The various storylines of Dominion‘s season finale can be summed up in a single word: Deception.
Which is fitting, really, when you consider the idea of hiding in plain sight is one of this show’s many conceits. If we are allegedly created in God’s image, how better to hide from your sworn enemies than to live among them? The same can be said about the vaunted Chosen One. Apart from divinely inked tattoos, mankind’s savior could be someone as innocuous as the boy next door. Indeed, he could be your childhood sweetheart.
Dominion has shown its viewers but a slice of life in a post-apocalyptic world by focusing on the walled city of Vega, where all manner of creature, both mortal and divine, live, work, and sup side by side, all the while casting a wary eye to the heavens as they wait for death from above. All in all, it’s a strong premise for a SyFy series, one that found its genesis in the movie Legion. Like that 2010 film, gun and swordplay mixed with over-the-top action to beget a strange fusion of the profound and the profane. And now Dominion has taken that premise and run with it for seven episodes, with its first (and possibly only?) season culminating in last night’s strong finale, “Beware Those Closest to You.”
As far as warnings go, the missive delivered by Alex’s mystical ink is quite apt. When paranoia is part of everyday life, it would be wise to think twice about one’s so-called allies. This is certainly true for Alex, who learned last week that not only is his confidante (and occasional lover) Noma a higher angel, but that his trusted friend, Michael, was a one-time scourge of humanity. But the universe has one more surprise up its sleeve for Alex. He learns from Gabriel—not from Claire—that she is carrying the Chosen One’s child.
When Alex confronts her, she confesses she never intended to tell him, choosing instead to raise the baby as William’s. For someone who grew up without his father, this revelation is devastating to Alex. As an aside, it’s good to see Alex’s character arc throughout this season. At first, it seemed as though he couldn’t compete with Dominion‘s more powerful personalities, but Christopher Egan has really imbued Alex Lannon with a sense of duty and a heaviness of heart that befits a troubled savior.
Claire, too, has come into her own over the last few episodes, stepping into the role of Vega’s Lady of the City. In the process, she has confronted men if power, from her father to the truly imposing (and conniving) David Whele. She has proven she’s up to the task of playing politics even if it means leaving the real love of her life behind. By the end of this episode, she has even banished William from his own House of Whele. The last we see of Gabriel’s trusted acolyte, he is cast off into the wilderness with only a few days’ worth of supplies on his back.
Which brings us to David Whele, once Vega’s most dangerous politician. Now, the former televangelist is a shadow of his former self. This transformation seems disingenuous, though, even given the events of Ouroboros. A strong-willed, larger-than-life personality like his would not be so easily broken (at least figuratively).
But Senator Whele is a man at odds with himself; as Claire points out, why would he deign to spare the life of Gabriel, the archangel responsible for the deaths of his loved ones? While William may have broken his spirit, the heart of a lion still beats within David Whele’s breast. He knows his son’s devotion to Gabriel is a blight not only upon the House of Whele, but a malignant cancer on humanity as well. So it is that the elder Whele conspires to rid Vega of its principate. But David is not without mercy; William did not betray his father to Claire, and he returns the favor by ultimately sparing his son’s life.
As for Dominion‘s more heavenly beings, we learn they, too, are not above deception. Michael has concealed his violent past even as it comes back to haunt him. When asked by Alex how he is able to cope with his heinous misdeeds, Michael responds with a clever bit of wordplay, saying, “Your rise is my redemption, Alex. Don’t let me down.” Theirs is an interesting partnership. Michael has raised Alex, protecting him and nurturing him from a remove, and the archangel is, in turn, the foster patent Alex never knew he had. The two have conspired to save Vega from Gabriel, even if it kills them. But when Michael witnesses the barbaric treatment of a fellow higher angel at Becca’s hands, it is one burden too many for the archangel to bear with good grace. His former bloodlust manifests itself once more as he brings bloody ruin to Vega, killing Becca and attacking Alex before flying off.
It’s Gabriel, of course, who brings things to a boil by showing up on Vega’s doorstep in an act of surrender. He winds up locked in an electrified cell, his wings bound and confined by a metal vest. But like Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs, we know Gabriel can wield words like a weapon. We also understand it’s only a matter of time before he (like Lecter) is free of his bonds. After all, as Gabriel himself says numerous times, his acolytes are everywhere, including inside Vega’s walls.
Gabriel’s real reason for surrender is to gain an audience with Alex. Gabriel knows the Chosen One must come to him of his own volition. By revealing the truth to Alex—about Claire, about Michael, the silver-tongued archangel knows Alex will come to see Vega is no longer where he is meant to be.
What is perhaps this episode’s most shocking bit of deception, though, is the revelation that Gabriel and Michael’s sister, Uriel, is in cahoots with the city of Helena and in bed with its envoy, Arika. We’re led to believe Arika is responsible for Evelyn’s death, but in truth, Helena’s envoy is actually Evelyn herself. In other words, Vega’s most dangerous (mortal) rival is hiding in plain sight—and in league with a higher angel.
Some closing thoughts:
As of this writing, Dominion has not been renewed for a second season. This season, however, has been a compelling exercise in post-apocalyptic storytelling and theological revisionism. We’ve been presented with flawed, complicated characters that demand further exploration. If these eight episodes have proven anything, it’s that this story of angels and demons (and the humans caught in between) has wings—let it soar for at least one more season.