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Krypton - The Rankless Initiative - Review: "Standoff."

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Krypton 1.03 "The Rankless Initiative" - Review:
Directed by Steve Shill & Written by Nadria Tucker

It didn't take long for Krypton to put a serialised approach on hold in favour of a mostly monster of the week episode that followed Seg and Adam's attempt to find a Brainiac scout that had taken over the body of Rhom (Alexis Raben), Kem's sister, and was using her to learn more about Krypton, creating plenty of tension in the process. The episode also addressed social commentary and the issue of the split between the Rankless and the Kryptonian soldiers was very much a focus for Lyta's story that took her into direct conflict with the Voice of Rao. He still wants vengeance for his assassination and doesn't care about the difference between punishing the Rankless and punishing Black Zero. To him, they are one and the same, and if nobody's heads will roll, then Daron-Vex will come under fire for his apparent inadequacy. This is Lyta's first big leadership test too, so she's instantly thrown out of the frying pan and into the fire. She questions the need for an aggressive showing of military force, asking what the point was in killing Quex-Ul if she couldn't have any say in how things were run.

Adam ends up finding the probe in the black market and brings it back to Seg and Kem, but before they can head to the fortress Lyta and her squadron arrives to seal off the area. It leads to a tense stand-off where the Saggitarai end up resorting to violent attacks on the Rankless, leading to the death of an unarmed man. It was interesting to see before the conflict escalated that Seg viewed Lyta as someone who wasn't any better than anyone who came before for her actions no matter how much she tried to do some good from the inside, and the two found themselves on uneasy ground for much of the episode, as Lyta spent much of The Rankless Initiative doing her best to change that belief.

The super strength that Rhom now possesses seems to be the spark that sets off the conflict between the Saggitarai and the Rankless. In the chaos, Lyta ends up arresting one of her own soldiers - Kol-Da - effectively calling her out on her lies in one of the more satisfying scenes of the week, also believing that someone who she interrogated and didn't give her any answers was a Black Zero terrorist with little facts to back up that statement. Kol-Da is promptly taken away and arrested, given the right to a trial, which Lyta is quick to remind her more than what the dead man received. It's clear that Lyta is doing her best to do some good, however Kol-Da won't be the last test she'll have to face in her role of command. As much as there were likely no Black Zero operatives in the vicinity, I do hope that Krypton finds the time to delve into them in the coming weeks, as there's too much potential there to ignore.

It remains to be seen too how Lyta will handle the problem of her own mother, who she came into conflict again when the soldiers were ordered to stand down before going after Rhom, giving Seg the time that he needed to save her without any casualties, after receiving a shock grenade from Lyta. Lyta ends up finding out the truth of what was really going on with Rhom in the aftermath of this attack - and meeting Adam Strange for the first time - and she instantly believes Seg. However, Rhom cannot be taken to the Council for proof of the alien life inhabiting her as it will mean her death - something that Seg cannot allow, so he and Adam take her back to the Fortress to save Rhom. Now that Lyta knows Adam exists it won't be long before she starts asking more questions - and hopefully it won't be long before she too is let in on the secret of where he comes from. It's refreshing to see Seg let Lyta know about the alien threat this quickly too, especially given how much the Arrowverse shows in particular have relied upon keeping secrets for forced drama. So the sooner she's fully brought into the fold, the better - as far as I'm concerned.

However, it may be too late. Rhom is kept alive, but only due to the enhancements that Brainiac provided, and if they are removed it could mean her death. And to make matters worse, Rhom has already called Brainiac to Krypton, and we're given another ending tease of Brainiac proclaiming that Krypton is at an end. The show has done a good job making Brainiac feel like an intimidating presence so far, as given that everything that Seg has done has not succeeded in even harming Brainiac or preventing his plans, it does a good job at cementing his reputation as an unstoppable villain that is always two steps ahead. It's still early stages and Seg could yet find a proper victory, but the show is doing a very good job at creating a looming sense of dread and worry about what's coming Krypton's way. Whatever happens however, I hope Brainiac won't take as long to get to Krypton as Thanos did to Earth.

One thing that I haven't been too keen on so far is the lack of development that the Daron-Vex and his daughter, Nyssa, have received. They've been lurking in the background with the spotlight firmly planted elsewhere, always up to something shadowy, and it's good to see that the show is going to take its time to flesh them out in the next episode by the looks of things. It was intriguing to learn that they could potentially face consequences for their lack of actions and that the wrath of the Voice of Rao could fall back on them as much as it could anyone else.

The Rankless Initiative was a bit muddled and messy at times, but for the most part it was a solid episode with some good performances particularly by Cameron Cuffe, Georgina Campbell and Elliot Cowan, who were on fire for much of this episode. Cuffe keeps making Seg a more well-rounded character bringing plenty of emotions to his portrayal, whilst Campbell makes Lyta one of the most compelling characters on the series so far. And Cowen too, made the most out of his character whenever he was on screen. It helps that for the most part the whole cast have good chemistry together in their respective scenes that they share, and it's really paying off.

For a TV budget, Krypton continues to look visually impressive and the show has created a nice, grounded portrayal of the alien world. It's done pretty well so far and although the show has displayed growing pains and the dialogue isn't as well-refined as it could be, the series is showing signs of improving and I'm excited to see where this journey leads us. Let's just hope that the series decides to stick to the serialised structure of the first two episodes rather than revert to the monster of the week approach that this hour occupied itself with.

What did you think of The Rankless Initiative? Let me know in the comments section below and be sure to check out the next episode of Krypton on Syfy next Wednesday.

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