I’ll confess I was going to write a review of Krypton season 2 right after the season (series?) finale aired a few weeks ago. But WB and SyFy Channel decided to throw me a curveball the very next day and outright cancel the show, as everyone is probably aware by now.
Cameron Welsh, the series producer/writer/showrunner has said that they are actively shopping the potential Lobo spinoff, and hasn’t ruled out the possibility that Krypton could be picked up somewhere else as well. Personally, I’m hoping that it might follow a similar path as The Expanse, also cancelled by SyFy but picked up later on by Amazon. A show like this might be too expensive for live cable but are tailor made for content-hungry streaming stations.
I would be remiss if I didn’t begin any conversation about this show without first talking about the villains.
Far and away the strength of the series, Superman’s villains have seldom been depicted better. For a Superman show without Superman, we did get a heaping helping of his bad guys, some of whom had never been seen in live action.
Where the featured bad guy of season 1 was perhaps my favorite of the entire series, Brainiac, played by Blake Ritson, the featured bad of season 2 is General Zod. Tony Salmon does an amazing job portraying Superman’s arch nemesis, and much to my surprise, really gave Terrence Stamp a run for his money. Zod oscillates between the cold, calculating dictator to the brilliant general scheming behind his army’s lines to the spoiled child who desperately wanted more time with his parents. He is surprisingly layered and very strong here, and moves the story to unpredictable places through his machinations (Doomsday! Black Mercy! Wegthor!). Just great, great stuff.
To top all that off, I was sincerely impressed by how the writers handled Doomsday. Although firmly grounded in the origin established by Dan Jurgens in “Hunter/Prey,” the show took the character a step further by making him sympathetic. At first glance, one might think that the character in Supes’ rogues gallery- maybe even all the DCU- that one would feel the least amount of sympathy for would be Doomsday, yet the writers of this show prove me wrong. I won’t give away too much, just pay close attention to episode 7 of the season, “Zods and Monsters.” Yowza!!
Between Brainiac, Zod and Doomsday, with some Jax-Ur and insurrection peppered in for good measure, it all works.
Let’s be sure, time travel doesn’t make any sense no matter how you slice it. Different sci-fi stories have tried to utilize it in different ways and there are always plot holes. The benefit, however, is that you can go places with a story that you normally couldn’t. The aforementioned villains, for instance, would never be seen in a Superman prequel series, certainly not Zod. But you get to see history, alternate reality, and characters being put through the ringer because of the incredibly unique setting. Even with its shortcomings, I love it.
I’m normally a continuity freak, and am very critical of comic book based shows when they veer too much from the source material. With time travel though, the show basically had carte blanche to do whatever and go wherever it wanted. Dare I say we saw aspects of Superman’s universe that we normally wouldn’t have? I didn’t think I would like time travel in a prequel series, but in this case I was wrong. Some may scoff, but it really allows the show to go to a lot of different places.
In addition to the bad guys, the good guys were compelling enough to watch the show even if only they were featured. I loved Val-El as a mentor figure and then the political leader he became in season 2. Wallis Day’s Nyssa Vex also became more compelling this year, going from spoiled princess to strong mother figure. The supporting characters were solid (if a little annoying), and definitely showed character growth. As for the the two leads, Seg-El and Lyta Zod are cool characters in their own right, but it seemed as if they were trying a bit too hard this season. Maybe it’s just me. Still good though, certainly on par with their season one performances. Thankfully, the ensemble as a whole made up for any individual weaknesses or stretched believability. I would have followed them several more seasons had they happened.
All in all, a solid season to a solid show. It’s really a shame that the show was cancelled when it was, if this does turn out to be the end. The Rann-Thanagar tease (another favorite of mine in the DCU) was mouth watering, as was the prospect of a “Quest for Jor-El” premise for a season 3. Even the pacing issues that the series had, the only real weakness for me, could be overlooked by the strength of everything else.
While not quite as strong as the MCU Netflix shows (still the peek of superhero TV for me) but much better than the teen-friendly CW Arrowverse shows, I’d ultimately place Krypton around the same category of ABC’s Agent Carter, a solid show, albeit not quite perfect.
Will we ever see more? I hope so.