The state of affairs in the city of Kandor on Krypton looks grim indeed. It seems hope—the title of this episode—is fading. The Voice of Rao is missing after he turned Ona into a bomb. Adam died saving everyone from Ona. Seg sent Kem to Kryptonopolis. Dev lies in a med bay, recovering from having his arm blasted off and being controlled by Brainiac. The Sagitari are spread thin and Black Zero roams the streets freely.
Seg: Everything that Adam said, about my grandson, about the Els, about who we are, who we’re meant to be. He believed that I could save the universe. I couldn’t even save him. I’ve lost too many people Lyta, I couldn’t lose anyone else.
General Zod starts showing his villainous nature in this episode, sneaking off with Lyta to collect Doomsday. He believes that Doomsday is their only hope against Brainiac. A funny thing, though: it takes El and Zod blood to open the chamber, and Seg refuses to help. It turns out, however, that a certain TV reviewer (*cough* me *cough*) was right in her hypothesis that Seg was General Zod’s father. This makes him both El and Zod blood relatives and able to open the chamber. Later, he challenges Jayna for the right to be primus, proving that he cares about ruling people.
The protectors of Doomsday (the Cythonites) have lost all hope in Seg. When Seg and Jayna moved the containment unit, the chryogenesis chamber was damaged and he’s thawing out. Seg has hope that Holo-Val-El can repair the chamber. Raika and her people decided to dump Doomsday in Kandor, hoping that when Brainiac scoops it out of Krypton, he will scoop Doomsday with it. Raika is focused on the immediate problem. Doomsday could wipe out all the people of Krypton, instead of a vague future 200 years from now when the planet explodes because of Kandor being removed. Sound familiar? Seg sided with General Zod because he believed in stopping the planet from exploding rather than protecting a vague future where his grandson saves the universe. With a chance to fix the chamber, I feel like it seems awfully risky to just dump him in the city. What if he wakes before Brainiac takes the city, then they would have failed their mission. Seg’s plan just makes more sense.
Nyssa-Vex thus far has had the most character growth. She was raised to maneuver and manipulate people. Now she stands by Seg, protecting him when he orders her to leave. She is loyal. In fact, it is Lyta who snuck out and sided with Zod on Doomsday. It’s a fun twist, the conspirator being loyal and the soldier full of betrayal. With Nyssa, it makes sense. Seg went back to save her when she was scheduled for execution. Lyta’s motives for siding with her son over Seg are not nearly as clear. Sharing the same blood can’t be it because she’s also choosing Zod’s side over Jayna’s. Jayna-Zod has also grown. No longer does she believe in the rigid rules her father taught her—the rules with which she raised Lyta. Now instead of following orders, she decides, leads, thinks for herself. Her growth feels to have organically grown out out of the circumstances she has found herself in—having to chose her daughter or honor, being branded a traitor.
Lyta: All my life, all you have done is make me afraid. Afraid that I wasn’t good enough, that I wasn’t strong enough, that I wasn’t worthy of the Zod name.
Jayna: I have failed you in so many ways, Lyta. I tried to mold you into a hardened warrior, tried to drive out your love for Seg. Your refusal to follow orders you disagreed with, your constant questioning as a weakness. Now I see it’s your greatest strength. Don’t lose it now, when you need it most. Cause you’re going to have to make a choice.
Jax-Ur’s arc couldn’t really hold my interest. She just comes across as a vengeful, bitter woman. The leader of Black Zero just seems like she wants revenge on Daron-Vex for betraying Val-El when she was still in the guild. She’s supposed to be interrogating him for information on Brainiac or the Genesis Chamber, but the whole “I won’t stop torturing you until you admit exactly what I tell you to…” is tiresome. Plus, everyone knows that an admission under torture means almost nothing. I hope we don’t see much more of her this season.
Speaking of hope…it’s the title of this week’s episode and the theme as well. Hope is what drives most characters. Seg hopes to save Kandor. Adam hoped to save Superman and be a hero. Lyta hopes to not be her mother (a plight to which most daughters can relate). General Zod hopes to save (and rule?) his people. Daron-Vex merely hopes to survive but as Nyssa pointed out survival is not enough. The theme of hope felt very tightly woven into the fabric of the episode. Nothing was forced because it made sense for the characters to be struggling with issues of home. Ona blowing up and Adam dying was a huge blow to the group. It’s hard to hold onto hope when life beats you down. This week the struggle felt real, tangible even.
Val-El: Do you know the origins of the El sigil? It comes from an ancient Kryptonian word. It means “hope.” Our house wasn’t just given that symbol. Our ancesters chose it and the generations to follow defined it. Not through words…but through actions. As long as there is an El on Krypton, there will be hope. And hope can be a powerful weapon
I hope for a season two. What would that look like though? General Zod was raised best friends with Jor-El, was fathered by Seg, and yet never met Seg-El. He was told that his father died in the fight with Brainiac. If the timeline is preserved, Seg will die—probably in the season finale. If he lives—if they save Kandor from Brainiac—how will they save Superman? Killing Zod isn’t enough because what if Jor-El never leaves Kandor, never meets his wife. With a different wife, the baby they make is different. My husband and I joke about what if we got together in high school. We knew each other. If we did, maybe we wouldn’t have lasted. Maybe we would have married younger, had kids younger. Here’s the thing though. Our experiences help form us. We would be two different people than we are now. The children we had would be very different children, not just from their interactions with different people, but genetically with different DNA. In time travel theory, they call that the butterfly effect.
Seg needs to die with Kandor. The timeline needs to be preserved. What does this mean for a season two? When the show first opened, Seg said, “This is not the story of how we died, but how we lived.” Maybe the emphasis isn’t on the words “died” and “lived,” but on “we.” This has not been a story about Seg-El. This has been the journey of Seg, and Nyssa, and Lyta, and Dev. Daron, and Jayna, and Kem, and even General Zod. Without Seg, the journey will continue.
Verdict: 4 out of 5 stars
In addition to being a die-hard Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. fan, running #AgentsOfSpoilers a weekly re-watch of classic episodes, Carolyn loves the Marvel Cinematic Universe (Earth-199999). When not engrossed in the MCU, Carolyn can be found binging old school wrestling and living on Twitter. She subscribes to the philosophy “Music is life”.