krypton the phantom zone review

Holy finale, Batman! The Krypton season 1 finale, “The Phantom Zone,” has actually done what I’d hope it’d do – start an alternate reality for Krypton and even Superman himself. After a rough start, the bulk of this season, and its finale, can be truly labeled a success.

However, I have to say that with the way the series began, I still wish there was some time-management protocol in place so writers could realize that backloading the series isn’t the best way to start out. All of the cool reveals, from Zod to everything revealed at the end of this episode, could have made for a more engaging season if they were dispersed throughout instead of just dropped in the last few episodes. But better late than never, right?

Granddad Val is back, but Seg makes the ultimate sacrifice 

So Val didn’t die after all, but transported himself to the Phantom Zone! While he was there, he learned all of the possible ways Krypton would die, and even though he instilled hope for a better tomorrow in his grandson, he came back from the Phantom Zone feeling like all hope was lost.

But that doesn’t stop Seg from believing in hope, and his belief helps him conquer Brainiac. However, it was not accomplished by giving up his granddad and his incredible intellect in exchange for Krypton, a plan Zod was for since what Brainiac covets most are the secrets of the universe and its beings. Instead, Seg defeats Brainiac by opening up a portal to the Phantom Zone. Technically, he’s successful, but his success comes with a glitch – Brainiac is not content on going into the Phantom Zone alone. He grabs Seg, and even though Val does his best to try to save his grandson, Seg seems to realize his purpose at that moment, and lets go.

Val tries to get Seg back using his technology, but Zod destroys it, saying it would put Krypton back at risk of being bottled up by Brainiac. I feel like he’s…right? I mean, if the Phantom Zone is meant to quarantine Brainiac, it would be detrimental to keep the portal open. However, how are we going to get Seg back? Because even though he sacrificed himself, we know he’s coming back. We can’t have a season 2 without Seg, after all.

Or can we?

The Rise of SuperZod

This is where Krypton gets the most interesting it’s ever been. The emblem on Superman’s shield is altered after Seg goes into the Phantom Zone. No longer is the emblem the crest of the House of El, but it’s the crest of the House of Zod. Meaning the Superman we know and love is no more, at least in this timeline. In this alternate reality, he’s a Zod.

I for one am thoroughly excited by the storytelling prospects this brings. Not only do we get to see more Zod (who I still feel like is actually the character that makes the most sense on this show), but we get to see a Krypton that can actually be expanded upon. Now, the show might be able to engage in some of the high fantasy leanings it was trying to engage in earlier in the season. There are also more thrilling stakes now that the crisis of Superman is the least of characters’ troubles now. Episodes can focus more on how each character deals with the aftermath of Seg’s apparent death and the ramifications of Zod’s reign – actually pertinent issues – instead of how to save a descendant who doesn’t exist.

Of course, I feel like most of the thrust of the next season (which has been greenlit by Syfy) will be how to right the timeline, restore Superman’s cape back to its former glory, and ensure Kal-El will be born after all. I just feel like that’s boring if they go that route. Sure, let us know Kal-El (AKA Clark Kent) is fine, but make sure he’s fine in another timeline. This finale is the closest the series has come to declaring that this Krypton is a different one from the Krypton Clark was jettisoned from as a baby. But I wish they’d explicitly say it.

Nyssa’s a clone!

The other great moment in this episode is when Jax-Ur fills Nyssa in on a most horrible secret– Nyssa’s a clone of her former self! Her original was mortally injured in the skimmer crash that killed her mother, but her memories were transported into a new body. Nyssa is just one of many clones of many high ranking families who wanted to ensure immortality for themselves and their families. Jax hates her technology was used in this way, since all she wanted to do was cure disease.

This definitely changes things for Nyssa and makes her a much more important character than just being the Veronica to Seg’s Archie. Her life is now tied to the fate of Krypton in a much more intimate way, and it should ignite a fire in her to dismantle the old regimes of power and create a new Krypton where people’s lives aren’t decided for them.

Things also change for Nyssa’s incubating child, since it just might be that it’s the method by which Kal-El comes into the world. With Seg gone, the question now is how will Seg’s lineage carry on without him? Even though so much focus has been on Zod being Seg’s future son, we (or at least I) completely forgot about the fact that Seg’s DNA also resides in he and Nyssa’s unborn child. The next season might be all about bringing Seg back, but it might also be all about keeping this baby safe, since it might be the only way for the El line to survive.

A look back on season 1

So, let’s address the question I’ve been asking since the pilot: has Krypton become a good show? I think it has. As I wrote up top, this finale was, for the most part, a success. It’s set in motion many interesting ideas that I hope are thoroughly sussed out next season. Maybe I’m being generous here, but I hope this season was more like a test run, a way for the story to work its kinks out, and that it’ll come back with more gusto and fire next season.

But overall, I do think the series learned from its mistakes – I mean, we’ve had Adam Strange trapped in a bottled world for two episodes now! – and did its best to right a sinking ship by providing us with better characterization, a cool character like Zod, and quite the formidable villain in Brainiac. So even though I was harsh in the beginning, I’ll tip my had to Krypton for doing its best to correct itself. Let’s hope season 2 brings many more cool moments like the ones we experienced in this finale.

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