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Posted by: Keith Chow on February 25, 2011 at 2:38 am

Last week, we started running down 10 of Lex Luthor’s best moments/episodes in Smallville‘s 10 years on the air in response to the news that Michael Rosenbaum will be returning to the show in May. We’ll continue the list this week as we explore the “death” and return of Lex.

DESCENT
Season 7, Episode 16

As we saw in many of the episodes recapped last week, Lex spent his first six and a half years in Smallville as a conflicted young man who just wanted a hug! Well, by the time we find him in this pivotal season seven episode, Lex has fully succumbed to the dark side. He even kills Lionel before the teaser is over! But by far, the most disturbing scene occurs when Lex literally kills his own conscience. Remember how Lex was split into a good version and an evil one in the episode “Onyx?” This is the episode where we learn which Lex would emerge from that internal struggle.

ARCTIC
Season 7, Episode 20

The seventh season finale was, until this season’s finale, also Michael Rosenbaum’s last hurrah as Lex Luthor. In the culmination of the season-long “Veritas” storyline, in which we learned that a secret group of the world’s most powerful people were charged to be caretakers for a prophesied alien “Traveler,” Lex’s series-long suspicions were finally confirmed: Clark Kent had indeed been hiding his true nature from the world. Thinking that this deception proved that Clark was a threat to mankind, Luthor descends upon the Fortress of Solitude to confront his onetime best friend. Welling and Rosenbaum’s final scene, while epic, also felt somewhat anti-climactic. As the Fortress crystals crashed down all around, millions of Smallville fans around the world were thinking, “Is this really how Lex was going to go out?”

REQUIEM
Season 8, Episode 14

While “Arctic” was Rosenbaum’s last episode of Smallville, it wasn’t the last one to feature Lex Luthor. We first assume Lex is still alive in the eighth season episode “Bride” when a mysterious bald man hooked to feeding tubes is shown watching footage of Chloe and Jimmy’s wedding. Several episodes later, it’s revealed that Lex had indeed survived the Fortress collapse and was currently planning his revenge on Clark and Lana. He even goes so far as to plant a kryptonite bomb/death trap on the roof of the Daily Planet! Luckily Lana saves the day by absorbing all of the krypto-radiation for Clark. Wait, what? Since Rosenbaum was done with the show at this point, the writers decided to go with Darth Vader-esque version of Lex, breathing mask and distorted voice included. Oh, and no sooner do we find Lex alive then the show ups and kills him again! Ollie plants one of Toyman(!)’s bombs on Lex’s tractor trailer of terror and blows him up real good this time. And unlike the end of “Arctic,” when Lex’s body was never recovered after the Fortress collapse, Lex’s DNA is literally all over the place after the explosion. So yeah, they kill off Lex, turn Lana into a kryptonite-infused superheroine, and make the Green Arrow into a cold-blooded killer all in one episode. Maybe I should rethink this being on the list after all. This episode sounds horrible.

LAZARUS
Season 10, Episode 01

So after “killing” Lex. Twice. Season 10 kicks off with more revelations that Lex is an evil genius. Turns out he had been cloning himself at Cadmus Labs for some time now. The Luthors’ affinity for creating clones has been an aspect of Smallville since the second season’s “Accelerate” and reared its head in the sixth season’s super soldier plotline and seventh season’s Julian Luthor subplot. So it was only a matter of time before Lex would use the technology to bring him back from “the dead.” We’ve also known Lex wasn’t dead (despite being blown up by Ollie) when Dr. Fate pretty much confirmed as much in the season nine mini-movie “Absolute Justice.” And Lex not only cloned himself, he apparently cloned himself a bunch of times. One such clone is a less than stable one and is able to escape Cadmus and wreak havoc on the citizens of Metropolis. And this particular Lex clone has a predilection for death traps too! In the episode’s action climax, Lex clone has Lois strung up in a corn field (in a nice callback to the pilot) and is about to be set on fire Joan of Arc-style. Meanwhile, he has conveniently rigged the Daily Planet globe to explode at the same time. What’s a Superman to do? Personally, the clone saga that’s set up in Smallville’s final season premiere was a rather ingenious way to bring Lex Luthor back to the show after the creators had kind of painted themselves into a corner by killing him off. Twice. And while Mackenzie Grey did an adequate job portraying an older, imperfect Lex clone. Michael Rosenbaum, he ain’t. Which is what makes the next ep on the list the most anticipated episode in the show’s long history.

FINALE
Season 10, Episodes 22-23

It’s all but guaranteed that the Lex that went kablooey in “Requiem” will be revealed as merely a clone. At least I hope so. Because Rosenbaum should only come back if he’s playing the one and only Lex Luthor. We won’t know until May 13. What I do know is that Friday night can’t come soon enough!

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Keith is the Editor-at-Large of the groundbreaking graphic novel anthology SECRET IDENTITIES and Outreach Director for SIUniverse Media. Visit the official Secret Identities blog to keep up with Keith and the rest of the SI team
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