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"Descent" is the sixteenth episode in the seventh season of Smallville, and the one hundred-forty-eighth episode overall. It aired on April 17, 2008.


The secret of Veritas leads Lex in a dangerous direction that puts Clark and Lex in each others' crosshairs.


→ see also Category:Screencaps from episode 7x16

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Lex is about to push Lionel out of the window.

At LuthorCorp, Lionel enters his office to find Lex there waiting for him. Lex asks him about the Traveler, which Lionel says are lies that Patricia Swann made up.

Lex angrily tells him that he knows it wasn't an accident that Lionel brought him to Smallville the day of the meteor shower and that he was there to meet the Traveler. Lex points out that his life changed forever that day and wants to know who the Traveler is; Lionel thinks fast and tells him that Lex himself is the Traveler. Lex says he is lying and that, when he opens the box in Zurich, all his questions will be answered. He then pulls a gun on Lionel, who pleads with him, and asks Lionel for the second key before shooting the window behind Lionel. Lex tells Lionel he searched everywhere and realized Lionel would only trust himself. Lex says he was raised in his father's shadow and now Lionel would die in his son's and that nobody will remember his name. Lex then pushes Lionel out of the window to his death.


Lionel's descent to death

At the Daily Planet, Clark and Chloe are looking for Brainiac and Kara by looking at power surges, when there is a commotion and Lois enters and says that Lionel jumped out of his office window; Clark and Chloe go to see. They leave the Daily Planet and go across the street to see a crime scene where Maggie Sawyer asks Lex to identify the body. Lex moves away from the body and sees his younger self in a vision who says, "You killed Dad." Lex then regains focus and sees Clark looking at him accusingly. He walks away from the scene quickly, and Clark walks beside him; the two are separated by the crowd and the crime scene tape. Chloe catches up and tells Clark about Lionel's behavior that night. Clark confirms that Lionel wanted to give him a locket earlier, but Clark ignored him.

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Gina comes to see Lex.

In the mansion, Gina comes to see Lex and says she's sorry to hear about Lionel. Lex tells Gina about how Lionel took him to the Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., and that he loved things that could fly, and that Lionel told him that the right man can make anything possible. Gina puts her hand on Lex's shoulder and notices the locket, telling Lex that Lionel was cruel and sadistic and that nobody will ever know Lex killed Lionel. She takes the locket and sees the locket is empty. Lex says Lionel gave it to somebody and blames Gina, who was spotted in the basement of the Daily Planet. He tells her to get the helicopter ready. After Gina leaves, Lex's younger self appears again and tortures Lex about killing Lionel. Lex gets angry and says he had no choice, throwing a whiskey bottle into the fire where his younger self was standing.

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Clark reads Lionel's last message.

Clark sneaks into Lionel's office to look at the crime scene and breaks into the vault to look for the locket. He notices many items before finding a box with Kryptonian symbols on it that lights up when Clark touches it. The symbols read: "For Kal-El, in the event of my death." Clark activates the device, and a Kryptonian message appears from the end of the box. Lionel's voice is heard, delivering a message for Kal-El that he cannot protect Clark anymore. He explains to Clark about the two lockets and that there is a way of controlling Clark and that he must save himself.

Lois enters the Daily Planet's photographic archive to find Jimmy looking at a picture of Lionel in Lex's office. Lois slates Jimmy for wanting to stay and search Lex's office, and Jimmy tells Lois that they have proof of Lionel's death by zooming in on a spot in the image that shows Lionel being pushed out of the window. Lois tells him to zoom in more, but Jimmy says his computer isn't powerful enough, though the computers at the Isis Foundation will be perfect. Jimmy says they will tell Chloe because they need her skills.

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Lex finds the key and Chloe is fired.

Chloe enters the basement and goes through her desk drawer, where she finds an envelope with the Kryptonian symbol for "S" on it; the key Lionel left for Clark drops out of the envelope. When she sees Lex coming, she quickly destroys the envelope and puts the key in her drawer. Lex asks Chloe for the key, but Chloe denies she has it and that she should check her desk. Lex then checks the drawer himself and Chloe denies she knew it. Lex questions Chloe about the key, but she says she doesn't know what it is for. Lex then fires Chloe, and security escorts her out without a chance to clear her things. Gina enters and tells Lex to go back to the mansion while she will clear up Chloe's things. She finds Chloe's cell phone in her drawer and reads a text message from Jimmy to meet up, because they have evidence that Lionel was murdered.

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Lois is shot by Gina.

Lois and Jimmy are waiting for Chloe when Gina enters. She pulls a gun on Lois and Jimmy and takes them down to the kitchens where they try and tell her that they wanted to delete it, but Gina says they are lying and that she wants to know where they sent the image. Lois tries to attack her, so Gina shoots her and asks again for the image's location. Jimmy finally tells her, and she locks them in the freezer. Jimmy rests Lois down and tries banging on the freezer door.

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Clark finds Chloe on the floor.

Chloe is at the Isis Foundation when Clark enters and tells Chloe about the message Lionel left for him and that the keys are the secret. Chloe says that Lionel left one of the keys for Clark in her desk, but Lex took it. Clark realizes that Lex killed Lionel for the key and super-speeds off. He arrives at the mansion and looks for the key, but the locket is empty. Lex interrupts Clark and tells him to leave, but Clark says he isn't going anywhere. Lex's younger self is seen again and tells Lex to tell Clark that he killed Lionel, but Lex ignores him and tells Clark that their fathers were alike. Clark asks Lex about how Lionel died, but Lex avoids the questions and says that Lionel and Jonathan both thought Clark was the perfect son. Lex says then when he first met Clark, he inspired him, but he turned his back on him. Clark says it is his (Lex's) own fault for wanting power and control. Lex says that somebody had to take control because of the alien symbols and the strange occurrences that have happened in Smallville. He then asks Clark why Lionel would turn to a simple farm boy and why Jonathan was so stressed all the time trying to raise the perfect son and blames Clark for Jonathan's death. An angry Clark then tells Lex he is going to own up to killing Lionel, but Lex says Clark is delusional. Clark says he has proof.

At the Isis Foundation, Chloe is trying to enlarge the image to find Lionel's killer. Just as she sees Lex in the photograph, Gina comes from behind her and knocks Chloe out, then deletes the image with a virus. She hears Clark coming and hides. Clark finds Chloe on the floor, and Chloe tells Clark she saw Lex in the photo. She asks about the key and tells him that if Lex has both keys, he can control Clark. Clark asks where Lois and Jimmy are. Chloe doesn't know, so Clark says he is going to find them and super-speeds away, with Gina watching.

In the freezer, Jimmy is talking to Lois, unsuccessfully trying to keep her conscious. Clark uses his super hearing to find them, and super-speeds to the freezer. Jimmy has passed out, so Clark warms both him and Lois up with his heat vision. Jimmy awakens just after Clark speeds away.

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Gina is killed by an unknown man.

Gina is leaving the Isis Foundation, leaving a message on Lex's phone saying she knows who the Traveler is, when an unknown man comes from behind her and poisons her. The assailant places Gina in her car and starts the engine before leaving her dead.

At the mansion, Lex is telling one of his people to get the jet ready for Zürich after the funeral. Lex's younger self appears to him again and tells Lex that he will always be there and that there is still good inside of him, and not to go to Zürich. Lex says he has to go and that it is all he has left. Young Lex says that he has him, but Lex says he is done listening and drags his younger self down the stairs and in front of the fire. Lex tells his young self that he makes him weak, and then throws him into the fire.


Clark and Lex at Lionel's grave.

Clark is in the loft contemplating a picture of Jonathan and the message from Lionel when Chloe enters and tells him that Lionel's funeral is closed off to everybody but Lex. Clark tells Chloe that every father figure in his life died because of him: Jor-El putting him in the ship, Jonathan taking on Kryptonian superpowers to bring him back from Metropolis, and Lionel protecting his secret. He asks Chloe how a son can murder his own father, and Chloe replies that it is total absence of love. Chloe also tells him that he must get the keys away from Lex. Clark says he won't let Lex kill anyone else.

Lex is standing over Lionel's grave alone when Clark arrives. Lex responds by secretly and briefly smiling, suggesting he was happy Clark showed up. Clark stands opposite Lex, and they exchange stares but do not speak. Lex walks past Clark, and Clark sprinkles a handful of soil into Lionel's grave.



Guest Starring[]





  • Descent refers to a downward inclination or slope.
  • The title refers to two major falls in the episode. First, Lionel Luthor falls 40 stories to his death. Also, Lex Luthor completes his fall into darkness.
  • Descent also refers to one's ancestry. The title refers to the two main father and son relationships and how even Lionel thought of Clark as a son. Both fathers thought Clark was the perfect son (descendant) while Lex was not.


  • Antagonist: Lex Luthor and Gina
  • Clark’s Abilities: Super-Speed, Super-Hearing, Heat Vision
  • Lana Lang and Kara Kent do not appear in this episode.
  • This is the last appearance of Lionel Luthor as a series regular.
  • This is the 7th and final appearance of Gina and the only time her actress, Anna Galvin, receives "Guest Starring" billing after the opening credits. She is tied with Dr. Harden, Adam Knight, Grant Gabriel, Jeff Hage, and Faora (clone) as the 10th most frequently seen recurring character in the series after Jor-El, Nancy Adams, Brainiac, Emil Hamilton, Ethan Miller, John Jones, Nell Potter, George, and Helen Bryce. Gina, Dr. Harden, Adam, Grant, Jeff, and Faora are the most frequently seen recurring characters in the series who are tied with each other in the number of episodes they appeared in.
  • In this episode, Lex completes the cycle of patricide by killing his own father Lionel who killed his father in order to collect the insurance money years ago.
  • Lex tells Lionel that there's only one person he would trust the key with: himself. That's proven to be untrue: as the emissary of Jor-El, Lionel was willing to trust Clark's friend Chloe with the key.
  • Clark finds a message from Lionel in his LuthorCorp safe. There is a Kryptonian message on it that Clark translates out loud as, "For Kal-El in the event of my death." The actual written message in Kryptonian translates as, "For the Tarveler" (presumably, a misspelling of "Traveler").
  • The message projected on the wall in Kryptonian is actually an abridged version of the dialogue that Lionel speaks in the voice-over. Although difficult to read, the portions that are visible contain fragments from the message spoken aloud.
  • Lionel's death was originally supposed to be the cliffhanger ending of Veritas, but was moved to this episode after the resolution of the Writer's Strike.[1]
  • Lex fires Chloe from the Daily Planet. He previously fired Chloe's father Gabe Sullivan from the Smallville Fertilizer Plant in Season Three's Whisper.
  • Lois and Jimmy's scenes in the freezer mirror the scenes in Lockdown in which Lana and a wounded Lex are trapped in an overheated panic room.
  • Lionel's grave scene where Lex and Clark stand opposite each other could be interpreted as a final showdown between the two. When Jonathan Kent died in Season Five's Reckoning, Lex was seen far from the site watching. Ever since, he has come closer and closer to Clark until now when Clark's last father figure dies. Lex finally faces his archenemy.
  • Although Lionel briefly appears in a flashback in Season Ten's Abandoned, this episode is John Glover's final appearance as the character.
  • The diverting statement by Lionel to Lex about the possibility he is the Traveler and that him putting him through tests and him surviving mortal injuries explains the reason behind it is similar to Clark's diverting statement in Talisman to Professor Willowbrook about the possibility Jeremiah is the Naman documented in the prophecy.

In Other Media[]

  • The last words of Lex for Lionel were: "No one will remember your name." This is perhaps a reference of the comics where Lex's father doesn't play an important role and is only occasionally seen or mentioned.


  • The locket key Lionel gave to Chloe that was seen in Veritas was also the one Lionel stole from Robert Queen.
  • Clark sprinkles dirt on Lionel's grave, making a similar gesture of respect to the one he made in Season Five's Reckoning when Clark sprinkled dirt on Jonathan's grave.
  • Maggie Sawyer also appears in Exile, Insurgence and Exposed.
  • Also seen in Lionel's safe is the necklace he gave to Martha Kent in Arrow.
  • The Ross Creamed Corn factory is mentioned. This was the original reason given for Lionel being in Smallville during the first meteor shower. This episode reveals that the buyout was just a cover for Lionel's true motive for being present: to welcome the Traveler coming in the meteor shower.
  • Lex killing his conscience in the fireplace was the culmination of the losing struggle between his good and evil sides that was depicted in Onyx where he was physically split into two people via black kryptonite with his evil version attempting to kill the good version and Fracture where Lex's mind showed his good side losing to his dark side. It symbolically succeeded in Descent.
  • This episode marks the 72nd appearance of Clark's red jacket & blue shirt outfit, which he wears frequently throughout the series until it becomes identified as his Red-Blue Blur attire in Season Eight.
  • Clark sees an original copy of Friedrich Nietzsche's Beyond Good and Evil in Lionel's safe. This is the third appearance of Nietzsche in the series. Clark was holding "The Portable Nietzsche" in Pilot, shortly before Lana asks him, "So what are you: Man or Superman?". In Suspect, Lionel is shown reading the same copy of Beyond Good and Evil. The line he reads says, "That which is done out of love always takes place beyond what is good and evil." Nietzsche felt that compassion is the greatest human weakness, because it allows the weak to restrict the growth of the strong. Lionel trained Lex relentlessly in this philosophy, so he would never accept defeat.



Lionel: Lex, I know how strong it is, the attraction of the dark power. But it will destroy you. I can't let you go down that terrible path. You must not open that box.

Lionel: Lex. Lex, if you open that box — if you get hold of that secret — there will be no redemption for you, no redemption. Ever.
Lex: I was raised in your shadow. Now, you're gonna die in mine. No one will even remember your name.

Lionel: (voiceover of message to Clark) In my lifetime, I have known many famous and powerful men: presidents, sultans, kings, and I believed that I was superior to them all. But I've come to know the truth, Kal-El. My greatest accomplishment is that I have dedicated myself to protecting your life and serving you. For that I am grateful. But if you are reading this, it means that I can not protect you any longer from a terrible truth. Two lockets exist: two. Each one has its own key. These keys used together unlock the secret of controlling you. You must find the keys, Kal-El, or your destiny will fall into the hands of another man. You must save yourself.

Lois: You shot me?
Gina: You weren't cooperating.

Lex: The truth is, our dads were alike in another way. See, they both felt that you were the kind of son a father could be proud of.
Clark: They would've felt the same way about you, if you would've tried. What happened to you?
Lex: I did try, Clark. In fact, when we first met, you inspired me. All I wanted was to be your friend but... you turned your back on me.
Clark: So you're the person you are today, because of me? I tried to be your friend, Lex. But all you care about is power and control.
Lex: This is Smallville! Meteor freaks, alien ships, cryptic symbols. These threats are real. Someone had to take control. Someone has to protect the world.
Clark: Listen to yourself, Lex. You're so caught up in your own delusions, you've lost track of reality.

Lex: After years of pleading with my father to show me some compassion, he turned to you with open arms. Now, what would a worldly billionaire have in common with a simple farm boy?
Clark: Maybe he just knew he could trust me.
Lex: (scoffs) Of course. Everyone can trust Clark Kent. You're the perfect son. So, so why did Jonathan Kent always seem so stressed? I mean, was raising the perfect son really that much work? I wonder how much of a strain it put on his heart?
Clark: Are you blaming me for my father's death? Are you? You're the guilty one, Lex, not me. And this time you're going to own up to what you've done. I know you killed Lionel.

Chloe: Lex closed the funeral to any and all guests. In other words, Lex is the only one invited.
Clark: Lionel deserves better.

Clark: Another person who treated me like a son and died because of it.
Chloe: Clark —
Clark: Jor-El died getting me on that ship. My dad died of a heart attack from the powers he took on protecting me. And now Lionel's been murdered for protecting my secret.
Chloe: They did die for you, Clark. But ultimately, they died for all of us. There was a reason those men were in your life — each of them added something to the man that you are today.

Clark: How could Lex have done it? How does a son murder his own father?
Chloe: Total absence of love. Some say that's the definition of evil.


  1. Smallville Season 7 The Official Companion

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