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Krypton - The Phantom Zone - Review: "Kneel Before Zod"

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Krypton 1.10 "The Phantom Zone" - Review:
Directed by Ciaran Donnelly, Written by Chad Fiveash, James Stoteraux & Cameron Welsh

To be honest,given Krypton's love for DC Comics' past, I'm surprised that we had to wait until the season finale to here Dru-Zod utter those famous, character-defining words, "Kneel Before Zod," as he ascended to take power over Kandor in the wake of Seg's sacrifice to stop Brainiac. It was a tense moment that really worked, rewarding fans of the character and paying homage to classic Superman mythology in a way that didn't feel forced or cringe-worthy. Everything about Krypton has grown from strength to strength over the past few episodes, as it shows that the writers are learning from their mistakes, and based on what we've had so far, it's pretty certain that should the show continue improving when we return for Season two, things are going to be in for a wild ride indeed.

The Phantom Zone was an exciting episode that finally brought the real Brainiac to Kandor leaving Seg with a dilemma about whether or not to sacrifice the city and prevent Krypton's destruction, altering history forever. We saw his grandfather, his real one - as opposed to the hologram, brought back from The Phantom Zone after declaring that they needed his help to stop Brainiac. It turned out that he had been watching Seg grow up behind the scenes in the Phantom Zone, viewing alternative futures and different timelines as he attempted to come home. Interestingly, Dru-Zod had the ability to bring back Val-El any time since his arrival, something that he neglected to mention to Seg beforehand, justifying that Seg hadn't brought him to the Fortress of Solitude before, and it hadn't been necessary before now. It turned out that this was all in vain as Val-El was unable to come up with a way from stopping Brainiac, rendering Kandor doomed. Brainiac was so confident of taking Kandor that he had already planned on taking the next world after that.

Can we talk about how good Brainiac as a villain has been here? He's been legitimately scary, and Blake Ritson played him really well. He's arguably a contender for Top 10 comic book villains on any show on TV at the moment, if not Top 5, and that's saying something. He's brought a threatening presence to whatever scene he's been in, and seeing his talk with General Zod confirmed that. Zod saw fit to bargain for Kandor's survival, not caring about the fate of the rest of the galaxy as long as Krypton was left untouched even if he had no way of knowing that Brainiac would take his word. But Lyta isn't going to go out so easily, and she takes command of the surviving Sagitari in order to mount a counter-offensive, even if it is an incredibly futile gesture given Brainiac's sheer strength.

The romances between Seg, Nyssa, Lyta and Dev continue to be the show's weakest link and it's hard to become invested in them when they haven't been as developed as they could have been and the show's attention is far more invested elsewhere. That said, I did like Nyssa's arc this week, and the twist about her being a clone was a nice surprise, even if it does feel like the show is trying to juggle one arc too many at this point. Brainiac could have been enough on its own. It does make out for some interesting potential for Season two though, and I'm looking forward to seeing how the show makes up for the impending hole shaped by Brainiac's absence.

Because now both he and Seg have found themselves trapped in The Phantom Zone, and judging by the events that are unfolding before them at the end of the episode, it doesn't look like that Seg will be getting out anytime soon, or at least, hopefully not as quickly as Barry Allen escaped from the Speedforce in The Flash. Seeing Superman's sigil return only to be replaced by Zod's was fascinating and opened up the real potential to explore some exciting Elseworlds-esque storylines - does Krypton still get destroyed in this alternate future where Zod takes charge and Krypton is saved? Adam Strange, still trapped inside Brainiac's collection, has no way of getting back, but is aware of the change in the timeline all the same. With him helpless and unable to do anything - the first season ends on a dire note indeed.

And now Krypton has to Kneel Before Zod. Seeing him conscript all of the Rankless into his newfound army, we're witnessing the newfound expansion of Krypton before our eyes, as it turns into a terrifying military dictatorship under Zod's rule, with Dev and Lyta standing side by side behind him. Assuming that Seg does eventually return from The Phantom Zone, things just got even harder for him in Season Two, especially taking into the account that on top of all of this, Doomsday himself is now free and walking about.

Krypton's stakes are well and truly raised once again, as the show ends on a very high note indeed that has me really looking forward to seeing where everything goes in Season 2. We didn't get to see more of Jayna and Daron-Vex this episode, with both characters' fates being left up in the air, but all the same, I did enjoy seeing Jax-Ur reunite with Val-El. There were plenty of memorable moments to say the least about this finale, which cemented Krypton's place as the most improved show of the year so far.

What did you think of The Phantom Zone and of the season as a whole? Let me know in the comments below.

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