"A Better Yesterday" – Krypton S02E05 Review

And so with "A Better Yesterday" the Krypton shenanigans plod along. I can't say that's surprising: the show is named Krypton, after all. But the show has been at its best when it examines the stuff that ironically, it was promoting in the end credits for tonight's episode, "Superman's Legacy". Brainiac and Lobo and Adam Strange (and Zod to some degree) may be the odd men out when it comes to a show set three generations (one hundred years?) in the past and views betrayal and romance through the eyes of an alien civilization.

Rasmus Hardiker, Krypton S02E05

But at least they're interesting parts of Krypton. So is Kem (Rasmus Hardiker), but he's atypical for a Kryptonian. He's one of the Rankless, and the only one of the Rankless we've seen in any detail this season. At least they existed in season one: now that Zod has conscripted them, they've all but been eliminated. All we see beyond Superman's Legacy is high-tower offices and corridors, the moon of Wegthor, and that bar Jayna and Dev show up at from time to time. For a show that is named Krypton, and is supposed to show us Krypton's home planet, this season of Krypton isn't showing us much of it. We've seen as much of Wegthor as we have Krypton. And at least some of what we've seen of Krypton is the tunnels and sewer system. Yep, I always wanted to know more about the sewers of Superman's home world.

And that to me indicates the schizophrenic nature of Krypton. Does it want to be about Superman's legacy? (Which is odd, because it's set in his past before he even exists.) Does it want to be about Superman's home planet? Or does it want to give us a unique and exciting civilization different from Earth?

The creative team seems to be going several directions at once... and getting nowhere fast, to borrow a song title from one of my favorite movies.

On with tonight's episode. Adam, Seg, and Araame have been captured by Lyta, and she sends Araame and the faceless Rebels back to Val as a sign of good faith while keeping Adam and Seg as hostages.

Colin Salmon, Krypton S02E05

Seg sneaks into Zod's office and holds him at gunpoint, and threatens to tell Lyta the truth about her Somatic Reconditioning Zod used to brainwash her to his vision. Zod is full of "I did it to take away her pain" and "She didn't need as much reconditioning as you might think". I've pretty much given up on trying to figure out if Zod is a liar, or a fanatic, or a cold-hearted bastard, or sympathetic, or trying to earn his father, Seg's, respect, or some of all of this and more. It looks like the creative team has as well: writer David Kob even has Zod say later he no longer wants Seg's respect.

There are solar flares disrupting communication between Krypton and Wegthor, so Zod can't call up Lyta immediately. This gives him time to tell Seg all of this, and distract him long enough to disarm him. And who shows up? Brainiac (Blake Ritson) but as a mental image only Seg can see because there's a tiny bit of Brainiac surviving in Seg's mind. Brainiac spells out how Seg let emotion for Lyta distract him, and Zod will win because he's tough and ruthless (or rough and toothless: another quote from another of my favorite movies), unless Seg becomes unemotional and tough and ruthless.

Jayna and Dev continue to be the wandering plot devices. First, they try to convince the customers at the cantina to join in their struggle against Zod. The customers refuse, and good for them. We have no idea who they are or why they would want to join forces with J&D because they have no personalities and no idea of what the cantina's connection is to Kandor.

Cameron Cuffe, Krypton S02E05

So J&D sneak into Kandor, go to Zod's office, and get the drop on him. Zod uses Seg as a shield, and Jayna can't bring herself to shoot through Seg to kill Zod. Dev can, so Zod throws a knife at Jayna and runs off while Dev catches it. We then get a fairly cool sequence where the three of them shoot their way out. It's cool because Seg is doing most of the shooting, and following Brainiac's instructions, which involves shooting Sagitari just as they round corners and come up behind Seg. Seg dismisses his new sharpshooting skills as something he picked up in the Phantom Zone. Which... huh? Granted, most people don’t know anything about the Phantom Zone. But do J&D really believe there's a shooting gallery there where Seg practices his behind-the-back shooting?

Nyssa is wandering around with the bomb trigger, joins up with the Sagitari, and they seem to consider her a hero for tricking the Rebels into taking the tainted oxygenerators which killed off most of the Rebel ground forces. Nyssa knew nothing about this, and she shoots the Sagitari guarding Adam and Kem.

Jax agrees to a meeting with Lyta only so Jax can use her energy beam eye to kill Lyta's guards and take her hostage. She then threatens to kill Lyta unless Zod withdraws the Sagitari from Wegthor. Forcing Zod to decide whether he will choose Lyta (and lose the respect of his Sagitari because he's choosing his mother over the well-being of Krypton), or let his mother die and lose the respect of the Kryptonians. I've lost track, if there was ever a track to follow, of whether it's common knowledge if the Kryptonians know Lyta is the mother of the older Zod, and whether they're copacetic with all the timey-wimey stuff that would involve.

Hannah Waddingham, Kae Alexander, Krypton S02E05

While they escape, Adam and Kem find bio readings showing Zod is amassing his Sagitari in the tunnels beneath Kandor. So Zod is going to let Lyta die and crush the rebellion. Meanwhile, Jax has had Val imprisoned when he objects to her killing Lyta. Araame (Kae Alexander) continues to drift through scenes. She gets upfront billing as a guest star, but we still know nothing about her character other than a) she's capable, b) she's an underling to Jax, c) she's at least a lesbian because it's 2019, and d) she has a name.

At the end, Adam and Kem tell Jax about Zod's shenanigans. Jax calls him on it, and over the worldwide communications web she cuts Lyta's throat. Everybody gasps in shock, and the end.

Like I said, it's Kryptonian backstabbing and romance and intrigue. Without Lobo present, and with Doomsday as the world's slowest rampaging monster, that leaves Zod and Brainiac to carry the villainy with an assist from Jax (Hannah Waddington). Jax is going into full "I must become as bad as Zod to defeat Zod" mode. Ritson as Brainiac gives good villain and watching him is always a pleasure. Colin Salmon as Zod bugs out his eyes regularly and goes whichever way the creative team carries him.

Shaun Sipos, Krypton S02E05

The show hasn't really progressed much since it started. If anything, it's strayed from its initial preserve. Adam came back to preserve Superman in Krypton's future, which is Adam's present. But now Adam is swept up in the general chaos. I did like his little speech to Kem about not wanting to be executed as an accessory: he wants to be executed for the stuff he actually does. But it's characterization in a vacuum: we still don't know who Adam is other than "Earth guy who can travel through time and has literally a strange last name."

Seg had his family honor and his family stripped from him, and forced to marry into the Vex family. Now he's fighting for... something. I don't know what. It doesn't seem to be to preserve his grandson's timeline, and the irony of that premise still hasn't been explored. To keep the Kryptonians from dying and Superman being rocketed away as the planet explodes, Seg has to doom Krypton to destruction. That's a dramatic irony you would think the creative team could explore. It might not have marching Sagitari and leaping Doomsday and Lobo camping it up, and yes, there has to be evil villains and some kind of scheme to keep the series going, but there's nary a mention of the dramatic conflict that presumably lies at the heart of the show: Seg and Adam have to doom Krypton to preserve the timeline.

Hannah Waddingham, Georgina Campbell, Krypton S02E05Ditto with Zod. Salmon is all evil and villainous and... well, Zod-like. But his relationship with Seg and Lyta is too vague and timey-wimey to sustain much drama. Not to mention if someone kills Lyta before he's born, doesn't that mean he won't be born? Unless Zod disappears in a puff of temporal causality next episode, the episode's finale is a red herring: Jax doesn't slit Lyta's throat and she isn't dead because if she's dead, Zod wouldn't exist.

I suppose that's the problem with prelude TV shows and movies. We know how it ends. Lyta doesn't die, Zod doesn't cease to exist. Zod fails to "save" Krypton and eventually gets sent to the Phantom Zone. Superman is rocketed away from the dying planet to become a hero on Earth. Seg has a child named Jor-El, and he does all the heavy lifting of banning Zod to the Phantom Zone and running afoul of the Science Council and having a son and sending him away as Krypton dies around him.

That's why prequels don’t make very exciting viewing: lack of suspense. We know how Krypton has to end. If it doesn't end with Krypton's destruction, there's no Man of Steel and no "Martha!" and no Justice League and no Supergirl (and thus no Supergirl) and no animated shows. That might make for exciting and shocking movies, but let's face it: that's not how Warner, DC, The WB, SyFy, and DC Universe channel are going to go. They're not going to have the Superman media empire hinge on one summer show on SyFy. I wish it was otherwise, but let's face it: Krypton is going to affect all the other DC products less than the upcoming Crisis crossover. It's a closed loop of temporal casualty that, at the end of the day, will revert back to the status quo.

The weird part is the creative team doesn't know that or at least won't acknowledge it. They could go out on a limb doing weird stuff with Krypton and giving us a truly alien culture. They could drag in Superman's supporting cast of alien bad guys and allies: why not Supergirl and Vartox and Terraman and the Legion of Super Heroes and Space Cabby? It's all going to end in temporal continuity setting everything back to "normal" anyway, so why not go to some strange places? Instead we get Adam Strange.

And we get a Krypton that is an odd combination of a sterile scientifically-dedicated civilization, and Game of Thrones-style intrigue and cultural divide. Adam has, or should, tell Kryptonians their planet is going to die in a couple of generations. Have them go nuts from there. It might not end up like the civilization we see in Superman: The Movie. But we're both not getting that anyway, and we have to eventually get that anyway unless Krypton is going to erase Superman: The Movie (and Man of Steel) from the DC cinematic universe. The creative team, and the DC Powers That Be, are going to have everything go back to "normal" by the end of the series anyway.

So it would be refreshing if either Krypton went hog-wild with the changes to the continuity, knowing DC will hit the reset button when the series ends. Or the series ends with Zod conquering the universe, evacuating Krypton, and Superman never existing. Millions of Kryptonians live, but the unseen millions an unseen Superman saves once he becomes a superhero will unseen live. But I don’t believe anyone involved has the balls to do it.

But that's just my opinion, I could be wrong. What do you think?

Written by Gislef on Jul 11, 2019

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