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The Success of ‘Krypton’ Depends on Answers to Key Questions

I’m pretty easy to hook when it comes to new shows or movies, and one of the ways to do that is with a superhero.

Even though I’ve never been really into comic books, I’m a sucker for all the Marvel movies, and I’ve watched Agents of SHIELD and Gotham merely for the connections to known heroes. So when I started seeing commercials for Krypton on SyFy, my interest was definitely piqued.

Warning:  Spoilers for Krypton’s first episode lie ahead!

Krypton’s Pilot Episode

For those who haven’t heard, Krypton is a unique sort of origin story for the Superman universe that starts two generations back with Seg-El, grandfather of Superman, who was born on the planet Krypton as Kal-El. As the series begins, we see a young Seg-El witnessing the execution of his own grandfather, Val-El, whose crimes against the Kryptonian government also resulted in the El family being essentially stripped of its rights in society.

(Photo by: Steffan Hill/Syfy)

From there, the pilot took some directions that I found amusing, but at the same time, very little about the characters or acting really drew me in further.

The concept of guilds on Krypton has been around for longer than the Divergent series, of course, but it still felt like the idea of the Els and others being “rankless” and thus less privileged than those with guilds and connections had some roots in the young adult fiction series. To the show’s credit, the writers did include a brilliant juxtaposition between the cold, scientific nature of a potential union between Seg-El and Nyssa-Vex – to whom he is to be married if he wishes to have rank again – and the passionate yet secretive relationship he shares with Lyta-Zod. They did this with consecutive scenes that really stood out for their stark contrast.

On the flipside, the strange disappearing Superman cape that will clearly be central to the show’s plot going forward seems a bit much. While this is SyFy show, that was something of an unnecessary touch.

Yet, what will define the show’s success or downfall will be how the writers answer a few key questions.

Key Questions Krypton Needs to Answer Well

How does Seg-El restore dignity to his family’s name?

The cool thing about prequel stories like this one is that we know some parts of how it ends, and if done well, we feel compelled to watch how the writers get to those conclusions. In this case, we know that the name of El had some sort of status by the time Superman left Krypton to come to Earth, but the pilot – rightfully – gives us no real inkling how that will happen. Seg-El’s only current path to getting rank back is to do so alone and under another family name.

If the answer to this question is reached in a well-crafted way and without rushing, it could help carry the show for quite sometime.

How will Seg-El stop Brainiac?

As we know from other Superman stories, Kryptonians receive the hero’s signature powers when they leave their home planet and enter the light of a yellow sun. Krypton seems to hold to this, as none of the show’s characters have leapt any tall buildings or outrun a single locomotive.

But that seems to make the central conflict presented toward the end of the episode even more problematic. A force known as Brainiac is on the way to destroy Krypton in an effort to prevent Superman’s eventual birth, and Seg-El is tasked with stopping that from happening. How is he going to do that without any apparent powers beyond slightly advanced bar fighting skills that he displays in the early scenes of the episode? It seems viewers will have to wait to find out.

How will writers address the ‘elephant in the room?’

So, Seg-El is made aware of this major threat to his planet – and the goofy disappearing cape – by a time-traveling Earthling named Adam Strange, another known character from DC Comics who appears wearing regular Earth clothes. He warns Seg of the planet’s impending doom and the far-reaching implications of Krypton being destroyed before the birth of Superman, but you know what he doesn’t mention?

That for Kal-El to come to Earth and become Superman, Krypton has to be destroyed, just not right now.

As anyone with even cursory familiarity with the Superman story knows, the iconic hero was sent to Earth as a baby just before his home planet – and all the other Kryptonians – faced its ultimate demise. Thus, unless Strange has plans that completely diverge from the Superman story we all know, the goal is not to actually save Krypton. The goal is to hold off the destruction of Krypton until it’s advantageous to the good folks back home on Earth.

Honestly, that question intrigues me the most. The writers will need to address that issue, and the direction they take will have a huge impact on my watching the show long-term. For now, though, I’ll keep watching to see how we arrive at some answers.

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