Spoilers ahead in my review of Dominion’s second episode, Godspeed.
Tonight’s show starts off with a flashback and an action scene as a young Alex Lannon plays a bit of one-on-one with his father, Jeep. Their game is interrupted when they’re ambushed by a group of eight-balls—humans possessed by malevolent lower angels. Clearly, these heavenly creatures are not the same rosy-cheeked cherubs as portrayed by the Renaissance painters of old. Their mission statement is clear—destroy any mortals who survived the extermination-level war waged between angels and men. Personally, I like this unholier-than-thou take on angels. It’s also a neat twist on an overcrowded, usually-tropey dystopian genre. If you like your angels to be pure and protective, look elsewhere, as you’ll find none of that in Syfy’sDominion.
Case in point: The secret meeting between archangels Michael and Gabriel. The latter has a major bone to pick with humanity, whom he sees as a scourge. Indeed, tells Michael, “…this creation of His, His pride and joy, was a failure of epic proportions.” As far as Gabriel’s concerned, mankind has desecrated the very paradise that was the angels’ birthright.
Michael, on the other hand, is as close as we get on this world to a more traditionally “good” angel. He’s no fan of his brother’s wrath, and has sided with humanity. He sees his brother as bitter and jealous, an abandoned, forgotten child who pines for his Father.
I have to agree with Michael on this. Gabriel seems to have assumed the role of the fallen angel, with all of its attendant debauchery and sleaziness. That mankind has squandered the planet and its resources fuels his anger and resentment. What would Freud make of him, I wonder? An hour (of television, of therapy) is hardly time enough to fully delve into this wounded angel’s psyche.
As for the humans, they don’t fare much better psychologically speaking. Alex may be the vaunted Chosen One, but he’s no saint. He’s a tortured soul wrestling with his own demons. First and foremost, he’s trying to cope with the loss of a father he hardly even knew. This is a real, flesh-and-blood problem he can understand, even if it’s one he can’t solve. He’s also a Romeo to Claire Riesen’s Juliet. Theirs is a love that can be consummated, yes, but it’s not one that can ever be publicly accepted or ordained—not if Vega’s two most powerful rulers have anything to say about it. That she loves Alex is immaterial. That her father has arranged her marriage to David Whele’s son, William, is all strategy and no romance. And this is something that neither Claire nor Alex is happy about.
Try as she might, Claire cannot reassure Alex that she has no interest in her impending nuptials. She’s also unable to convince him that being mankind’s savior is a gift, not a burden. The one thing he truly wants, he knows he cannot have—and that is perhaps the greatest burden of all.
As interesting as these conflicts are, Alex still feels a bit underdeveloped. If Alex is indeed the chosen one, he needs to stand out from some of Dominion‘s more colorful, dynamic characters. In Vega, Alex is a lowly V-2, a virtual nobody. A fellow soldier is surprised that Senator Whele even knows who Alex is. Christopher Egan is certainly likable and earnest enough, but I’d like to see even more from Alex in coming episodes. He needs to be as compelling and charismatic a character as Anthony Head’s David Whele.
As for Senator Whele, in the wake of Jeep’s assassination, he’s had Helena’s consort, Arika, and her handmaidens imprisoned for treason. But in this tragedy, David Whele sees an opportunity. His plan is to extort Helena’s air force in exchange for Arika’s safe return. And so it is in a post-apocalyptic landscape; survival is first and foremost in the mind of many. David Whele is villainous, yes, but he believes what he does, he does for the good of not only Vega, but for humanity as a whole. His plan backfires spectacularly, however, and now Vega’s second-most powerful citizen may have led his people into yet another war they cannot win.
Some closing thoughts:
I understand the rules of reality don’t necessarily apply in a show like Dominion. But, still, how do those huge wings not completely destroy clothing as they unfurl majestically from a higher angel’s back? It’s sort of like the Hulk’s magical purple pants.
And on the subject of angel wings—if a flick of a wing is enough to slash someone’s throat, why doesn’t Alex’s angelic attacker simply employ this maneuver with Alex? Yes, she claims he’s stronger than expected, but there was no bullet time showing this chosen one dodging her furious feathers.
David Whele was a televangelist before the war. That’s the beauty of dystopian narratives—who you were before the fall of civilization generally has little bearing in the ruined world. What did The Walking Dead’s Daryl Dixon do before the walker apocalypse? Does it even matter? But with David Whele, his being a former man of God dovetails perfectly with his current disillusionment.
Last week I called this show a guilty pleasure, but I realize now that’s a bit of a cop-out. Let’s save the guilt for Dominion‘s many sinners, shall we? I will say that this show is definitely keeping my interest. With Alex on the lam from Vega and with General Riesen secretly canoodling with what I assume is an eight-ball, I’d like to see what the next few episodes have in store.
Den of Geek Rating: 3.5 Out of 5 Stars