Clark is shocked to discover his neighbor, Jed McNally, is holding immigrant laborers captive and forcing them to work on his farm. Feeling guilty since he sees himself as the ultimate illegal immigrant, Clark seeks help from Martha to allow a young boy and his mother to stay in the country.
→ see also Category:Screencaps from episode 6x09
A young boy, Javier Ramirez and his friend Francisco are among a group of manual laborers. Javier talks about how they should try to escape tonight, but Francisco is hesitant. Just then, one of the other laborers collapses from exhaustion. The farm's owner, Jed McNally, appears and tells everyone to get back to work. That night, as Javier and Francisco are escaping through the cornfields, they hear a rumbling and Francisco suddenly disappears into the earth. Javier makes it to the road, but Francisco is nowhere to be found.
At the Luthor Mansion, Lana and Lex confess to each other that they have both been missing sleep over Lex's proposal. Lex admits that it was impulsive and says she can take as much time as she wants to decide. He sends her on a trip to Amsterdam to see a prestigious art show.
Clark is doing his farm chores when he finds Javier in his barn. He notices the cuts on Javier's arms from running through the corn. Clark invites him inside to get cleaned up and fed. In the house, Javier says he ran away from Jed McNally's farm because no one was allowed to leave and there was little food. He tells Clark that his friend disappeared as they were trying to escape. He is from Mexico, but came here to find his mother, who works at a laundry company in Granville and has been saving for two years for him to come, but instead, he ended up at the farm. Javier admits that he's an illegal immigrant and begs Clark to not call the police. Clark volunteers to help find his friend.
Clark leaves Javier at the house and goes to Jed's under the pretense of asking to borrow a tractor part. Jed is friendly and optimistic and talks about how the second meteor shower was actually a blessing for his farm. As he goes to get the part, Clark asks the workers about Francisco and one of them mutters a phrase in Spanish that Clark doesn't understand. He leaves, but Jed looks suspicious. When Clark gets home, he is surprised to find Martha home early. He starts to tell her about Javier when Deputy Morales arrives to ask the Kents if they have seen a young boy. Clark follows Deputy Morales to the barn, but he doesn't find anything. After the deputy leaves, Clark uses his X-ray vision and sees Javier hiding in a cabinet. He tells him what the other worker said and Javier translates it. Clark is about to go check it out, but Martha catches them. Clark and Martha argue over what to do. Clark insists that Javier just wants to find his mother, but Martha says that as a Senator, she must uphold the law. Clark argues that he himself is an illegal immigrant and begs Martha to just give him 24 hours; he'll take Javier to Chloe's in the meantime.
At the Talon, Chloe and Javier look up possible laundry services in Granville when Jimmy Olsen arrives, ready to take Chloe on a romantic date. He seems disappointed that Chloe can't go, but tries to cover it up by ordering Javier a pizza.
Clark meets two of the workers again, who report that the ground "swallowed" Francisco. He X-rays the field and sees multiple skeletons under the surface. He goes to Chloe's to report what he's seen and she tells him that LuthorCorp purchased the farmland after the meteor shower. Clark goes to the mansion to confront Lex, who denies being involved. While he's gone, Jimmy tells Chloe that he thinks Clark doesn't like him because Clark is madly in love with her, but she assures him that they are just friends. As they are talking, Chloe realizes that Javier has escaped out the window. They chase him down the street, but he jumps on the back of a truck. When Clark returns, he is upset with Chloe for letting Javier leave.
Clark meets Jimmy at the McNally farm, where crime scene investigators are excavating multiple bodies. McNally is arrested, but before they can put him in the squad car, he disappears into the ground. Lex is watching the excavation on his laptop when Dr. Bauer comes in. Lex is angry that Dr. Bauer did not disclose that McNally was killing his workers, but Bauer claims he only knew that he was able to displace minerals and burrow through the earth. Lex is mad that his "test subject" will end up in jail and tells Bauer he better find McNally before the police.
Clark goes to the Daily Planet to tell Chloe about how McNally disappeared and Chloe reveals that he was buried under meteor rock for three days. She is listening to the police scanner when they both hear a report matching Javier's description at a bus stop. Clark goes to get him and speeds away with him before the police arrive. Javier is amazed, but promises not to tell.
Chloe and Jimmy find Javier's mother, Esperanza Ramirez, and take her to Smallville to reunite with her son. Clark and Javier are on their way back too, when Javier asks Clark to tell him what happened to Francisco. Clark admits that he's dead. Javier is upset and feels guilty and makes Clark stop the truck. He runs to the edge of the field and starts to cry. Clark tries to get him back into the truck, but is sucked into the ground right in front of Javier. Clark and McNally have an underground fight. Javier sees a rumbling and suddenly Clark is standing next to him again, covered in dirt. McNally also surfaces, semi-conscious. Clark and Javier arrive at the Kent farm and mother and son are reunited. Martha reports that she will help the Ramirezes obtain legal status.
Jimmy tries to convince Chloe to move back to Metropolis, but she maintains that she's happy where she is. Clark interrupts them to report that he doesn't feel satisfied that McNally was put away because he is realizing he can't solve all the world's problems.
Lana arrives home and tells Lex that she felt so powerful with the luxury of Lex's fortune and wants to use it to do good in the world, starting with the illegal immigrants working in Smallville. She goes to the Kent farm to talk to Martha about her ideas, but only Clark is home. They have a tense conversation in which Clark implies that Lex is controlling Lana. She is offended and leaves.
- Tom Welling as Clark Kent
- Kristin Kreuk as Lana Lang
- Michael Rosenbaum as Lex Luthor
- Erica Durance as Lois Lane (credit only)
- Allison Mack as Chloe Sullivan
- John Glover as Lionel Luthor (credit only)
- Annette O'Toole as Martha Kent
- Zak Santiago as Deputy Morales
- Rafael Pellerin as Francisco
- Maria Dimou as Esperanza Ramirez
- Franco Ramirez Maravilla as Young Migrant Worker
- Luis Javier as Elderly Migrant Worker
- Brad Dryborough as Dr. Bauer
- Deejay Jackson as Bus Driver
- Davide Brooke as Deputy #1
- Jason Coleman as Deputy #2
- Philip Mitchell as Guard
- "Prelude 12/21" - AFI
- Subterranean means existing, situated, or operating below the surface of the Earth.
- The title refers to the Jed McNally's ability to travel underground.
- The title could also refer to the illegal activities taking place under the eye of the law. In this case, Javier Ramirez and the other Mexicans being smuggled in.
- Antagonist: Jed McNally
- This was originally the fifth episode of the season, which is probably why Chloe seems reluctant to call Jimmy her boyfriend, as well as there being no mention of Lana's pregnancy (even though there is acknowledgement of Lex's proposal of marriage in Static).
- Lois Lane and Lionel Luthor do not appear in this episode.
- It has been unknown who became Sheriff after Nancy Adams, but in this episode Clark refers to the sheriff as a "him." This means that the new sheriff is a male.
- This is the first mid-season finale in which neither Lionel nor Jonathan appear.
- In this episode, Clark displays his ability to move underground as well. Even though it's not a new power, combining his speed and strength makes him able to move as well as Jed McNally.
- This is the second appearance of the bus station, the first being Season One's finale Tempest.
In Other Media
- Clark considers himself an "illegal immigrant". In the Justice League episode "Hereafter", Martian Manhunter calls Superman the "immigrant from the stars".
- Jimmy mentions the "freaky vine lady" (Gloria from Wither) as a reason for Chloe to move away from Smallville.
- Martha: I want to help this boy as much as you do, but I took an oath to uphold the law.
- Clark: All he's trying to do is find his mom!
- Martha: I know, but we have to go through the proper legal channels.
- Clark: Was it legal when you forged my adoption papers? I'm an illegal immigrant, Mom. You've been harboring me for over seventeen years!
- Chloe: (to Clark) I don't know anyone else who does more for this world than you.
- Martha: Sometimes when you're dealing with extraordinary people, you need to take a risk. That's a lesson I learned from my son.
- Jimmy: You play hoops? (Clark nods uncertainly) Great, cool, then we will go, uh, you know, go play a little one-on-one, and just leave it out on the court. 'Cause... I'm your bro, not your foe. Ring that bell. There it is.
- Lana: (to Clark) Unlike some people I know, Lex doesn't lie to me.
- Lana: I realized that money isn't just luxury, Lex. It's power.
- Lex: And that power can be yours too now.
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