This article contains spoilers for the latest episode of Dominion.
Last week’s episode may have been more focused, the writing tighter, Gabriel more intense than we’ve ever seen him before, but tonight’s episode truly shook things up across the board.
Gates Foley is dead, long live Gates Foley. In my review of last week’s excellent “The Seed of Evil,” I praised Dominion‘s creators for keeping Vega’s city engineer in the picture. Tonight, however, we said goodbye to Gates just as things were getting really interesting. What looked to be a contest of wills between two men vying to be Vega’s alpha male suddenly turned into a story of surrender and sacrifice in a scene that was reminiscent of Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan. But unlike Spock, we won’t be seeing Mr. Foley again, which is a shame, because he was good for Vega and he was good for Claire.
On a more meta level, Gates’s continued presence was good for Dominion, too. While I personally think love triangles are a lazy way to generate conflict, I did enjoy seeing Alex and Gates’s war of words take a literal turn as the two exchanged blows. At the end of the day, no matter what either man believed or wanted, it was obvious Claire’s heart belonged to Gates. Which is what made Alex bearing witness to Gates’s last words and wishes all the more powerful for how Claire’s former chosen one was now just the Chosen One. That Gates knew the truth about Alex’s higher purpose made his sacrifice all the more meaningful and poignant. One could argue he was acting in the interest of the greater good, but in reality the one person he was intent on saving was not mankind’s would-be messiah, but his heart’s savior.
To me, the real capper, though, was Claire’s gratitude for Alex being with Gates in his final moments. That she thanked Alex for returning to Vega says a lot about her growth as a character in this show. Claire is incredibly complicated, vacillating between mercy and murder, heartbreak and hope. Her abolishing Vega’s class system is a further testament to the strength of her convictions to rescue the city from itself.
Of course, there was more to tonight’s episode than broken hearts. We were presented with characters adjusting to their newfound duality — the general as a dyad, Gabriel with his wrath. Together, they represent the inner struggle of warring halves, of battling demons within and without. While it would appear Gabriel is quite comfortable with the darkness coursing through him, Edward is clinging desperately to his human half. At first it seems to be an equitable arrangement for the general, who now possesses the strength of a 20-year-old. In the end, it’s a losing battle for the general, who loses Clementine for the second (though perhaps not the last) time. Edward Riesen is dead, long live Duma the lower angel.
As for the House of Whele, it continues to be a house divided, with David and William still at odds. No amount of atonement will mend what a father’s cruel betrayal rent asunder in season one. David says it himself — he didn’t just abandon William once, but twice. That’s two times too many, but the elder Whele simply doesn’t see it that way. To him, his teary-eyed remorse should be proof that he has learned the error of his ways. One could argue that David is playing William, but I don’t think so. He was tormented by regret, and finding William was an unexpected redemption made manifest. Even then, by episode’s end, David not only loses his son, but loses his freedom as well.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Michael facing off with the Prophet. Mallory’s mysterious savior may not be evil incarnate, but he’s no stranger to sin. He’s accountable to a more powerful authority, one who believes in kept promises and paid debts. And Michael has yet to make good on his debt — namely dying for Mallory’s sins. So the fate of an entire town comes down to a game of cards — Texas Hold ’Em, to be exact. The important takeaway here is not Michael’s glimmer of faith in winning a game of chance, but that we will likely see Lucifer himself before the season draws to a close.
SOME CLOSING THOUGHTS:
I don’t mean to make light of Gates’s death, but he and Alex did get a few good digs in at each other, including “Mini Rambo” and “Precious Cargo.” Funny as these barbs were, they demonstrated an interesting shorthand for two people whose egos were more fragile than they’d ever care to let on. And now, even with Gates gone, there is no guarantee that Alex and Claire will ever be together again. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing — is it?
Which brings us to Noma. The higher angels are always the most compelling when they are shown at their weakest. Kim Engelbrecht is always great, and tonight she really brought out Noma’s humanity in a way that made me wish I could have someone like her in my corner.
There were some great lines in this episode, including the Prophet imparting to Michael, “These are Old Testament times again.” Indeed they are, especially when one considers that Gabriel has essentially visited God’s wrath upon Vega.
Dominion airs on SyFy on Thursdays at 10:00 p.m. ET/9:00 p.m. CT.