An entirely new character, Tess Mercer, is brought in to fill the shoes of Lex Luthor. The problem with Tess is that her motivations throughout the season mirror Lex's a little too closely at times. Her obsession with Clark and his secret is ported directly over from Lex's character and altered ever so slightly. Clark's scenes with Tess do lack that familiar chemistry that years on screen together will give you but at times it feels as if lines of dialogue written for Tess could have just as easily been written for Lex. There is promise as halfway through the season she discovers a frightening secret about Lex that splits her goals from his but she quickly falls back into familiar territory as her obsession with Clark's secret intensifies in the latter half of the season. She's a necessary character but unfortunately her motivations are not too original.
The best aspect of this season is Clark Kent, Lois Lane and the shift of the series to Metropolis from Smallville. The change in scenery and the jump in focus to a more mature Clark Kent were desperately needed to keep the series fresh and it definitely works here. Clark's alter ego, the oddly named Red-Blue Blur, adequately represents an early incarnation of his eventual Superman persona without having to actually put the character in any sort of costume. This allows the writers the opportunity to recreate the Clark, Lois and Superman dynamic from the comic book for the small screen.
The relationship between Lois and Clark is handled well for the most part. The sexual tension between the two characters feels a little forced in the early part of the season but the writers eventually find a perfect balance of flirtation and story. If it wasn't for this shift, I think I would be perfectly happy with seeing Smallville finally end this season but the Lois and Clark relationship really does make me want to see at least one more season of these two together.
Clark's other love interest, Lana Lang, returned for five episodes and her appearance is a reminder of why the show desperately needed to evolve after the conclusion of last season. With Lana's return, Lois disappears for a few episodes and Clark's feelings for his ex-love interest come rushing back to the forefront. Lana and Clark's relationship seems trite and immature after seeing Lois and Clark together on screen for a few episodes. Lois and Clark not only have great sexual chemistry but they're actually a lot of fun to watch and both actors appear to be having a lot of fun in their roles. Lana drags down the story and more importantly drags Clark's character down to the sappy schoolboy he was in previous seasons.
Along with the evolution of the series to Metropolis from Smallville, the amount of characters making appearances from the DC Universe has also grown. Villains such as Plastique, Maxima, Faora and The Persuader make appearances throughout the year giving the show's new settings a sense of authenticity in relation to the larger comic book universe. The real treat though is the appearance of The Legion of Superheroes half way through the season. Written by comic book veteran Geoff Johns, "Legion" represents one of the best episodes of the season with surprisingly good representations of Saturn Girl (Alexz Johnson), Lightning Lad (Calum Worthy) and Cosmic Boy (Ryan Kennedy). "Legion" along with "Bride", which features the first appearance of Doomsday's true form, represent what Smallville can achieve at its best. It's just too bad that the season doesn't contain more episodes like these.
If someone were to make an argument for why Smallville deserves another season, it would definitely be the show's eighth season. While far from perfect, there is a lot of potential here now that the story has shifted to Metropolis. The frequent use of DC villains and the continued introduction of DC characters gives the showrunners an opportunity to transform the series into something the audience has always wanted. If