Krypton– Episode 3: “The Rankless Initiative”
Starring: Cameron Cuffe, Georgina Campbell, Elliot Cowen, Wallis Day, Ann Ogbomo, Rasmus Hardiker, Aaron Pierre, and Shaun Sipos
Written by: Nadria Tucker
Directed by: Steve Shill
”Oh, YEAH! Fist bumps! Yeah? No? Okay…”
Krypton fucked around and delivered a pretty resounding encapsulation of some of Superman’s core principles in its third episode “The Rankless Initiative.” With the threat of one of Brainiac’s Sentry units making planetfall, Seg-El and Adam take to the under-streets of Kandor to intercept it before it finds a host. Meanwhile, up in the Guild Space, Lyta-Zod now finds herself in command and leading the titular charge below to suss out more cells of Black Zero, at the behest of the enigmatic Voice of Rao. Krypton still suffers (or maybe benefits from? I can’t tell yet) from very Classic Doctor Who era production values and its bowl of oatmeal parading around as a show lead. “The Rankless Initiative” at the very least shows that it’s more than willing to make Superman’s principles pop and work for a modern TV audience.
So, I am going to level with you guys, I don’t think Krypton is not a very good show. That said, this third episode may have hooked me in a way that Gotham never did in regards to its understanding of the character its prequeling. Pretty much all of episode three’s runtime is devoted to both Seg and Lyta trying to keep people alive. This is a just the first of many big checks down a list of priorities that Superman would have. While tracking Brainiac’s sentry, Seg learns that it’s taken a host. The kindly mother who Seg’s parents helped heal her ailing daughter all the way back in the pilot (and I’m pretty sure they showed up in episode 2 as well). Though Strange tells Seg that she’s Brainiac’s now, Seg still appeals to her humanity. Invoking her daughter as she attempts to hack Kandor’s communications and broadcast its report back to the Skull Ship. This scene really calls to mind some of the best bits of Supergirl. If it can keep that energy, I see it really improving in later episodes.
Not to be outdone, Lyta-Zod also gets a meaty plot this week, one deeply rooted in the politics of the show and of Kal-El. As new marshal of the upcoming Rankless Initiative, it is up to Lyta and her squad of Sagitari to rattle the cages of the undercity, take a census, and root out any possible Black Zero collaborators. Now that Lyta is in charge she warns that this won’t be another bloodbath and they are going to do it by the book. Unfortunately, Brainiac’s Sentry complicates matters by murdering two Sagitari when she awakes and escaping. This leads to a more hot-headed member of Lyta’s squad blaming the rankless and ultimately killing one in “self-defense.” Color me shocked that the “Gotham-but-Superman” show tackled police violence. I am glad to see a show that makes it name on the back of the “S” shield really standing for something. Better still standing for something that Big Blue himself stands for. And, tbh, the more Georgina Campbell this show can get, the better. She’s the tops.
Verdict: Watch It. At Least Give This Episode a Shot. Skip 1 and 2, if Ya Wanna.
Despite a severe lack of Nyssa-Vex and the continued broification of Adam Strange, I found myself weirdly and shockingly hooked by “The Rankless Initiative.” Though it is nowhere near the level of prestige TV that the ads have been selling you, Krypton and its creative staff seem to really have a handle on some of the core tenants of Superman. They aren’t afraid to get a little goofy and broad to present them. It’s not quite Smallville and its not quite Supergirl. At least it is making the effort to stay true to the House of El while trying to deliver some quality serialized TV. Your mileage may vary on the last bit, but at least we get more than just one Superman thing on TV for once!
Until next time, submit to Anti-Life, and I’ll be seeing you.