Krypton – Season 2 Episode 1
“Light-Years From Home”
Krypton returns for a second season with an alternate timeline, expanded scope and the introduction of a fan favourite characters.
The first season of Krypton was something I enjoyed a great deal and I regret that I wasn’t in a position to cover it at the time. With this site being called “Kneel Before Blog” it should be unthinkable not to cover a show connected to Superman -especially when considering where it ended up- but life got in the way. There was a podcast about the first episode of the series so this site was part of the overall conversation albeit in a limited way.
Season 1 ended on an unexpected and bleak note with Seg-El (Cameron Cuffe) sacrificing himself in order to ensure Brainiac (Blake Ritson) would be imprisoned in the Phantom Zone and General Zod (Colin Salmon) ruling Krypton with an iron fist. I had my concerns about time travel being a fixture in this show in the beginning but if it was in service of creating an alternate timeline that allows freedom of storytelling while making use of different elements within the Superman lore then I can see why it was necessary. Establishing the alternate timeline last season and sticking with it this season opens up the scope of storytelling as it no longer has to build to what we as viewers would expect it to.
Much of this episode is table setting. It picks up six months after the events of the previous season and spends a lot of time establishing where the characters are at this point and what they’re doing. Seg is still in the Phantom Zone and struggling to retain a hold on reality with the collision of past, future and alternate timelines happening all around him. Regrettably the episode doesn’t spend a lot of time exploring this as Seg isn’t in the Phantom Zone for very long but the idea of him getting glimpses of friends and loved ones across time without having any idea of when that happens or even if it ever will is a really interesting one. The long term psychological effects of seeing possible timelines play out before your eyes is something that is begging to be explored so it’s a shame that Seg doesn’t spend an episode or two experiencing that to give an idea of what this kind of isolation would do to someone.
His escape comes very quickly when a disguised Brainiac encourages him to poke the Sunstone at one of the portals which spits them out on Brainiac’s home planet. Mortal enemies stranded together is a fairly common trope in science fiction with numerous episode of the various Star Trek shows delivering a spin on this as well as many others. It persists because the idea of enemies being forced to work together already has built in drama since there’s the question of whether they can trust one another and the constant anticipation of the inevitable betrayal that builds across the adventure. This is addressed pretty directly when Brainiac tells Seg that it’s mutually beneficial to work together for now considering the circumstances. Seg thinks differently because he doesn’t want to work with Brainiac knowing that the eventual betrayal is guaranteed so he’d rather just get on with the conflict rather than constantly watch his back.
Seg is different to how he was in the previous season. He seems less burdened and a lot lighter in the way he conducts himself than before which makes him a bit more accessible so far. I’ve never found the character unlikeable but he often seemed very uptight last season which sometimes made it difficult to invest in him where his more open personality so far is more fun and gives Cameron Cuffe a lot more to work with. This shift is best seen in the brief moments he shares with Adam Strange (Shaun Sipos); their banter flows naturally and the reunion highlights the best of their dynamic in the previous season. Putting them together is definitely a better option than Seg and Brainiac as their interactions are so dynamic and interesting as there’s plenty for them to disagree on while they’re working together. Adam’s comments about the brutal way Seg killed Brainiac are nothing short of hilarious as well and showing the end result without showing the action being taken was very effective. It’s highly unlikely that this will be the end for Brainiac but it does show a willingness on Seg’s part to do what he feels needs to be done in order to deal with a threat.
As of this episode Adam clearly feels that his actions have been ill judged as he thought he was going back in time to stop Brainiac where it was Zod that was the real threat to the timeline. He believes that things have changed so radically because Zod has come to power and he feels that Seg is the key to restoring the timeline to what it once was. I mentioned above that so far the show appears to be sticking to its alternate timeline so I’m hopeful that this will continue to be true and most -if not all- of the character work won’t be undone by a press of the reset button that puts the timeline back on its expected course. That is always a lazy solution but I also have faith that this won’t be the case. Perhaps fixing what has happened as much as possible to set things down something resembling the right path will be the best possible outcome. This sets out a clear redemption arc for Adam who is paying the price for coming back in time without a full understanding of what he was doing there. I’m also excited about the prospect of Adam and Seg getting into adventures on other planets before returning to Krypton. It’s not outside the realms of possibility for Seg to visit a planet with a yellow sun and gain temporary powers.
Back on Krypton things have changed massively. Adam starts off there before being reunited with Seg and ends up being saved by the resistance comprised of Nyssa-Ves (Wallis Day), Jax-Ur (Hannah Waddingham), Mama Zed (Shobu Kapoor) and Seg’s Grandfather, Val-El (Ian McElhinney). Those resisting Zod’s rule are swiftly dwindling in number as his control becomes absolute and the situation looks more desperate almost by the hour. They are ruthlessly hunted by the Sagitari and definitely less than safe in Kandor. There is mention of a moon that has so far escaped Zod’s control that serves as the seat of the resistance but it’s recognised that it’s only a matter of time before Zod focuses on controlling that and eliminating anyone who stands in his way
Once again, the introduction -or reintroduction- of those characters is table setting for the rest of the season and outlines their main goals at this point. There’s a really fun moment where Adam discovers that Val isn’t a hologram and well acted dialogue from Ian McElhinney where Val outlines how much he cares about both Seg and the planet. There’s always a real gravitas to his presence that elevates the scenes he’s in and flipping him from being the source of knowledge to being more uncertain is a concise way of conveying the severity of the situation.
A lot more effort is taken to dig into what Nyssa is dealing with on a personal level. She learned last season that she was killed along with her mother in an accident that led to Nyssa being cloned. She is now trying to come to terms with what she is and what that means for her which definitely isn’t easy for her. This is something that weighs on her very heavily and leads her to risk exposure by tracking down her father Daron-Vex (Elliot Cowan) to confront him in order to learn the truth. Wallis Day is excellent in the scene she shares with her father; the anguish and desperation is wonderfully portrayed. His quick and definitive death at the hands of Lyta (Georgina Campbell) comes as a shock for both Nyssa and the viewer thanks to the tight focus on her perspective in this scene. This one event definitively raises the stakes for Nyssa on a personal level as her only current source of answers is cut off while also raising the stakes for her in a more broad sense as her search for answers leads to her capture.
Her scene with Zod is another strong moment that happens to link into one of the ongoing stories. Zod uses her child -and apparently his half brother if his claim that Seg is his father is to be believed- as leverage in bringing down the resistance. He asks Nyssa to convince Val to stand down because he wants his family to be together rather than on separate sides and if she doesn’t do so then he will raise her son as his own and make sure that she never sees him again. There’s definitely a lot for Nyssa to deal with and difficult choices ahead of her that make her one of the central figures so far.
Lyta has changed a lot since the end of the last season as Zod’s right hand woman in charge of enforcing his rule in Kandor. It feels like too quick a transition for her based on her characterisation last season though there are hints that her dispassionate approach is more of an act than anything else as subtleties in her facial expressions suggest that she’s less than comfortable with what she is doing. There’s nothing to suggest that she’s working to bring down the regime from within at this point as everything she does and says suggests that she’s fully committed to this new vision of Krypton. Losing Seg seems to be a significant contributing factor to this based on her conversation with Nyssa but it’s not entirely clear nor is it justified to have her change so significantly based on little more than the loss of Seg no matter how important he was to her. She is also somewhat blinded by a belief that any good that exists in Seg also exists in him even though there’s a great deal of evidence to the contrary. How this will develop once Seg inevitably comes back into the picture remains to be seen and it is interesting to see her so radically altered by recent experiences but a little more work is needed to make it believable.
Her son, Colin Salmon’s Dru-Zod continues to be excellent and makes for the most complex version of Zod seen in live action. He is definitely an antagonist and there’s no denying that he’s despotic but his motivations make a lot of sense. Every fibre of his being is devoted to the preservation of Krypton and there’s nothing he won’t do to make that happen. This means stamping out resistance on Krypton itself and seeding other planets to ensure his civilisation’s continued survival into the future. His belief in Kryptonian superiority means that every inhabited planet must be under Kryptonian rule. They will be offered the choice to either surrender or be conquered by force so there isn’t a lot of hope for any planet that Zod casts his eye on. It may be a narrow minded viewpoint but it’s completely in character with what has been established about him before this point. He has seen his planet destroyed and the Kryptonian species reduced to almost nothing so in order to prevent that from happening he refuses to compromise in any way. His blindness to alternatives may end up being his undoing but it’s very clear that his beliefs inform everything that he does. The repeated mentions of Doomsday and Zod’s plan to control it in order to conquer planets quickly will likely be his undoing as typically Doomsday isn’t a creature that can be controlled.
Colin Salmon’s portrayal of Zod backs this up. He largely plays him as being both calm and rational with enough bite behind his words to make it clear that it’s unwise to challenge him or get in his way. There’s also a lot of empathy in the way he conducts himself around Lyta and pride in his voice when he talks about Krypton. The performance coupled with the writing makes for a really strong villain with a great deal of depth that is an excellent foundation for further exploration.
The episode ends with the introduction of fan favourite character Lobo (Emmett J. Scanlan). It’s a very brief scene but that makes it no less memorable. Scanlan’s portrayal of Lobo is great with his arrogance, larger than life persona and casual expertise established through little more than a few words and the blasé way he subdues both Adam and Seg. I can tell he’s going to be a lot of fun and it’s great to see the character finally make his live action debut.
A strong opening to the second season that does an admirable job of setting the table for what is to come while delivering meaningful character beats. Seg’s time in the Phantom Zone is brief but very compelling with the depiction of past, future and alternate timelines playing out in front of him confusing his grip on reality. It’s unfortunate that his release from the Phantom Zone came so quickly as there was a lot of potential to be mined from exploring the long term effects of this sort of isolation. Seg’s brief partnership with Brainiac works pretty well and dodges the trope of mortal enemies being forced to work together until the inevitable betrayal. His choice to attack and kill Brainiac is refreshing and opens him up to partner with Adam instead which words far better. Their dynamic is a lot of fun to watch and Seg’s shift to be a bit more playful enables this nicely. Setting up a redemption arc for Adam through fixing the mess the timeline is currently in also works really well and gives Adam a defined purpose.
The characters on Krypton are each compelling in their own ways. Val continues to bring gravitas to the situation and the subtle detail that he doesn’t have all the answers helps raise the stakes in an organic way. The strongest work is done on Nyssa who has to deal with comprehending the details of her own existence, finding/losing her father before gaining the answers she’s looking for and being presented with an ultimatum that could result in her never seeing her son again. It’s handled wonderfully and adds a distinct personal touch to the plot. Lyta’s transition to cold and dispassionate doesn’t entirely work as it feels like too radical a departure from her characterisation in the previous season without doing enough to justify it. There are hints that she’s not entirely comfortable with what she has to do but on the whole she seems committed to it which feels at odds with who she was before. Her son, Dru-Zod is excellent with strong motivations fuelling his actions. Colin Salmon’s nuanced performance compliments this perfectly and allows him to be a truly fascinating antagonist. The introduction of Lobo is brief but very memorable and an indication of good things to come.
- the representation of the Phantom Zone with trippy visuals and terrifying implications
- dodging the “mortal enemies working together” trope when Seg kills Brainiac
- the Seg/Adam dynamic
- strong character work for Nyssa
- Zod’s strong motivations coupled with an excellent performance from Colin Salmon
- Seg’s quick escape from the Phantom Zone robbing the show of the potential of that location
- Lyta’s transition feeling at odds with her established character
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