Krypton First Look

Why so serious?

Krypton desperately wants to be Game of Thrones in space. The self-serious tone to the entire episode made it hard to take things, well, seriously. Maybe if it just lightened up a little bit, things might be all right, but the show really wants us to think long and hard about the Kryptonian political machinations at work.

For instance, we’re supposed to hate that Seg will have to throw away a chance at life with his true love Lyta Zod (Georgina Campbell) for an arranged marriage with Nyssa-Vex (Wallis Day). We’re supposed to wonder what’s at the root of Krypton’s absolutist leader, the Voice of Rao (as well as what’s up with their admittedly cool golden three-headed mask). We’re supposed to feel immediate shock once Seg’s parents are killed, even though their deaths were telegraphed way in advance. We’re supposed to care really hard.

Even the set and costume design wants us to care much more than we actually do, because other sci-fi and fantasy references are invoked constantly, the most prominent of which being Star Wars. The military arm of Krypton, of which Lyta and her mother, General Jayna-Zod (Ann Ogbomo) are a part of, are decked out in red and black. Inexplicably, they wear black hamaka (AKA samurai pants) to practice a combat style that looks vaguely Asian, yet this is supposed to be an entirely alien combat style. Jayna even wears a black suit with a cape that seems vaguely like the Galactic Empire. Certain sets, combined with CG backgrounds, have an uncomfortable “Star Wars prequels” feel to them.

Blade Runner also gets a nod; during a scene featuring Lyta and Seg in bed, the camera pans up from them to a nighttime shot of the city, which looks like it’s desperately trying to remind the viewer of a futuristic Los Angeles. Even the background music during this scene sounds like a synthesizer.

Game of Thrones is the obvious influence, but British dramas as a whole are referenced in Krypton, from the costumes of the rankless, who look like Medieval space serfs, to the insistence on using only British actors, weirdly cementing an alien planet with Earthly cultural politics. Because if you want to taken seriously, it seems, every drama depicting a non-British place aside from America must be outfitted with British accents. There’s a reason Chadwick Boseman insisted to Marvel brass that T’Challa not have a British accent, and that’s because the subjugating reign of the British Empire still holds supreme in the mind of the film and TV industry. Do I know what accent Kryptonians should have? No. But Game of Thrones created an accent for the Dothraki, as well as a language. Maybe Krypton should have followed their idol’s lead and done the same for Kal-El’s people.

Maybe I’ll come to care more about things as the series progresses, but right now, it’s much ado about nothing.

Women of color, but will they be tropes?

One of the bright spots in this episode is that we do have prominent women of color. There are detractors, though – they’re both related, and having two black people who are related in a show that’s otherwise dominated by white characters is already a trope within itself. Also, they are part of the military, which could play on the “strong black woman” trope more than I’m comfortable with. Jayna is already treading on thin ice by stabbing a knife through her daughter’s hand to prove a lesson in combat. Nyssa’s dad and high judiciary Daron-Vex (Elliot Cowan) called her a “blunt instrument,” insinuating her only go-to is to kill, as she did to Seg’s parents during their trial.

Even still, Ogbomo is the other actor along with Graves who is giving me something to work with. I can understand Ogbomo’s character because she still laces her with something interesting and intangible, something that makes me want to see more of her. I hope we see her character develop as the series goes on.

Overall, Krypton is a show that will need to actually put in the work to earn its high fantasy accolades it immediately wants from the audience. If you’re a casual Superman fan, or even if you’re a diehard, you might come away from the pilot shaking your head in confusion. But seeing as I’m going to recap Krypton this season, who knows how we’ll feel as an audience later on. We might collectively come to love it.

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