Krypton – Season 2 Episode 4
Krypton deals with how Seg reacts to all of the changes to his homeworld as Val’s resistance movement tries to gain ground from Zod.
Even though he was only away for three episodes, Seg’s return to Krypton was eagerly anticipated because of his connection to the characters involved in the major plot developments relating to the planet. Val’El is his grandfather and the main source of resistance against his -alleged, I still think there’s a reveal to come on that- son, Dru-Zod, Nyssa is mother to his child as well as being someone he has become close to and Lyta is the woman he loves so he has a lot invested in both sides of the conflict. This doesn’t even account for Kem (Rasmus Hardiker) or Adam who also have a close relationship with him.
As you might expect much of the episode deals with Seg reconnecting with those he has been separated from up until this point, once again reinforcing this show’s commitment to characters and their relationships over plot movement which is usually the better choice as it allows viewers to be more invested in the plot as they will care about the characters involved and how that plot will impact them. Of course it is possible to have too much focus on characters and not enough plot movement as has been happening with the Val’s resistance narrative since the season began. This episode finally moves things forward making it feel as if the writers were running on the spot until Seg returned to Krypton.
Seg’s perspective on the situation won’t surprise anyone as he has always been one to speak out against injustice. His outlook on the situation is defined by how he relates to those closest to him. Much of his screen time is with Lyta which begins with a really happy reunion especially from her point of view as she finds that Seg isn’t dead which is something that pleases her greatly. The shift in Lyta’s personality when she reunites with Seg is clear and an effective way of showing how strong their connection is with Seg bringing out a more tender side of her. Flashing back to their first meeting gives a sense of the beginnings of their feelings for one another through a really endearing meet cute and her admission that being around Cor-Vex reminds her of him due to the family resemblance. How differently Lyta acts around Seg helps add to the idea that there is hope for her to overcome the corruption that her son represents.
They are allowed a honeymoon moment upon Seg’s return where they are able to reconnect without any of the extra baggage but it is short lived as Seg quickly realises that Lyta is on what he perceives to be the wrong side. The episode subtly drops in that she’s a victim of reconditioning through the initial clue of her experiencing a nose bleed before building on it by revealing that she has forgotten certain memories of their time together. Zod freely admits to being responsible for this and explains his reasoning behind it. To his mind those memories represent weakness and are an active barrier to Lyta achieving her true potential. This makes perfect sense considering everything we know about Zod up until this point and add further complexity to his character. The audience is supposed to follow Seg’s perspective and see this as wrong because Zod is tampering with someone’s mind to suit his own interests but the beauty of it is that Zod sees this as a necessary means to an end in order to maintain the safety of Krypton.
The conflict between Seg and Zod is reminiscent of the traditional antagonistic relationship between Superman and Zod while providing a unique twist on it through their familial connection. Assuming that Zod isn’t lying or mistaken about Seg being his father then that means Superman is his nephew. This changes up the dynamic considerably as Zod sees through Seg the values that will end up defining his greatest enemy. He really wants his family to be united and appeal to Seg to be more like him because he sees it as necessary for the preservation of their race. Interacting with Seg must remind Zod so much of Superman and tell him that he needs to bring Seg around to his way of thinking in order to prevent that antagonistic relationship from coming to pass. This means that Seg has to be reconditions because he sees no other way for them to find common ground which highlights Zod’s obsession with maintaining control.
An ongoing theme this season seems to be the loss of self. The previous episode played around with this idea significantly with Brainiac trying to take over Seg. This episode continues that idea through the use of reconditioning to alter Lyta and later Seg’s memories in order for Zod to maintain control. Free will has always been part of the DNA of this show as evidenced by children being grown from samples of the parents and having their lives meticulously mapped out for them before they’re even born. That aspect hasn’t been explored but it ties into this theme and will likely come to some sort of head where the main characters embrace the freedom of choice that they all have as Zod threatens to take that from them. In essence the resistance is about fighting for the right to make those choices even if Kryptonian society is engineered in such a way that large scale choices are limited. All Zod is doing is enforcing that through his singular voice and vision rather than the lack of choice being the accepted norm; his voice and vision are simply different to the previous regime so there’s a conversation to be had about what Kryptonian society will look like if and when Zod is overthrown.
There is a representation of that fight for the right to make choices through Seg’s attempt to find out about Lyta’s reconditioning. The episode implies the violation angle but doesn’t explore it to the fullest extent. Revealing this goes some of the way towards justifying the rapid change in Lyta at the beginning of the season but it also feels like a bit of a cheat considering prior episodes proceeded used the loss of Seg as the main justification for this so it almost comes across as an excuse to have a rapid character transformation without doing the necessary work to fully justify it. It has fascinating implications for her relationship with Zod and Seg if there are memories that have been altered or removed. Playing fully into the violation angle could add to the strange setup that already exists with Lyta being Zod’s mother yet not really understanding that role and how it relates to her. Using the reconditioning to tease Brainiac’s continued presence was a nice touch as well that sets up a further complication.
Seg’s attempt to appeal to Zod’s better nature as he is the embodiment of the union between the House of El and the House of Zod. He implores Zod to be the best of both houses but Zod already believes that he is and thinks that his way is the right one. In his mind strength and dominance are necessary which makes him unprepared to hear anything else. The beauty of this is that Seg’s mindset is a recent development for him that feels organic given where he started and what he believes now. He takes a lot from Val who represents more of the Superman ideals than he does and there’s a sense that Seg is slowly coming to embrace them over time. He also understands that the ideals alone are not enough because he’s aware that the House of El and House of Zod are capable of great destruction together as evidenced by the existence of Doomsday so he recognises the dark side of his heritage and is trying to find a way to move forward.
As always Colin Salmon is an absolute delight in the role of Zod. A particularly strong moment comes when Seg announces that he killed Brainiac and he plays the reaction as a mixture of pride, shock and disbelief that his father would be capable of such a thing. This trip to the past is teaching him a lot about where he came from whether he’s ready to heed those lessons yet or not. He also plays the role with complete conviction to show that he has no doubt about his actions being right. His effortless control of the situation is shown through him playing Jax-Ur without her even realising it and engineering a situation where more or less the entirety of her ground forces are lost.
There is also added complexity to this with Jax-Ur’s intention to use the Codex to commit genocide proving that it’s hard to find heroes on either side and the conflict isn’t as simple as Zod being a villain that needs to be defeated. Jax-Ur proves herself as an opportunist with her own agenda which makes her easy target for Zod’s manipulation. Val seeing through her plan and using Nyssa as his contingency plan also shows that he is a capable leader who doesn’t take loyalty at face value. Of course it’s entirely possible that Nyssa is also doing exactly what Zod wants her to do but there’s enough ambiguity to leave that open for now. Adding extra layers to the factions and expanding the conflict beyond a simple binary makes everything far more interesting.
Adam spends the bulk of the episode separated from Seg but it doesn’t negatively affect him. Shaun Sipos can apparently be paired with any actor and deliver excellent material. His back and forth with Kem is a lot of fun to watch and very distinct from his dynamic with Seg which makes it a very worthwhile friendship in its own right. His interactions with Val are strong but in a different way. When talking to Val Adam drops the bravado and opens up about how he’s really feeling about the situation. His main concern is that he broke the timeline and the universe with his actions only for Val to reassure him that he’s definitely not to blame and should concentrate his efforts on fixing it rather than leaning into a self defeating outlook. Val falls easily into the mentor figure in general but the writing is strong enough to have a lot of weight behind the various relationships he has. He does need to step out of the support role at some point otherwise he runs the risk of being stuck in a fairly limited niche.
This episode does some great work with Dev through is interactions with Jayna. It’s a fairly simple and earnest plot involving him turning his back on the oath he took to protect Krypton because he sees the current incarnation of the military as an abomination running counter to the reasons he joined and what he stands for. This is powerfully illustrated through flashbacks that show his unwillingness to harm civilians. He sees Lyta as a monster because she gave those orders that caused him to desert the military but Jayna believes that her daughter can be saved and redeemed as she sees Zod as the problem so thinks that killing him will go a long way towards putting everything right. As with the work done on Val’s resistance movement this adds further texture to the overall situation. It has been previously established that Jayna wants to break the cycle of Zod’s being killers and wants to prove that it’s possible by saving her daughter; Dev is the wildcard in this scenario as he may see Lyta as a problem that needs to be permanently solved.
A strong episode makes good use of the characters and how they relate to the conflict while adding texture through relationships and shifting motivations. Seg’s view on the situation comes as no surprise as he has always been one to speak out against something he perceives as an injustice. His reunion with Lyta works brilliantly because it focuses on their relationship and lets them have a honeymoon moment before ramping up the intensity. Lyta is able to talk about the impact Seg’s loss had on her. The reveal that Zod tampered with her memories through reconditioning to make her more susceptible to his way of thinking is interesting in terms of the implications it has for her core relationships but the episode doesn’t lean into the violation aspect of it as much as it could have. The fact that Zod freely admits it and sees it as necessary is a clear indication of how committed he is to his vision of Krypton and that he’s serious about the lengths he will go to in order to achieve that. Seg’s attempt to appeal to Zod’s better nature by pointing out that he could represent the best of the House of El and House of Zod because he’s a product of both. The counter to that is together the two houses created Doomsday but the sentiment remains the same and is reminiscent of the values that Superman will one day hold. Another fascinating aspect of this is that Zod wants and needs Seg to reject those values because he needs Seg to come round to his way of thinking. All of this makes the back and forth between them fascinating.
Zod’s influence can be felt throughout the episode. The way he manipulates Jax-Ur -who has her own hidden agenda- to cripple the resistance is masterful and it’s very likely that Nyssa is playing into his hands as well though there’s enough ambiguity to leave that as an open question. Val may have accidentally given Zod what he wants through Nyssa as well but the fact that he saw through Jax-Ur shows that he’s a capable leader and strong judge of character. Val’s interactions with Adam make for great viewing as well and allow for Adam to appear vulnerable rather than the put on confident swagger that he normally has. His fear that he broke the universe followed by the reassurance from Val is a great scene that adds further texture to Adam as a character. It’s also a lot of fun to see him bounce off Kem thanks to a vastly different dynamic to the one Adam has with Seg. This episode does a lot of great work with Dev which adds further complexity to the situation. It’s a simple tale of deserting the military because he sees the current incarnation as an abomination counter to his reasons for joining and what he stands for. This is powerfully shown through a flashback and confirms his hatred for Lyta who he sees as a monster. Jayna still wants to break the cycle and believes that her daughter can be saved but Dev is a wildcard in this scenario.
- Seg’s reunion with Lyta
- Zod fully committing to all of his actions because they support his vision
- the complex Seg and Zod dynamic
- how easily Zod controls the situation
- continuing the theme of the loss of self
- Val’s strengths as a leader
- Adam’s dynamic with Val and Kem
- Dev’s story about deserting the military
- not leaning into the reconditioning as a violation implication to the fullest extent
- the reconditioning angle feeling like a cheat to justify Lyta’s personality shift
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