Krypton – Season 2 Episode 9
Krypton reunites Val and Seg as Zod aggressively steps up his plan to eradicate the rebellion by unleashing Doomsday.
The promise of using Doomsday as a weapon against Zod’s enemies has been teased throughout the season and has been a significant fixture of recent episodes. Zod has devoted all of his energies into taming Doomsday because it’s the single most powerful thing that can be deployed against his enemies. Seeing his success confirmed when he commands Doomsday to kneel and he does so without hesitation is chilling. The build up to this when Doomsday is released and slowly walks towards him is really well done; Colin Salmon successfully conveys the doubts being experienced by Zod as well as the fear of his plan not working. It’s a really tense moment that pays off wonderfully with Doomsday obeying his command.
It’s really ambitious to include Doomsday in a show like this as the cost of any appearance he makes must be astronomical. Full credit has to go to those who worked on him as he looks amazing and those who put the episodes together have done a great job only including him when absolutely necessary. Simple tricks like a high camera angle to show that he’s looking at Zod and a distant noise heard by the characters indicating that he’s nearby go a long way towards giving him presence. These techniques also build up the fear factor as often what isn’t seen is scarier. The distant noises getting closer reinforce the inevitability of Doomsday destroying everything in his path and the POV camera angles let audiences clearly see the fear on Zod’s face.
This episode is the biggest showcase of Doomsday as an adversary and it doesn’t disappoint. He brutally tears through the assembled troops who throw everything they have at him and achieve nothing. The growing terror once they realise what they’re dealing with and the resulting massacre are really powerful and show how devastating an opponent Doomsday is.
Following this initial assault the action on Wegthor becomes an extended game of cat and mouse where the survivors have to scramble to take over the ship that delivered Doomsday and escape before he catches up with them. There’s a palpable sense of urgency associated with this as each of the main characters have a job to do in order to secure the survival of as many people as possible. Nyssa leads the charge to take the ship and Seg tasks himself with collapsing the mine to trap Doomsday inside and slow him down.
This provides lots of opportunity for the character dynamics to receive a great showcase. Val and Seg’s reunion is really heartwarming even in the face of an imminent threat. In particular Val’s reaction to seeing his Grandson again is really well played as there is so much unchecked joy in Ian McElhinney’s performance. Seg seeing Adam and Kem again is brilliantly done as well. The Seg and Kem friendship has always felt natural and lived in so it makes sense that they would fall back into their established dynamic easily. Since they last saw one another Adam and Kem have developed a really fun back and forth that easily extends to include Kem. Adam and Seg also have a really natural dynamic that is fun to watch so there are three distinct friendships within this group. Instead of being three pairings they instantly become a fun triple act without taking away from the one on one friendships that already exist. This is really good character development for all concerned and is a credit to the chemistry between the actors.
Sadly this is all we’ll get from the triple act as Kem doesn’t make it out of the episode alive. His final moments are nothing short of heartbreaking; it’s clear that his actions in a prior episode were setting him up as a noble hero who understood the value of sacrifice and was willing to put himself on the line for others. Spending so much time developing that side of him makes his sacrifice feel like a natural extension of his established character rather than a left field decision designed to service the plot. His conversation with Seg when they are separated by the forcefield is a highlight as it celebrates the friendship that has endured far beyond the two seasons that we’ve had so far. They reminisce and Seg expresses his willingness to be the one to make the sacrifice. He talks about traditionally heroic things like responsibility and assumes that the weight of it is only on his shoulders but Kem counters that by pointing out that everyone has a responsibility and not everyone can be saved. He has his eye on the bigger picture of saving Krypton and it’s his view that Seg is more important to achieving that goal so in his mind making the sacrifice in order to secure Seg’s safety is what needs to be done. He sees this as his responsibility because it serves the more far reaching responsibility that Seg has. Both actors completely nail this scene and provide what amounts to the most emotionally resonant scene this show has delivered.
A close second comes minutes later with his death. The moments leading up to it are tense and unsettling with the dark claustrophobic setting, cuts to first person viewing to show Kem fixating on the inevitable, Kem’s breathing being the loudest sound and the massacred bodies all around him giving him a flavour of what is to come. It all comes together to create a pitch perfect atmosphere that culminates in the shock reveal of Doomsday standing right behind him as he discovers the detonator accompanied by a morbid score that sounds funereal. The death of Kem is devastating with Doomsday making quick work of him and the added flourish of him giving a taste of his mischievous personality seconds before Doomsday rips his head off underpins the significant loss associated with his death. The fact that he succeeds makes this sacrifice worthwhile and fulfils the promise of his justification that he was the best choice for this.
This victory may buy time for everyone to escape safely but it does come at a significant cost. The explosion cascades and destroys the entire moon of Wegthor. Barring all of the Doomsday related casualties and anyone who met their end while commandeering the ship everyone makes it out alive but have to watch the place they called home be destroyed. It goes without saying that watching planetary bodies invites comparison to Krypton’s eventual fate and the moment lingers long enough to encourage the viewer to make that comparison. As the audience we are right in there with the Kryptonians watching the moon be ripped apart and are forced to consider the implications with that alongside them. It’s a very obvious physical representation of the cost of War as well as being a marker of the blood on the hands of all who participate. The loss of Wegthor should be a turning point for both sides and add texture to everything that happens from here. It’ll be interesting to see how Zod will react to this because he knows what it’s like to lose his planet so the visual of Wegthor’s destruction should trigger something inside him.
Lyta’s emergence from her idyllic fantasy has affected her in really interesting ways. She has a conversation with Seg about how difficult it must have been to let go of everything she ever wanted. The difficulty is acknowledge but she also talks about this bringing her clarity and allowing her to shift her focus towards getting what she wants from life. She is now committed to fighting for her relationship with Seg because it’s worth fighting for and with change on the horizon for Krypton one way another it’s probably the best time to try to alter things about the society at large that could be considered unfair.
Hearing Lyta talking about fighting for her relationship with Seg isn’t easy for Nyssa to hear as she has feelings for Seg and considers him to be the love of her life. Lyta is the love of Seg’s life and she has no intention of getting in the way of that but it doesn’t stop her from making Seg aware of this so that there’s nothing being kept secret. This is a really mature approach to a love triangle that is framed around characters who recognise that the situation is awkward but want to find a way to make it work anyway. Nyssa is invested in maintaining some sort of relationship with Seg because of Jor’El but knows it won’t be easy being around him when he is so in love with Lyta. It’s a really interesting dynamic because Seg doesn’t want to hurt anyone but can’t help it because the direction of his feelings aren’t where Nyssa wants them to be. She is clearly willing to find a way past that so based on this it shouldn’t ever become petty because all concerned are behaving like rational adults.
Lyta’s return has changed her relationship with Jayna significantly. The foundation of their relationship up until recently has been hostility but events have encouraged them to see the world differently and change their approach. Jayna has previously talked about breaking the cycle of violence that has plagued Zods throughout history and Lyta has learned in her own way that compassion is the best way forward so they are now at a point where their ideologies align and they are able to make changes to how their relationship works. In their scene together Jayna blames herself for Lyta becoming a ruthless warrior and acknowledges they have both made mistakes but also have a second chance that can be used to make up for them. Jayna wants to start a new legacy for House Zod and create something worth remembering. Lyta is the first step in that future as far as Jayna is concerned as she considers Lyta to be the best part of her. The striking thing about this exchange is how tender and maternal Ann Ogbomo’s performance is which makes for a significant contrast to her cold and harsh demeanour in the first season. She has never failed to sell Jayna’s epiphany and we’re at the point of it becoming important for Lyta as well as herself.
Her conversation with Dev isn’t quite as strong. It’s well acted but it relies on a level of investment in Dev that the show hasn’t provided the opportunity to cultivate. Aaron Pierre delivers his monologue about Lyta’s clone being exactly like the original and the relationship they had in a really sincere way but it feels oddly flat because it’s not something that has received any focus. Dev has largely been a means to an end as far as characters go and has mainly functioned as support for Jayna so this falls flat.
The idea of building a better Krypton through compassion rather than violence is demonstrated by Lyta when she convinces the two Sagitari soldiers to join her. All she does is appeal to their better nature in order to help them see that Zod has a twisted vision for Krypton that only leads to death and bloodshed. She also shows how superior a leader she is by demonstrating that she has a personal connection to her people while suggesting that Zod doesn’t. Lyta talks about making the effort to know every soldier under her command and see them as people who deserve to be treated with respect. The Sagitari shift allegiances really quickly though I take it to mean that they were never actually loyal to Zod and only obeyed him out of fear. Now that a better alternative has come along they’ll fight for a better Krypton rather than go along with Zod’s warped vision of what he wants for it. This links into my assumption that Zod’s impatience leading to Lyta’s escape would be the beginning of his downfall and that certainly seems to be happening here.
An excellent episode that delivers not one but two emotionally resonant scenes, makes excellent use of Doomsday and does great things with Lyta’s return. The promise of Doomsday being used by Zod as a weapon against his enemies has endured throughout the season and this episode finally saw this come to pass. Doomsday is used brilliantly here with his casual brutality and invulnerability making him an inevitable threat that can barely be slowed down. Within the assault there are opportunities to showcase the strong character dynamics and even develop them through turning the double acts associated with Kem, Seg and Adam into a natural triple act that is immensely entertaining. Seg and Kem’s friendship is celebrated just before the point that Kem sacrifices himself for the good of the bigger picture. Their discussion about responsibility and how everyone has their own to shoulder is really compelling and their parting moments are really powerful in terms of acting and writing. The atmosphere associated with Kem’s final moments is pitch perfect and allowing his mischievous personality to come through seconds before getting his head ripped off was a really nice touch. The destruction of Wegthor is symbolic of the blood on the hands of all involved in the War while also being an obvious reference to the inevitable destruction of Krypton.
Lyta shares key scenes with Seg, Jayna and to a lesser extend Dev to help her contextualise her place in the current situation while also allowing her to vocalise how she feels. Her conversation with Seg is a fairly simple declaration of feelings that highlights the positive consequence of her fantasy providing her the clarity to know what she should be fighting for. There’s the addition of a mature love triangle through Nyssa that is fairly interesting and avoids some of the tropes as well. Lyta’s conversation with Jayna is the most interesting as it highlights how much they have both changed to the point that their ideologies align. Jayna wants to build a better Krypton and a positive legacy for House Zod which is exactly what Lyta wants. They both acknowledge their mistakes and vow to learn from them. The conversation with Dev doesn’t work as well despite strong acting because not enough time was spent showing his version of events to allow them to resonate. A step towards a better Krypton is taken when Lyta convinces two Sagitari soldiers to follow her rather than Zod by pointing out the qualities that make her a better leader. Their change in alignment might seem sudden but it’s easy to accept that they were only following Zod out of fear and don’t actually agree with his vision for Krypton which shows that Zod doesn’t command true loyalty.
- excellent use of Doomsday
- two of the most powerful scenes the show has ever had in a single episode
- The Seg, Kem and Adam dynamic being so natural and fun
- Seg and Kem’s conversation about responsibility and the practicalities of it
- the final scene between Seg and Kem celebrating their friendship
- the pitch perfect atmosphere around Kem’s final moments
- allowing Kem’s personality to come through before his head was torn off
- the loss of Wegthor acting as a physical representation of the blood on the hands of all involved
- Lyta affirming her focus to fighting for the life she wants with Seg
- a mature approach to a love triangle when Nyssa confesses her feelings to Seg
- Jayna and Lyta being in the right place to have their ideologies align for the first time in their lives
- Lyta demonstrating a better Krypton through her personal approach to inspiring loyalty
- the less than effective Lyta and Dev conversation thanks to spending almost no time establishing his perspective
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