Krypton: 1.03 The Rankless Initiative
This week’s episode hinted at what the show perhaps wants to be and deserves props for that but overall its still has a cheap, tacky vibe that can’t quite pull me into its soapy drama.
The story of Lyta trying to protect the weak and unprivileged from “within the system” is a noble and interesting character arc, especially as it is hints at the idea her mother, perhaps, was also a little more idealistic when younger, before realising it was futile. This is an interesting story thread but it’s undermined unfortunately by A: the inevitability of the characters arc (as, presumably, Zod’s mother something is going to happen to her that will inform his outlook and approach) and B: the actor is very bad. I’m sure Georgina Campbell is a lovely person, dedicated to creating a true character... but she’s so two dimensional and lethargic in every aspect of her performance I can barely watch her.
Seg and Lyta have a spat this week with the former thinking the latter’s attempt to protect the Rankless from within the system is ineffective and will simply end up upholding the system. This is mostly a true and interesting conversation for the show to have (the clear allegory with current political unrest in the US isn’t lost), except Seg (born into privilege and now placed back into privilege) is doing the same - attempting to affect change from within - yet doesn’t get called out on his hypocrisy. I actually find Seg quite difficult to like, despite a charismatic actor. In reverse, I quite like Lyta despite a bland actor.
I do like Rasmus Hardiker and while Kem is not much of a character, he is the only true Rankless citizen we’ve got to know and he’s oddly the most compassionate, showing genuine concern for his fellow Rankless and friends. This gets highlighted this week with Rhom, a woman Kem has looked after when down on her luck. We get a sense that that Kem is more than just a cheeky, anything for a buck, bar owner and is actually providing something of a heaven and a hub for the community. I don’t, to be honest, find the class systems society Krypton has created that engaging but Kem, his bar, Rhom and her daughter are the most engaging aspect of it.
I’m sort of interested to see what Nyssa does in the end but again, her arc feels so sign posted it’s hard to get fully involved. Her father is a cowardly villain, she’s sexually promiscuous and emotionally detached... so I’m expecting her to fall legitimately for Seg, turn on her father and align with the goodies (while Lyta goes the opposite). Maybe I’m being unfair but what we know of these characters’ future via Supes’ start in life and the fact Krypton lacks, so far, the sophistication to push beyond soap opera, makes me think I might be on the right track.
Smallville paved the way for the not quite the characters we know yet origin prequel series, it did a lot right and a lot wrong but at its core it gave us recognisable, proto-characters. Gotham, while it took a while to establish its bat(man)shit crazy aesthetic, does the same. An extension of this sub genre can be seen with the Netflix/Marvel series’ which give us extended origin stories. Krypton struggles because it doesn’t really offer us any, truly, recognisable characters, the story of Lara and Joe-El meeting, falling in love, their assent in Kryptonian society and even Joe-El’s initial findings about the planets fate might have afforded an interesting story, with just enough links and foreshadowing to the last son of Krypton to keep things engaging, or a story set 1000 years ago about the founding of the house of El might have been so detached from the known it could breath as its own entity? But this isn’t quite either.
Unfortunately Krypton lacks cohesion. Offering us entirely new characters isn’t a crime but offering us dull, obvious characters, is. What appeal these characters have is down entirely to the charisma of the actors themselves and unfortunately a couple are severely lacking in this department (looking at you Lyta and Adam). I want to like this show more than I do but it needs to be better than it is.