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Krypton - House of Zod - Review: "Lyta's Trial"

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Krypton 1.05 "House of Zod - Review:
Directed by Julius Ramsay & Written by Lina Patel

I guess there was a reason for keeping the name of Colin Salmon's former Black Zero operative hidden after all. Appropriately airing in the week of Superman's 80th Anniversary, Krypton decided to bring back one of the show's most memorable villains in the form of General Zod, revealing his identity at the very end as someone who, like Adam Strange, had presumably come back from the future and had the same pendant that Lyta had around her neck, exposing him as her son. It was a chilling twist, and given that I was hoping Salmon would have a larger role to play after how good he was in his guest appearances in Arrow, it's great to see that the show's not going to waste him anytime soon. Introducing Zod of all people is a major game-changer that shows that Krypton isn't going to be backing away from embracing its time travel premise head on, and now that we have two different people back from the present it's clear that Strange and Zod will have different views and different means on how to save Krypton from Brainiac, with Zod's presumably being the more ruthless.

The Zods have been among the more interesting characters of Krypton so naturally, any Zod focused episode had my attention and it was good to explore Jayna's history as she was wrestling with the decision about whether or not to side with the Vexes against the Voice of Rao and break tradition in order to save her daughter. The trial courtroom sequence was suitably intense too, where Lyta came inches away from death, only to be spared by Daron Vex at the last possible second who announced that the accuser had recanted her statement about Lyta, rendering the trial null and void with her rank being restored in the process. Lyta initially put this down to the Vexes' work behind the scenes, which it was in part, but the real kicker was the involvement of Jayna, who decided to support them due to the love of her daughter, whom she now views as her biggest shame. This was a good episode to showcase the strengths of Ann Ogbomo, and it's fantastic to see that she's getting a bigger role here than her last venture in the DC Universe with Wonder Woman.

The Jayna-focused flashbacks that looked into how the House of Zod operates were a good touch, too, where we saw her and her brother head into the wilderness in the middle of the storm to reach a warrior's temple with a lone oxygen mask. Jayna, like Lyta would - tries to go for the approach that will save both of them and offers to share the mask on the way back - but Jayna's brother realises that this is part of the test and there can only be one survivor, lashing out at Jayna, who emerges victorious, leaving him behind to freeze, given an indestructible amulet on her return home. The emphasis over honour before family went some way into explaining how Jayna was so reluctant to side with the Vexes even if it meant losing her daughter's life in the process. The confession of love to Lyta by Dev-Em and their kiss only makes things more complicated, but we were shown here that she has at least one ally in Dev-Em, who trusts her enough to know that she's not a Black Zero operative, and because she's a Zod, she won't run even when he deactivates the shield surrounding her prison cell.

Someone who is not as lucky as Lyta is Kol-Da, who according to Daron-Vex, recanted her testimony. She's been told that she's eventually going to get freed from imprisonment, but by the end of the episode, she's found dead in her cell, made to look like a suicide attempt so Daron can cover his tracks. Together, they hope that it will be convincing enough for the Voice of Rao to buy such a move, and that Kol-Da's death will keep him satisfied and not suspect that anything is going on behind his back.

Seg spends much of the episode separated from the main characters, having freed himself only to find himself stranded in the wilderness. He's forced to return to the compound to call for help after luring The Commander into the Badlands, but the radios are down, and he instead finds a woman named Ryka who is imprisoned. Rescuing Ryka, he takes her to a vault that has combined the two sigils of House El and House Zod. After finding out that Seg is from House El, he is taken away by Ryker's allies, who are exiled believers of the Ice Goddess Cythonna. After learning that Rao is pretty much viewed as the one true God, it was interesting to learn more about these exiled believers and how they operate, delving into Krypton's culture a bit more.

It turns out however that the House of El have some murky history in their past and Seg finds out that the group don't trust his family. In captivity, Seg tries to bluff his way out by saying that more members of the House of El will come looking for him the longer he stays in captivity, relying on the isolation of his captors to keep him alive. The Priestess is willing to offer Seg hospitality however, and Ryka is able to treat his wounds whilst divulging to him that they guarded the vault of the House of El for generations. Seg is eventually able to escape from the Cythonna-worshippers only to find himself captured by the Commander, who finds him in a near-death situation and takes him back to his base leading us to the final scene.

Ryka apparently holds the key to stopping Brainiac, but before Seg can learn more from The Commander, Lyta shows up, having received his message that he was able to get through a comms device to call Adam. This allows Adam and Lyta to come to his rescue - where a relieved Lyta shares a kiss with Seg upon seeing him again, and then fights the Commander alone whilst Adam frees him, with the Commander revealing that he's Lyta's son. Given that I've already covered Zod in this recap I'd like to use this part of the review to talk a bit more about Adam Strange, namely - when will Krypton flesh out his character a bit more? I mentioned already that he's the weakest link of the show so far in a previous review, and the show isn't helping itself by spending more time focusing on new concepts and ideas like Zod before properly establishing those who have already been introduced.

This episode played up the theme of family and did an effective job at putting the relationship between parents and their children at the core of the episode, using Jayna's relationship with her family in turn to justify her relationship with her daughter. The Nyssa/Daron daughter and father relationship as well was also touched on here too, as we learnt how the two different families handle their interactions and what helps set them apart. One of Krypton's biggest strengths has been how well it has been able to define the Houses and it really paid off in this episode.

I wasn't a huge fan of Seg's storyline this week and it feels like it was mainly focused on world-building as much more interesting stuff happened elsewhere. It was cool to learn a little more about other religious figures that weren't just Rao in the form of Cythonna, but at the same time, there's still so much that we don't know about Krypton that could use developing first. I've already mentioned Adam Strange, but given how little we know about the Rankless beyond Kem's bar, it feels like the show should spend a bit more time with them. And there's also the as of yet-untapped potential with Black Zero, a terrorist organization that we've still only been limited to hearing mentions of, especially given that The Commander was technically a former member of their organization, or so we're led to believe.

Krypton isn't afraid from shying away from its ambition and scope. But it has trouble juggling all its ideas at the moment and it needs to sort everything out before things get even more convoluted than they already are. There is still time for the show to find its feet, but given that we're now halfway through the first season, hopefully it will happen sooner rather than later.

What did you think of The House of Zod? Let me know in the comments section below and be sure to stay tuned for next Wednesday's episode of Krypton, entitled Civil Wars, on SYFY.

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