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Oh wow…we are opening with a “Last time on Krypton…” recap. I hate recaps. I really do. Do we really have such short attention spans that we HAVE to have the major events from the last episode retold to us? Most of what we’re seeing now isn’t even from last episode, it’s from the pilot. They are recapping a recap. And the recap is almost two minutes long. Man if they keep up this ratio by episode ten, it's going to be a quarter of the run time.
We ACTUALLY open the episode with Team El rushing into the Fortress of Solitude yelling for the hologram of Seg’s dead grandpa to show him the Brainiac egg they found…because I guess the fortress is now voice activated, which is far better than the “bleed on the console to turn it on” thing we had earlier. Val takes a look at the shell and determines it’s closed but they get an idea of what the sentry looks like. Once that thing gets out of the shell, as Val puts it, it will take over a body and upload a bunch of vital statistics to Brainiac, including your browser history (delete early, delete often) and the ditch the host body to die like a stolen car in GTA. Adam looks warily at the thing, cagily walking behind Val, which the hologram points out is stupid because…hologram. Funny enough, but then we find out that the shell is empty with the sentry running loose.
Cut to three days earlier where we get a totally unnecessary scene of seeing the sentry land, crashing through stuff as it hits. I guess that was to establish that it…crashed which was established during the previous episode and the recap.
Then abruptly cut to a little girl saying a prayer and Kem praising her. This is his niece Ona and also the same mother and child couple who offered their condolences to Seg last episode. Rhom, the girl’s mom, is working salvage when she, in a very Alien move, predictably finds the sentry and we cut to the title card as it looks like she’s going to be Brainiaced.
And we’re back to inner guild drama as Nyssa (has there ever been a “good” character named Nyssa?) lets on that she knows that something is going on between Seg and Lyta but doesn’t care because “everyone’s got secrets.” Seg and Lyta talk about her neck breaking escapades and how she’s trying to cause some good, but that he needs her help to see if anyone has found the sentry. Then we cut back to Rhom trying to sell the sentry to a pawn broker, while her daughter draws something on a piece of scrap. Now about here I would have right away said, “The kid’s the sentry…the parasite went into the kid,” but then there is the image above, which is the thumbnail for the episode…which shows Rhom with some freaky eyes so…no spoiler warning there.
Given all the bad stuff that is associated with the parasite sentry, I don’t know how good it looks for Rhom’s contract.
We cut to the Vexs meeting with the Voice of Rao and some ladies in waiting that look like a cross between nuns and living scrolls. Rao wants to know that the “Rankless Initiative” of which the episode takes its title, will work to stop the attempts on his life. He points out that if this initiative fails, Daddy Vex is probably not going to be cool with the results. The Zods are conducting a pre-mission briefing and going over some of the ranking members of Black Zero and name drop Jax-Ur.
If you don’t know the name, you probably don’t follow Superman with a fevered passion that burns with the fury of a thousand glow-sticks. Jax-Ur is an oldie but a goodie of Superman villains, often used when Zod isn’t available due to mandates from DC, but it’s important to know that Jax-Ur is not a “Not-Zod.” He’s an established character going back to 1961 with a detailed back story. While no friend to the Kryptonian high council, he was never meant as a Zod stand-in as he’s more of a criminal scientist whereas Zod traditionally could give two snots about science and is all about that conquering. For his first appearance, check out Adventure Comics 289.
But back to the show…
Briefing takes a dark turn when Mamma Zod says that their intelligence shows that Black Zero has a stronghold in what’s called, “Sector 19” which gets an immediate pause from everyone in the room, flatly stating that it’s important. Their decision is to go street by street, room by room, and run the fugitives to the ground…which isn’t a bad strategy really. This speaks to the mindset of a civilized society struggling to maintain their civilization in the face of a violent threat that doesn’t conform to rules of engagement. The tactic is very “marshal law” but is effective in running down suspects because once everyone knows who you are looking for, they should psychologically be more apt to give them up in order to stop the harassment and possible collateral damage. And if there’s anything Superman stories have been known for as of late, it's collateral damage.
I’m looking at you, Zach Snyder. Right at you.
Lyta Zod is trying to mitigate the damage by suggesting the military work WITH the people of Sector 19 rather than rough them up, but the counter argument is pretty solid, if they haven’t given up Black Zero by now, they probably aren’t going to just because they made nicey-nice with them.
We are then treated to a very quick update with Seg and Kem talking about trying to find the item dejour and Kem having some bruised feelings about Seg’s new friend…and this is really quick. Like the recap section took longer than this scene that is played like it’s pretty important. Seg calls after Kem as he storms off awkwardly only to cut straight back to the briefing room…like a few seconds after the briefing. It’s kind of jarring in how it’s cut and I’m hoping this is just Team Krypton finding its feet.
Anyway, we cut back to the Zods discussing Seg living in Sector 19 (of course) and how that could affect relationships all around. Mamma Zod gives some valid advice in that Lyta is getting out of her element. She’s rising in the ranks but that also makes her a target, and if she does anything to put those under her command at risk in order to warn Seg about the upcoming raid, there won’t be any buffer between her and the fallout.
You know, Kem may not like Adam, but Adam gets results. He gets chased by angry pawn brokers, but he gets results. And it feels like these little asides into Sector 19 just get shorter and short each time we cut there. I get that a good portion of this is setting up the conflict between the Els and Zods, so we need to focus on Lyta a lot, but that doesn’t mean we have to jump cut back to her after every two minutes of the Rankless.
Lyta spends her time giving her troop their marching orders by doing an interesting play on the whole “Separate your emotions from the mission…” ideology the military have on this show. She knows there is aberrant prejudice against the Rankless, but by citing that mission statement of separating emotions while also commanding them to not fire unless she gives the thumbs up is basically forcing them to work against that negative emotion. It’s one of those “Letter of the law vs Spirit of the law” type situations, because the Spirit of the law is don’t let love and sentiment guide you, but the letter of the law says don’t let your emotions rule you.
Also side note, fist bumps are Kryptonian, flipping the bird is not.
Predicably as Seg gets the sentry, the military show up and start rounding up Sector 19 which results in somehow an old man getting beaten by soldiers and culminating in Seg and Lyta facing off on both sides of the divide. For once, we get a well-placed commercial break.
Apparently “talking to Lyta” means screaming at the military unit’s commanding officer. Seg sends Adam back to the fortress which, inexplicably he makes it without incident, and Lyta tells Seg she’s changing things but has to play the game and sends him away, rendering the entire thing about sending Adam off on his own weirdly pointless.
Val El determines what we already knew, that the sentry already infected someone, and it’s not long before Kem finds Rhom and the kid, with Rhom not doing well. She goes Sentry (with a capital s) and kills off some of soldiers which make me think the Sentry sucks as a infiltrate and learn operative.
The soldier Lyta was talking specifically to about not shooting someone goes off the reservation and shoots a bound citizen causing a near riot, which again, Lyta does the right thing by arresting Kol-Da (ooo she’s gotta name, she’ll be back) and telling the rest that unless they want to go to jail to they need to disperse. She handles it well by siding with the military-citing she defied orders and committed murder; and the citizens because she respects that one of their own was a actual person who deserves justice.
Meanwhile Adam is explaining to Seg that Rhom is probably not coming back and she’s about to give Brainiac the keys to Krypton.
So Rhomiac is attacking a communications hub, Mamma Zod orders Lyta to send in the troops which Lyta refuses hoping that Seg can diffuse the situation so more people don’t die. I mean, he’s right, Rhomiac would rip that squad apart. Seg confronts Rhomiac and gets a brief moment where Rhom comes through long enough for him to set off an EMP.
Seg gets what’s left of Rhom out of there and shows Lyta that Krypton is far from alone. It’s decided to take Rhom back to the fortress to try and fix her, while Daddy Vex has to explain to the Voice of Rao that the only arrest they made on their raid was one of their own soldiers…not a good showing.
Cut back to the fortress and we find out that Rhom wasn’t using the communication hub as a transmitter rather that she was the transmitter and Brainiac is still on his way.
Most of the major flaws in this episode I pointed out as I did my recap, so I don’t think I need to retread that material. Overall, it was pretty good. We got to see Lyta Zod as a competent military leader, but very different from her mother in that she’s more willing to stay her hand and assess a situation rather than go in guns blazing. I feel like if her mom had been leading the charge it would have ended with a lot more dead soldiers. Seg is showing a lot of the qualities that Superman would show later down the road, namely his desire to save people despite all the odds saying they are as good as dead. We don’t get much more on Adam this episode or really anyone else except that Adam’s Zeta Beam emitter is on the fritz which begs the question…where has he been sleeping? Kem is probably going to take custody of his niece Ona now that her mom is on a lab table in the middle of nowhere, and no one among the Ranked know that Seg was the one who saved the day, which is probably for the best.
Despite some flaws here and there, this is still a very strong sci-fi show, and I like that it focuses on the sci-fi rather than super-heroics despite its origins.
You can tune into this week’s episode Krypton: "The Rankless Initiative" here.
As always, thanks for reading.
Krypton is owned by DC Comics and the SyFy channel.