Things hot up in the action packed penultimate episode of Krypton
It’s the penultimate episode of Krypton and, to be fair, it really goes for it. With so much action and so many visuals (aka budget) on show, it makes me wonder if the finale episode will perhaps steer into a more emotional, character driven closer. I think it would be difficult for the show and exhausting for the audience to try and build on the momentum of this episode, which mostly achieves its goals, even if those are a little shaky at times.
I’d be lying if I said the show hadn’t had a lot of an improvement, especially in the first and last couple of episodes of the season. This week is one of the best episodes they’ve given us but many of the beats and developments are predictable and there is a weird mixture of effective and chonky directing choices. However, for the most part, this episode manages to be fun.
With Zod getting ready to launch his universe conquering fleet of ships, he makes his final attack on the rebellion. This involves dropping Doomsday out on the rebel occupied moon and letting him go to work. I have to give credit to the Doomsday they’ve created here. He is possibly the best live action Doomsday we’ve seen – I prefer the design of the Smallville Doomsday as it was much closer to the comics but you can go with the conceit that this isn’t a finished Doomsday as it’s a few hundred years before his arrival on Earth; plus Smallville was limited by its technology. The FX used here are deployed very effectively, with a few cheats of camera angles and obscuring the image which all feel natural choices. The whole episode looks very impressive and Doomsday is a genuine achievement for a relatively low budget TV production.
The big hit in this mess of impressive TV CGI and melodrama is the loss of Kem. From day one Kem, has been a shining light in this show, with a great performance from Rasmus Hardiker. He was funny and engaging and had a genuine depth of character in the especially dismal first season. While I’ve found his journey this season to be less interesting, there’s no denying the path of smart arse bar owner to conscripted grunt to military leader has been clear and allowed the character to grow. With the impending attack by Doomsday, he takes it upon himself to be the hero and deliver the suicidal blow that will allow his friends and Krypton, to survive.
To be honest, I’m surprised he’s survived this long. I thought for sure he was gonna bite it in the first season so it’s impressive he’s made it so far. Kem is exactly the kind of character to be sacrificed in this way; established enough and liked enough to have an emotional impact with the audience and other characters, but not integral to the over-reaching plot. That’s not to play down the effectiveness of the story this week or Rasmus Hardiker’s performance, which is excellent. The scenes where he encounters Doomsday, played out with a simple piano score and no outside sound, is sad and poignant while also maintaining some humour as he flips Doomsday off before a pretty grizzly end. Though plot wise, once again, Krypton serves us up pretty standard fare here – even if it’s well prepared.
Nyssa, who has been my low key favourite since the show started, gets some solid moments as well, though her character is still a mess. I’m not convinced that the rebel’s would follow her as willingly as they do here, even with the say so of Val-El. But she does some good speeching and butt kicking and I really enjoy imagining her as one of Superman’s forbears. Val, less so. Grandad-El is a little smug and has basically been a terrible rebel leader. You do feel that maybe he’s meant to be out of his depth at times but he’s shown as being so beloved with unquestioning followers; there is very little to explain why he commands such allegiance. I think the ‘S’ is doing a lot of the heavy lifting in terms of what we’re expected to just go with in this series, and the awesomeness of Val is definitely an example of this.
Lyta takes a very casual role this week; having captured some of Zod’s soldiers, she manages to turn them against him and we’re shown that there really is decent in the ranks at Zod HQ. I felt like this was an important point for the show to make. Yes, we know that Zod has abused power and the Sagitari are loyal to Krypton – aka its leader – but it never rang true that they would all go so blindly fascist so easily. The idea that actually most of them are just waiting for the word to turn on Zod is relieving, if a little convenient to the plot.
The whole episode is littered with some dodgy, over used, convenient plot beats. Seg needs a ship and Dev just happens to have found one hidden in a handy spot. Val sets an explosive device to detonate and destroy the fuel Zod is after, but the detonator fails (leading to Kem’s sacrifice). Adam, who has come into his own this past couple of episodes, gets in an accident saving Val and loses the use of his legs. This last beat on struck me as weird. While it’s a pretty terrible thing to happen, this is Krypton; they can clone full-grown adults. I would have thought fixing paralyzed legs would be a doddle? Sure, not right away, given Adam is in a cave with the rebels, but surely he could be reassured that its fixable?
Overall, this was a fun episode. It looks good and the whole cast are great and really dedicated to what they’re doing – even Georgina Campbell brings a freshness to her performance and the always great Ian McElhinney’s increased slips in to an Irish accent don’t jarr but the series is still not good. A lot of the dialogue is cheesy and lifeless (though Kem’s goodbye speech is honesty emotional) and the action, while nicely staged, is predictable. Nyssa’s big action sequence is great from a character point of view but the but the stylistic choice of how its filmed and constructed doesn’t quite work with the TV level budget and comes off a little cheesy.
With just one episode left I might actually be in a place where I would consider watching a third season of this rubbish (had Krypton been renewed). But one more episode doesn’t really leave much room for improvement – and it still really needed to improve to survive the axe.
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