Krypton: 2.07 Zods and Monsters
I was kind of impressed and a little surprised by this episode - Krypton is not a good show, by any stretch of the imagination but the second season has been a little better than the first and has shown slight flashes that suggest perhaps, maybe, it could have improved. However, it would have taken a lot of improvement and most of these flashes really have come too little too late. That said, this might be the best episode of the show so far.
Zods and Monsters is a prime example of this. A clunky title which is not quite as clever as it wants to be, lines us up for a story that uses flashback to show us how Doomsday came to be. This sticks, at its core, to the general comic book origins of Doosmday being an evolved Kryptonian . The show does a valiant job of creating a character for Doomsday (Dax) and Staz Nair (who is busy boring us in the other Kryptonian based show Supergirl) does a good job in the small role.
The Zod and El ancestors are equally well presented but, I have to say, I was left a bit cold by the Els were bad/Zods were good angle. On the surface it seems like a neat twist but it’s actually a pretty obvious one. It felt ike a pretty perfunctory switch, specially in a show which has already had a few good/bad flip-flop moments with Zods and Els. But these flashback scenes are pretty solid and help create some nice background to Krypton. The ornate and stylish design of the ancient Kryptonian outfits is a little more interesting and imaginative than the show’s main look. The Doomsday FX and design are pretty solid for a TV budget and they’re used sparingly yet effectively here.
Seg and Nyssa have headed to the Fortress to try and remove Brainiac from Seg’s head. Here we’re treated to Val’s computer holo-ghost and I’m reminded that Val was a more interesting, fun character when he was dead! Bring back Grandad-El hologhost! The scenes between Nyssa and Seg are actually pretty good; I enjoy the performances of both these young leads and no more Lyta – plus we don’t see Dev and Jayna this week – lifts the episode and removes much of the baggage. The narrative s allowed to breath and as much as I like Dev and Jayna’s performance, not dwelling on their melodramatic approach to life is refreshing. Theirs also felt the most awkward part of the whole story to fit in.
With Lyta now out of the picture, Nyssa and Seg are able to focus on their relationship a little more, which was always the more dynamic and engaging and they even, this week, go as far as renaming their son to… well, yeah, you know, obviously they were always gonna rename him Jor-El. The moment is quite cool though, especially with a little swell of John Williams’ Superman theme. Everything is cool with John Williams’ Superman theme!
We also have Adam and Kem going on a side mission to investigate the heat signatures on Wegthor. This is quite fun, as it plays on the dynamic of the two and more Kem is always good. It isn’t an especially compelling narrative in its own right and basically each time we cut back to this part of the episode the same thing happens; a stroppy member of Kem’s group is insubordinate and tries to go against him and wants to start shooting and Kem tells them they’re on an investigative mission. The scenes get very repetitive and don’t gel that well; Kem selected his own team, so why pick a soldier who seems to have no respect for and constantly challenges his orders? You could argue he did it to make a point but I think the realty is the writers wanted to create some antagonistic tension for him. Krypton suffers a lot form lazy writing designed to suit the moment and not the whole. I did enjoy this part of things and would happily see more Adam/Kem stuff, especially if it branched out, even off world in a similar vain to the Seg/Adam stuff earlier in the series.
The Doomsday flashbacks are loosely framed by Zod trying to access Doomsday’s memories and control the beast. There is very little to these scenes that progresses Zod’s character, but we get to see more of his scheming and you do fee that he doesn’t perhaps respect who and what Doomsday was and has become. There's a genuinely nice line in of the flashbacks, when its being explained how the El and Zod scientists are going to improve him. Dax comments “You want to make me a superhero?” which in context is quite sad and a little poignant. Its shows what Doomsday/Dax thought he was signing up for and it echoes how Zod may see himself. Though, in an early scene after Zod has stunned Doomsday with his stupid gun, he addresses the people of Krypton claiming to be a hero for defeating the monster and the populous start cheering – seems the people of Krypton are almost as easily riled up as the people of Gotham City!
The main development this week is Brainiac getting free form Seg and back to his skull ship. It doesn’t make much sense; Brainiac and Seg had a deal that Seg would take him back to his ship but Seg reneges, instead going to the Fortress to extract Brainiac. Then Brainiac takes over the fortress and gets his ship back. I fell like Seg should have seen that coming. Also, Brainiac has decided he doesn’t want to preserve Krypton by bottling a city but now just wants one Kryptonian, Jor-El and steals the baby and sods off. I don’t know why he would switch his idea like this and it doesn’t fit his MO; Brainiac loves bottling stuff, he doesn’t want to be a foster dad! Still, the idea of Brainiac changing nappies in space is fun.
Over all, the pacing and split of the story strands was good this week; some individual scenes dragged a little longer than they needed to. Focusing on less characters helped and leaving Lyta out of the equation took the melodramatic pressure off things. It still had a lot of flaws (mostly the script, character motivations and logic) but this episode showed promise. If this had been at the same point in the first season run it might have suggested the show could evolve but I fortunately it just feels too little, too late. Alas, Doomsday isn’t the saviour of Krypton after all…