WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for this week’s episode of Krypton, “Civil Wars,” which aired Wednesday on Syfy.
The destruction of Krypton is central to the mythology of Superman, who's rocketed from his home world as an infant, like an intergalactic Moses, to find refuge on Earth. The cause of that apocalypse has varied in the past 80 years, from a build-up within the planet's uranium core to the machinations of terrorist group to a supernova, yet the result always remains the same: the planet is obliterated. The same holds true on Syfy's Krypton, although still some 200 years in the future, but this week's episode introduces a twist on the inevitable event so novel that it threatens to upend the very premise of the series.
From its initial trailers, the drama has warned of an existential threat posed by Superman's greatest enemy, who's traveled from the future to destroy Krypton, ensuring the Man of Steel is never born. The consequences to the universe are so grave that Adam Strange (Shaun Sipos) has risked so much to warn the superhero's grandfather Seg-El (Cameron Cuffe) about the imminent invasion by Brainiac. However, the events of "Civil Wars" cast that into doubt, and drives a wedge between Seg and Adam.
The complication begins, as so many do with General Zod (Arrow alum Colin Salmon), not quite properly introduced last week as Lyta-Zod's son from the future, who's been in the past for who knows how long in search of a weapon to stop Brainiac. Or at least that's what he says. Adam immediately recognizes him, and warns Seg and Lyta (Georgina Campbell) that he's Superman's greatest enemy, and should be killed to ensure that he can't help Brainiac to destroy Krypton.
There's a slight flaw in Adam's logic, of course, because if the planet were to be wiped out a generation before his birth, then Zod would never exist. Adam's heart is in the right place, though, and Zod, for all his menacing charm, almost certainly can't be trusted. But as the Man of Steel's infamous foe explains the timing of his visit, Adam's own mission begins to unravel, and Krypton's past becomes much more interesting.
"History tells us that this is when that creature ripped Kandor City away from the planet, and made it part of his collection," Zod says. "I'm here to prevent that tragedy."
Although at first blush that statement doesn't seem particularly revelatory -- anyone versed in Superman comics knows the fate of Kandor -- but it forces the audience to reexamine part of Krypton's premise, and the characters to doubt the story they've been sold by Adam. If Zod is to be believed, Brainiac isn't from the future. "Brainiac didn't travel through time to launch this attack," Zod continues. "This is what he's always done."