Dominion: Broken Places review

Dominion asks some big questions. Does it deliver any answers? Here's our review of "Broken Places."

Early on in tonight’s episode of Dominion, “Broken Places,” Claire tells Alex: “No matter how fast you drive, you can’t outrun your own skin.” Nor can he outrun the painful realities of his past. Especially not if the archangel Michael, Alex’s would-be protector and mentor, has anything to say about it. Seeing as how Michael is one of the most powerful beings on the planet, not only does he easily track down Alex as he makes his way to New Delphi, he coerces him into taking a little detour. Alex is troubled yet pure of heart; he understands it’s an offer he can’t refuse.

But as one might expect, this is no ordinary jaunt. Michael leads Alex back to the home we glimpsed in flashback in last week’s episode, “Godspeed.”

Spoilers ahead.

Once Alex crosses over the threshold of his old home, he is beset by visions of his father, Jeep, trying frantically to decipher the mysterious tattoos. More important than these visions, though, is learning that Alex’s mother died trying to protect him from an onslaught of eight-balls. And in this revelation did I see flashes of Harry Potter, the wizarding world’s Chosen One. It’s an apt comparison, though. Both Harry Potter and Dominion explore the notion of sacrifice—not only by loved ones, but by the anointed savior himself. Like Harry, Alex wants no part in being special. He just wants to live a normal life, humbly, away from the spotlight. But, unlike Harry Potter, Alex’s scars are hidden.

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Michael understands how troubling the truth is for Alex to comprehend—especially the fact that it was the archangel himself who forced Jeep to more or less abandon his young son to Michael’s care. In perhaps the best line of the entire episode, Michael tells Alex, “You had to be on your own, to struggle and fall so you could rise.” And if anyone understands what it’s like to fall from grace, it’s the angels—especially the higher angels like Michael and Gabriel.

As Michael patiently explains to Senator Whele, since their fall, angels lost their celestial perspective. Angels can no longer simply sense one another’s presence. Now, on Earth, their vision is limited by their corporeal forms.

But if Michael is looking for sympathy by revealing this, he’ll find none from the former televangelist-turned-senator. Michael is a deserter in Whele’s eyes, a traitor. So why should he be trusted—especially if other higher angels are rallying to Gabriel’s side?

Indeed, why should Michael be trusted? In this dystopian future, putting trust in angels is nothing more than a reflex of a long-ago amputated belief in God. Now, in the wake of the angels’ war on man, all that remains is a phantom faith that is easily exploited. As we’ve seen numerous times on Dominion (including in the roadside diner in tonight’s episode), humans are easily dispatched with a flick of a bulletproof wing.

Which begs an interesting question: Are angels constrained by the same heavenly commandments as mankind? In other words, where does an angel’s accountability begin and end? In the absence of God, to whom are they now beholden? If Michael is not to be trusted, what’s stopping him from slaughtering all of Vega? What sort of moral code does a rogue archangel live by? After all, he has not only sided with the humans, he is laying with one of them—Becca Thorn, who happens to be a member of Vega’s ruling council.

It should be no surprise that Whele is not above blackmailing one of his own if it means taking Michael down (and keeping Vega’s citizens safe). And that puts Becca squarely in his sights. She either becomes a mole, reporting what she knows of Michael’s weaknesses, or she becomes a pariah for consorting with an angel. Just like Alex, Becca is faced with an offer she ultimately cannot refuse.

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As much as I enjoy some good bouts of action (and this episode definitely had its moments of violence and mayhem), I’m still more intrigued by the angel mythology and political maneuvering. The former is still Dominion‘s main strength. The former is what may help to set this series apart from other dystopian stories. Anthony Head still shines as Whele, and Chris Egan is finally coming into his own as Alex. Plus Tom Wisdom and Carl Beukes both turn in compelling performances as Dominion’s resident archangels.

Some closing thoughts:

Arika’s sister suddenly turns up dead—murdered as a reminder to keep Helena’s secrets. Arika, however, seeks amnesty so she can remain in Vega to plan a coup against Evelyn. On the surface, this change in loyalty seems genuine enough, but like David Whele, Arika strikes me as someone not ever to be fully trusted.

As for Senator Whele, his son, William, is in cahoots with Gabriel. Whele is a smart man—surely he must sense his son is hiding something. One thing that’s obvious to the elder Whele is that William is no king of the forest. But that certainly doesn’t mean the younger Whele isn’t dangerous.

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3.5 out of 5