This article contains spoilers for Smallville.

There’s no doubt that Lois (Erica Durance) and Clark (Tom Welling) were the right endgame for Smallville. And not just because Lois and Clark almost always inevitably end up together. Their years of loathing turning to respect and then love makes for some great TV, and Durance and Welling’s chemistry is incredible. However, even though Smallville mostly hit the mark with Clark’s love-life by the end of the series, his first love, Lana Lang (Kristin Kreuk), deserved so much better than the arc she was given.

By the time Clark and Lana get together in the series, Lana already knows that something is up with Clark. He’s somehow always there to save her when she’s in danger or just generally involved with all of the weird stuff going on in town. His farm boy charms also aren’t really conducive with being a good liar, nor is Lana dumb or unobservant. 

It’s understandable, especially in the beginning, that Clark wants to keep Lana safe by not telling her about his powers. But once Chloe (Allison Mack), Pete (Sam Jones III), and others start to find out the truth, it’s really unnecessary to keep her in the dark. She still ends up in harm’s way without knowing about Clark’s powers, and her quest to uncover what the hell is up with him honestly puts her in even more danger than if Clark would just be honest with her.

The season 5 episode “Reckoning” remains one of the most heartbreaking in the series, because Clark is finally honest with Lana about who he is, and they’re happier than ever for a brief moment before it’s all ripped away. Lana ends up dead in a freak accident soon after Clark tells her the truth (because of course she does), and Clark is so distraught that he begs Jor-El for a redo on the day in order to bring her back.

Once the day resets, Clark decides to forgo his previous honesty, and his relationship with Lana is never really the same. Even after his father dies as the universe’s harsh payment for bringing Lana back, Clark avoids telling her the truth no matter how much she prods him. His dishonesty pushes Lana away slowly, and the rest of their imploding relationship is tedious and painful to watch.

Beyond her messy relationship with Clark, it felt like the show never really knew what to do with Lana beyond her relationship with men in general. She was Whitney’s (Eric Johnson) girlfriend then Clark’s girlfriend then Lex’s (Michael Rosenbaum) wife. Even when she tried to go off on her own, like when she went to Paris at the end of season 3, she returned with a boyfriend who then got a job at her highschool as a football coach. As hot as Jensen Ackles might be, the differences in ages and power dynamics between them is pretty gross, and another example of how little agency she has in the show. If that wasn’t enough, she literally becomes possessed by her witchy ancestor during this arc.

Later on in the series, after she finds out how much Lex has manipulated her and breaks things off with him, Lana does become a vigilante. But, to do so she literally puts herself through torture to increase her pain tolerance. It makes sense that Lana’s time with Lex would slightly change her, and it’s great that she is finally taking control over her safety and future, but at the same time it’s like they went overboard trying to prove how strong she is in an effort to undo her early fragility. Why did she have to go through so much physical and mental anguish to finally be taken seriously?

Lana Lang’s story in Smallville doesn’t really end any better either. After going through training, torture, and injecting superpowered nanites into her skin, she’s literally as strong as Clark, but in the end they can’t even be friends because she absorbs a massive amount of Kryptonite to save him and Metropolis from a bomb planted by Lex. After years of being rescued, Lana is finally able to return the favor and save Clark’s life, but can’t even stick around for a simple thank you without making him violently ill.

Smallville will always be one of my favorite shows. Watching it with my dad is one of my core memories, and why I’m the nerd I am today. But it’s hard to deny that the series missed the mark multiple times with one of its major female characters. Lana Lang is smart and capable, and Kristin Kreuk injects so much heart into her, but she deserved better than what the show gave her. Her lack of agency outside of her relationships with men, especially Clark and Lex, is incredibly disappointing, and it would have been great to see her step into her strength without the influence of either of them.

Lana may end the series as a hero, but Smallville never really treats her like one.

All 10 seasons of Smallville are available to stream on Hulu in the U.S. and Prime Video in the U.K.

The post Smallville Never Knew What to Do With Lana Lang appeared first on Den of Geek.

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