The puns on Zod’s name continue with, “Zods and Monsters.” Personally, I think that’s a bit redundant, since Zod is a monster in my book, but there are a few others in this episode. We also get some history of a character that I don’t think has ever been explored very deeply, and some developments in the Fortress with Seg’s headaches.
The episode starts with Zod, now in control of communications again, addressing the public about the death of Lyta and the terrorists behind it. He talks a good game, and might even believe some of what he’s saying. Under his own voiceover, Zod is out hunting, and, with all respect to Richard Connell, this really is The Most Dangerous Game. Zod has enough flaws to fill a book, but he doesn’t lack in courage, I’ll give him that. He emerges victorious as his speech hits a high point that isn’t good for the rest of the galaxy.
Seg, Nyssa, and Cor are out in a skimmer. Nyssa wants to know where they are going, but Seg is trying to keep that information from Brainiac. That doesn’t go well, and Seg and Brainiac end up fighting over Seg’s body, while Nyssa has to take over flying, once Seg gasps out a word to tell her where they’re going. Val reviews the troops, and Adam is worried about what’s going on with Seg in all this. Val is sending out a team with a new commander, and Adam has to jump through some hoops to join. Why he’s so desperate to join a team when he doesn’t even know where they’re going or what they’re doing isn’t clear. After he agrees, no, begs, to go, he gets briefed on the dangers. Great timing there, Adam.
Nyssa helps Seg into the Fortress, which, aside from being a bit darker, looks surprisingly intact after Zod took it over. Holo-Val appears (again, I’m surprised he’s still functioning) and they share the problem with him. Seg gets all dramatic and then falls over. Zod and his assistant, Lis-Ser, start working on their captive. Lis gets some memories from 1000 cycles ago, and the background of one of Superman’s deadliest foes gets revealed. It is, indeed, a joint effort between two great houses, in this case, Wedna-El and Van-Zod. There’s a sad parting, some desperate pleading, and a touching gesture on a glass wall as events unfold. The volunteer gets an explanation about what’s going to happen, and it’s not going to be pretty. Wedna-El is as cold blooded as any Vulcan from Star Trek.
Adam and Kem have some banter as they embark on a dangerous mission, and Adam, once again, seems to have problems doing some fairly normal, human things. I really wonder what the hell his life was like before he embarked on this mission. Nothing like the hero from the comics, I’m pretty sure of that. The mission arrives at one of their goals, and there’s some strife with the commander’s decisions. Seg undergoes a very thorough examination at the Fortress, and the results aren’t encouraging. Val comes up with the only way to get things to work, and Nyssa makes a horrifying realization. She’s about ready to run away when Seg gives her a really impressive pep talk. Brainiac continues to make things difficult for everyone. Seg gives some last minute suggestions, Val makes an observation, and Nyssa is about done with both of them.
An impatient Zod commands Lis-Ser to continue the memory scanning, which will somehow help Zod gain control, because the plot says so. Returning to 1000 years ago, there are some ugly tests and ugly results. The two scientists stop the procedures and argue, but the name of science wins out. About the only thing we learn here is that this is happening in Argo City, comic book home of both Supergirl and Power Girl.
Seg comes through his procedure much better than the volunteer back in Krypton’s past, and he and Nyssa hug while Holo-Val beams. Seg goes to hold his son, and Nyssa chooses this odd time to change something about young Cor. Seg and Val are both pleased, and Val makes a further suggestion. This puts in place an important piece of Superman lore, and it even gets a sting of John Williams’ classic score from the movies to mark the moment. In the tunnels on Wegthor, Adam and Kem have to make some hard decisions as they deal with the orders they have and the best way to execute them. Zod looks at his prisoner, goes on an egotistical rant, and gives some ominous hints about the future.
Returning to 1000 years/cycles ago, the scientists get an unwelcome visitor who isn’t happy about their work. The war that was their excuse for doing all this is apparently over, but they haven’t let that stop them, and offer some flimsy justification. The visitor is horrified by what they find out, there’s a familiar gesture that isn’t returned, and the visitor flees. In the present, Zod uses his newfound knowledge to… do something. Annoy his prisoner? I’m not sure.
In the Fortress, Seg has slightly restyled the family crest, so it takes on a more familiar aspect. This is right about when Holo-Val makes a disturbing discovery. On Wegthor, Adam tries to hold the squad together while Kem does something desperate. Kem makes it through with a surprising piece of news for everyone, and they do the right thing, which both involves cleaning up one of Zod’s messes and possibly getting some new recruits. Val welcomes them all back, and Adam sticks up for Kem. They have a sort of bonding moment and Kem mangles an Earth movie title.
Things go much less well in the Fortress. There’s a tension building search for something they lost and no one is looking in the right place. Things in the Fortress undergo a change, and Seg gets a chance to argue with Brainiac some more. Brainiac makes some claims that Seg doesn’t really believe, and I can’t blame him for that. Brainiac announces his goals have changed, and makes a dramatic exit from the Fortress. His new destination scares the hell out of Zod, which almost makes all this worthwhile right there. As Zod leaves, he carries out his new mission, which is really hard on some of the characters. It’s a rough ending with a big cliffhanger.
What I liked: Adam and Kem are entertaining together. Ian McElhinner did a decent job of playing two very different versions of Val-El. Brainiac’s new plan caught everyone by surprise, but it makes a kind of sense to me, at least. Nyssa did some great stuff.
What I didn’t: We spend a fair amount of time in the distant past, getting background that, honestly, I didn’t care about at all. I thought this character’s prior versions of an origin were fine, and I didn’t need this addition to it. Everyone at the Fortress screwed up in their assumptions. Brainiac is a villain that has beaten whole teams of superheroes. A bunch of non-powered types have about as much chance as, well, what we’ve been seeing. For that matter, they use the word “superhero” in the past era, and I really was under the impression that was more or less an Earth concept, not a Kryptonian one from history. Still no Green Lanterns or Hawks.
It was a decent enough story, I suppose, I just didn’t care about this part of history. I’ll give this a 2.5 out of 5.