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 dÃ©tente,'' 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.''
NOT ONE, BUT TWO LOIS LANES No, this isn't the evil cloning handiwork of some comic-book villain. We'll meet the character Lois Lane as a college student (Erica Durance) and also see the woman who played Lois in the Superman movies. Margot Kidder will appear in the first and sixth episodes as Bridgette Crosby, an emissary of Dr. Swann (Christopher Reeve). ''We hint at the fact that she and Dr. Swann have a prior romantic relationship, which is our wink to the movies,'' says Gough.
The younger Lois will be visiting Smallville to investigate the death of her cousin Chloe (Allison Mack) last season. But don't expect love to blossom between young Lois and Clark. They first lay eyes on each other when a naked Clark, as the emotionless Ka-El, is dumped out of the phantom zone in which he was reprogrammed. (''What good is a meet-cute scene if someone isn't naked?'' says Gough.) But they soon discover they hate each other. ''It's fun to have a character on this show who isn't in awe of Clark Kent, honestly,'' says Gough. Of course, they'll eventually kiss and make up.
OLD FACES, NEW OLD FACES The producers are hoping to lure Michael McKean (as Perry White) and Reeves back to the show. Keep your eyes peeled for other characters from D.C. Comics mythology. ''A villain from the Superman comics, Mr. Mxyzptlk, is showing up,'' says Gough. ''In the comics he's an imp from the Fifth Dimension who always messes with Superman's head. But because we're on the WB, he's going to be a really, really hot Eastern European foreign exchange student who has this kind of sphinx/black cat quality.''
The D.C. mainstay known as the Flash will also come to town, and yes, the debate over who deserves the title of fastest superhero will be settled. The connection between Clark and the Flash develops into more than an amazing race. ''The Flash is still a kid, and he's using his powers as a petty thief,'' Gough says. ''Clark sort of puts him on the path to responsibility. But he teaches Clark how to lighten up a little bit.''
CLARK GROWS UP With college just around the corner and Clark's parents facing problems of their own, he's turning into a more mature, self-directed teen superhero. ''This is the year Clark goes from being a protected youngster to being someone who doesn't need to be protected anymore,'' says Schneider. Despite his father's concern that Clark's powers will be exposed, Clark is going to join the football team this year. ''Considering that the Kent farm has been decimated more times than Danny Glover's house in Lethal Weapon, it's not like they've got a lot of money in the bank for college,'' says Gough. ''And Clark sees the potential of a sports scholarship. The dynamic you're going to see with the Kents, which happens with kids as they get older, is the parents step back, and orders become conversations.''
LANA FINDS A NEW LOVE Jensen Ackles (2000's Dark Angel) will be joining the show as Jason Teague, a cute college student who meets Lana Lang in Paris. Lucky Lana has not only a new boyfriend but a new look. (''Why would you make over a girl who looks like her?'' grumbles Schneider. ''It's like making over the Sistine Chapel.'')
Lana's post-Paris confidence is soon shaken when Jason accepts a job as an assistant football coach at the high school and asks that she keep their relationship under wraps. ''Clark is on the football team,'' says Gough, ''so this is really going to heat up the dynamic between these characters, especially when the lid gets blown off the secret in episode seven.''