This Krypton review contains spoilers.
Krypton Episode 7
You can tell a lot about someone when they have their power stripped from them. Take Daron-Vex, for example. When the cards are down and his life is on the line, it turns out he doesn’t believe in anything more than his own survival—not even the life of his own daughter. In the wake of his failed coup against the Voice of Rao Who Is Now Brainiac, Daron-Vex is asked to pledge his allegiance to something. He chooses Brainiac, and gives up Nyssa and Jayne in the process. He is even willing to shoot Nyssa to prove his loyalty.
It’s not that I don’t think this is a realistic character trait—most people like to think they would be a hero if their life were on the line, but survival is an instinct, too—I just wish that Krypton had done a bit more to make me believe that Daron would choose it. Thus far, I read Daron’s main priority as the pursuit of power and he kind of seemed to like his daughter. Now, I don’t know what to make of the dude. Because cowering at Brainiac’s feet doesn’t seem like much of a power play. He gives up any upper hand or ally he might have had in order to ensure his survival. It’s understandable given how frakking scary Brainiac is, but not a good look for the character, on either the in-world or meta level.
You know what is a good look, though? Jayna-Zod finally letting her daughter just how much she cares about her. This is a relationship dynamic that has been steadily and believably built over the course of this first season, with solid writing and even better acting from Georgina Campbell and Ann Ogbomo. I understand how both of these characters feel about one another, so it makes sense to me that Lyta would risk everything to find her mom. Team Zod all of the way. (I’m no so sure about that General Zod, though.)
Sadly, Dev doesn’t make it out of the coup alive. First, he is taken over by Brainiac, which seems like a kind of death as it completely removes his ability to make his own decisions. Then, he is actually killed (or at least has his arm blown off) by Lyta. Dev was a character that I came to like over the course of this first season. As a romantic threat to Seg’s relationship with Lyta, he didn’t have to be as nuanced as he was. Rather, we learned that he loved Lyta for the sake of loving her rather than expecting anything in return. We also learned that he valued Jayna’s opinion more than anything, blindly choosing to follow her into a coup.
Another character that has been surprisingly nuanced in her portrayal is Nyssa-Vex, who is ambitious in her own right, but, unlike he father, also seems to have human emotions. When her father tries to shoot her, she is smart enough to have taken counter measures. He taught her not to trust anyone—but that doesn’t mean she didn’t still hope that she could trust her father. I’m not sure I believe that Nyssa would be so willing to kill him after this, but it does make for a quick allegiance turn-around. With Seg vouching for Nyssa, we get a bulk of interesting characters all in one place and on one side: trying to save Kandor, Krypton, and the very universe from Brainiac.
Unfortunately, they are wildly unmatched. Krypton has never been as scary as it was in this episode, first in that cold open that saw Brainiac’s tentacles chasing after Jayna, then in that final, epic climax that saw Brainiac literally walking into fire and floating above the people of Kandor. (Take that, Daenerys!) One of Krypton’s continued weakness is that it has not chosen to define the Rankless community at all, so their blind allegiance felt lazy to me here. Personally, I see my supposed deity demonstrate imperviousness to flames and promise me immortal life, I ask some follow-up questions, no matter how much I believe.
That being said, the stakes have never felt as high. Krypton has really shaken things up in the last few episodes and while I think some of the choices have been messy and constructed on lazily-built narrative foundations, it has also made for some exciting TV. This show is better at action then it is at political machinations.
I even cared about Adam Strange in this episode! While I still don’t buy his “Because I wanted to be a hero” motivation (I kind of just wish he was like, “Because I am in love with Superman”—that would be both unexpected and can walk the line of a familiar narrative motivation moving forward), watching Val-El give him a pep talk only for Adam to be like: Yes, I am going to kill General Zod and prevent Seg from saving Kandor. I’d be more worried if Adam had proven himself competent at any point in this show so far, but, like, the dude can’t even figure out how to fix his Zeta Beam Device.
That being said, Krypton seems to be settling into the show it wants to be versus the show it feels like it should be. The further away it moves from Game of Thrones-style political machinations or an exploration of class, community, and power disparity and the closer it gets to a fast-paced, comic book-inspired, action-heavy mystery, the better it becomes.
I straight-up love that the narrative trope of two people making out to fool guards did not work here. Like, you’re kissing, you’re not invisible. Well done, Krypton!
When Adam is leaving the Fortress of Solitude, he tells Val-El “Piss off, ghost,” which is an amazing reference to Thor: Ragnarok. It kind of ruins the dramatic build-up of the moment, but I love Korg, so I’ll let it slide.
Nyssa mentions she has sisters in Kryptonopolis, which I believe is the first time we’ve heard mention of them. I guess this is why Daron calls Nyssa his favorite earlier in the episode. Without the context, I really needed Daron to clarify. Favorite… minion? Favorite… blonde? Talk to me, Daron! Explain your character motivations, please.
I seriously feel bad for Val-El here. You know he has been waiting to give a good pep talk to someone all season and it just goes terribly wrong… and now he can’t even remember.