Dev-Em is a curious character on Syfy’s Superman prequel series, Krypton, in that his scenes are brief but packed with so much smoldering conviction that most viewers are likely wondering if they’re supposed to root for him as he quietly supports Lyta-Zod or root against him as Seg-El’s rival for Lyta’s affections. Aaron Pierre, the actor who portrays Dev-Em, has some opinions of his own about how his character is portrayed, which could provide some guidance for Krypton fans.
Some initial confusion about Dev-Em’s trustworthiness might come from DC Comics readers who remember the villainous incarnations of this minor character in the Superman and Superboy story arcs over the years. “I do know that in the comics at various different points he’s been various different people with various different motivations,” admits Pierre, “but I definitely think that the one we’ve got in Krypton right now… we’re now establishing a new Dev-Em. Not the juvenile delinquent or the criminal of the Phantom Zone. With all respect to any way he’s been depicted in the past, we’re taking this opportunity to see where we can go with it.”
Besides his devotion to the Sagittari, the sometimes oppressive military force on the planet Krypton, Dev-Em hasn’t done much to deserve the title of villain anyway. “I may be biased, but I don’t think he’s a villain,” says Pierre. “Don’t get me wrong, what we see of Dev in episode one is somebody who is militant; we see somebody who is devoted to the cause; we see somebody who is, when in work mode, unable to be flexible in any way… However, there is a lot more to Dev in the coming episodes and later on in the series. We slowly begin to peel back the hard exterior that Dev puts on… and reveal the humanity to him, the empathetic side, the loving side.”
Some of the sympathy viewers may feel for Dev-Em comes in the form of a mysterious scar on the soldier’s back. How might this injury shape who he is, good or bad? “He’s not nervous for anybody else to see it. He’s come to peace with it,” Pierre explains. “However, it does haunt him and not because of being a scar in and of itself but because of how he received the scar, where he received the scar, and implications of that scar. It’s what it represents to him. He can never forget it now. Potentially, he would be able to find a way to overcome it if there was not a constant, permanent reminder.”
On the other hand, Dev-Em’s interpretation of the rule of law is absolute, and this rigidity may lead to future conflicts. “His ancestors and his predecessors, anybody that came before him did have an unwavering respect for authority, although they always manage to work their way and maintain their position at a high level of the military guild,” says Pierre. “In addition to that, though, he is not them. He is constantly referring to his moral compass and constantly trying to grow, but it’s difficult for him because when something has been instilled in you so hard and for so long, sometimes it’s so difficult to break that mold. But he tries to in whatever way he can manage to validate it.”
So will Dev-Em emerge from the background as a major player in a future episode of Krypton, perhaps at a time when he is unable to justify his adherence to the military’s version of right and wrong? “Dev, in any way he can try and grow and break the mold, he will, and in episodes five and six, he is presented with a situation which requires that, but it requires it not in the way Dev would like it to present itself,” teases Pierre. “What he’d like ideally is a sufficient amount of time to process things and sort of work it out, but he’s presented with a situation which requires instantaneous action with immediate effect.”
Perhaps it’s at the midpoint of the season that Krypton viewers will be able to judge Dev-Em for themselves. Says Pierre about the upcoming turning point for his character, “That’s when it comes down to just his heart and not his head. He has to act on something and he becomes part of a storyline which, up until this point, I imagine many viewers would not expect Dev to be a part of. They would really not expect him to allow himself to go where he ends up.”
As a comics reader himself, Pierre is thrilled to be a part of Krypton and is as anxious as viewers are to see where his character, Dev-Em, goes from here. “It’s just been a dream come true. When I was younger, I read comics, and I was invested in these worlds. Whenever I could manage to get the funds to buy a comic, I would,” says Pierre. “That was my first experience with consciously allowing myself to just let my imagination go wild and really believe these characters and really believe that there was a place that existed like these places I was reading about where they did have powers.”
Kryptonians might not have powers in Krypton, but for Pierre, the awe is still part of his experience on set. “To now have the opportunity, which I’m so honored to have, to actually be a part of that myself is sort of surreal,” he admits. “It’s still processing now to be honest with you. Walking on set and seeing the Fortress of Solitude, it’s like, ‘Dude, this is crazy!’ It truly is amazing.”
To see what happens with Dev-Em, check out Krypton as it continues its first season on Wednesdays at 10pm on Syfy, and catch up on our reviews, the latest trailer, and more in our continuously updated Krypton news hub. For the full audio of this interview, subscribe to our Sci Fi Fidelity podcast, or simply listen below (at 56:08).