Eschatological Imagery in the Smallville Season Finale

This is not going to be a extremely detailed post. (I would encourage certain contributors to add to it, if they watched the show)

Tonight was the day that fanboys, and I assume fangirls, had waited for for ten years. Tonight was the night which Tom Welling put on the Superman Suit and flew. It was awesome. I’m not sure that I breathed throughout most of the show.

But, there was something more.

The show was about Darkseid invading earth, but in this, there were a lot of eschatological imagery. First, Darkseid was represented by a trio of people. I don’t know the names, don’t care, but two were male and one female. It was an obvious reference to the Trinity. When Oliver Queen, aka Green Arrow, knelt before them, he knelt on this symbol,

This is a symbol of the Trinity.

Further, there were words thrown around about rapture, saving souls and the such:

His rapture will be the only salvation…

Darkseid was coming to earth to take the souls of the sealed away in a rapture. They were sealed in their forehead.

Clark Kent/The Blur/Proto-Superman was the light meant to battle Darkseid and send away the Apocalypse which is the name of Darkseid’s planet.

Oh, and the story tonight begins and ends seven years after the would-be rapture.

Superman has always followed a certain, shall we say, archetypical mythos around a savior who was the last (only) son of a father who cared for the people. He sent the son to earth to same them and to be an example for them. Tonight, the Creators of the show took it to a different level, especially where the show was concerned. For years, they have been playing up this prophecy motif and tonight, they brought it to a head by having the mythic Last Son, the Savior, the Light of the World, battle and defeat the Apocalypse, cleanse the souls of those affected, and seven years later… well there was the wedding feast.

A lot of imagery in tonight’s episode…

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Joel L. Watts
Joel L. Watts holds a Masters of Arts from United Theological Seminary with a focus in literary and rhetorical criticism of the New Testament. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

12 thoughts on “Eschatological Imagery in the Smallville Season Finale

    1. Yeah, that’s a nigh-unforgivable error… Big fail, Joel…

      Two of the people were Granny Goodness & Desaad, but I’m not sure who the last one was.

      1. Feel free to add to the synopsis, Robert.

        This was argubly the best episode of the season, and maybe the series. Loved the dialogue between Lex and Clark

    1. No, it’s unrelated. Superman II had Kal-El facing off against escaped prisoners from the Phantom Zone, evil criminals incarcerated there for crimes against humanity by Jor-El, which explains the raging hatred General Zod has for Kal’s father. “The Last Days of Krypton” is a fantastic novelization that explains this whole dynamic in greater detail. It should be noted that “Ursa” and “Non” are “Faora” and “Nam-Ek”, respectively in the comics & Superman cartoon universes.

      The beings in this episode are agents of Darkseid, one of Superman’s most fearsome villains in the comics. Darkseid’s primary motivator is the search for “The Anti-Life Equation”, which is just esoteric enough to be baffling and frightening at the same time. Granny Goodness is the leader of Darkseid’s “Female Furies”, of which Tess was apparently one. Then there’s Desaad, who is a sort of sorcerous henchman of Darkseid. I’m not sure who the third dude was, but if it followed the comics canon, it should have been Kalibak, the son of Darkseid.

  1. Darkseid’s planet is called “Apokolips”, and is sometimes referred to as “War World”. I’m surprised that they didn’t incorporate the (in)famous Boom Tube technology that’s so closely associated with Jack Kirby’s New Gods. The non-corporeal Darkseid was pretty weird too, but it made sense in the story.

    I absolutely LOVED the bookend scenes with Chloe… Some fans are kvetching about Tom Welling not giving us a full-on view of him in the suit, but in the scheme of such an epic finale, that’s but a minor quibble, even for a superfan of my caliber.

    There is definitely a move toward deifying Superman and aligning the more obvious elements of his mythos with Judeo-Christian symbolism, but the beauty of the character is that he’s been what America’s needed since 1938, through World War and Cold War alike. It’s nice to see Superman serve as our avatar of societal catharsis across such a broad swath of American history. Smallville contributed to the story in an ultimately fulfilling and truly thrilling way. I’m ecstatic with the finale and regret that there appears to be no movement toward a spin-off. :(

  2. First off: I love the fact that you guys incorporate superheroes and comic books into your theology blog.

    I think War World is owned by Mongol. I don’t know of any connection between that and Apokolips, unless there is one in Smallville. I’m only on season 7.

    I hope they can incorporate the Fourth World into the upcoming Superman movie series. That would give superman a powerful epic villain he can punch.

    1. I’m of the opinion that life is a part of theology, to the extent that sometimes it seeps into popular representation. Plus, comic books are cool.

      I agree, Supermsn needs to wallop someone. Of course, if he ge was to go after Batman, he’d lose because Batman rocks

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