Krypton: 1.09 Hope, 1:10 The Phantom Zone
For some time now, the general concession has been, that while DC movies are mostly getting everything wrong, DC TV shows are mostly getting everything right. Well Krypton is here to break that trend. Krypton feels so tied to the Snyder movie universe that it might as well be called Before Man of Steel. It lacks the joy and fun of The Flash or the love of its source material like Supergirl, it doesn’t have the infectious, batshit crazy approach of Gotham and it’s not even as emotially rounded as Agents of SHIELD. Unfortunately, from start to finish, Krytpon has been a stinker.
That’s not to say it hasn’t had its moments. A generally good, if mostly un-engaging cast has helped bring what life they could to some truly shoddy dialogue and there have been flashes of wit and excitement. But only flashes.
The last two episodes have been shown back to back; who knows if UK broadcaster E4 simply have a full schedule or were trying to push a turkey out as quickly as possible but with a short 10 episode run, throwing the back four out across just two weeks, isn’t a good sign and doesn’t allow the show much time to establish itself with the audience.
In the first of the two episodes Hope, we see the fallout from Ona’s death and how it effects Kem. We focus on his pain and loss, and it’s interesting to see the change such loss creates in this once kind man… no, I’m kidding. Seg just makes a passing comment about how it’s not on that Braniac killed Ona and we don’t see Kem this episode.
So all of Kandor is going crazy this episode; with no Voice and no Daron its actually hard to tell who is in charge of the city. It feels like the Sagitari are in charge but there must have been more than one politician running things? For a show that has tried to focus so heavily on the political and social concepts its done a terrible job of establishing anything outside the immediate sphere of our core characters. We don’t really know anything about how this city runs, works or the people that live in it.
In the middle of all the chaos we get the official reveal that Seg is general Zod’s father… I’m honestly confused about whether this is the first time we as audience have been told this. Was it meant to be a twist? I found this plot point so obvious from the outset that I thought we already knew as an audience and I may have been watching this whole time assuming Seg was Zod’s father and interpreting character actions accordingly!
Oh well, its official, the general has Zod and El DNA, which means he can open the Doomsday box by himself. Luckily when he does, Doomsday has already been moved. For some reason, Lyta goes with Zod to try and unleash Doomsday. She seems to have developed this sudden, unswerving allegiance to her son dispite it contradicting a lot of her moral duty soul searching in previous episodes. She even turns on her mother in favour of General Zod. This almost makes sense, as we’ve seen Jayna push Lyta away emotionally in order to build her up as a better soldier but when Jayna explains to her daughter the reasoning and expresses her love and respect for her, as well as having turned traitor to fight for the greater good, Lyta just dismisses all this, which I don’t buy since Jayna has proven herself to be so like Lyta. I think basically, Lyta is just a terrible character who is so unenthusiastically performed I can’t really believe any of her actions.
Meanshwile, Daron has been handed over to Jax-Ur, the leader of Black Zero, and is being tortured for some reason. I think its to do with the Codex – that McGuffin from Man of Steel. Daron escapes of course. He’s a willey one.
Also meanwhile, Seg and Nyssa have convinced the Black Zero soldiers to team up with the Sagitari soldiers and they all get killed by the slightly resurrected Voice of Rao. Well, no, Seg doesn’t get killed. Obviously. Brainiac causes an entire room full of people to shoot each other to death but only Seg survives. In fairness to the show, Braniac does then get the upper hand is about to throw Seg off the top of a very, very tall building when Nyssa – previously sent to the fortress by Seg – comes and rescues him by smashing the fortress key in Brainie’s head, causing him to explode. It may have been a little contrived but I like that Seg got rescued. Then Seg and Nyssa kiss because… erm… whatever (also, Seg was literally sleeping with Lyta at the start f the episode? Glad his grandson doesn’t take after him in the lothario factor).
But now we get our first glimpse of proper Braniac as the episode hits its cliffhanger…
…final episode! The Phantom Zone. The episode titles on this show have been terrible. Episode 9, Hope, while not very hopeful did have a lot of people saying hope. The titles have been far too one the nose and this finale title is almost a spoiler!
This episode does open with some great visuals, the image of Braniac’s ship floating over Kandor is great but, much like the great visuals on the pilot episode, the fantastic CGI visuals clash horribly with the small, cheap looking set and location stuff. Braniac as well looks a little disappointing. It's fantastic to see a very comic book faithful representation of Braniac but after the enigmatic, beautifully rendered close ups we glimpsed of his face in previous episodes, the final product is a rather weak looking prosthetic; he doesn’t even look the same as he did in those previous images. It’s another disappointment that he looks a bit cheap. Like a background demon in a season one episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer.
This show has done a poor job of fleshing out the personality of the city as a whole, the Rankless in particular are a confusingly un-defined body of people. Its hard to know how they would react to seeing Braniac’s ship. We now that the people of Krypton do not belive in extra terrestrial life and the Rankless are mostly religiously devout to the point of near self sacrifice. While yes, everyone is terrified when the ship arrives and they all run around the streets (instead of, you know, going home). I feel like a more interesting reaction would have involved some kind of religious reaction from the populus – perhaps some thinking it was a devil, or some people praying to the ship? But naaah.
So Seg and co are out of ideas except Zod isn’t because turns out Grandpa-El isn’t dead he’s in the Phantom Zone. Apparently it's really easy to go and get help and he can stop Braniac for some reason so they pop to the Phantom Zone and bring back Grandpa-El. Really, I’m done with this show. From the moment Grandpa was chucked onto a precipice in the pilot I knew he’d be back via The Phantom Zone. Here it feels like he’s only been brought back so that he has to be sacrificed. The Phantom Zone has allowed Grandpa to see the future, this knowledge is useful to Braniac and Zod wants to bargain for the life of Krypton with Val-El’s life. This is a clunky, un-invested plot device to create some false sense of sacrifice in the finale.
Nyssa, discovers this episode that she’s a clone. This was such a drawn out reveal that it lost any impact. We discover that high ranking Kryptonians have been cloning themselves so they can live forever. Nyssa, convinced that her son with Seg doesn’t have to have a predetermined fate, has stolen her embryo pod an bumps into Jax-Ur. The moment she does its clear Nyssa is a clone but it takes us ages to get to the point. I also find it conflicting that she would be so shocked at this news. They live in a society where they basically clone children by combining DNA on a device in a lab, being a full clone with transferred memories isn’t that far removed from their birthing technology? I’m sort of suspecting it might eventually turn out that Nyssa isn’t a clone, she’s Jax-Ur’s daughter and Jax lied to get her on side. Maybe?
We do keep cutting back to Adam Strange, trapped in a frozen bottle city that appears to be on Earth. I’m happy to leave him there to be honest. We also get a lot of shots of Brainiac stood, watching Kandor. Like, a lot. Thats really all he does this episode. the visual is cool but... mate, move about a bit.
The final of this episode is bizarrely bad; after everyone argues a lot about how to deal with Braniac (kill him, kill Val, kill Zod, kill everyone?) General Zod makes an offer to Braniac and Val-El leads him to the fortress, where Brainiac just sort of slowly walks onto the Phantom Zone transportation pad. Its so slow and uninspiring and really, just dumb. Braniac gets zapped to the Phantom Zone but not without grabbing Seg and oh no, he gets sucked into the zone too. And that’s it, Braniac gone, world saved. Well not quite… as Branac disappeared into the Phatom Zone, Superman’s cape re grew, Marty McFly style but as soon as Seg disappears in to the zone, the cape turns into Zod’s cape! Lets not even start on how this makes no sense…
A short flash forward shows us a bit of a round up of what people are doing next; Val is trying to fix his Phantom Zone transporter, destroyed by Zod to keep Braniac away; Nyssa is off to become some kind of fighter for the people; Kem has been conscripted to the army and Zod is now in charge of Kandor AND the Earth city Adam is trapped in has a huge statue to Zod!
…which makes no sense when you think about it but I don’t have the energy or enthusiasm to think about it. I’ve not enjoyed this show much, at all. Its badly written, poorly acted in places, looks cheap and is so dull, boring and predictable I feel like I’m watching a 90’s teen drama. There was potential, scope to tell any story in any way they wanted but they’ve told the most obvious, lazy story possible. Every beat, every twist was predictable and uninspired. The show cis apparently comomg back for a second season, but I’m not sure I will.
There was one bit I liked; the episode closes with Colin Salmon shouting “Kneel before Zod” but it wasn’t worth 10 hours of my life to enjoy those few seconds.
Oh, Doomsday does a bit of a post credits roar so, you know, there's that in season two as well I guess...