Dominion: Heirs of Salvation Review

Syfy’s underrated angels-of-the-apocalypse series, Dominion, returns with a vengeance for its sophomore season.

First things first: tonight’s season two premiere was fantastic, delivering unto its faithful viewers an hour of action, suspense, drama, and a surprising (yet strangely satisfying) level of violence. Considering Dominion was on the brink of cancelation at the end of its first season, leaving viewers with both literal and figurative cliffhangers, it’s rewarding to see it get off to such a strong start.

Spoilers ahead for my review of tonight’s episode, “Heirs of Salvation.”

The last time we saw Alex Lannon, the Chosen One was ascending to the archangel Gabriel’s mountainside aerie in a true act of heroic self-sacrifice. We quickly learn that a few months have passed since then, and that Alex has made a deal with the devil—or in this case, an archangel. If Alex can interpret his mysterious tattoos, Michael will spare Vega—and thereby spare Claire, who is pregnant with the Chosen One’s child. But this deal is complicated by Alex’s inability to decipher the markings. Certainly, goading an archangel with “Daddy issues,” as Alex puts it, doesn’t help matters. That Vega hits the aerie with a missile strike also complicates things—for Alex, who is caught in the blast, but for Claire, too. But more on her in a moment.

While Claire is trying to protect her city, Michael, who is in a self-imposed exile, encounters another Lady of the City, as it were, in this case, Laurel, who watches over the God-fearing town of Mallory, Alabama.

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As we learned in season one, while Gabriel is rather mercurial, it’s Michael, Alex’s would-be protector and mentor, who’s the real danger to mankind. While he was always viewed as a “good” angel, he’s as untrustworthy as they come, a holy terror who’d just as easily raze humanity as he might save it. But there’s something different about the small town of Mallory, which has managed to protect itself with little more than some rifles and an abundance of faith. In a world abandoned by God, such piety is in short supply. Indeed, Mallory’s faith in the power of singing, service, and sacrifice to keep evil at bay draws Michael in where otherwise he might level the town. The town’s church is not just a roof and four walls—it’s a place of worship. As such, the church affords Michael an unexpected chance not only to genuflect, but possibly commune with his errant Father.

But as fate would have it—or is it His divine will?—a storm moves in, putting out the town’s protective fire. Before long, Mallory is overrun by eight-balls (this show’s sly equivalent of zombies). This invasion allows Michael to show his true nature as he brings his supernatural sword-wielding prowess to bear on the attacking horde of lower angels. This also affords the show a chance to deliver a lot of bloodshed and even some rain-soaked decapitations. Yes, the first season had its share of violent moments, but the stakes seem to be upped considerably in season two’s first hour. This is not a complaint; I’m merely suggesting that Dominion means business. It’s nice to see that Laurel is nobody’s fool—she’s wise to Michael. He’s not some stranger who randomly wandered into their protected little corner of the world.

Which brings us back to Claire, Vega’s Lady of the City. But we can’t talk about her without also talking about David Whele (the glorious Anthony Head), the man who is truly running the city. Whele says it himself—his is a necessary evil—which means he is not so easily shunted aside. Claire may possess the desire and wherewithal to lead Vega, but she’s no David Whele—at least, not yet. She may never be as cruel or ruthless as her father-in-law, but she has no intention of being bullied, either. She has a city to protect, even if it means (unwittingly) sacrificing Alex in the process. This episode would lead one to believe Claire’s days are numbered, but I’m fairly certain she won’t be going anywhere anytime soon—but don’t quote me on that.

David Whele isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, either. He’s not exactly evil incarnate, but he’s a definite runner-up. He’s grappling with his own problems, his own demons—namely, his cowardice in not saving his family not just once (to an eight-ball attack), but twice, (when he abandoned the treasonous William in the desert). Anthony Head is a marvel in this role, exuding danger and malice with every careful syllable. One has to respect Claire for taking on such a dangerous, well-connected adversary. She is tenacious, to say the least.

Alex is tenacious, too, in his own way. The aerie’s bombing has emboldened him to seek answers elsewhere, with Noma at his side. But on the way to New Delphi, Alex reveals he can perform evictions (or exorcisms, if you will), a useful skill in a world full of the possessed. But these evictions kill the human hosts in the process. Or do they? As we quickly find out, Pete survives the lower angel’s eviction. What this means for Alex, and his growing powers, remains to be seen.

Overall, “Heirs” is a strong start to what looks like a very promising season. The best part is that the series—and likewise its returning cast—seem very comfortable in their own skin. Dominion so far deserves its second chance—hopefully the show won’t squander it.

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Some closing thoughts:

Vega’s hotels are like a kind of post-apocalyptic currency—but did the name-dropping strike anyone else as thinly veiled product placement?

Tonight’s exposition was handled well, considering how much mythology had to be conveyed in a way that brings new viewers up to speed without alienating fans who already have Dominion‘s complex world-building down cold.

I don’t trust Pete! I think Alex is being played—by whom, though, I don’t know. But Pete’s hamburger story simply doesn’t ring true for me.

New Delphi is bad, bad news. That the eight-balls seem to have a leader is even worse news.

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4.5 out of 5