Superman on Television
Krypton: Episode Reviews
Season 1 - Episode 1: "Pilot"Reviewed by: Michael J. Petty
Originally Aired: March 21, 2018
WRITTEN BY: David S. Goyer & Ian Goldberg
DIRECTED BY: Ciaran Donnelly & Colm McCarthy
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
Ian McElhinney as Val-El
Blake Ritson as Brainiac
Elliot Cowman as Daron Vex
Rasmus Hardiker as Kem
Rating - 4 (out of 5): "Kal-El, my future grandson, this is the story of the House of El." - Seg-El
I love origin stories.
I love learning about how and why things came to be. Superman stories such as "Birthright" and "Secret Origin" are still among my favorites, and people who have been around this site for a long time know how much I love Smallville. There's something about following a character who is destined to become a hero, who we know will change people's lives, and following them while they're still on their journey to getting there.
Krypton is an interesting mix of origin story and Superman tie-in that has a lot of potential. When this series was first announced, it was originally said to be a Man of Steel prequel. At first, I loved this idea because we would be able to explore the world that Zack Snyder had created, and since the opening of that film is still one of my favorite parts of the movie, that excited me; but the more I thought about it, the more I was concerned. If Krypton was to just be a companion piece to Man of Steel, then it would ultimately be limited by what we already know of Jor-El, General Zod, the Council, and Superman...
I'm happy to say that Krypton, like Smallville before it, did not fall into that trap, instead taking place within its own continuity while borrowing heavily from Man of Steel's pre-established world as well as various interpretations of Krypton from various "ages" of DC Comics.
The most exciting part of Krypton is this potential for world-building. This is a Krypton that has no contact with the outside worlds of the DC Universe (though not for long) and because of that can focus first-and-foremost on showing us the culture, political structure, and "world of Krypton". So far, the series has introduced elements of this world like Kryptonian currency (which I had personally never thought of before in relation to Kryptonian society, so that was neat), re-establishing the classic Kryptonian language from the comics (as opposed to the confusing one from Man of Steel), the Genesis chamber, and showing us how the Guilds interact with each other and the Voice of Rao. Speaking of, the Voice of Rao is an interesting touch to this series. Battlestar Galactica benefited from its use of religion and Krypton might as well if played right, time will tell. These things and more (Kryptonian marriage is messed up, ya'll...) are going to be part of what makes-or-breaks Krypton as a whole, and so far, I think they're on the right track.
At first, I was unsure how I was going to respond to Seg-El. He's a character that I know extremely little about and with a series like Krypton I assumed Jor-El and Dru-Zod would be the leads, but I'm glad that wasn't the case. It's the fact that we know next-to-nothing about Seg-El, Lyta-Zod, and the rest of the cast that will lend to the showrunners ability to tell compelling, and new, stories with them. The general audience's knowledge of Krypton only goes back one generation from Kal-El, but this time we get to peek further behind the curtain, and the uncertainty of that is exciting.
Back to Seg-El, I think there is so much potential for this character as we go forward. While watching, realizing that I only had fifteen minutes left, I found myself disappointed, not in the quality of the episode, but that I must wait another week to see this story continue. I desperately want Seg-El to restore his family name, I want to see his relationship with Lyta-Zod develop (and see if it will end well or poorly, causing a bigger rift in the House of El/Zod conflict), I want to see him resist the Voice of Rao, and [possibly] join Black Zero to fight back. But more than all of that, there's potential to see Seg-El become a hero and an inspiration to the people of Kandor, and Krypton as a whole, in the same vein as his grandson, inspiring the same hope that the Symbol of El is meant to instill. Could Seg-El be why the symbol of the House of El means "hope" in the first place? It seems plausible.
Brainiac's, albeit brief, introduction was handled very well, and I am super-excited to see Vril Dox in live action. He looks promising so far.
Also, I loved the combination of lore from both the Christopher Reeve and Henry Cavil films (as well as the various ages of Superman comic books). The Man of Steel logo and "key" combined with the red cape (with gold logo) and John Williams theme just seemed to blend together well and I'm happy Krypton seems to be taking from various sources while trying new things as well. Honestly, after Smallville's "Finale" and DC rebranding Superman with "The New 52" and Man of Steel, I never thought we'd hear the "Superman March" on screen again, but both Justice League and Krypton have now proved me wrong (and I was happy to be proven wrong).
However, hope for the series aside, there were a few nit-picky things that I wanted to briefly address.
First, there were times where the costuming really worked for me, and other times where I felt that Superman: The Movie and Smallville's Kryptonian garb was much more realistic. Val-El's "S" was way too small and many of the outfits seemed like they were put together for a high school play (harsh?). Also, what's with DC shows and their leather fetish? While I actually like Seg-El's look, I'm kind of over the "lets put everyone in leather" craze. That's one thing Smallville started that I now wish they hadn't...
Secondly, I thought Adam Strange was a... strange choice to be our time-traveler for this series. Not bad, just odd. Jimmy Olsen, Mon-El, Booster Gold, or Brainiac 5 (any member of the Legion for that matter) would all have made a little more sense based on this being a Superman-related series. That being said, I like Adam so far and I'm interested to see what they do with him going forward, so I am willing to give him a chance.
Lastly, a few questions to leave you all with that will hopefully spark some discussion in the comments below...
If Seg-El restores the timeline, would it be possible to see Kal-El on this series (either as Superman or not)? Maybe he comes back in time, with Adam, to thank Seg-El for restoring his family name and being a hero, showing him that his family's name has truly been restored?
Is this Brainiac from the future (Superman's time) or does he exist in this continuity's past? If he's from the past (Seg-El's time), why would Adam come from the future to warn him as Superman wouldn't be in danger because Brainiac wouldn't know who Kal-El is?
How is General Dru-Zod going to be born if Lyta-Zod would take either Dev-Em or Seg-El's surname (depending on how this goes)? Maybe she has a brother to pass down the Zod name? It was always my understanding that the women on Krypton took their father's names (Lara Lor-Van) before marrying and then taking their spouses' (Lara-El). Thoughts?
Until next week!
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