WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for the Season 1 finale of Krypton, “The Phantom Zone,” which aired Wednesday on Syfy.
Despite horribly bungling his mission, the lovable time-traveling fraud Adam Strange at least saved Seg-El from a tragic human bomb in the penultimate episode of Krypton's first season, before being whisked away to what we theorized could be a darker version of the planet Rann, altered by the fallout from the fight against Brainiac's sentry. But the Season 1 finale reveals his location is actually far more grim.
As Seg-El's grandfather Val-El (Ian McElhinney), newly rescued from the Phantom Zone, explains the fate that awaits those unfortunate souls trapped within the cities that become part of Brainiac's collection, we're taken within his hulking skull ship, and into one of his snow globe-like souvenirs.
"The Collector of Worlds offers eternal life," Val says. "He claims magnanimity, seeing himself as a conservationist of sorts. What that really means is that, in order to perfectly preserve the cities, those inside remain rooted to the spot, immobilized, brains functioning, fully cognizant." As his chilling monologue unfolds, we realize this is a city from modern-day Earth, and the only person moving among among the paralyzed populace is Adam Strange (Shaun Sipos).
That at least somewhat explains where he was teleported to by Zeta-Beam in the closing moments of "Savage Night," while raising questions too numerous to count. Adam is from 200 years in Krypton's future, where he's a contemporary of Superman; that's seemingly confirmed by his reappearance in an Earth city with electricity, taxi cabs, cell phones and a baseball stadium. So, far that all makes sense. But how, then, is that city part of Brainiac's hoard when it was established earlier this season that the Collector of Worlds isn't a threat from the future, as Adam believed, but part of Krypton's history? “Brainiac didn’t travel through time to launch this attack,” General Zod (Colin Salmon), himself a time traveler, revealed in "Civil Wars." “This is what he’s always done.”
As detailed by Zod, and confirmed by Val-El, it's the theft of Kandor by Brainiac that destabilizes the planet's core, and leads to the destruction of Krypton two generations later. So, shouldn't any Earth city is his collection be from the 19th century or earlier? It's certainly possible that Brainiac, in addition to being extremely long-lived, somehow exists in many timelines at once. However, if that were the case, why would he be interested in whatever knowledge of the future Val-El might possess from his years in the Phantom Zone? Time is tricky.