It's the last year of high school for Clark Kent (played by Tom Welling) on the WB's Smallville (Wed., 8 p.m.; premieres Sept. 22), but there will be no senioritis slack time for the Teen of Steel. The future Superman will not only take flight for the first time; he'll also be bumping into two different Lois Lanes, mending fences with Lex Luthor, and discovering that his beloved Lana (Kristin Kreuk) has found herself (horrors!) a new love.
EW.com talked to John Schneider (Clark's dad, Jonathan), Michael Rosenbaum (Lex Luthor), and producer Alfred Gough to find out why Clark's college applications will be the least of his worries this season.
CLARK FLIES! Although the series has remained steadfast in following its ''no flights, no tights'' policy for Clark Kent (with the exception of a first-season dream sequence), producers found a new loophole for the season premiere: Clark flies, but he isn't really Clark. ''Clark's been reprogrammed as Kal-El, his Kryptonian alter ego,'' says Gough, ''so he has the ability to fly.'' Clark/Kal-El loses his nifty airborne powers by the end of the first episode, and don't hold your breath waiting for them to return. ''Once we got the bill for flying,'' says Gough, ''we realized why we wouldn't be doing it every week. It's f---ing expensive!''
LEX AND CLARK CALL A TRUCE . . . FOR NOW Though Lex and Clark had ended their friendship last season, these two aren't enemies just yet. ''Clark and Lex will reach a détente,'' says Gough. ''But that naive trust Clark had in Lex is gone. It's a more mature relationship, in that Lex knows Clark has secrets he's not telling, and Clark knows Lex does things he doesn't tell him about.''
Mature does not necessarily mean stable. ''I think this is the year when the relationship between Clark and Lex escalates to a point where something's really going to happen,'' says Rosenbaum. ''And I do know something incredibly dramatic is going to happen at the end of the season to one of the characters.'' Which one? All Gough will say is ''Lex will continue his descent into darkness.''
THERE'S TROUBLE FOR THE KENTS Jonathan and wife Martha (Annette O'Toole) may need to visit Dr. Phil. ''Because everyone else is either dead, poisoned, or sucked into a void at the beginning of the season, Martha's kind of going to be taking over,'' says Gough. ''And at one point, Lionel Luther will get out of prison. He's always had feelings for Martha, and he'll seem to be a changed man.'' So what does that mean for Jonathan? ''Jealousy, hate, and mistrust, those are all things going on on my side,'' says Schneider. ''There are a lot of developments that Jonathan is none too happy about.''