It's hard to believe that this show has gone on for 9 years, but the writing and the acting just keep getting better. Just like the last season, Clark Kent is one step closer to his destiny as Superman. The big overarching plot this season was the threat of the Kandorians, led by Major Zod. Smallville fans will recognize the name, if not the rank, of the big bad guy. That's because he's a clone of the evil traitor who tried to overthrow Krypton around the time Kal-El (Clark) was born. So he's going to be the worst villian in Kryptonian history, maybe. It's the reoccuring Smallville theme of destiny and fate. If you are destined to do something, do you do it or make your own destiny? Clark has been told since season 1 that he is destined to be this great hero and champion and symbol of hope. Most of the main plots of every season are about Clark finding out about his destiny and what he does to either embrace it or fight against it. So it is with the bad guys. Lex Luthor is destined to be Superman's arch-enemy. So even though we saw 5-6 seasons of Lex trying to overcome his dark nature and maintain some kind of friendship with Clark, we knew he was eventually going to be bad. Same with Davis Bloome, aka Doomsday. He was trying to fight his nature of being the ultimate destroyer. But ultimately, he, too, had to succomb to his destiny. In this season, it is Zod. This "Major Zod" has not made all the bad choices that "General Zod" did back on Krypton. But we know what he is to become. Will he make the same choices or will he change his fate?
The main highlights for me were the so-called "filler" episodes that focused more on Lois and Clark's budding relationship than on the threat of the Kandorians. What I like about the writing is the continual shout-outs to fans of Superman, comics, and TV/Movies. Like the "Resident Evil" episode (#3 Rabid), the "What a Woman Wants" episode (#4 Echo), "the Game" episode (#5 Roulette), the "He said/She said" episode (#6 Crossfire), and the "Big" episode (#12 Warrior). For comic book fans, they converted an old Hawkeye story for Green Arrow (#10 Disciple) and brought Metallo, Silver Banshee, and the JSA all into the Smallville story.
Something must be said about the black costume. Clark has embraced his heroic destiny by saving people, just not openly. So he is no longer the "Red-Blue Blur", just "the Blur". The Black costume represents his keeping to the shadows. When he finally reveals himself to the world as "Superman", he will likely change his costume into the red, blue, and gold costume we are familiar with. He's close, but not quite there yet.
As with any long running show, there are elements that some people don't like. Some people dislike the unique elements where Smallville differs from regular Superman lore. They want the show to move faster towards the classic tales that we know and love. Others dislike rehashing the old Superman mythos and want Smallville to remain true to the unique stories they created and not cave to pressure to become "the Adventures of Superman" or "Lois and Clark". I think Season 9 balances those two viewpoints well. Fans of the show will enjoy most, if not all of it. And if you haven't watched Smallville before, go back and watch all previous 8 seasons. It is well-worth the investment of time and money.
Note: Season 9 will be available from September 7, Season 10 kicks off on September 24, 2010.