. I'm going to let you in on a little secret: The 100th episode of WB's Smallville
, airing this Thursday at 8 pm/ET, features the death of a major character. "No!" you exclaim. "You're making this up!" "First I've heard!" OK, enough, you wisenheimers. Still, much secrecy (some of it rather effective) has surrounded the ill-fated Smallviller's identity, and while this Q&A isn't about to blab who it is, we thought it'd be interesting to chat up cocreator Al Gough
about... yeah, that
TVGuide.com: You must feel like this is all you've talked about for half your life, don't you?
Al Gough: [Laughs]
TVGuide.com: You never want to hear "100th-episode death" again, do you?
Gough: [Still laughing] "100th-episode death hoopla!"
TVGuide.com: But first, is WB ready to announce that Smallville has been picked up for next season?
Gough: No. That would be great, but no word yet. We're confident, though!
TVGuide.com: Enough digression. Regarding the "100th-episode death," how beholden do you and Miles Millar keep yourselves to the Superman movies' mythology when determining characters' fates? Do you feel like you can't kill someone we've already seen alive in the films? Is that a hard-and-fast rule?
Gough: No, not necessarily, to be perfectly honest. We feel like in our show, as in the various Superman comics, [the characters] can each sort of exist in their own reality. It's not something that is necessarily synched up to the movie franchise, past or present.
TVGuide.com: So with all due respect to Annette O'Toole, who played Lana in Superman III, you conceivably could kill off Lana.
Gough: Exactly. We kept ourselves open to that. It could be any of the characters — but not Clark. [Laughs]
TVGuide.com: How will this death affect Clark's direction for the remainder of the season?
Gough: Not just for the remainder of the season, but for the remainder of the series. It really makes him take a look at his life up to this point: the decisions he's made and the decisions going forward. It's definitely a step away from Superboy towards Superman, which is what this whole season has been about. That's one of the reasons the fans have been responding to [Season 5], because we're allowing the characters to grow up. They're out of high school and facing bigger, more complex decisions. Certainly Clark is, in his relationship with Lana and about having sex; there are now bigger costs and bigger consequences for everything he does. Things don't neatly wrap themselves up at the end of every episode.
TVGuide.com: What were the driving forces in deciding to kill off this character? Was it purely for story-line impact, did budget play into it at all, was it just a desire to shake things up...?
Gough: Again, what we have found doing this show each season is that you need to do something to kind of shake things up. Last year we brought in Lois. This year we knew we had some big pieces to play with — the Fortress of Solitude, Brainiac, Clark and Lana having sex — but then we said, "It's the fifth year of the show and there needs to be a seismic shift in the series." Something happens that really is absolute, and this person won't magically come back to life.
TVGuide.com: That was my next question. How dead is this dead person?
Gough: Oh, they're dead. It's no "Bobby Ewing stepping out of the shower." It's not a dream.
TVGuide.com: And 24's Jack Bauer didn't help stage the whole thing.
Gough: Exactly. [Laughs] Actually, Chloe from Smallville and Chloe from 24 teamed up and...
TVGuide.com: Both Chloes are good with computers, and both are blonde... interesting. Anyway, how did this cast member take the news?
Gough: The cast member took it, actually, with great dignity. I was impressed. While they are sad — notice I'm trying to avoid pronouns — they took it as well as one could expect. It's the nature of being an actor, and it's the nature of television....
TVGuide.com: "It's not personal; it's Smallville business."
Gough: No, it's not personal at all. Like I said, a lot of thought went into the decision-making process, and we made sure it was signed off by the studio and the network. When we pitched it, we said, "This is what we want to do, but we want your blessing."
TVGuide.com: Is it my understanding that we're also bidding adieu to a second character imminently?
Gough: Um... could be. Could be. [Laughs]
TVGuide.com: You're just going to laugh, aren't you? You're not going to comment.
Gough: That's all I can do, is just cackle.
TVGuide.com: Are you and Miles above disseminating bogus info to fan sites, to throw folks off the scent of the 100th-eppy death?
Gough: [Laughs] We're trying to write an Aquaman pilot. We haven't got time to disseminate false information.
TVGuide.com: Well sure, but you could get some lackey in the copy room to do it.
Gough: To get online and feed misinformation? We actually don't do that. We probably should, but we don't have our Dick Cheney-like disseminators of misinformation. I think other shows do, and they do that very well — 24 does a brilliant job in that you never knew anything about that show. It just doesn't seem to get out. But with Smallville, I think sometimes I read about the script online before I get it at my house!
TVGuide.com: So you aren't so insulated to think there aren't a few fans who know for a fact who dies on Jan. 25.
Gough: I'm sure they do. I'm also sure people have strong feelings, and I've seen speculation about who could die. "Are the characters they created for the series on the chopping block because they aren't in the DC mythology?" All sorts of stuff. Look, we're in the fifth year of the show — I'm just glad people are talking about it! All you can do as a TV show is try to stay relevant and make the best show you can make.
TVGuide.com: You're bringing on Cyborg [played by Lee Thompson Young] in the Feb. 16 episode. How does he fit into the mix?
Gough: We always liked that character from the Teen Titans. He's basically a kid who was a star high-school football player, had a full ride to USC, and then was in a massive car accident. LuthorCorp, experimenting on what's essentially bionics, sort of put him back together — but potentially for a more nefarious scheme than just helping out this kid. The issues he deals with, it's like Robocop — "How much man am I? How much of a machine am I?" Clark helps this kid figure out how his radically different life isn't necessarily a curse, and how he can get these powers under control, find his humanity and go on to live life.
TVGuide.com: You mentioned Aquaman before. Where do you stand with the pilot?
Gough: We cast Aquaman, obviously — Will Toale — and we are prepping to start shooting in March in Miami.
TVGuide.com: Does Alan Ritchson feel robbed? Was there any unsaid agreement that, having guest-starred as Smallville's A.C., he'd get dibs on the series?
Gough: No, there wasn't, because at the time we did the episode, we had no plans for doing a series. We think Alan did a great job in that episode, but when you see the series, it's a different version of the character than what you saw on Smallville.
TVGuide.com: The basic "hook," no pun intended, is that A.C. runs a dive shop?
Gough: He lives in the Florida Keys, and again, it's a guy in his twenties who really doesn't know about his destiny and has these abilities. He uses them to have fun and get laid, but then in the pilot, destiny comes knocking at his door and he realizes what his true calling is, which is that he's the exiled prince of Atlantis. We liken him to Prince Hal in Henry IV, before he becomes Henry V. It's about getting his act together because his future holds bigger things than running a dive shop.
TVGuide.com: Will it be a struggle to keep his adventures land-based? I mean, how many sea horses can he summon to apprehend a bank robber?
Gough: There will be a fair amount of tank work, but we're not going to Atlantis or anything like that. Plus, you obviously also have the Bermuda Triangle down there as well, so that plays a part.
TVGuide.com: Who knows what sort of creepy crawlies can come out of there?
Gough: Right, who knows what could come out of the Bermuda Triangle?