“Krypton” Episode Review – S01E03 “The Rankless Initiative”

Superman Homepage writer Michael J. Petty reviews episodes from the “Krypton” TV series, airing on SYFY.

Check out his review of the 3rd episode of Season 1 in which, during a military crackdown on Seg’s home district, Seg and Adam Strange race to find a deadly Sentry.

The Rankless InitiativeOriginally Aired: April 4, 2018
WRITTEN BY: Nadria Tucker
DIRECTED BY: Steve Shill

Cameron Cuffe as Seg-El
Shaun Sipos as Adam Strange
Georgina Campbell as Lyta-Zod
Aaron Pierre as Dev-Em
Wallis Day as Nyssa-Vex
Elliot Cowman as Daron-Vex
Ann Ogbomo as Jayna-Zod
Rasmus Hardiker as Kem
Blake Ritson as Brainiac
Ian McElhinney as Val-El

Alexis Raben as Rhom
Tipper Seifert-Cleveland as Ona

4Rating – 4 (out of 5): “Do you trust me?” – Seg-El

This week’s Krypton was another solid entry in the series, digging deeper into multiple plot lines and continuing to build this world.

We find out at the beginning of the episode that the shell Adam and Kem found last week is simply that, with the real threat being contained within it. Kem’s sister Rhom ends up being infiltrated/possessed by this sentry and eventually sends a signal to Brainiac that Krypton is ripe for the taking. This is something we’ve seen Brainiac do countless times in various interpretations (most notably Lex Luthor in Justice League Unlimited and Chloe Sullivan on Smallville), but this time might have been the creepiest as Rhom was not only mentally changing into Brainiac’s slave, but also physically, giving us our first real look at “superpowers” on Krypton.

This week marks the first time we really see Seg-El as a hero, and that’s super-exciting (especially considering Adam’s superhero comment earlier in the episode)! In the Pilot, he learned about his family’s destiny and last week he decided to put his quest for revenge on hold, but this week we see him choose to start the legacy that his grandson will one day follow. Seg chooses to face the sentry alone, to save Rhom despite all odds, refusing to kill or harm her even though Brainiac’s drone may kill him in the process. Not only that, but he also refuses to bring Rhom to the Council, even though it would vindicate his grandfather and (possibly) restore his family name, all because he wants to make sure she is cured, not studied. That’s a Superman move. Superman always does his best to save those around him (and those closest to him) even if there seems to be no other way, and yet he always makes a way. That’s what we see Seg-El do in this episode and what I hope will only continue on into the future.

Speaking of Superman, I think it would be a mistake for this series not to use the Kryptonian heroes Nightwing and Flamebird at some point (though maybe not this season). Maybe Seg decides that working for the Science Council isn’t enough, that in order to truly help the rankless he has to take on the identity of Nightwing and help protect Kandor in that way. That would leave Adam, or possibly even Lyta-Zod (since her color plate matches that of Flamebird), to become Flamebird alongside Seg’s Nightwing. I’ve always loved the Superman stories where Superman and Jimmy Olsen would venture into the bottled city of Kandor and take on those identities to protect the city, and I think this series has that potential too. It would be even more interesting if Nightwing and Flamebird were also spiritual beings (like in Pre-New 52 Superman comics with Chris Kent and Thara Ak-Var), which could potentially give Seg-El and Adam/Lyta-Zod superpowers while on Krypton, especially if Jax-Ur is a recurring villain on the series. Just a thought.

Speaking of Lyta-Zod, I like the way they’re developing her in this series, making her a fair leader and willing to listen to reason. They are continually trying to build her up as a warrior, which definitely stays true to the Zod name. The way she dealt with her soldier who killed a rankless, and handled her mother later, shows that she also has a strong moral compass, something that most Zod’s lack. While I’m still unsure as to whether Lyta will eventually turn on Seg, right now it seems like she shares his conviction for helping those in need and who can’t help themselves (another possible reason she could become Flamebird?).

Clearly the “Rankless Initiative” failed as only a Sagitari was arrested, which puts Daron-Vex in a bad spot, I feel neither here-nor-there about that.

I want to briefly talk about an observation I made this week that Kryptonians seem to be somewhat emotionless at times. Obviously the rankless are different, but ranked Kryptonians, those who belong to a House (Zod, Vex, Em, whatever), seem to be very “robotic”. Not entirely emotionless, but mostly. Take Dev-Em for example. His response to his friend’s death at Lyta’s hand was almost non-existent. We only know he’s upset about it because Lyta says so. Compare that to how everyone is aware of each other’s unfaithfulness (Jayla knows about Seg & Lyta, as does Nyssa) but don’t seem to care in the slightest. Those raised rankless like Seg and Kem seem to be the only ones who express their emotions outright. Some may see this as “bad acting,” but I honestly believe this is intentional to show the differences in Kryptonian society and to reflect on the Jon Byrne version of Krypton from the Post-Crisis reboot of the 1980s. It took me a few episodes to notice this, but I think it’s an important observation to make.

Krypton’s religion is something I briefly touched on in the past two weeks, but I wanted to take some time to talk about it again here. I think Krypton is handling religion right in that there are always good and bad people in every religious group. Clearly, we can agree that the Voice of Rao is probably bad, almost a Pope-like figure who rules over Kandor (if not all of Krypton) in a dictator-ish manner. Almost like a cult leader. But then, we see people like Lyta or Ona (Rhom’s daughter) who not only believe in Rao but put their faith in his grace. I think when exploring other cultures and societies as Krypton wants to (and again, I’ll reference how well Battlestar Galactica did this over a decade ago), it would be a disservice NOT to talk about what Kryptonians believe in the same way it’s a disservice to disregard Japanese, European, or Native American spiritual beliefs when researching them. I’m really interested to hear more about Rao and this belief system they subscribe to going forward.

Some questions to leave you thinking about…

Are Brainiac’s sentries controlled by Brainiac himself or are they their own entities that are simply linked to him?

What “secrets” is Nyssa hiding?

How long until Brainiac arrives?

Does Daron-Vex remind anyone else of Russell Crowe’s Jor-El or is that just me?

Once again, I’m excited to see next week’s episode and anxious to see what happens next.

Check out the “Krypton – Episode Reviews” Contents page.

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April 5, 2018 9:58 am

On the topic of Ranked Kryptonians being emotionless, I don’t think they really are. They’ve just been taught not to show them. This is quite common for upper classes in any society where the definition of civilised/superior is being logical and in control of your emotions unlike the uncivilised/inferior rabble. Watch British period dramas about the upper classes and you’ll see that they are all about manners and behaving in the proper manner no matter what the situation is. When someone in the upper classes does not behave in the proper way they are ostracised and humiliated by their peers.… Read more »

April 5, 2018 12:31 pm
Reply to  andramus

That’s a fair point about class andramus, and I agree. I think that’s more what I meant to convey in my review. “Emotionless” is a bad term, because that’s simply not true. They suppress their emotions to appear emotionless at times, due to the societal conventions they’re privy to. You’re totally right there.

April 10, 2018 12:30 pm

This has been pretty good. BUT…..why are there all the same races on Krypton that are on Earth? And my biggest fault…this is another attempt, IMO to take women into an environment that was once fairly dominated by men, that show cases them as the authoritative butt kickers able to beat up and destroy any man? This women kicking men’s posteriors is a theme that’s been running rampant through the entertainment industry for the last five years or so. So much so that it now dominates comparable encounters between men and women on every level. I find that aspect on… Read more »