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For the eponymous government agency, see Checkmate.

"Checkmate" is the sixteenth episode in the ninth season of Smallville, and the one hundred-ninety-first episode overall. It aired on April 9, 2010.


Tess kidnaps Green Arrow and delivers him to Amanda Waller, who tells him that the government is recruiting him to serve his country. Oliver escapes before they can reveal his identity and brings Clark and Chloe to investigate. Clark is surprised to find John Jones investigating Oliver's kidnapping, and senses that he is keeping information from him. After Tess reveals that Amanda is after something called "Watchtower", Waller threatens to kill Chloe unless Clark gives her the names and locations of the rest of the Justice League.


→ see also Category:Screencaps from episode 9x16

Amanda Waller is in her office at Checkmate headquarters; she walks over to her chess board, picks up the white Queen and, after a few seconds of contemplation, touches it to a black Pawn and then uses her Queen to knock over her own white Knight.


Tess fights a Checkmate agent.

Tess enters her office at the Daily Planet to find a white knight has been removed from her chess board. She immediately opens a hidden compartment and takes out her gun, a small tranquilizer and a duffel bag. She exits in a hidden chute and drops out the other end wearing different clothes and a dark wig. She walks through the streets and is spotted by two Checkmate agents who attack her. She defends herself and flees with the agents on her tail. One of them corners her but before he can shoot her, Green Arrow intervenes. After a short spat about "black-on-black" wardrobe, Green Arrow tasers the agent. Tess then knocks Green Arrow unconscious and injects him with the tranquilizer. The other agents who attacked her arrive and take him away.


Chloe investigates Oliver's disappearance.

At Watchtower, Chloe tells Clark she is worried because Oliver hasn't checked in, and that security footage has been shut off in the vicinity where Oliver went missing. She then chides Clark for not following protocol like everyone else, meaning she could not contact him to help. Suddenly the security cameras come back on and John Jones is at the scene where Oliver was last seen, but Chloe says she hadn't called him.


Clark confronts John.

Clark super speeds to him and asks why he is there. John says he hadn't heard of Oliver's disappearance and that he was there on police business. He tells Clark to trust him but Clark x-rays him and sees an ear-piece in his pocket. When Clark questions him again, Jones says he shouldn't have done that and flies off, leaving Clark behind.


Oliver escapes from Checkmate.

Elsewhere, Oliver is tied up and unconscious, being transported in a truck. Once Tess is alone with him, she tries to get a look under his hood, but Amanda Waller interrupts her via video feed, saying she doesn't have clearance for that information. She congratulates Tess on her performance and dismisses her. Tess leaves, and the chair Oliver is sitting in gives off an electrical shock, awakening him. She welcomes him to Checkmate and tells him that she is recruiting him to work for the government. While she explains further, he quietly picks the locks on his handcuffs, and once she's gone, he frees himself. He uses explosives to blow off the door and jump out of the truck onto the door, which slides to a halt along the road. He runs off as the truck stops further down the road.

John Jones approaches one of Checkmate's agents, Edward Lott, and tries to get him to come clean on the location of Checkmate. After trying to shoot John, Lott seems to want to comply, but he bites on a suicide pill and falls to the ground in the alley. John reads his memory and learns the location of Checkmate just before the agent dies.


Amanda reprimands Tess for her ineptitude.

Waller is angry with Tess for letting Green Arrow escape and asks if she is fully committed to the agency. Though Tess declares she is, Waller reminds her that there is only one way out of Checkmate.


Chloe, Clark and Oliver investigate Checkmate.

Oliver returns to Watchtower for a sweet embrace with Chloe. He gives her and Clark the details of his kidnapping by Checkmate and his escape. Chloe recalls Sylvester Pemberton's dying word, "Check" and that Checkmate was responsible for hunting down the Justice Society of America. Chloe figures Icicle was recruited by the agency as well, and that it wasn't a coincidence that he attacked Pemberton.


Oliver and Tess at the LuthorCorp gala.

Chloe eventually tracks down the man connected to the earpiece which John Jones had, and learns that he's now on a slab in the morgue after last being seen with Jones. Clark zooms off to investigate, while Oliver wants to join as well, but Chloe insists he stay on the down-low since he's now on Checkmate's radar.

Instead, Oliver attends a Luthor Corp. function where Tess is in attendance. After sharing some cynical moments, the pair swap comments on Ollie wearing black-on-black, repeating remarks made when she kidnapped Oliver, which makes Tess realize that he is the Green Arrow.

Meanwhile, Clark discovers the knight chess-piece on the dead man from the alley and figures out that Tess was part of the kidnapping. He rushes to her office and x-rays her walls to find hidden weapons.


Amanda meets John Jones.

Over at Checkmate headquarters, John Jones gets a peek at some mysterious blood sample, but Agent Waller walks in on him. "That blood traveled light years to get here and it's foreshadowing a threat we will not take lightly," Waller says. He tries to convince her that she's acting irrationally about a war that has not even begun, but she traps him in a ring of fire.

Chloe heads to MetGen to get information on the missing patients who were meant to be checked in at the mental institution Belle Reve, but who have instead ended up at Checkmate. The double agent doctor is initially hostile, but when he spots that Chloe is trying to scan his PDA he initiates a counter-scan and offers to show Chloe the documents she wants which are down in the basement.


Tess attacks Oliver for not telling her that he is the Green Arrow.

Back at the party, Tess and Ollie get into a fight over their secret identities, which includes a lot of knife throwing by her.


Tess is confronted by Clark.

Clark interrupts the fight to get info out of Tess, but she won't budge until Clark holds her over the edge of the building rooftop. She then explains that she was approached by Waller after she began working for Lex Luthor. "Oliver wasn't even the real target," she cries to Clark. "Then who was it?" he retorts. "I don't know. Something they call Watchtower.”


Chloe kidnapped by Checkmate.

Checkmate agents drag a bound and gagged Chloe into a secret room.

Clark zooms off immediately after and Tess tries to explain to Ollie that Clark is in trouble, and once she says Watchtower is the target, Ollie also jumps on the case and heads for headquarters.

Over at Checkmate, John Jones takes on Waller's appearance, enabling him to escape from the ring of fire and destroy the Kandorian blood.


Clark meets Amanda Waller.

Clark confronts Waller, but she turns the game on him: either Clark joins Checkmate and gives up the names of everyone in his league or she will have Chloe killed. Suddenly, the power goes off, giving Clark an opening to find the room where Chloe is. Clark takes out a room of Checkmate agents before stopping a speeding bullet aimed for Chloe. After the fight, he takes her back to Watchtower.

Clark apologizes for abandoning Chloe and recognizes that he needs to work with her more because she's in the thick of the action. "You saw Watchtower as big brother and you turned away," she says understandably. "I didn't give you enough credit. You're the one who brought us together, you're the one who saw our potential," he replies. Unfortunately, Waller now knows the true identities of the Blur, Green Arrow and Watchtower.

John Jones finds Waller and erases her memories of himself, the Blur, Green Arrow and Watchtower.


Tess pleads with Oliver for help.

Tess tries to apologize to Ollie, hoping that having given him the information on how to sabotage the Checkmate power supply will make him trust her again. But Oliver says he cannot forgive her for having betrayed him.

Ollie goes from dark to light immediately when he meets up with Chloe and expresses his concern for her.


Clark talks with Jones about what is coming.

Back at the barn, John Jones assures Clark that his identity is safe. Part of Clark wants to agree with Waller, saying that preparing for the oncoming war isn't such a bad idea. Eventually he will have to choose sides, Clark concedes, but John tries to convince him that he should be a neutral ambassador who will bring everyone together.


Amanda discovers a new player in the game.

John tells Clark that there are more players on the board than he thinks, and that things aren't always black and white.

In Amanda Waller's office, a Red Queen chess piece is on her chessboard as she states that Checkmate has been blocked by a new player and, sweeping the queen aside, saying that it's time for a new game.



Special Guest Star[]

Guest Starring[]





  • 'Checkmate' is a terminal situation in the game of chess, in which one player wins and the other is defeated.
  • The term 'checkmate' means "the King is ambushed."
  • In Absolute Justice, Part 2, an organization that Tess is part of called Checkmate was introduced, which is the focus of this episode.


  • Oliver's Arrows: Mini Dart, Taser
  • John Jones Abilities: Telepathy (Sensing, Mental Scan, Memory Manipulation, Sleep Inducement), Flight, Invulnerability, Super Speed, Intangibility, Martian Vision, Shapeshifting.
  • Clarks Abilities: Super Speed, X-Ray Vision, Microscopic Vision, Super Memory, Super Hearing, Super Strength, Accelerated Thought Process
  • Antagonist: Amanda Waller
  • Lois Lane and Zod do not appear in this episode.
  • In the comics, Checkmate is a covert operations group within the DC Comics universe, divided in White (Information) and Black (Black Ops), with the royals (King and Queen) of both colors as the supreme leaders, Bishops as tacticians, Knights as higher-level operatives, Rooks as Internal Affairs officers and Pawns as low-key operatives and helpers to the overall Checkmate cause. Amanda Waller leads Checkmate White as the White Queen.
  • Oliver mentions memories of "Santorini sunsets" with Tess. The Santorini archipelago in Greece is known for its spectacular sunsets.
  • Scenes from Arrow and Absolute Justice, Part 1 are used when Oliver runs to save Tess.
  • Amanda Waller knows the whole Justice League of America (Black Canary, Martian Manhunter, The Blur, Impulse, Aquaman, Cyborg and Green Arrow). She asked Clark for the names, faces and addresses except Watchtower (Chloe was kidnapped by Checkmate).
  • This is the last episode with Phil Morris as Martian Manhunter (except for his cameo in Salvation).
  • In this episode, Tess discovers Oliver's secret identity as Green Arrow.
  • Tess Mercer and Oliver Queen discover each other's identities by exactly repeating things said earlier. This parallels Batman and Catwoman's revelations from Batman Returns.
  • A WWII propaganda poster is seen in the background. In the scene when Clark leaves Chloe behind to ask John Jones about his involvement with a man's death, the poster "Loose Lips Sink Ships" is seen in the background. It may be a nod to government conspiracies and patriotic propaganda, a common theme in Checkmate's words. Chloe uses these exact words in Arrival "Loose lips sink ships and God knows I've sunk my share of flotillas", when she confirms her understanding on why Clark never told her his secret before.
  • Checkmate is one of the only episodes in the series that is written and directed by newcomers (although Tim Scanlan has been producing the show for a while).
  • This is the first and only episode of the series in which Tess has the most screentime.
  • One of the few episodes where Oliver has more screen time then Clark.





Green Arrow: You could use some conflict resolution. (steps in front of Tess) Rule Number 1: You don't shoot your date. Rule Number 2: Think about your wardrobe choices.
Edward Lott: You're one to talk.
Green Arrow: Oh, don't get me wrong, I love black on black, it's just really hard to pull off.
Edward Lott: It's easier than you think.
Green Arrow: (shoots him with a taser arrow) Rule Number 3: You gotta know when to say goodnight.

Chloe: (to Clark) You spend so much time watching everybody else's back, you forget we need to watch each other's backs too

Tess: (after they capture Green Arrow) Checkmate.

Chloe: You know, Oliver, now that Green Arrow is officially on Checkmate's radar, I think it might be a good idea for you to just hang your tights for one night.
Oliver: (about Green Arrow's costume) They're not tights. (sees her face) They're not tights! But I see your point. Yeah, hmmm, unfortunately for me, uh, that means attending a LuthorCorp shareholder dinner which -- yeah, I'd rather be shot at.

Tess: Black on black, that's hard for you to pull off.
Oliver: Well, it's easier than you think. (pauses)
Tess: (realizes something) Green Arrow.

Tess: (about Green Arrow's costume) I can't believe you wear tights.
Oliver: They're not tights!
Tess: They look like tights.

Oliver: You're keeping more secrets than Lex ever had, ain't that right? Who knows how many deals were sealed right here.
Tess: You buried an arrow into my chest, Oliver.
Oliver: Actually, it was a taser.
Tess: Well, it bruised.
Oliver: Well, better bruised than dead.

Tess: Stay out of this, Clark.
Clark: Tess, I want some answers.
Tess: I'm not telling you anything. (says defiantly)

Amanda Waller: Green Arrow, welcome to Checkmate.
Green Arrow: You got the wrong Green Arrow. I don't remember signing up for any chess club.
Amanda Waller: You're a guest of the U.S. government. And the time has come for you to do your patriotic duty.
Green Arrow: Yeah, well, I didn't know Uncle Sam was into drugs and bondage. Kind of gives a whole new meaning to the "I Want You" posters, doesn't it?

Amanda Waller: (to Clark) I must say, I liked your colors better when they were more patriotic.

John Jones: (about Waller) You don't have to join her.
Clark: No. But, like, she said, eventually I'll have to choose sides.
John Jones: You can't. You are here for something far greater, Clark. You will be the ambassador who bridges all the sides together.

John Jones: Your preparations for war are unnecessary. You're simply reacting out of fear.
Amanda Waller: Fear? Fear is what prompts us to protect ourselves. And studying fear gives us insight to others' phobias.

Clark: Release her now.
Amanda Waller: You sure are nice to look at, but I'd like to have my cake and eat it too.

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ComicsThe Comic · Season 11 · Miniseries