As the months and episodes keep ticking to the finale of SMALLVILLE after ten seasons, the show continues to explore what it takes to get Clark Kent (Tom Welling) to transform from mild-mannered farmboy to Man of Steel.
While at this winter’s CW TCA session, ASSIGNMENT X caught up with SMALLVILLE executive producer Brian Wayne Peterson to chat about the show’s forthcoming end and get some teases about what’s to come.
[Note, this interview was conducted before the series returned from winter hiatus and before it was recently announced that Michael Rosenbaum was going to return as Lex Luthor for the finale of the series].
ASSIGNMENT X: Why do you think SMALLVILLE has survived as long as it did.
BRIAN WAYNE PETERSON: I think what’s great about what [original executive producers] Al [Gough] and Miles [Millar] did, was they created a world where you could flesh out the missing years and what’s been great for us is we’ve had ten years to do that.
AX: Now that the season is over, are there characters or stories that you no longer have time to do anything with, but would have liked to?
PETERSON: The first half of the season was really packed with a lot of people. We pretty much covered almost everybody by the end of the season. Obviously, you always want to see more face time with different people. Given the time we have, we still want to focus every episode on Clark.
AX: We keep hearing that “everybody has to prop up Clark and make him a hero?” Doesn’t that make him a kind of a wimp in a way – he needs all these people to say, “hey dude, you’re the Man of Steel, what’s the problem?”
PETERSON: It’s not propping him up to be a hero, they bring up issues, they bring up dilemmas and they help mold his inner struggle, because they’re a touchstone for people to talk to. Ultimately, they only highlight his own internal decision. I don’t think they’re supporting him, but surrounding him and giving him some touchstones along the way.
AX: Was the Lex clone the plan to be able cover yourself in case you couldn’t get Michael Rosenbaum back?
PETERSON: We’ve had a complicated Lex storyline in the background all along and we’ve been slowly unfolding it, because we knew at the end of the season, we need to pay that character off, because that’s a big part of show. We’ve been revving toward paying that character off.
AX: Will we see more of Granny?
PETERSON: We’ll hopefully see more of Granny again. We’re coming up with different ways to bring in the villains and different ways we’ve seen our villains before.
AX: Martian Manhunter was sort of father figure for awhile, will you have him back?
PETERSON: There are several characters we want back, but at this point, it’s a matter how many can we get for what we can do. We would love to have him back, but we’ll see how that plays out in the final episodes.
AX: How much longer with the Vigilante Act play out?
PETERSON: That’s wrapped up pretty quickly in this new run. It’s very important and it pushes Clark into a different place, but we also didn’t want to carry it out a lot longer, so it wraps out in the first couple of new episodes and we push off from there.
AX: It’s really interesting that you’ve created this very dark and bleak universe of Metropolis, that’s going to take it into the light where Superman normally is – it’s a brilliant take. Before this show, I don’t think you ever thought, “What was it like, prior to Superman in Metropolis.”
PETERSON: A lot of it has been watching the character of Clark and what’s great about the series, the Clark Kent we can all relate to, the one you go out to dinner, hang out or play a game with – that character is not just going to go out and put on a pair of tights. It’s going to take something massive that makes him embrace his destiny and for him to give up the identity he’s protected his whole life. You abide by the laws of the world and he’s trying to cling to that – that’s something Clark will evolve into so he can become the character we all know and love. So what we wanted to show was, what the world would probably have been like, when Superman made the ultimate decision to be Superman.
AX: Chloe [Allison Mack] was such an important character in the series, and obviously she wasn’t around most of the season, are you going to pay off what the relationship was to where it is now?
PETERSON: It’s very much a part of her return. It’s not just the Chloe/Oliver romance, but it’s Clark and Chloe and where they started.
AX: What has Green Arrow learned this season ultimately?
PETERSON: He’s definitely learned a very interesting lesson about showing your face to the world. That’s a sad lesson that a lot of people don’t know when they need to be saved, don’t want to be saved and don’t appreciate it when you’re saving them, but you need to save them anyway. That is one of those ultimate hero developments. In the face of all the people that are questioning him and now throwing stones metaphorically at him, how can you still be a hero? He really embodies that dilemma.
AX: Why do you feel Tom and Erica are the ultimate Clark and Lois and why have they earned it?
PETERSON: I think for SMALLVILLE, the reason why they are the ultimate Clark and Lois, they have very genuinely believed in their characters and we’ve felt all along that the show would have never gone this long if we didn’t believe Clark’s journey. Tom has taken the character from a high school boy who is anxious and nervous, to the hero he is on the show now. And Lois has taken a damaged neurotic daughter of a General, to a place where she is a strong career woman and a viable love interest. They’ve both done that in a believable way – with all the crazy stuff that’s in their world – to me, that makes them the ultimate Clark and Lois.
AX: Will there be tragedy with their engagement?
PETERSON: No engagement I guess goes without its problems.
AX: What’s the one question you haven’t been asked, that you’ve been dying to answer about SMALLVILLE?
PETERSON: What happens to Alexander?
AX: Okay, what happens to Alexander?
PETERSON: There’s an awesome surprise mid-run and it kind of takes that character center stage for an episode and it’s a very fun way to evolve that character.
AX: How much consideration is put into creating an ending that satisfies your own universe, but also satisfies what fans think they want?
PETERSON: Every version of SUPERMAN in the movies, comics and TV show, is a slight variation on a theme and as long as there is respect for the character and the basis of that character, there can be a lot of different interpretations. I think we will walk that balance rather nicely. That’s our goal.
AX: As a fan, what do you want out of SMALLVILLE when it ends.
PETERSON: It’s going to be very bittersweet to leave these characters we’ve seen so long and we love so much, like any fan would feel. But I want to feel inspired, as a fan. That’s what I want.
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CLICK HERE for ASSIGNMENT X’s exclusive interview with Erica Durance
CLICK HERE for more reviews of SMALLVILLE – Season 10
CLICK HERE for ASSIGNMENT X’s interview with executive producers Brian Wayne Peterson, Kelly Souders
CLICK HERE for ASSIGNMENT X’s interview with Phil Morris on being the Martian Manhunter