a return, however, as Booster Gold will take up the "force from the future" position. As that episode is slated for later in the season, Petersen could offer few details. "That's pending lunch with Geoff Johns," he teased. "Because Geoff has his own ideas and we all kind of need to come together with our ideas. We've really just come up with the concept together, so I think that'll probably be in the next week or two [that] we'll flesh that out."
While the return of Michael Rosenbaum and Kristin Kreuk to their roles is still up in the air, the producers say they have plans in place should the actors agree to return. "All of these characters sit in our heads year round. So we know we have story ideas and places that we'd like to take them," explained Souders.
And, of course, there is still the issue of tights. "[Clark] still has quite a bit to go through and we'll see that the world around him, also, puts up some major stumbling blocks for him," answered Souders when asked about the suit. "As much as he's progressing, things around his life are going to shift after this episode to a place where he's got some major battles still to overcome. He's earning his stripes all along."
Since the 200th episode offers a glimpse of Clark's future, are the producers tempted to keep going beyond the planned finale? "I can't say it's the first time the words 'Season 11' have crept up this year as we've been pushing this as the final season of 'Smallville,'" joked Souders. "I think it's the final season."
"You need the show to go out when the time is right, you know, and it feels like the time is probably right for that," added Petersen. "That said, you never know. We could be as surprised as anyone else."
"Homecoming," the 200th episode of "Smallville," airs Friday, October 15.