Warning: This Krypton review contains spoilers for Season 2, Episode 9.
Krypton Season 2, Episode 9
For the penultimate episode of Season 2 of Krypton, and it’s a big one, it’s Doomsday for the good guys in the action-packed “Blood Moon,” where a moon-sized loss is suffered, and a main character has a brilliant death – leaving the resistance broken, and hopeless.
It is only fitting to begin with the surprising death of Kem. Rasmus Hardiker has been excellent as Kem since Season 1. He is a smart ass from the streets, but there has always been a vulnerability and sadness to the character. This season’s journey has been satisfying as we’ve seen him become a soldier, then a leader, and ultimately a selfless warrior who sacrifices himself for his friend, and the cause.
Kem’s death could arguably be seen coming, but it was nonetheless a flawless victory for the show. From the “too close” reunion (and farewell) hug between him, Seg, and Adam, to his frequent misuse of “ass crushing,” there was a lot of primo moments for Kem here. I particularly enjoyed the wry sense of pride he has when he tells Seg, “They even let me carry a gun, and order people around,” which downplays his leadership.
He uses humor again just before he goes to retrieve the detonator, and face Doomsday, telling Seg, “I’ve got a death wish, and you need saving.” Kem knows his friend has a larger role to play in the survival of Krypton, and as a father. As they discuss his inevitable death, there are shades of Kirk and Spock’s final conversation from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, except “It’s my turn to take a beating” stands in for “I have been, and always shall be, your friend.”
Showrunner Cameron Welsh, who directed the episode, lets the unrelenting action of the episode slow down as the Pinar Toprak’s piano score comes in. Everything breathes in the scene, as Kem realizes Doomsday is right behind him, and still we only hear the swell of the piano. Hardiker is so convincing as the expression passes from fear, to shock, pain, and defiance against the unbeatable (computer-generated) monster. Even after he is impaled, and spits out blood, he manages a final act of defiance by flipping an Earth bird (before having his head gruesomely exploded, thus dropping the detonator). The scene plays out beautifully and it’s a poignant death for the character; it feels earned, and it counts.
Kem’s death is also so significant following the shocking loss of life at the hands, and horns, of Doomsday. It is no easy task to deliver a computer generated monster on a television budget, especially one that is more than a slow-moving hulk, but has to run. Krypton pulls it off by building tension, and through some camera tricks.
He is an oncoming storm, a horror movie maniac — one creature stepping off a ship when five battalions of Sagitari were expected. Although I highly question whether Doomsday is the sort to stretch out his neck before he goes on the attack, he’s convincing – thanks largely to human actors such as Luke Neal as Commander Rune-Lux. Blood and viscera fly as most of the massacre occur out of frame.
Also, a notable part of selling the Doomsday threat comes courtesy Shaun Sipos’ Adam. He looks terrified as it dawns on him what’s unfolding. The fear feels real when he exclaims “the only one person who has ever stopped Doomsday in the universe doesn’t exist anymore” and that they must “run like we stole something” (a line that could easily have been comedic if Sipos didn’t imbue it with such urgency).
In addition to Hardiker, Wallis Day had the most demanding character work this week, and she nailed it. As a character, Nyssa is so lost. She’s been played, is in love with a man (the father of her child) who loves another woman, and her child has been lost to the stars. She has some issues. I don’t buy that Val’s rebellion would follow the traitor into battle, even at the request of the El, but Nyssa’s charge, and ensuing fight sequence, is powerful. Of course she would fight as if she has nothing to lose – because she doesn’t. This unleashed warrior might be the best new leader this ragtag resistance needs. And kudos to Day for the physicality of the big scene, and to Krypton’s fight choreographers.
Compare Nyssa to Val, and we have a general who frankly may not deserve the job. Val has made a lot of bad calls, and sometimes seems a little too smug. I think Ian McElhinney is reflecting that in his acting; Val was a once-great, revered leader, but he’s lost his moral high ground, and is now essentially the cause of Wegthor’s destruction – and, as far as he knows, the death of his grandson (thankfully Seg has a spaceship, “a really, really shitty spaceship.”)
Lest we think Doomsday is the meanest cat on this show, remember Zod’s fascist speech about conquering other worlds is downright chilling, followed by his satisfaction at having the creature “Kneel.” An entirely unhinged, but motivated, Zod is scary stuff. The other happenings on Krypton revolve around the reunion of Lyta, Jayna, and Dev. As Dru-Zod sets about making the galaxy tremble, the mother and daughter are seeking peace. The scene of the changed Jayna telling Lyta that they both made mistakes, but must make use of the second chance fate has allowed them, is touching.
The scope of “Blood Moon” demands most of the action happens on Wegthor, but I hope Lyta, and Jayna are back in the action for the finale (after all, Lyta kicked all kinds of ass after waking up from the Black Mercy, so she should be able to overcome that residual infection quickly).
I haven’t said much about Cameron Cuffe’s Seg this week because so much of what he’s asked to do is essentially say hello, then goodbye, to all his people. That isn’t a dig, either. It speaks to the success of this show that we care so much about these other characters. Seg has to take stock of all these relationships, many of which he has missed out on for months due to Phantom Zones and girlfriend clones (which is the name of my new album).
Blood Moon might be the biggest episode Krypton has yet attempted, and they succeed in execution. It is the show’s Empire Strikes Back, where everyone loses, and the team is splintered. What’s more, the destruction of Wegthor foreshadows Krypton’s own future (and you can see the pain in Nyssa and Val’s faces as the unimaginable plays out in front of them).
Heading into the season finale, everything is terrible for our characters, but this was one of the show’s best episodes.
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