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A Backstory With a View
In a hurry? Read the recaplet for a nutshell description!

Previously on Smallville: Clark decided he wanted Lois and kissed her; Clark built a fortress in the Arctic and met the disembodied voice of his father Jor-El; a powerless Major Zod arrived on Earth and brought friends; Clark's "S" symbol was found in Turkey along with a mystery man; Zod's soldiers' last memory was of their blood being taken in Kandor; Zod mistook the "Blur" for Jor-El and assumed that Jor-El had kept all their powers for himself; Tess killed the soldier that Zod sent to interrogate and kill her; Clark enjoyed standing around on rooftops dressed all in black.

A big red sun burns in the darkness of space. Audibly, for some reason. Orbiting the sun is an icy blue planet. Down on the planet's surface, it's like Al Gore's worst nightmare, all wars and red skies and raging fires. Gasoline probably costs, like, a hundred dollars a gallon. There's a city that looks like a much bigger, more elaborate version of Clark's Fortress of Solitude. Soldiers rush around in some trenches as guns go off and bombs blast all around them. They're dressed more or less like the soldiers of most armies on Earth but some helpful words pop up on the screen and identify the setting as the Kandorian border, twenty years before the destruction of Krypton. As if these soldiers didn't have enough going on, a white-clad medic is using a horrific-looking implement to simultaneously scan their arm tattoos and extract blood samples. First a male soldier gets his blood taken, and then a female soldier. Medic guy sees the next woman in line looking nervous and says, "Relax, it's just a pinprick." Yes, but a pinprick from laser-powered syringe that's roughly the size and shape of a caulking gun. She admits she never liked needles, which leads the woman ahead of her to quip, "It's a small price to pay for immortality."

A very large blast goes off somewhere overhead. Debris rains down on the soldiers as they take cover. Zod shows up as the dust clears and starts griping at the medic. "There's a civil war raging and you're wasting time! The forces of Black Zero are closing in on Kandor, and I can assure you they'll wait for no one." The medic tells Zod that his is the last blood sample he needs from the battalion and Zod impatiently jerks up his sleeve. He wants to win the war, he says, and get everyone back to their families. Everyone cheers. Before Zod's sample can be taken, a hand clasps the medic's arm, pulling down the caulking gun implement. Zod greets the newcomer as a friend: "Jor-El!" It's a slightly scruffy and smudged Julian Sands, on whom I've had a crush since his turn as George in A Room With a View, but who since then seems to be a magnet for mostly obscure, often horrible movie roles. Zod guesses that Jor-El isn't there to cheer on the troops. "Call it a mission of redemption," Jor-El says. He tells the medic to give him all the blood samples, because he can't let the project continue. Medic snotfully tells him that his orders come from the Ruling Council: "You have no authority here." Zod jabs his finger at the medic, saying he'd better do what Jor-El says, because he's the "most renowned scientist in Krypton." Jor-El gives Zod a look of gratitude. Zod announces to everyone in the trenches: "If the Ruling Council wants my blood, let them find it on the battlefield!" He kind of moves his lips around a lot when he talks, doesn't he? Especially during impassioned speeches. It's like after you've had a Novocaine injection and you make exaggerated stretching motions with your mouth, trying to feel your own lips. Everyone cheers. Zod goes on: "Let Black Zero feel the bite of your weapons and the bravery of your hearts!" As the pepped-up soldiers grab their weapons and surge on to fight, Zod pulls Jor-El aside and gently warns him the Council won't be happy. "I won't let my life's work be used to commit an atrocity," Jor-El says. And yet, some twenty years from now you'll be creating an AI program that's intermittently kind of evil and trusting it to educate your son. Zod stares at him hard for a moment and then they both notice that the battle has grown eerily quiet. They rush up the side of the trench and look out over what used to be the city of Kandor, but is now an assortment of crumbling towers underneath an expanding mushroom cloud. The impact wave moves quickly toward them, but Zod tries to rush toward the city anyway, murmuring, "My wife, my son." Jor-El pulls him back down into the trenches and forcibly holds him against the ground. "There's nothing you can do! Kandor is gone!" Zod struggles a bit, then falls back, defeated.

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