WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for this week’s episode of Krypton, “The Rankless Initiative,” which premiered Wednesday on Syfy.
Considering Krypton borrowed Brainiac's ominous epithet from the New 52, it shouldn't be surprising that the invasion of Superman's home world might echo another element from DC's 2011 reboot: namely, the ability of the Collector of Worlds to "infect" and control people, transforming them into his pawns.
In this week's episode of the Syfy drama, "The Rankless Initiative," he achieves that through the Giger-esque "egg" Adam Strange (Shaun Sipos) and Kem (Rasmus Hardiker) discovered in the unforgiving Outlands. (Come on, we knew nothing good could come from that.) The object was already identified as a forward scout used by Brainiac to select planets for conquest. However, we learn it's even worse than that.
The techno-organic egg, determines grandfather Val-El (Ian McElhinney), is merely a casing that once carried a parasitic sentry that seeks out a host, using it -- or, rather, him or her -- to gather information about a planet's population, defenses and vulnerabilities, and upload it to Brainiac. Once the host accomplishes this task, the body is left for dead.
The process differs from the New 52, in which Brainiac infected Lois Lane with a psionic virus, which imbued her with powers and placed her under his control. However, the goal remains the same: to lay the foundation for his arrival, and for the planet's conquest.
The revelation in "The Rankless Initiative" sets off an Easter egg hunt, of sorts, through Kandor City, in search of first the sentry, and then the person it infected. That turns out to be Kem's sister -- or maybe it's sister-in-law, that isn't clear -- Rhom (Alexis Raben), who discovered the egg in her "glamorous new job" salvaging in the Outlands. Her transformation into a super-strong drone coincides with a crackdown by the Sagitari on the rankless (hence, the episode's title), and results in the deaths of three soldiers. But Rhom isn't quite finished yet.
Red-eyed like Brainiac, her corneas streaming with binary code, Rhom makes her way to one of the city's communications hubs and literally plugs into the network, like the Borg Queen from Star Trek: First Contact. Confronted by Seg-El (Cameron Cuffe), she coolly insists "There is no Rhom," before swatting him across the room and strangling him with a snake-like cable. "Rhom has been collected. Krypton is worthy of collection. You will be collected. I am transcendent, free of the materials and limitations of physical existence."
Seg urges her to resist, and seems to make some headway by invoking the name, and the love, of Rhom's daughter. However, when that doesn't work, he activates an electrostatic discharge grenade borrowed from Lyta-Zod (Georgina Campbell), which knocks Rhom unconscious and allows her to be severed from the network.
That's no victory, however, as back at the Fortress of Solitude, it's unclear whether Rhom will survive or if the infection can be "cured." Worse still, Val-El concluded she wasn't trying to transmit information -- rather, she is the transmitter, which means the Collector of Worlds already has everything he needs. "Krypton," Brainiac utters to absolutely no one in the episode's final moments, "your world is at an end."
Airing Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Syfy, Krypton stars Cameron Cuffe as Seg-El, Shaun Sipos as Adam Strange, Georgina Campbell as Lyta-Zod, Elliot Cowan as Daron-Vex, Ann Ogbomo as Jayna-Zod, Rasmus Hardiker as Kem, Wallis Day as Nyssa-Vex, Aaron Pierre as Dev-Em, Ian McElhinney as Val-El and Blake Ritson as Brainiac.