Krypton: 1.02 House of El
Krypton crammed a lot into its first episode and it suffered for it. An excess of world building taking precedent over character building left us with a conceptually complex world inhabited by predictable, 2D characters.
Things calm down a little in this second episode and the plot and characters are afforded some space to breath – but perhaps a little too much space at times. There is still perhaps a bit much going on and the balance isn’t always even but at least we have a chance to try and look at the deeper story being told.
Seg, grandfather of Kal, is now part of house Vex but he’s also in the sights of the underground freedom fighters, Black Zero (there are always underground freedom fighters). Seg wants to stop Daron-Vex and The Voice of Rao, but is basically looking like everyone’s pawn at the moment. He’s also sort of joined up with Adam Strange, though he doesn’t really believe Adam’s story about the approaching Brainiac, Seg it seems is hedging his bets.
This is a show that on its surface is presenting itself as an allegory and reflection of our class systems and social, cultural divides but it never quite commits fully to this. There is a potential strong story strand this week involving Lyta-Zod struggling with a military plan to attack the Rankless citizens in an attempt to flush out Black Zero. She rightly feels this is not only unfair on the innocent, impoverished citizens of Kandor but also will simply strengthen the divide between the Guilds and the Rankles. This is the kind of narrative conflict I would like to see from a show so heavily invested in class divides; unfortunately our A Storyline is Seg seeking good old fashioned revenge for the death of Mum and Dad which is frankly boring and lacks bite.
Part of Lyta’s story involves her protests against the planned military action being ignored, leading to her challenging her commanding office, defeating him and taking charge of the squad, thus having a say in how the Rankless raid is carried out. Unfortunately, Georgina Campbell is beyond apathetic in her performance and despite a hope this might be a step in her character emerging, I still don’t believe or buy anything she does on screen.
Seg goes through the ringer this week, from Ranked to Rankless to Ranked again he is now part of the house of his enemy, a pretty tired narrative irony. By the end of this episode, after a pep talk from Ghost Grandad in the now fully active Fortress of Solitude and a fairly effecting scene in his old home with his murdered parents ashes, Bruce Way… I mean Seg, decides to try and take down the system from within and puts bloody revenge on the back burner. Considering his young life and living amongst the injustices of the rankles community, especially having come from a background of affluence, I would have rather seen this show focus on Seg attempting to change the system from within from the outset. Revenge is tired and boring.
There is a tedious side story with Kem and Adam searching for a device that proves Braniac’s mind-emissary is already on Krypton. I’d like to see Kem be more than a comic relief character but teaming him with the tedious Adam Strange doesn’t allow him space to breath. Unfortunately, Adam strange lacks the charisma or mannerisms to really sell the Earth Boy, man out of time element and I can’t help feeling he brings nothing to proceedings. He could just be another Kryptonian scientist, the only reason he’s Adam Strange is for some name recognition, a few 21st century jokes and to mention Superman.
While the Krypton pilot was a narrative mess, cramming too much into its runtime, House of El looses momentum and lacks the pacing and enthusiasm of the first episode. My commitment to all things Super is strong but Krypton needs to do a lot to pull things out of the bag and be more than a high profile but predictable, trashy space-opera.