TV Review: KILLJOYS (Season 1)

Killjoys

With its companion Dark Matter, this show is part of SyFy’s summer “offering” to a science-fiction-starved audience, and in my opinion it was a success: with main ingredients as fast-paced action, politics, secrets and conspiracies and a fascinating, well thought-out background it could not be otherwise.

One of the most attractive features in Killjoys is the quick delivery of information with little or no explanation, a choice that requires the viewers’ total attention: I must confess that I watched the first episode when I was particularly tired (and also nodding in front of the TV) so that I missed several details and the show did non make a significant impact on me. On re-watching it, though, I understood that this is the kind of story that makes your brain work, doing its best not to offer you easy answers: exactly the kind of story I enjoy. Once I recognized this, I was hooked.

The show rests quite firmly on background and characterization: let’s examine the former first.
The Quad is a four-body planetary system: the main planet, Qresh, was the first to be colonized and then expansion led the inhabitants to place footholds on the planet’s three moons.  The first attempt was made on Arkyn, the smallest one, but something went horribly wrong and the fate of the colony and its inhabitants is shrouded in mystery.  The colonization of Westerly went far better, so that the largest moon in the system is also the most densely inhabited: unfortunately, the thoughtless harvesting of resources has played havoc with environment and general living conditions. With Leith, the Company – the shady entity running everything in the Quad – used more cautious methods, so that it’s a sort of agricultural paradise – that is, for the middle class inhabiting it, not for the indentured workers slaving in its fields.

With these premises it’s not surprising that the Quad is administered through a rigid class system that leads to social injustice: the elite lives on Qresh, and the lesser nobility rules on Leith, while Westerly is the refuge for those without means and for the workforce in the planet’s many industries. It’s even less surprising that such overcrowding and generally poor living conditions would lead to high levels of crime, hence the creation of an organization of bounty hunters, or Reclamation Agents – the titular Killjoys.  They owe allegiance to no one, simply offering their contracted services: the Killjoys motto is “The Warrant is All”.

And here characterization comes into play: the team formed by Dutch (an ass-kicking lady with a shady past) and John Jaqobi (wingman and tech expert) is quite a successful one, although at some point the winning dynamic is altered by the appearance of John’s brother, D’avin, a former soldier with something worse than PTSD.  What I love about these characters is the strong bond between Dutch and John, a collaboration born of shared dangers and humor, an intense sense of family that does not need any romantic overtones to work. The best moments are those when the two exchange rapid-fire quips, usually during hairy situations: the beauty of these exchanges is that they feel very natural, not at all contrived or cheesy. If you add into this mix the personality of Lucy, their ship’s A.I., and one with a temper, you get an intriguing package.

For this reason the appearance of D’avin and the unavoidable romantic entanglement with Dutch felt as unnecessary as the apostrophe in the man’s name: even though the situation takes a different route quite soon, the disturbance was there, placing the wonderful interaction between Dutch and John on the back burner, so to speak. There is enough on the table to keep a viewer’s attention riveted: the frequent flash-backs into Dutch’s past and her training as an assassin, the re-appearance of her mentor and the shady goals he’s pursuing, the political currents moving underneath and involving both the Company and the Qresh nobility, give enough material to carry this story forward on its own power.  But that’s just a very personal point of view, of course…

What really matters here is that Killjoys seems to mark a return to a Firefly-like kind of space opera: the well detailed world-building hints at layers on layers of information and depth – social commentary and political maneuvering or the dangers of expansion and terraforming being among the most explored ones, but also more personal topics like freedom of choice against conditioning or the role of hope when there is nothing else to cling to.  The beauty of it all is that it’s built in increments: even in the episodes that look like stand-alones, there is always some small piece of information that will come to the fore in later segments.  I’ve always been partial to story-arc shows, and Killjoys delivered an intriguing progression in its too-brief run of 10 episodes, ending with a cliffhanger that I can only hope will find a satisfactory solution in the next season.

Something I definitely look forward to…

My Rating:


 

This is another post dedicated to the 2016 Sci-Fi Experience, an event hosted by Carl  V. Anderson over at Stainless Steel Droppings (follow the links to know more!)

2016scifiexp300

Advertisements

Posted on January 16, 2016, in Reviews and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 25 Comments.

  1. This sounds excellent! I’ll definitely be checking it out!

    Like

  2. Syfy is kicking ass with actual sci-fi shows lately (pleeeeease, no more wrestling!) and I’m glad they’re coming up with varied programming with something for everyone, no matter where their sci-fi leanings lie. I will have to check out Killjoys, and I wasn’t that interested in Dark Matter at first but the more I hear about it the more intrigued I am.

    Like

    • Dark Matter runs along more… established guidelines, for want of a better word, but it’s promising; Killjoys seems to be more innovative, more daring. And it’s a definite improvement over flying sharks! LOL

      Like

      • digitaltempest

        @Maddalena They’re actually supposed to be doing a crossover with Dark Matter soon which I still haven’t watched. I binge-watched Killjoys, though, in one weekend. I need to do the same for Dark Matter.

        AHHH GET OFF MY SHARKNADO!

        LOL. You people are being so rude. LOL. 😉 I kid.

        Like

        • Oh, I didn’t know about the cross-over! I must keep my eyes open about it!

          And watch out for those sharks!! 😀 😀

          Like

          • digitaltempest

            It’s in the works, so we’ll see if it’ll come to fruition. Being that you’ve watched both shows, do you think it’ll work well?

            Like

            • I’m not sure… It could go both ways: much depends on the script and the ability of the writer(s), and yet I have this nagging doubt about mixing two different sets of characters (and worlds) that might not work at all.
              That said, if it’s just one episode, it might be fun… With or without sharks! 😀

              Like

              • digitaltempest

                Even though I’ve watched very little of Dark Matter, it seems like the more serious show than Killjoys that might kill what I enjoy about it, but I’ll give it a chance IF they make it happen.

                Like

                • The overall “mood” of both series is different, and that’s the reason I’m so uncertain about the results of such an operation but I’m ready to give the author the benefit of the doubt. Who knows, they might make it work! 🙂

                  Like

    • digitaltempest

      GET OFF MY WRESTLING, MOGSY! Though even I had to admit that I was like WTF about them putting it on SyFy for so long, but probably part of the reason is that wrestling is consistently a program that draws a large number of viewers (millions easily) and those people are likely to stick around to watch programming before and after a show, so it was probably more for a pragmatic “let’s get people watching as we debut our new shows” than they actually wanted wrestling. LOL.

      Like

  3. digitaltempest

    Also, yes, you captured everything I liked about this series, especially with “John, a collaboration born of shared dangers and humor, an intense sense of family that does not need any romantic overtones to work.”

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve been watching so very little tv or films – or anything just recently. I’ll have to keep a note of this because then what I tend to do is binge watch something virtually all in one go!
    Lynn 😀

    Like

  5. I have to admit I’ve been really out of touch with the new tv shows this year. But Killjoys sounds really good, maybe I need to set my DVR:-)

    Like

  6. I tried Killjoys but only the first episode, and it didn’t really grab me- but one episode is probably not enough to really get a feel for it. I love Dark Matter though, so maybe I’m just gravitating toward that kind of show. Still, your review has me rethinking Killjoys- I may have to give it another go. 🙂

    I love what SyFy is doing- yes Sharknado has its moments but I definitely want to see serious sci fi on a channel supposedly devoted to same!

    Like

    • The firs episode did not make a great impression on me either, but something had caught my eye and I decided to give it another chance – and now I’m happy I did.
      SyFy needs to be encouraged on this road: what they are doing with The Expanse shows they can do better than the past 🙂

      Like

  7. “the appearance of D’avin and the unavoidable romantic entanglement with Dutch felt as unnecessary as the apostrophe in the man’s name” – bahahah.

    I’ve just started watching the Expanse and I’m impressed; I’m Killjoys will probably be next to watch then!

    Like

  8. I love this show with an unusual tenacity. It has complex characters, a great plot and the soundtrack is excellent. Dutch joins the list of kickass female role models and this show should be watched and appreciated by all Sci-Fi lovers. The Expanse is next on my list and I’m glad to see people are recommending it. Cool post!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: