Krypton Episode 4 Review: The Word of Rao
The Voice of Rao struggles to maintain control while the Vex family plots against him.
This Krypton review contains spoilers.
Krypton Episode 4
“Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.” That is one of the most often paraphrased quotations from Karl Marx, and it’s an idea that, especially as our own culture becomes less religious, is often represented in pop culture. It’s also on full display in “The Word of Rao.”
While we have only gotten glimpses of the Voice of Rao up to this point, “The Word of Rao” takes his mask and robes off, though still only allows the viewer glimpses at his face. It’s a visual representation of the episode’s quest to peel back some of the figurative layers of this character. We now know that the Voice of Rao does not, in fact, sleep in that shiny mask. We know he has handmaidens who seem to know him better than anyone else. And we know that he is desperate to hold onto his power.
When Ona presents a statue of Rao to the Voice of Rao during the Nova Ceremony, he runs with it. He not only accepts the token, but proclaims that Ona shall become a member of the Ranked. She will seemingly grow up under his tutelage.
It’s quite the shift for young Ona, who, like Seg, loses her parent and her community over the course of a few days. It is, apparently, her faith that sustains her. Rhom and, by extension, Ona, believe in the power of Rao. For Ona, there is no better way to honor her mother. For the Voice of Rao, there is no better way to keep the Rankless in check than to give them a rags-to-riches story. It makes everyone else believe that Rao will reward them, too, for their faith.
Well, maybe not everyone believes that. Kem, who goes along with Ona’s new life path because it seems to be what she wants (I know you just got guardianship of this kid, Kem, but not the best parenting strategy), but, when he mumbles along with the prayers of the crowd, it doesn’t seem like his heart is in it. This is a trope that often goes hand-in-hand with the “opiate of the masses” theme: the clever are skeptical of religion, while the stupid go along with it. I would like to see Krypton challenge this rather simplistic representation of religion and the religious moving forward. One can be religious and critical at the same time and, if we were going to do a religious episode, I would have liked to see what all of the characters’ relationships to religion is like.
Of course, the Voice of Rao’s decision to elevate Ona totally backfires. It turns out that the statue of Rao was a vehicle for Brainiac’s parasite all along. Once he is alone, the device attaches itself to him, which means Brainiac now has control of the most powerful person in all of Kandor. We still don’t get to see the Voice of Rao’s entire face, though, which is a major bummer.
This development will no doubt help the Vexes, who explicitly announce on several occasions in this episode that they are plotting to overthrow the Voice of Rao and gain control of Kandor “for the people.” It’s a vague mission statement that Jayna challenges when Nyssa attempts to coerce her into helping them stage a coup. It seems far more likely that the Vexes are planning on overthrowing the Voice of Rao for themselves, given that they have no
While Nyssa’s decision to tell Jayna about the coup is a dangerous one, it also proves that, while Daron may be the figurehead of the Vex family, Nyssa is the brains. Daron’s decision to offer up Lyta Zod as a scape goat for the failure of The Rankless Initiative is a terrible one, even more so for the ways it royally pisses off two of his apparently most important allies: Jayna Zod and Seg. (Like, how did he not know Seg and Lyta are in love with each other? He’s a terrible Littlefinger.)
Still, Nyssa may yet be able to salvage their plan. It’s a risk going to Jayna, but a calculated one. Jayna loves her daughter, even if, as Lyta has repeatedly said, Jayna never played the role of mother particularly well. It seems highly unlikely that Jayna will let her daughter die. Throwing her lot in with the Vexes would no doubt come back to hurt her, but it may also be her only option if she wants to see her daughter live to see another day.
Jayna and Nyssa aren’t the only ones actively fighting to save Lyta. Seg is beside himself with panic over the idea that his lady love may die. Though these two have been on the relative outs since the deaths of Seg’s parents, it’s clear that they still care about one another. Seg will tell anyone who will listen. First, he admits it to Nyssa, who seems genuinely affected by the not-so-reveal. Then, he tells Adam that Krypton isn’t worth saving if Lyta isn’t on it. That is a wildly romantic idea and one I’d like to see further backed up by the interactions between Lyta and Seg, which have been relatively limited thus far.
Of course, Seg’s plans to save Lyta are derailed when he is captured by a mysterious group of people who are also working to save Krypton from Brainiac. They are not Black Zero (though operate from within their ranks), which is a disappointment as, especially after last week’s episode, it would have been nice to learn a bit more about this “terrorist group.”
They’re also not particularly good at their jobs. Instead of at least trying to talk to Seg rationally before torturing him, they stick a bug up his nose and then bark questions at him. At one point, their leader kills one of this number for daring to lay a hand on Seg when it wasn’t ordered and then knocks out another of his minions for letting Seg escape. This doesn’t seem like a very effective command structure. How many minions could this man possibly have that he can afford to snap their necks? And isn’t the whole point to save the people of Krypton? This all felt very counterintuitive.
Seg makes a deal with him that he will share his information about Brainiac in exchange for them breaking Lyta out of prison, but, before the exchange can be implemented, he escapes. I’m not sure why. Sure, these guys seem like total jerks, but they also at least appear to be working towards the same goal. Plus, Seg is desperate to save Lyta, and this could be his only hope. Instead, he ends up injured and bleeding, walking across the snowy wilderness of the Outerlands on his way back to Kandor City.
Between the predicaments of Seg, Lyta, and the Voice of Rao, it’s a hell of a cliffhanger. Krypton isn’t always so great at its plot machinations, but it sure does know how to stick a landing.
Is the Voice of Rao someone we already know? This seems unlikely, given we don’t know that many characters at this point and they have pretty much all been seen in the same room as the Voice of Rao, but why else would they keep his face from us?
This religion-themed episode had me thinking about Supergirl‘s recent episode “The Cult of Rao,” which saw a small, but fervent group of humans worshipping Rao and Supergirl herself, making Kara supremely uncomfortable but nonetheless unable to control the hearts and minds of even those who see her as a god.
Adam continues to be snarkily unaffected by the intense goings-on of Kandor, which makes him a pretty unlikeable character. There has to be an Adam Strange backstory episode coming soon, right? Because we need it.
I’m bummed that Rhom died. As Delia pointed out in last week’s excellent review, the Rankless continue to be a mostly anonymous mass. With Rhom dead and Ona set to go and live with the Ranked, that leaves Kem and Mama Zed, who we only just met, to represent this very important group of people.