Dominion: Reap the Whirlwind Review

Dominion has created an interesting sandbox for its characters to play in, but is that enough to sustain this supernatural drama?

I like Dominion, I really do. And I truly wanted to like tonight’s episode, “Reap the Whirlwind,” but ultimately I didn’t. That’s not to say that this wasn’t an important episode, because just the opposite is true. I just think this show needs to remain true to its many characters and their various motivations. That being said, spoilers ahead. 

I like Claire Riesen. She’s driven, she’s complicated, and she possesses a great deal of agency. She also benefits from a sense of empowerment that drives her forward, making decisions that will save her city and protect those closest to her. Roxanne McKee does a great job as Claire, imbuing her performance with equal parts impatience, frustration, and quiet longing. We’re meant to like Claire, even if she’s obviously moved on from Alex. The bigger issue here is not her burgeoning romance with Gates, but how she will deal not only with a divided city, but the rise of the rebellion’s leader, Zoe. 

So let’s talk about Zoe for a moment. It wasn’t until tonight’s episode that I realized how much she reminds me of Jennifer Lawrence’s Katniss—specifically in the movie Mockingjay. Like Zoe, Katniss finds herself being used as a kind of prop in the Districts’ uprising against the Capitol. She’s not truly effective until she goes off-script and begins speaking from the heart. Once she does that, she becomes an unstoppable force of nature. What makes Katniss’s transformation so convincing is that it takes time, and comes at a great emotional and spiritual price. In Zoe’s case, however, this change of heart feels disingenuous and rushed. Yes, Zoe has been in several episodes now, but her character is woefully underdeveloped. If you want viewers to care about her, we need to know and understand her better. This is not a complaint, merely an observation.

And while I can appreciate how she, too, decided to ignore David Whele’s notes and speak from the heart, her speech lasted all of fifteen seconds. It’s hard to see how such a brief broadcast could win over the hopeless and disenfranchised, or cause Claire such consternation. I bring this up because it’s this same looping broadcast, heard on both sides of the city, that causes Gates to risk his life as he makes his way to an underground relay station. This leads me to another quibble, which is Claire’s own speech. Yes, we’re meant to root for her, but not only did her rallying cry leave me unmoved, we’re told, not shown, that the city were moved to applause by her words. Considering that David Whele’s deadly act of terrorism led to civil unrest, we need to see more of Vega’s citizens. 

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Lastly, we should consider Noma’s sacrifice in tonight’s episode. Noma is an eminently likable character. She’s tough and practical, and yet her heart burns bright with myriad passions that include one Alex Lannon. We already know these two characters have a lot of chemistry together. We also understand that they’ve been comrades in arms, and so have forged a kind of loyalty that he and Claire could never have. I suppose you could say Alex and Noma are fighting on the side of angels, as it were. 

So it was really no surprise that Noma would willingly lose her wings to save not only the Chosen One, but his all-important markings, too. In my opinion, Noma’s sacrifice to save Alex was a more powerful, genuine act than Michael taking on the town of Mallory’s sins for a human he barely knew (especially since there seemed to be no lasting ill effects from this act). I want Noma to stick around. Alex needs her, and we as viewers need a dynamic character like her to keep us riveted. It certainly helps that Kim Engelbrecht is so good in such a physically and emotionally challenging role. Noma has been one of my favorites since season one, and I’d like to think she’ll survive to the end of season two.

As I said before, tonight was an important episode, because we learn that Alex may be powerful, but he still has a lot to learn when it comes to the scope of his abilities to evict lower angels. Though, to be fair, a dyad is a bit different from a run-of-the-mill eight-ball. What’s also important about this attempted eviction is that Alex has finally played his hand with Julian. If not for that, Alex would have never learned about Julian’s true plan—invading Vega to harvest more bodies to create more eight-balls. 

We also learn of Arika’s duplicity. We knew from last season that this citizen of Helena is not to be trusted, but it’s nice to be reminded of her self-serving nature—second only to that of David Whele. 

Some closing thoughts:

Julian had a great line tonight: “What use is morality when there’s no piper to be paid?” Given the nature of the godless world they all inhabit, it’s hard to refute such a statement. 

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A healing poultice can be made from the ashes an angel’s wing feathers? That’s a pretty nifty trick, but I wonder if this only works for angels. If it worked on everybody, you’d have to imagine there’d be some major angel wing poaching. 

I like Pete better as an eight-ball. There, I said it.


3 out of 5