Much to Clark's surprise, Martha Kent returns to Smallville with her new boyfriend, Perry White in town. Lois and Perry realize they are both working on the same story about the Red Queen, and decide to team up, which ultimately puts them in serious danger. Chloe helps Clark search for the Book of Rao, which they believe contains information on how to stop Zod and his army. Meanwhile, Maxwell Lord kidnaps Tess and holds her hostage.
→ see also Category:Screencaps from episode 9x20
At the Kent house, Clark searches for the Book of Rao where Jor-El hid it and discovers that it is no longer there. He informs Chloe, who is busy trying to reassemble the Watchtower. Chloe figures that Zod was trying to recover the Book of Rao and warns Clark about it. At that moment, Clark hears something and goes to investigate, only to find Lois sneaking around. She claims that since they've been fired from the Daily Planet, she's been trying to keep herself financially afloat and insists that they need to try and get their jobs back. Lois tells him that she has a story that will get them hired back but Clark doesn't seem concerned about their jobs. Lois explains to Clark that she needs to find a "purpose" in life and Clark tries to calm her and tells her she is overreacting. Lois is offended and wonders why he's not working to save their jobs.
Clark continues to try to get Lois to calm down but she suggests they should take a break from their relationship. Before he can respond, Martha Kent returns home and comes in the front door. Clark asks what she is doing there and Martha explains that she has come to visit her son and asks why he wasn't at the Planet. He lies and explains that he's working from home, and then Martha spots Lois and invites her to stay for dinner. Without knowing what to say, Lois accepts and then Martha says that all four are going to have a very good time. Clark wonders why she says four of them and then Perry White comes in with her luggage and Martha introduces him as the man that she is dating.
Martha goes to the barn to remember old times and reminisces about her time spent with Jonathan, and then Clark comes in. Martha explains that the Senate broke earlier for recess and apologizes to Clark for not being home for so long. She confesses that she couldn't face the memories before, but that Perry has helped her to come back. Martha tells Clark how proud she is of who he has become and that she is happy knowing Clark has someone in his life. Meanwhile, Lois is very excited about meeting the famous Perry White and tries to impress him. Perry tells her that he has read some articles written by her and Clark, and then Lois says that she has a major story of her own. She shows Perry a photo of the Blur and tells him that she believes there are aliens among us, and shows Perry a drawing of the Book of Rao. Perry becomes impressed with the drawing and then shows her one story that he's been covering for months which involves the same artifact, someone named Red Queen and an agency called Checkmate. After they swap details and discover they're both working on the same story, Perry proposes that they write the story together.
At the Luthor Mansion, Tess wakes up to find that she has been kidnapped and is being held hostage inside her own room. There are bars on the windows and a huge metal door keeping her locked in. She quickly guesses that Checkmate is holding her captive, and then Maxwell Lord comes in and smashes her to the floor, demanding the location of the Book of Rao.
Very nostalgic, Martha prepares dinner as Lois comes down and then Martha asks her how she and Clark are doing, noting that Perry tells her that they haven't been writing together. Lois fakes that they're OK, but can't lie to Martha and nearly reveals that she felt better helping a "friend", referring to the Blur, because she needed a purpose in her life and found this with him. Martha explains how she found her purpose when she came to Smallville and tells Lois that she needs to look inside herself to discover hers.
At the Watchtower, Chloe attempts to find more information about the location of the Book of Rao on the web, but is blocked by a virus set by the Red Queen; she informs Clark about this. She tells Clark that the Red Queen is not part of Checkmate. Clark says he will investigate after going to dinner with his mother and Perry because he feels obligated to both of them. Clark finds Perry and suspects of him drinking alcohol again, but Perry demonstrates otherwise and then informs him that he is covering a story with Lois. Perry confesses to Clark that he wants to propose to Martha at dinner, but Clark suggests that Martha might not give him the answer he's looking for because she is not ready for that.
Clark continues trying to fix his relationship with Lois, but she becomes very closed to the possibility, and both start arguing again. Martha then reappears and Clark and Lois pretend to be happy again. Martha is shocked to see what appears to be Jonathan coming in the door, but turns out be Perry wearing Jonathan's jacket. Martha leaves the room concealing her tears and Clark then explains to Perry what happened.
The dinner comes and everybody enjoys the food. Lois and Clark continue painting a false picture of their lives but the situation becomes increasingly strained. Lois can't handle the situation anymore and decides to tell the truth to Mrs. Kent. She confesses that they have been fired from the Daily Planet and that they are also taking a break in their relationship. Clark insists they can fix it, but Lois decides to breaks up with him, in front of his mother and Perry, saying that she needs time to herself, without Clark and without the Blur. Lois apologizes for everything and leaves the table, and Clark follows her and reaches her at the door. He asks her not to do this, but Lois tells him that if he really loves her, he should let her go. Perry tells Martha that he is going to make sure that Lois gets home safe since they have a story to finish. He gets up from the table, dropping his briefcase and files. Martha recognizes the Book of Rao on the drawing and becomes very concerned about it. Perry leaves after Lois, and Martha and Clark stay on the porch.
At the Luthor Mansion, Maxwell brings Oliver to Tess's room and she goes to help him. Oliver blames Tess for everything that is happening and accuses her of setting up the whole thing as an act to learn about the Book of Rao; he also accuses her of being the Red Queen.
Martha talks with Clark about what has happened and he apologizes for lying to her. Martha says that she understands. Clark confesses his problems with his double identity and Lois. He says that Lois is a different person when she talks with the Blur and that for some reason, she's not ready to share that side with him. Martha tells Clark that the only way to bring Lois back is to be honest with her and take the next step in their relationship; otherwise he will have to let her go. Meanwhile, at the Talon apartment, Lois and Perry find that it has been raided. They suspect that the Red Queen is behind everything. Lois finds the cellphone that Amanda Waller had given her and calls Checkmate, demanding a meeting with the Red Queen. However, the line seems to have been canceled and instead contacts Lois with a Mexican restaurant. Knowing that the whole thing is a screen to cover for Checkmate, Perry takes the phone and threatens to publish the entire history of the Red Queen if they do not put them in contact with her, but the communication is cut. After a while the phone rings again and a voice gives the coordinates to find the Red Queen. Lois and Perry feel excited.
Clark meets Vala and she accuses him of killing her sister, but Clark denies it. He asks her if Zod has the Book of Rao and why it is so important. Vala explains that the Book could finish their lives on earth and that Zod can't find it because someone named Red Queen blocked all his moves. Clark asks her if she knows who the Red Queen is, and Vala replies that it is Tess Mercer.
Back at the Mansion, Maxwell tortures Oliver to force Tess to reveal the location of the book and then threatens her with killing him. Tess pleads for Oliver's life. Maxwell gives her a last chance and then Oliver tries to persuade her to reveal what she knows, saying that she has always been the only woman in his life. In that moment, Tess realizes that all this is an illusion generated by Lord. She knocks him down, breaking through his illusion and returning to her body. Tess then knocks Lord out and escapes. Maxwell calls the Red Queen to tell her what happened and then falls to the ground in agony.
Perry and Lois go to meet the Red Queen and wait for her at the Metro Coffee Shop until she appears on top of a rooftop. They climb the fire escape to try to talk to her. As Lois reaches the roof, Perry slips and is left hanging on the fire escape ladder dangling from the building. Lois drops a cable to him just as Clark shows up and sees Lois rescue Perry from potential death. Meanwhile, the Red Queen gets into her limo and drives away, but just at that moment Clark appears and stops the car, ripping open the door. He demands that she give him the Book of Rao. The Red Queen exposes him to green kryptonite and knocks him down while she escapes.
Clark goes to see Chloe at the Watchtower and informs her that Tess is probably the Red Queen, but then Chloe informs him that Tess was being treated for broken ribs at Metropolis General while Clark was confronting the Red Queen. Clark asks Chloe how long they have to wait until the systems of the Watchtower start working again, and Chloe says it could take a little time. Clark tells Chloe that he has seen her rebuild the Watchtower in one night and asks her what is happening. Chloe then confesses that the Watchtower was ready but that she wasn't. She tells Clark that she has known about the Book of Rao for months but didn't tell him because she lost sight of the things that really matter. Chloe explained that when Clark abandoned her, she retreated into Watchtower and withdrew from the world, but that now she has Oliver and wants to go back to the real world and that she's not a hero and virtual reality bites. Clark tells her that what she's created is more important than both of them and could help future generations, and that because of this, she is as much a hero as the rest of them. He insists that he needs her and then Chloe decides to be Watchtower again and open the sealed doors. Chloe confesses to Clark that all that she had done was to protect him and then Clark realizes who could be the Red Queen.
Tess returns to the real Luthor Mansion and goes to the wine cellar to take the Book of Rao from a hidden space. Then the Red Queen appears behind her, who turns out to be Martha Kent. Martha forces Tess to give her the disc, accuses her of being predictable and tells her that if she is not careful, she might end up on the wrong side in the coming Apocalypse. Martha warns Tess not to approach Clark Kent again and disappears.
The next day, Lois and Perry go to the Daily Planet where Perry confesses that he managed to get Lois and Clark's job back after talking with the editor. He says goodbye to Lois. Lois thanks him and after Perry leaves, Lois goes to her desk and finds a note from the Blur, saying it's finally time to meet.
At the Kent Farm, Clark finds Martha cooking in the kitchen and asks her when she is going away. Martha tells him that she never let go of Clark and will return soon. Then Clark confronts her for being the Red Queen. Martha is shocked by this revelation and then explains to Clark that when she went to Washington she discovered that there were forces working against him and that the only way she found to fight against them was to create the Red Queen. Martha confesses to Clark that she always thought the world needed him more than her, but that the truth is that she was afraid of losing him. Clark says he needs the Book of Rao. Martha gives it to him and warns of the effects of the disk, saying that it could exile all Kryptonians to a different plane of existence, including Clark himself.
- Tom Welling as Clark Kent
- Allison Mack as Chloe Sullivan
- Erica Durance as Lois Lane
- Cassidy Freeman as Tess Mercer
- Callum Blue as Zod (credit only)
- Justin Hartley as Oliver Queen
Special Guest Stars
- A hostage is a person or entity which is held by a captor.
- The title refers to Maxwell Lord kidnapping Tess and holding her hostage; it could also refer to Lois feeling her personal life being held hostage due to her love for Clark and The Blur (respectively).
- Clark jokingly tells Chloe on the phone that 'he and Lois are being held hostage' at home for dinner with his mom and her boyfriend, Perry White.
- Lois says her clothes are being held hostage at the dry cleaners.
- Antagonist: Maxwell Lord
- Zod does not appear in this episode. While Oliver Queen does appear, he's only present during Lord's illusion that he created in order to get Tess to tell him the location of the Book of Rao.
- This episode marks the first on screen appearance of Perry White actually working for the Daily Planet in the Smallville universe.
- This episode mentions Jonathan Kent frequently; even his old jacket is seen, worn by Perry.
- Although several references are made earlier during the season calling Lois "the woman you love", this episode marks the first time that Clark himself admits he has fallen in love with her.
- When trying to convince Chloe to be Watchtower again, Clark says "We're on the brink of war, Chloe, and the world needs you. I need you." This is similar to how Chloe says that "We need you! I need you!" when she tries to convince him to stop Brainiac in Apocalypse.
In Other Media
- Lois mentions the "Star City Strangler" to Perry. This is verbally similar to the "Star City Slayer", a serial killer in the Green Arrow comics.
- In the comics, Martha and Perry have never shared a romantic relationship, due to the fact Perry is married to Alice White, and Jonathan Kent died only recently.
- Perry White utters the famous catch phrase, "Great Caesar's Ghost!". In the comics, this is Perry's favorite expression he uses when things are not going well.
- Lois calls Perry "Chief", which is a nickname that Jimmy and Lois use in the comics to irritate him into a frenzy as a running gag. Perry usually responds by saying, "Don't call me Chief".
- This is not the first time that Annette O'Toole and Michael McKean have played a couple on a television series. They did so in season ten (1999-2000) of Law and Order in the episode "Mega", and also in the season six finale of Boy Meets World.
- Annette O'Toole and Michael McKean are married in real life.
- Annette O'Toole returns to portray Martha Kent after three years of absence.
- Martha Kent was last seen in the Season Six finale Phantom.
- Perry White appears for the first time since Season Three's Perry, over 6 years ago. Next to Greg Arkin, this is the longest time for a character to return to the series.
- The Book of Rao was last mentioned in Sacrifice.
- Perry mentions an announcement in the Daily Planet newspaper, referring to when Lois assumed she and Clark were engaged while under Clark's hypnotic trance in Persuasion.
- Lois retrieves her Checkmate cell phone given to her in Absolute Justice, Part 2 from her Metropolis Wonder-Con outfit last seen in Warrior.
- Lois breaks up with Clark in this episode. Their relationship started in Pandora.
- Clark and Lois get their jobs back, thanks to Perry, in this episode. They were fired in Charade. Perry tells Lois he has now repaid the favor he owed Clark for saving his life in Perry.
- Perry mentions Franklin Stern who was last seen in Charade.
- Perry White is left holding on for his life in this episode, a scene which also occurred in his last appearance in Perry. Lois tells White to hang on, to which he replies "That's what I tried last time." This references the time that Clark saved his life.
- Maxwell Lord returns in the employment of the Red Queen, as last seen at the end of the episode Charade.
- Martha Kent mentions the coming Apokolips, just like Amanda Waller did in Absolute Justice, Part 2.
- This is the first episode since Warrior that Lois appears in where she isn't in any physical danger.
- This is the last appearance of the Talon until season 10's Shield.
- Amanda Waller was mentioned by Lois. She was last seen in Sacrifice.
- Perry and Lois both mentioned the Checkmate Castle being destroyed. It was Zod who destroyed it in Sacrifice.
- This episode marks the 18th appearance of Clark's "black" Blur outfit, which he wears frequently throughout season 9 (except for Kandor, Society, & Escape) and in the season 10 premiere Lazarus. He previously wore this outfit in Savior, Metallo, Rabid, Echo, Roulette, Crossfire, Idol, Pandora, Disciple, Legends, Warrior, Persuasion, Conspiracy, Checkmate, Upgrade, Charade, & Sacrifice.
- Perry White: (to Lois) This is your lucky day, kid. The big break most people dream about. You get to write a story with Perry White.
- Perry White: Great Caesar's ghost.
- Tess: The Red Queen I presume.
- Martha: Don't turn around. Slowly set the disk on the floor and slide it back to me.
- Tess: Sorry I sent your mind-reader packing.
- Martha: Don't be. I'm not a fan of his tactics, but he got the job done.
- Tess: You meant for me to get away. How did you know I'd come here?
- Martha: You're predictable.
- Tess: You may be really good at staying one step ahead of Checkmate, but you don't know the first thing about me.
- Martha: You say you're saving the planet, but you really only care about yourself. You figured out Maxwell's charade because you know in your heart that Oliver's declaration of love was a lie. You can't comprehend what it means to truly protect someone you love. And stay away from Clark Kent. If you're not careful, you'll end up on the wrong side of the coming Apokolips.
- Clark: I wish you could come back and visit more often.
- Martha: I had to let go of this place for a while, Clark, but I never let go of you. I'll be back soon.
- Clark: Maybe next time you can ease up on the kryptonite.
- Clark: Are you okay, mom?
- Martha: It's just... I told myself the world needs Clark Kent even more than I do. But the truth is, I was so afraid of losing you.
- Clark: You'll never lose me, I'll always be here for you.
- Martha: You don't understand. The Book of Rao can be used to transport the Kandorians to another plane of existence.
- Clark: That may be the answer we need.
- Martha: Clark, if the Book of Rao is used to send the Kandorians away, all Kryptonians will be exiled from Earth, including you.
- Clark: When will Watchtower be up and running?
- Chloe: Well, I can't exactly call the Geek Squad, Clark, and I haven't really had much time to...
- Clark: I've seen you overhaul Watchtower in one night, Chloe. What's the hold up?
- Chloe: Watchtower's all ready to go. (pause) I'm not. (pause) Clark, I found that footage of Jor-El and the Book of Rao months ago.
- Clark: Why didn't you tell me?
- Chloe: I'm sorry. (talking with her back to Clark) Ya know, I got tangled in my own little world wide web, and I just lost track of what was important. Clark, when you disappeared from my life, I retreated into Watchtower. And as I became Big Brother, I guess more like Big Sister... It's easy to think that having all the information is the same as having all the answers. But I can't be the eye the sky anymore, Clark. And now that I have Ollie, I wanna plug into the real world. Virtual reality bites.
- Clark: Chloe, what you've created here - it's bigger than both of us. It'll go on to serve future generations.
- Chloe: (turning to face Clark) I'm not the hero here.
- Clark: (grabbing Chloe by the shoulders and looking her in the eye) You may not be saving people from train wrecks, Chloe, or shoot outs, but you are just as much a hero as the rest of us. We're on the brink of war, Chloe, and the world needs you. I need you.
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