Why The 'Smallville' Christmas Special 'Lexmas' Is Simply The Best

Smallville Lexmas Lex Luthor Michael Rosenbaum Lana Lang Kristin Kreuk The CW
The CW

If there is one Christmas special from a TV series that has gripped the heartstrings and held on for dear life, it is “Lexmas.” The “Smallville” Christmas special arrived around the zenith of the long-running superhero saga’s run. Simply put, Season 5, Episode 9 is one of yours truly’s favorite holiday entries of all time.

So, it is unfortunate that “Smallville” is streaming on Hulu instead of Netflix. Otherwise, I would have already watched it again. After all, “Lexmas” is an extraordinary hour. It is a standalone episode that centers on Lex Luthor’s ongoing internal battle between right and wrong and his true destiny. Interestingly, this is an episode that Lex’s portrayer Michael Rosenbaum also enjoyed doing, according to his must-listen-to podcast.

Back to the episode

After getting shot, Lex gets plunged into a life-and-death struggle. He wakes up to an alternate “Family Man” style reality where he goes from being a wealthy bachelor to a suburban husband and a father. Wait for it! His wife is none other than Lana Lang. Yes, Clark’s first love. If I remember correctly, “Smallville” makes some hints before “Lexmas” that it cements with this episode. The Lex/Lana/Clark triangle is official after this one.

In Lex’s dream, Lana softens his harsher angles, and Lex finally allows himself to be happy. (Yes, happy.) It is an excellent look on Lex, who is constantly hounded by his foreboding fate during most “Smallville” episodes. Hence, Lex’s Hallmark-worthy Christmas glee does not keep destiny from dishing out another fork in the road moment for him. Lex gets faced with his ultimate fate once again, and the choice proves to have real-world implications. 

“Smallville” accordingly digs into Lex’s meaty dilemma with aplomb. Hence, a Lex-centric episode is precisely what the TV doctor ordered. A dynamic characterization that breaks free of villainy’s black-and-white confines, the “Smallville” version of Lex is rare to find in superhero storytelling or adjacent lore. Instead, it is a combination of textured writing and Michael Rosenbaum’s excellently executed, multi-layered performance.

In “Lexmas,” Michael Rosenbaum gets a chance to take Lex outside of Superman’s shadow and shine in his own right. Something that, to be honest, he does irrespective of Clark’s looming presence. That is not the only character “Lexmas” serves. Lana and Kristin Kreuk also get to do something different than usual. 

During her run on “Smallville,” Kristin Kreuk has to constantly play the angst of Lana and Clark’s doomed relationship. In “Lexmas,” Kreuk gets a much-deserved break. She plays the in-love-with-Lex version of Lana with an effervescent warmth that makes Lex’s affection for her ring with gravitational truth. Michael Rosenbaum and Kreuk’s natural chemistry only adds to the episode’s Christmas magic.

“Lexmas” is the rare Christmas special to advance the central plot while also giving fans a glimpse at something gratifying. What would that be? Okay, I will admit it. I liked the idea of a Lex/Lana pairing before “Smallville” gifted fans with it here. However, I loved the realization of it in “Lexmas” even more. As is the case with many “Smallville” storylines, the highs are often accompanied by bittersweet blows.

Much like the “Poldark” Christmas special, “Lexmas” provides an enchanting pause in time. It is a sweet spot that real life does not give you the chance to rewind to nor re-watch. Thankfully, humans have TV and movies to do so. It is what makes them something extraordinary to turn back and see.

Do you re-watch at least one Christmas movie every year? If so, it is probably an annual tradition. As common as it may be to watch a beloved Christmas movie every year, re-watching a TV series’ Christmas special is perhaps less so. “Lexmas” deserves to join that rare pantheon.

You can stream it on Hulu. (Yes, Hulu.) Every terrific season of “Smallville” is streaming there, which means “Lexmas” is too. I have not watched it in years and would love the chance to see it again. Hopefully, you will watch it for the first of many times this Christmas.