This Krypton review contains spoilers.
Krypton Episode 5
Parents and children, amirite? Krypton doubles down on the theme of what parents will and won’t do for their children, and how that affects those children long after they’ve grown into adulthood. In other words: most of these characters have serious daddy and/or mommy issues.
The exploration of the parental theme is centered in House Zod, a group of characters (OK, two characters) that continue to be the strongest, most fully-realized part of this show. We begin with a flashback to Jayna’s childhood, one that gives us more insight into how her character can treat her own daughter, Lyta, so harshly. This episode really belongs to Jayna and the choice she must make: should she sacrifice her commitment to honor and the Zod name to save the life of her child?
To us, it may seem like an easy choice. Kandor City sucks, as does the Voice of Rao (suspiciously absent here following getting tagged by that Brainiac parasite at the end of last week’s episode), but most of us weren’t raised like Jayna. From a young age, she was taught that she must value honor above all else, even family—her father literally says that to her at one point. As a child, this leads to Jayna straight-up leave her brother to die in the frozen, oxygen-light tundra to prove to her dad that she is worthy of the Zod name.
It’s a harsh choice and one that Jayne obviously, on some level, still regrets. It’s also what ultimately leads her to agree to Nyssa’s terms. She will throw her weight behind the Vex coup if it means saving her daughter’s life. She already knows what it feels like to walk down the path of honor; now, she is choosing the path of love. But that doesn’t mean she has to be happy about it. “You are my greatest love,” she tells Lyta after saving her life. If only she’d stopped there. “But you’re also my greatest shame.” Jayna may have chosen her daughter, but she has torn herself in two in the process. Someone get this woman a therapist.
Luckily, Lyta is a bit more emotionally-intelligent than her mother. She seems to be able to see her mother in complex ways, which means, even though her mother’s words hurt, they also make sense given the Zod backstory. It helps that Lyta has other examples of love in her life: There is Dev, who admits to being in love with Lyta since they first met as children. And there is Seg, who sends Lyta a dramatic apparent death bed message to let her know how much he loves her. It’s such a Seg move: overly-dramatic, but wholeheartedly earnest. (I wouldn’t say no to getting Lyta a female friend at this point, Krypton.)
While the Zod storyline in tonight’s episode was great, Seg’s storyline continues to be bogged down by unnecessary and thin world-building. After escaping from the not-Black Zero terrorists in the last episode, he finds himself thrown in with yet another mysterious faction, one that worships the goddess of ice and hates Els more than anything else. Oh yeah, and they apparently hold the key to keeping Krypton safe from Brainiac. According to the leader of not-Black Zero. Who is apparently also Lyta’s adult son. #timetravel
OK, new rule, Krypton: You’re not allowed to introduce a new segment of Kryptonian society or any time travel shenanigans until you’ve done something with the already-existing ones. I still feel like I know next to nothing about the Rankless within Kandor city. We lost most of the not-Black Zeroes in tonight’s episode when Lyta and her lackeys rescued Seg, and we still have yet to meet the actual Black Zero group. And Adam Strange continues to be a character who shows up to either a) move the plot along, b) make a quip, or c) both. His only real character trait remains that he apparently loves the Detroit Tigers.
While Seg’s series of kidnappings and escapes left some narrative deftness to be desired, Nyssa Vex’s shenanigans were another narrative high point for the episode. I mentioned this episode was about parents and children? Well, you better believe the relationship between Nyssa and Daron was put under a microscope—though not as intensely as I would have hoped. Note: I don’t really care about Daron’s contrived romance with Kol-Da, which felt shoehorned in to give Daron a bit more complexity, taking up narrative space that could have been devoted to the Daron/Nyssa relationship.
Daron treats Nyssa more like an ally than he does a daughter, reprimanding her for attempting to coerce Jayna into helping with their coup. When Jayna chooses to help them to save her daughter, it means everything is going according to Nyssa’s plan, but it also is a declaration of parental love that Nyssa isn’t certain her own father would make, were he in the same position. It’s a doubly upsetting episode for Nyssa in that regard, who is skulking in the shadows when Lyta plays Seg’s message of love. Frankly, I’m not sure why Nyssa even likes Seg that much. Sure, he’s a hunk and he’s got charisma, but Nyssa’s affection doesn’t seem so easily won. I feel like she would go for someone who is better able to keep up with her—Lyta for example or another politics-savvy character we’ve yet to meet.
Nyssa’s overhearing of Seg’s message makes the whole thing feel even more contrived than it already was, given that Adam delivered the message before Seg even properly died. It seems unlikely that Lyta would have played the message without checking to make sure Nyssa wasn’t in the shadows. It’s the kind of emotion-driven urgency we haven’t seen from Lyta or any character, really. I kept expecting Seg to tell his mysterious captors that he needed to away to save his girlfriend, set for execution at dawn or whatever. Instead, he didn’t even mention it, removing some of the urgency from his situation and some of the romantic tension from his reunion with Lyta.
Krypton continues to rely too heavily on contrived, plot-driven moments without the quieter, character-driven moments to back them up. This show is throwing so much into its world-building, but as long as it is all office machinations, mysterious kidnappings, and execution scenes, this world will never feel truly lived in.