- For a human being possessed by a Kryptonian, see Kryptonian vessel.
→ see also Category:Screencaps from episode 5x22
At the Kent Farm, the animals act restless and a bright light flashes outside. At the Luthor Mansion, Lex awakens from Lana's embrace and clutches at his head as the light shines through the windows. He abruptly leaves, and starts driving at dangerous speeds, with Lana following and trying to call him on her cell phone. He comes to a halt and gets out as Lana follows him across a creek and through the woods. In the middle of a field, Lex yells to Lana to stay back and then the ground erupts all around him in a circle of dirt and light. A shadow passes overhead and Milton Fine appears behind Lana, saying he's "preparing" Lex, as the black ship appears overhead. A beam of light shines down on Lex. Lana starts running towards the light, but Lex is gone, and the only thing left is a huge Mark of Zod symbol burned into the ground.
At the Kent Farm, Lois is trying to get plane tickets for Martha when Lionel shows up and offers her transportation. It's clear he's trying to get closer to her. Lana arrives at the Daily Planet to tell Chloe what she saw. Chloe goes to the barn to tell Clark. Chloe warns against Clark listening to Jor-El but Clark goes to the Fortress. Jor-El explains that the ship and Fine are a single construct that won't stop until Zod is released. Jor-El says Zod's physical body was destroyed and he needs a "vessel". A knife appears and Jor-El tells Clark he must use it to destroy the vessel – no matter who it is.
Clark meets with Chloe again and tells her he doesn't want to kill anyone. Chloe figures that Lex is the vessel and Clark announces he may have to kill Lex as Lana overhears him from outside the room. Clark is at the barn considering the knife when Lionel arrives and reveals he's written more warnings from Jor-El. The new warning says, "Sacrifice the vessel," and Clark tells Lionel that Lex is the vessel. Back in the field, Lex is lying unconscious within the Zod symbol. He gets to his feet as Lionel arrives and warns him there's nothing he can do. When he reaches for Lex, Lex throws him away with super strength and into a car windshield. Lex super speeds over as Lionel looks on in horror, then Lex super speeds away to the manor.
Lana is there and he shoots himself with a gun to reveal that he is bulletproof as well. Lex says it's still him, but Lana backs away in horror momentarily. But she comes back to him as he confesses he couldn't keep anything secret from her. Lana reveals that she overheard Clark planning to kill him. Lex needs to go and tells Lana she can't come with him, but she can meet him on the LuthorCorp roof that night. Clark meets with Lionel who confesses he taught Lex to be completely ruthless, although Clark believes that will give Lex what he needs to fight against Zod. Lionel warns Clark may have to sacrifice Lex or Lana.
Clark arrives at the manor to confront Lex, and finds Lana. She refuses to betray Lex, because, unlike Clark, Lex always tells her the truth. She orders Clark to tell her what is going on, and he can't bring himself to do it. She spits that she doesn't know why she ever thought she loved him, and storms out angrily. Fine arrives to taunt Clark and reveals that Clark was supposed to be the vessel but Clark had too much of Jor-El's spirit in him. He offers Clark one more chance, but when Clark refuses, Fine uses his affinity for humans against him. He vows to destroy all of them, and downloads a computer virus into Lex's nearby laptop. As a result, every power system in the state begins to shut down.
Clark meets with Chloe at the Daily Planet and she reveals there's an electronic virus and it's spreading – every major city in the world will soon be infiltrated. They're interrupted by a car flying in through the window – Clark super speeds in front of it, and catches it with one hand, shielding Chloe from harm. He rushes out to save who he can, but Chloe makes him realize that he can't save everyone, he must do what he was destined to do. Before he leaves, Chloe kisses him passionately, in case they never see each other again. The phone rings - it is Lex, telling Clark to meet him.
Lois and Martha are boarding Lionel's LuthorCorp plane. They talk about Lionel's frequent offers to give Martha favors, and Lois alludes to the possibility that Martha may have feelings for him. Later, they are in flight when they realize the surroundings look strange - they see mountains in the distance. They are unaware that a Brainiac copy is flying the plane. Lois tries to get the pilot's door open without success as the oxygen begins to run out. Martha collapses and Lois manages to open the oxygen masks but collapses before she can get to them.
Clark goes to the barn to meet Lex and the two spar verbally before they fight. In the fight, Clark defeats Lex and draws the knife and holds it to Lex's throat and Fine appears to goad him on. Clark refuses and throws the knife into Fine. It glows red as do the lights at the fortress, and a burst of energy shoots into the sky. Fine reveals Clark has opened the portal to Zod, and the energy slams into Fine and then Lex. Fine disappears and Lex turns to speak as Zod. Lex/Zod tells Clark that he has no choice but to join him or he will destroy Earth. When Clark refuses, Lex/Zod tosses the circle out into the sky and it pulls Clark in.
Riots are breaking out across the world as Chloe makes her way across Metropolis. She spots Lionel's limo and gets in with him, but the mob overwhelms the car and pulls them out. Lana is on her way to LuthorCorp where Lex/Zod is waiting for her as Lex promised. Lana assures him that she wouldn't fail and Lex/Zod kisses her. And across the globe, the power goes out as Clark hangs suspended within Zod's former prison, in the Phantom Zone, drifting off through space.
- Tom Welling as Clark Kent
- Kristin Kreuk as Lana Lang
- Michael Rosenbaum as Lex Luthor and Zod
- Erica Durance as Lois Lane
- Allison Mack as Chloe Sullivan
- John Glover as Lionel Luthor
- Annette O'Toole as Martha Kent
- John Schneider as Jonathan Kent (credit only)
Special Guest Star
- Vessel refers to "a craft, usually a boat or an air ship".
- The Black Ship makes an appearance in the episode.
- Vessel also refers to "a person regarded as a holder or receiver of something, esp. something non-material".
- This episode features Lex Luthor becoming a Kryptonian vessel for General Zod.
- Antagonist: Brainiac and General Zod
- Clark uses the following abilities in this episode: super strength, super speed, accelerated vision.
- Brainiac uses the following abilities in this episode: Super speed, Duplication, Hacking.
- Jor-El says that Fine is controlled by the Brain InterActive Construct. Brain InterActive Construct contains Brainiac's name. It is the first time that it is mentioned in the series.
- In a deleted scene, the inside of the Black Ship is shown. Brainiac is shown preparing Lex, with the ship bigger on the inside and totally white where Brainiac is putting the Phantom Zone bracelet on Lex and also projecting the powers on him. This deleted scene was in the trailers of Vessel before it aired, which meant this was a late removal to the episode.
- If counting the dream in Slumber, this is the 6th time Lex has discovered Clark's secret, though this time the information is lost when Lex is possessed by Zod. The other times occurred in Hug, Shattered, Onyx and the alternate timeline of Reckoning.
- Lex is the first main character who discovers Clark Kent's secret in a season finale.
- This episode marks the first time that Clark and Chloe kissed without being forced to in one way or another since the Season One finale Tempest.
- Chloe mentions "Y2K", which is likely a reference to the Superman: Y2K comic book, in which Brainiac 13 attacks Earth.
In Other Media
- As many viewers are aware, Lex and Clark will battle each other many times in the future, but most of the time with one having the greater advantage. This marks the first time when both of them are evenly matched.
- Jor-El says that Zod's body was destroyed on Krypton before the planet was destroyed, in contrast to his portrayal in the comics and the films Superman and Superman II, in which prisoners enter the Phantom Zone bodily(though this is reinstituted when Zod's clone merges with his phantom, thus making Zod whole and complete again).
- Fine says that Clark's weakness is humans; Zod in Superman II also had a similar line.
- Lex becoming a vessel for Zod is similar to the plot of the second season of the Justice League Unlimited animated series, where it is revealed that Brainiac implanted a copy of itself inside Lex's body, along with curing it of cancer and giving it superstrength, so that it will serve as a reasonable temporary host until Brainiac could transfer into an Amazo-type android.
- This is the season 5 finale.
- This was the final episode (in the terms of newly released episodes) of Smallville to air on The WB network before The CW's launch on September 18, 2006. Zod was the first episode that was released on The CW.
- Like season 4's finale with Batman Begins, this finale featured a 7 minute preview of Superman Returns, which was released later in the summer.
- This is also the first season finale to not feature Jonathan Kent.
- This is the last time John Schneider is credited in the title sequence, even though this is his tenth appearence in the titles after the character's death.
- This is the 5th episode to follow a previous episode that finished with the credit "To be continued", making both episodes an official multi-part story. The other episodes that followed a previous episode that had ended with "To be continued" were Vortex, Exodus, Phoenix, Arrival, Zod, Bizarro, and Lazarus.
- This is the 3rd season which finishes with the credit "To be continued". Simultaneously, this is the 6th episode which culminates with this expression. The other episodes were: Tempest, Calling, Exile, Commencement, Oracle, Phantom and Salvation.
- With the "To be continued" credit that ended the previous episode and the "To be continued" credit that ends this episode, this episode, Oracle, and Zod become the only official 3-part story in the entire series
- Chloe jokingly says to Lana that she thought she was living with a ghost. She adds that it wouldn't be the first time. The "first time" happened in Tomb.
- This episode marks the 3rd time Clark wears his Red jacket/Blue shirt outfit in a season finale after Season Three's Finale Covenant and Season Four's finale Commencement.
- Zod's essence was first seen briefly in Solitude.
- This episode marks the 38th appearance of Clark's red jacket and blue shirt outfit, which he wears frequently throughout the series.
- Brainiac returns in the Season Seven episode Persona.
- Clark and Chloe's kiss in this episode has been referenced several times since it happened. Clark wanted to talk about it right afterward in Zod, Chloe referenced it in Season Seven's Gemini, and she remembers it in Season Eight's Abyss and mentions it again in Hex.
- General Zod later regains a body, when his phantom possesses the body of his younger clone in 2010 while both were trapped in the Phantom Zone.
- The kiss between Clark and Chloe is chronologically their last; their first kiss would be later shown in Abyss.
- Chloe mentions "Y2K", which is likely a reference the Y2K end of the world scare that revolved around the belief that on January 1, 2000 at 12:00 AM all the worlds technology would fail.
- Clark: Fine has returned to release Zod. What am I supposed to do?
- Jor-El: Fine is merely an extension of the craft, that can regenerate in any form.
- Clark: If Fine is part of the ship, then who's controlling it?
- Jor-El: It's not just a ship. It's the Brain InterActive Construct, an advanced technology that will stop at nothing until its master, Zod, has been released.
- Clark: Jor-El wants me to kill the person who will be the vessel. Zod will possess a human form, destroy Earth just as he did Krypton. But I can't kill anyone. You of all people should know that.
- Lionel: Clark, the real test of a hero is knowing when the greater good will be served by an evil act. To save the Earth, the cost of one life is the price that must be paid.
- Clark: Even if that life is your son? Lex is the vessel of Zod. He was abducted this morning, out of Mayer's Field.
- Lex (to Clark): I used to think you had this strong inner core. You were so virtuous. And yet you lie... all the time! To me, to Lana, to all the people who cared about you. What kind of sick person would do that?
- Lex: You tried to warn me about Fine, but I didn't listen.
- Lionel: You never have. No matter what I've given you, the things you've always wanted were beyond your grasp. This time you've overreached yourself.
- Lex: Did you come out here to lecture me or to help me?
- Lionel: It's too late to do either, isn't it? You made a deal with the devil. He always comes to collect.
- Chloe: The entire city is shutting down. I mean, it's like 'Y2K' on acid.
- Milton Fine: You've opened the portal for Zod!!
- Clark: Why are you here?
- Lex/Zod: For the same reason as anyone who'd been imprisoned like a beast: revenge.
- Clark: I'll never join you.
- Lex/Zod: I hope that's a decision you'll be able to live with... forever.
- TV.com (summary and recap source)
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