Krypton: 1.04 The Word of Rao
We’re only a few episodes in and Krypton has the odd feeling of treading water while actually moving quite quickly.
In this episode we see The Voice of Rao unmasked and disrobed (figuratively and literally). While this was always an inevitable development I was expecting a slightly longer burn before the reveal. The religious allegories come thick and fast this week but never hit home with anything more profound than ‘poor and stupid people like religion, rich and clever people see through it’.
During a public ceremony Ona, now being looked after by Kem, presents The Voice with a statue at which point he decides to take her into his care as a new disciple/ward. Ona’s honest, devout belief feel likes it could lead to some interesting exploration of religious hypocrisy or even that her purity may act as a way to soften or temper the Voice of Rao’s thirst for power. I have to say though, so far, Krypton has a very simplistic “opiate of the masses” allegory for religion and I’m not convinced it’s going to branch out.
The Vex family spend the entire episode plotting to take down the Voice of Rao which, especially this early on, is pretty much guaranteed to fail. Their plot involves teaming up with Mummy-Zod to try and overthrow The Voice. Daron has also decided to throw Lyta under the bus (do they have busses on Krypton?) for the failed culling in the Rankless district. This seems a really bad idea since both Mummy-Zod and Seg are supposedly valuable allies. Pissing them both off is just careless scheming. I think this is where the show falls out of the realms of ‘slow burn’ and enters ‘stagnate’ territory; The Vex plotting goes round and round as if its convolutions are there simply to pad time.
Braniac finally (sort of) turns up. Having witnessed his emissary in Rhom last week, he possesses (via the statue given to him by Ona) The Voice of Rao. This is another disappointingly predictable plot beat; mysterious alien who wants to take over the world hides in the body of the mysterious masked ruler of said world. At the point the Voice gets possessed we don’t truly know how corrupt, mad or in earnest he is. In a show playing so heavily on the allegories of religious rule and the blindness of its followers, I would have liked to spend a bit more time understanding the motivations of its religious leaders. I also would have liked to see more reflection into our main characters’ relationship with religion but we never see any real insight.
In other news this week, Seg is stropping around and becoming more unlikable by the minute. He’s a shockingly entitled, privileged character considering he’s meant to be some kind of hero of the people. He makes a lot of noise this week about how much he loves Lyta but I’m not quite feeling their epic love. Seg gets kidnapped or enlisted (or a little bit of both) by the leader of Black Zero - a suspiciously General Zod’ish Colin Salmon – who, it turns out, is actually looking to stop Braniac, not overthrow the government. Colin Salmon is one of those really tough baddies who kills his own men for insubordination, which seems like a really poor use of human (Kryptonian) resources? All this leads to Seg having a spider stuck up his nose, a bit like the thing Khan uses in Star Trek II, which is quite funny.
The episode really pops when Colin Salmon is on screen, he elevates the tired clichés of his villainous role with his seasoned acting chops but he can’t lift the show out of the drift of cheap looking space-opera that its got stuck in. Krypton has lofty ideas but still lacks the oomph to move beyond the obvious.