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Feature: Smallville

Bale-ing Out

John Schneider

There are big changes coming in the 100th episode, and one of the biggest involves actor John Schneider…

Spoiler Warning!

In the world of TV, there’s such a thing as foreshadowing, letting the audience know subtly that something nasty is going to happen. Of course, sometimes it’s more satisfying to just get these things out in the open and keep the viewers on tenterhooks waiting to see when the event they know is coming will occur, and how. The latter is the case with Smallville, which earlier this season saw Superman-in-waiting Clark Kent losing his powers after another unfortunate run-in with the disembodied voice of his biological father, Jor-El. Unfortunately, without powers Clark’s heroic tendencies landed him on his deathbed in hospital and, just as his mortal life ended, Jor-El brought him back, powers returned. Except there was a condition: Clark’s renewed life energy had to come from somewhere, and for him to live someone close to him will have to die.

If he hadn’t been unable to break the fourth wall, Jor-El might well have said, ‘We’ve got the 100th episode coming up, so we’re going to do away with a regular. Go on, guess who.’ The answer, dear reader, is staring you in the face: yes, poor Jonathan Kent is about to start farming up in the clouds while happily strumming a banjo. Oh, come on, you saw the spoiler warning, didn’t you?

Before we get to his demise though, John Schneider, who’s been the latest TV incarnation of Pa Kent for the last five years, has been pretty busy on the show of late. First up was a reunion with Tom Wopat, the man who played his brother Luke in the mid-Eighties smash The Dukes of Hazzard. “Working with Tom was fun. And it was terrific, because that started the whole Jonathan Kent running for Senate part of our story, which has been my favourite storyline since we started the show.”

The Senate race begins when Jack Jennings (Wopat) is forced to terminate his candidacy amid a scandal, leaving the way clear for Lex Luthor to take the Senate seat. Unable to let Lex rise to this level of power, and supported by his old friend, Jonathan throws his hat into the ring. The conclusion of the battle occurs in the 100th episode, Reckoning, which also sees Clark finally decide to tell Lana his big secret. It’s this revelation that sends things spiraling out of control towards tragedy.

Schneider has had ample warning of his impending fate. “Al [Gough, executive producer] called me and said, ‘Hey, John, it’s a call I hate to have to make, but you kind of knew it was coming at some point,’ and I said, ‘Oh, I understand, when is it going to be?’ I’m thinking we’re doing 24 shows, I think, this year, so is it going to be show 23 maybe? No, it’s show 12, and he called me during show nine.”

Remaining positive about being written out, Schneider is firmly convinced that, “It happens for great reasons, and also – I hope that this came across – trying to live up to his father’s expectations, or trying to fill the void that was left by the passing of Jonathan Kent in Clark Kent’s life is, I think, what causes him to become Superman, not just somebody with superpowers."

by Judy Sloane and Paul Spragg

Read the full interview in
Cult Times #126

Photo © The WB
Feature © Visual Imagination 2006. Not for reproduction

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Cult Times #126, see below for ordering options
Cult Times #126
March 2006
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