Chloe comes to visit Clark and see how that whole "Going to Krypton, saving Baby Clark from the clutches of Braniac back in 1989 to preserve the future" thing is going. Turns out it's not. Clark is being all mopey and shitheaded about Lana again (stab me. Please. Stab me dead.) and has decided that the world would be better off if he'd never come to Earth. So he's decided the best course of action would be: to do not a damn thing. Action hero! Before you can say, "It's a Wonderful Life (But a Terrible Show)," Clark is shown the bullshit comic book "What if?" version of life without Clark. Lex is president (did we fast forward to when he's over 35 years old?). Kara did come to Earth, but was adopted by the Luthors and became a government agent who used her powers to help Lex become president. Chloe and Lana both met awesome guys; Lana married a French dude and had kids, Chloe was about to get married to some other guy who isn't Jimmy, Clark, or Pete. Clark Kent exists, but he's a douchey farmboy with no powers. G-g-g-ghost Clark goes to the newspaper and finds that Jimmy is a bow-tie wearing photographer who pines after Lois, a much smarter Pulitzer-prize winning journalist who is trying to take down President Lex. Lois and Clark (who get a little flirty) find out that Lex has invented a nuclear threat to the U.S. as an excuse to preemptively executive his own nuclear strike. Clark goes to the White House and reveals himself to Kara. They both discover that the plan is even worse: Lex's right-hand-robot Braniac is calling all the shots and has convinced Lex to destroy the world, pack all the smart and awesome people into bunkers, and rebuild with a new world order. Braniac's own plan is simpler, though: make Lex the vessel for Zod and have him repopulate the planet with Kara. President Lex shoots Kara and Clark with Kryptonite bullets and it's Game Over, man, Game Over! Until Clark is pulled back to The Fortress, where he's given a stern lecture by Jarnelle about not being such a selfish, destiny-denying dickweed. Shamed, Clark goes to Krypton (which takes, literally, half a second), and saves Baby Clark by making sure the cute little tyke gets on that spaceship to Earth. Kara tries to kill Braniac, but does a piss-poor job of it, because at the end of the episode, she has some sort of attack in the Kent kitchen. It could mean that Braniac is taking over her body. Meanwhile, Lana is still not cured of her coma, leading Clark to be even more depressed, a situation that can't have been helped by Lois taking him out for beers. Want to feel worse about humanity sometime? Watch Lois Lane get drunk.
Warning: big-old comic tropes and brain-bruising time-travel plots ahead. Proceed with caution. Don't think too hard about it or your head will hurt. Mine already does.
We open on a very distant shot of the Kent Farm at night. The barn is lit up and there's a crescent moon. Some depressing stuff must be going on inside. Up in the loft, which is looking quite festive these days with its strung-up lights and decorative lamps, Clark is hunched over, reading Kryptonian. "And when you come out of the closet, Kal-El, it's totally cool. We will accept you, even if the Earthlings don't..." Hey, wait a minute. This can't be the right translation! Clark's eyes wander from the Kryptonian symbols in Dr. Swann's journal to a framed picture of Lana, in happier, pre-zombie times. Clark stares at the photo, then fixes his firm, immobile gaze back on the journal. If only there was a Kryptonian symbol for "Girlfriend in a coma." A blurry blonde shape comes up behind Clark. We see her from over Clark's shoulder. It sure sounds like Chloe, but someone forgot to take the camera off auto-focus. Psst... Clark! Tom Welling! Anyone! Focus! Chloe complains about speed traps on the way. Why the Hell is Clark making you drive to him? He's the one with the super speed. Oh yeah. We haven't seen him use a lot of superpowers lately. Budget cuts. You'll have to suck it up on that gas money, Chloe. Clark says he got another S.O.S. from Kara. Clark reads, badly, "Krypton will be destroyed any minute Brainiac is getting closer please hurry." (Apparently, there are no commas or periods in Kryptonian.) The journal entry ends with, "Your life depends on it." He closes the book. Wow, that is the shittiest Harry Potter ending I've ever heard.
Chloe says, out of nowhere, that Brainiac must have used Kara to jump back in time to the moment that Krypton exploded. Huh? How'd you make that leap of logic? Chloe says that all Brainiac has to do is stop the baby (who was Clark) from taking off from Krypton and... "You'd be standing in an empty barn," Clark finishes. Except she wouldn't, because she'd have had no reason to come to the barn if there was no Clark. You SEE!? This episode is gonna be a fucking pain in the membrane. Clark gets up, frustrated. Chloe tells him that if they made the "Quantum leap" that he must be able to as well. "Kara mentioned the Fortress has the ability to send me back," Clark says. Why didn't you tell Chloe that earlier, like weeks ago? Clark says that if he takes the octagonal disc there, Jarnelle can make it happen. Couldn't they have saved the whole planet, then? Why didn't they do that years ago? Chloe grabs Clark's Octagonal Disc Hiding Book of Not-So-Great Hiding and tries to hand it to him. She asks what he's waiting for. Direction, maybe? "I'm not going," he says. Chloe says that he has to go or he could fade away at any moment. If that really happened, would they even know? Wouldn't this conversation already have ceased to exist? Ugh. Headache.