'Smallville' recap: Game of Zones

smallville-tom-welling-320.jpgRemember in last season's finale when Clark told Zod and the Kandorians that he was sending them to "a better place" and made it sound like a pretty good option? Well, it looks like he actually sent them to the Phantom Zone, just like he sent Slade Wilson earlier this season. Speaking of Slade, he suddenly turns up comatose on terra firma, so Clark and the gang know that someone or something has activated the Zone's portal. Which is weird, because only members of Clark's family are supposed to be able to do that and he doesn't have any family left. So he gets Tess to activate the Phantom Zone crystal so he can go check things out, but then Oliver sort of invites himself along because Clark will be powerless up there and doesn't have a lot of experience fighting like that.

Once up there, they discover the place festively decorated with a bunch of Omega skulls. Finally the show remembered the Darkseid plot! Oliver and Clark are whisked by phantoms to the Zone's new ruler. It's Zod, who's wearing the Zone crystal around his neck and reminds us that Clark once saved him with his own blood. So somehow that made them familial enough for Zod to open the portal. Turns out it was all Darkseid's idea, who came to Zod and promised him rule over the Zone in exchange for getting Clark up there and out of his way back on Earth. Zod immediately pits Clark against some beefy hunk of Zoner in a fight to the death while all his rowdy subjects cheer on. When Clark refuses to kill, Zod kills his opponent for him. With a finite supply of people in the Zone, it seems like a dumb thing to do, but whatever. Zod sweet-talks Oliver into joining him, revealing that Oliver has been marked by Darkseid. Oliver and Clark are then forced to fight each other through a series of slow-motion beauty shots. Oliver skewers Clark, but when Zod comes to make the killing blow, they grab the crystal from around his neck and zap themselves out of there, destroying the Phantom Zone in the process. It was all part of the plan, see?

Meanwhile, back on Earth, Lois and Tess have been waiting for the boys to return. Things got a bit tense once Lois realized that Tess planned to destroy the crystal--and thus Clark's way home--if he didn't make it back. It was actually Clark's plan, but all is forgiven once he returns. At the end, Oliver almost confesses his Omega status to Clark, but then Clark is all "we gotta lock those people up!" and he clams up about it. Stay tuned for the full recap!