Krypton’s Pilot Promises a Season of Strange Adventure and Epic Drama
Kal-El, my future grandson, this is the story of the House of El. Our ending is yet to be written but this is how we began. Ours is a story of sacrifice and triumph, how the House of El led a revolution against tyranny. The story of your family isn’t how we died, but how we lived.
And with these words, addressed to his future (which is sort of our present), Seg-El, Superman’s grandfather, launches a new player into the comic book-television world.
It’s an alien world with a rigorous bureaucracy and a rigid hierarchy. Sure, everyone is human-looking and super hot and fit but who’s complaining?
As a prologue to Superman’s life, it starts even farther back in the timeline with a flashback to Seg-El’s grandfather, Val-El (Ian McElhinney, Game of Thrones). He is a renowned scientist whose findings contradict the government’s official stance on the matter of an encroaching planet-absorbing entity which threatens Krypton’s existance.
When Seg-El is nine, Val-El is tried and found guilty of treason for his research into this imminent danger and for his refusal to toe the government line. As punishment, he is executed and his entire family is stripped of name and guild and forced into the slums of the Rankless, considered without honor or status.
Fourteen years later, Seg is running betting schemes with fellow Rankless buddy, Kem (Rasmus Hardiker, Floogals) and getting the stupid end of blasters pointed at him a lot. His father, Ter-El (Rupert Graves, Sherlock), is working as a menial at the Guild of Lawmakers.
When Seg comes by the Guild of Lawmakers to get his dad some medication, he jumps in to foil a terrorist suicide bomber. As a reward for his service, Daron-Vex (Elliot Cowan, Da Vinci’s Demons) the same magistrate who pronounced his grandfather’s sentence and literally stripped his family crest from his chest as a boy, offers him the chance to be reinstated with rank (but as a part of the House of Vex, not the House of El) and be bound to his youngest daughter, Nyssa-Vex (Wallis Day, The Royals).
Keeping up so far? Yeah, buckle up. There’s been a guy in a Detroit Tigers baseball cap lurking around and suddenly he grabs Seg, tells him that he’s a time and space traveler named Adam StrangeÂ (Shaun Sipos, Dark Matter) and he’s here to warn Seg that enemies are coming to kill him in order to prevent the birth of Superman.
He gives Seg a sunstone with the crest of the House of El engraved in one end, tells him to “find the fortress”, and then disintegrates. Seg takes it home to his parents who act all shifty when he mentions “the fortress” so he reacquires the stone from his dad’s satchel and heads out to the Genesis Chamber to combine his DNA with Nyssa. So romantic.
Because no show these days is complete without a love triangle, Seg’s already got a love interest in Lyta-Zod (Georgina Campbell, Broadchurch), daughter and subordinate of the head of the Military Guild, Jayna-Zod (Ann Ogbomo, Wonder Woman).
Seg spends a lot of time in the slums running from the Sagittarian Guards, it seems. After yet another unfortunate encounter, he’s swept up by his mother, Charys (Paula Malcomson, Caprica) in a “borrowed” skimmer and she flies him to his late grandfather’s Fortress of Solitude (honestly, there should’ve been trumpets when she said those words) and his sunstone opens the Fortress up.
When they return home, the guards raid the home. Charys forces Seg to hide and gives herself up to the guards, invoking the “Black Zero”, knowing that that’ll get her taken in alive for interrogation.
Seg visits his mother in her cell trying to convince her to let him give the Lawmakers the sunstone and the location of the Fortress in return for mercy. She reiterates that he must continue his grandfather’s work and save their world.
Jayna enters and throws Seg out. She and Charys have a mother-to-mother stare down before Charys is taken in for trial. Jayna tries to force Charys into admitting that Seg was with her in the stolen skimmer but, instead, Ter confesses and when Seg tries to stop him, Jayna kills Ter. Charys rushes to her husband’s side and deliberately reaches for a weapon. Jayna kills her too.
Lyta tries to console Seg but, when he connects her to her mother’s deeds, he walks away from her. Kem provides him with a skimmer and he heads straight to the Fortress to grieve. Adam Strange finds him there and, after taking a hit for inadvertently causing his parents’ deaths, he presents him with Superman’s cape which is disintegrating slowly (sort of like Marty’s photo of his family in Back to the Future) and warns him again that he must survive.
Not only is there something from his future coming to try to prevent the birth of Superman, he must also contend with the entity known as Brainiac which absorbs whole planets, “the Collector of Worlds” which will eventually destroy Krypton and then the rest of the universe as well.
Right, so no pressure, eh?
All in all, this was a solidly impressive pilot/premiere. Yes, lots of exposition but that’s always a necessary evil with a new series. The performances, especially by the more mature cast, were exceptionally well-done.
The overall feel is something of a cross between Smallville and Caprica, the former probably because of the youth-centred action and the Superman connection and the latter because of it’s Dynasty-in-Space vibe and the always amazing Paula Malcomson.
Not sure we need the Adam Strange time-traveling meddling but I guess it was the simplest (?) way of getting Seg the sunstone.
Krypton airs Wednesday nights at 10pm ET/PT on SYFY.
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