HEY, kids! How is everyone? Me, I’m traipsing around the country again, so I may not be able to respond in a timely fashion to comments on this blog (hoping I get some…lol), but don’t worry! I will as soon as I can. If you must know, I’m actually in the same place as Jove Belle this weekend. Well, I mean, not occupying the exact same space because I’m pretty sure that’s against the laws of physics. Also, it’s just really weird and creepy.
Now let’s talk about something that is completely NOT weird and creepy and that gives me ultra-joy and super smokin’ fangirl fuzzies.
That is, another show I’m following off the Syfy network, which often nails it when they do fun, quirky series. This is no exception.
I got recently obsessed with Syfy’s Killjoys, which just wrapped up its second season and was signed for a third, which is scheduled for next year.
Shit, where do I EVEN start with the awesome that is this show? Hell, I don’t know. So I’ll give you some bullet points that hopefully will convey how in love with this I am:
- It’s a rockin’, kick-in-the-pants, slap-your-mama awesome space opera. I’m super-biased in this regard, because I love space opera like a dog loves a fresh bone, but even if you’re leery of sci fi and space opera, the characters here should pretty much suck you right in and get you to feel at least a little luv for the genre (here’s Andi’s handy guide to space opera)
- Strong, seriously kick-ass female lead. I’ll talk more about her in a bit.
- Strong, seriously kick-ass other female characters. And yes, I’ll address that, too.
- Excellent secondary characters, including a gay man who is another of my fave characters.
- Superb plotlines and subplots that twist in and out of the character arcs. So well done.
- Created by a woman (who is also the executive producer) and produced by one of my fave women producers/writers on the TV scene today and yeah, I’ll chat about this in a bit.
- Awesome settings. Creative, and they make sense in the overall world-building.
- Speaking of, omg the world-building.
- Complicated romantic subplots that don’t fall into the realm of stereotypes.
Here’s some background.
Killjoys are galactic bounty hunters that operate in a four-planet system called the Quad, which is beholden to “The Company,” which in turn is tied to a group of families called “The Nine,” who have worked hand-in-glove with the Company to leverage political and cultural influence. It’s a hierarchical society based on class ties, but also blood and political ties. The Company has, of course, extended its greedy and often corrupt power grabs all over the Quad, stripping areas of their resources and leaving godawful pollution and crap in its wake. It’s so bad that weather events called “black rain” occur in which acid literally falls from the sky and bubbles the flesh of those caught in it before it kills them.
Killjoys operate through their organization, the RAC — Reclamation Apprehension Coalition — and they’re supposed to be impartial. Therefore, they’re basically allowed to operate anywhere in the Quad with impunity, as long as they have proof that they’re pursuing a warrant or bringing one in.
The series revolves around a team of initially two Killjoys: Dutch (Hannah John-Kamen; awesome female ship captain) and John (“Johnny”) Jaqobis (some of you may recognize Aaron Ashmore from Warehouse 13; he played Steve). Dutch, who has a somewhat guarded past, is a level 5 RAC agent, which means she has dispensation to kill. It’s the highest known level. Johnny, meanwhile, is a level 3. He’s the tinkerer — the mechanic/engineer geek. He and Dutch met when Johnny tried to steal Dutch’s ship and a bond was born. The ship is also a character whose AI is named “Lucy.”
The team acquires a third member, D’Avin, who is actually Johnny’s brother and he’s got some major issues of his own which may or may not be PTSD from his military service. So the three of them create a Killjoy team, officially registered as such with the RAC, but then Dutch’s past comes calling, and as it turns out, who she is and the man who raised her and trained her to fight and be a badass, is somehow tied to nefarious forces operating throughout the Quad that may or may not be part of the RAC. Dutch hates this man, and I’m not going to spoil the way that relationship unfolds; suffice it to say that it is a driving force behind both Seasons 1 and 2, but there are many twists in how it plays out.
And, in classic space opera form, there is an underlying, building tension in the Quad, fueled by rumors of revolution against The Company and The Nine and the economic and social marginalization of many of the Quad’s residents. This creates a beautiful backdrop for the personal battles the characters have to deal with, and often, the macro-issues are actually intertwined with the micro-, and they’re so well done that you can’t see the seams. That, my friends, is strong writing.
So let’s talk about these strengths.
First, as I’ve already swooned over, the writing. The plots and subplots are woven together really effectively, and the characters bring them to life. The dialogue is often snappy and sharp, and the bonds that characters share are so refreshing. Dutch and Johnny are almost like separated-at-birth siblings, but they also share a combat bond. That is, they’ve been in really tight spots together and they thus have that ethos that soldiers often share when they’ve been in service together.
Second, the characters and their relationships. Personally, I love it when a relationship between a man and a woman is portrayed this way. Each has the other’s back no matter what. They have ups and downs and they’re pissed at each other now and again, but they generally try to communicate and work it out. I love that Johnny and Dutch share a bond that isn’t riddled with sexual tension. Rather, they’re tight. Really tight, and they banter and bicker and then get the job done.
And omg, Dutch OWNS the screen every time she’s on it. She’s a woman with a messed-up past that she doesn’t quite understand and that she fears, so being a Killjoy probably enables her to avoid dealing with it in some respects. She’s alternately hard and haunted, driven and devastated and John-Kamen brings all of these aspects of the character into play so that you not only worry about her, but you wonder about her dark side and whether it’s going to emerge and completely override the good in her life. And make no mistake, this world sucks in a lot of ways, and everybody is broken in some way. Dutch, thus, is both hero and anti-hero, grappling with the ramifications of both, and battling the latter.
D’Avin (Luke McFarlane), for his part, also has his own demons, and they come into play full force in his relationship with Dutch. Her relationship with him is a bit different in the sense that I was worried that it was going to fly off the rails into typical heterosexual trope-dom in which Dutch basically gives up her power to D’Avin because of sexual attraction, but it doesn’t, and the way their relationship evolves and devolves then evolves again is really well done. They, too, develop a bond that is very different than what Dutch shares with Johnny, but the two of them care deeply about Johnny, so if they end up disagreeing with each other, they always agree on making sure Johnny is all right.
Third, Johnny and D’Avin never question Dutch on the basis of sex or gender. She’s in charge, it’s her ship, and that’s how it is and everybody is fine with that. I’m guessing that’s a testament to the show’s creator and one of the producers (see below). Which is not to suggest that men can’t and don’t write strong female characters. They can and do. But that’s a discussion for another time, the subtle differences that I’ve noticed in plots and characters written by men vs. women. Here, we have a space opera where two strong male characters share the screen with a strong female character and there’s never any question about her ability to handle it. The only time that becomes an issue is when Dutch is injured or not around. It’s never because she’s a woman.
Fourth, there’s also some queer rep, the most obvious being Pree, bar-owner and bartender on Westerley, one of the Quad planets, who has a past of his own and who’s been flying under the radar his own self. Some may think that Pree is a stereotype, but I disagree. He’s his own character with his own showtune/flamboyant side that walks right up to the stereotype line but never falls over it into cliché. I love the complexity of his layers, his hidden past, and the way he runs the bar and how he cares for this place he’s come to call home, and how he relates to our merry band of Killjoys.
He changes his look quite a bit, from “masculine” to more “feminine” (however you wish to define the binary), but it’s more a function of his mood that day than anything else because this is a world in which sexual orientation doesn’t come up as an issue. And hopefully, that far down the line in real life, it won’t.
The other queer rep involves Dutch and her delicious hate-flirting relationship with a member of The Nine, Delle Seyah Kendry (Mayko Nguyen). Delle plays villainy with charm, whether it’s icy or hot, and she and Dutch face off in various circumstances that crackle with tension both sexual and otherwise. Delle is truly odious. You just know this woman is bad news, but she’s really snarky about it, which lends her a little bit of human-ness in an otherwise politically manipulative and brutal character.
Thus far, there’s no overt same-sex relationship, but that could change and I’m going to trust here that this show isn’t going to engage in the dreaded kill the gays trope, which claimed so many over the past year in TV. I’m trusting one of the show’s producers to make sure this doesn’t happen, because she has a fabulous track record in that regard.
And that brings us to the fifth reason I really dig this show.
That would be Emily Andras, a showrunner and writer of Lost Girl (which featured a bisexual female lead and did not mince scenes with her F/F ship) and the awesome-ness that is Wynonna Earp. Andras developed WE for the screen, and its WayHaught ship, between the character of Wynonna’s younger sister Waverly and police officer Nicole Haught, may have helped many a grieving Clexa fan and given them hope for the future, especially because Andras has that great record with queer representation.
Michelle Lovretta is the other reason I think Killjoys will avoid the trope in terms of queer rep and continue with its excellent writing and plots. Lovretta created Killjoys, but guess what? She also created Lost Girl, and it’s so cool to see her working with Andras again (pleez hire me, Michelle and Emily! I swear I won’t freak out and fangirl in the writers’ room! ::okay maybe a little::)
The sixth reason are a couple of the strong secondary characters. Those are Pawter Simms (Sarah Power), a doctor who works out of rooms above Pree’s bar. She was basically disowned by her family (one of The Nine) because — well, you’ll see — and the way she negotiates that and the way her character arc plays out is beautifully done, as she ends up finding her purpose in the burgeoning uprising. The other character is Alvis Akari (Morgan Kelly), a monk who is part of the “scarbacks,” a religious sect whose members may or may not help organize rebel forces. I enjoy Alvis because the scarbacks are such a great part of the world-building in this series, and they play a big role in how things play out in terms of The Company and the rebellion. They also have a fascinating history, and a couple of episodes in Season 2 will demonstrate that more clearly.
And yet another reason I am currently obsessed with this series is a strong tertiary character who you’ll meet in Season 2. Clara (Stephanie Leonidas) is a young woman who has been altered in the illegal factories of the Quad. That is, her right arm has been swapped out with basically a major armament, which she calls “Alice.” Clara is being used by a Quad crime family (they had her altered), and I won’t reveal the other major anatomical alteration that was made (internal), because it plays a major part in the episode in which she’s introduced. Clara, I think, has the potential to be a super interesting character. She’s kind of an engineering/mechanic geek, so she and Johnny immediately bond over that, and how that unfolds over next season remains to be seen.
Straight up, I had some serious Tank Girl flashbacks when Clara took to the screen. She has a similar scrappy attitude, tempered with a softer side. Clara is so used to being partially not human that she immediately agrees to help the Killjoys with what they need her for because they just bring her along and accept her and her situation. I really like how this group basically adopts all these outcasts and marginalized people and that they end up somehow attached to the crew in various ways though they’re not always in the picture, which makes for endless plot possibilities, because these characters have an open door, basically, to step in at some point in the future.
So I totally binge-watched Killjoys. There are 10 episodes each season, and oh, lordie, the plot twists, characterization, and awesome-ness the writers and production team manage to cram into every episode and the overall arc of the show — delectable.
Yep. This one’s a keeper. Looking forward to Season 3.
You can catch episodes on Syfy.com if you have a cable provider and get the Syfy channel. I sucked it up and bought both seasons on Amazon, which makes it easy to stream it on all my devices (if you’re okay with being crammed into the Amazon Borg ship). Syfy has a list of where you can watch — NOTE! The Hulu listing is wrong. There might’ve been some weird situation that developed there, because it’s not available at the moment on Hulu, but that could change.
All right peeps! Stay the course and may the odds be ever in your favor. Happy Friday.