This Killjoys review contains spoilers.
So far, Killjoys is at its best when it is focusing on the dynamic between its three main protagonists and/or building its science fiction universe in subtle, believable, and compelling ways. Season 1, Episode 7 (“Kiss Kiss, Bye Bye”) did both, completely delivering on its promise of wonky space adventures with optimal quip-age, while still making us feel for these characters in unexpected, conflicted, and high-stakes ways. Well done, show.
Though “Kiss Kiss, Bye Bye” had its fair share of fun — those Utopia outfits, anyone? — it was definitely not all fun and games. In fact, the episode’s central twist — D’avin’s activation as a sleeper soldier programmed to kill his comrades — was so, so tough to watch. Though D’avin has only just become a part of this crew, Dutch and brother Johnny are obviously incredibly important to him. By first beating up Dutch and then stabbing and almost killing his brother, D’avin was no doubt acting out his worst nightmare. Again.
Killjoys has done a great job of slowly, yet consistently solving the mystery of D’avin’s missing memories. We finally got to meet the doctor who experimented on and then wiped D’avin’s memories and, predictably enough, she’s a real piece of work. Her scariness doesn’t lie in some malevolent, all-consumingly evil plan, however. It lies in her matter-of-fact attitude about the failed experiment that cost D’avin’s squad their lives and D’avin his sanity. She shows no remorse about the lives she has ruined. Instead, she’s annoyed that The Company didn’t let her continue her experiment. Not cool.
D’avin’s activation wasn’t the only drama going down in this episode. It was preceded by a change in his relationship with Dutch when the two sleep together. It’s treated as semi-casual and fun for the two soldiers who fall into bed after bonding over their sins. It’s an easy connection in many ways and one John fears will soon turn to bitterness, ruining the family these three have found together and forcing him to choose between his brother and his best friend. Interestingly enough, he makes it clear to his bartender friend that he would choose Dutch. John and D’avin may be blood, but Dutch needs him.
John doesn’t have to wait very long for the turn.
D’avin’s activation and attack on Dutch might not have been his fault, but Dutch can’t forget about it — though, to be clear, she’s not upset about D’avin’s actions, but her own. “Tell me that you know that wasn’t really me?” D’avin asks her. “But it was me. I can’t be okay with that.” This is confusing. Sure, Dutch had to pull out all of the stops to physically take D’avin down, but it was necessary — kill or be killed. Does this have something to do with seeing Johnny laid up in that hospital bed after having almost died? Is she afraid of how she could hurt D’avin emotionally? We’ll have to wait to see how she elaborates — after all, as D’avin’s established, Dutch is a communicative badass.
All I know is that the melodrama in this episode was top-notch. As was that Dutch/D’avin fight scene. It was reminiscent of Mr. and Mrs. Smith, but with none of the lighthearted sexiness. Dutch was obviously scared for her life — though not, probably, as scared as she was for D’avin’s life. After all, she is a survivor.
Elsewhere in the episode, we learned some tantalizing tidbits about both Dutch and Pawter’s characters. Dutch admits to D’avin that she was a princess, but only through marriage — she is a widow. The plot thickens! Who was she married to? Did she love him (or her)? And does this have anything to do with why she is pushing D’avin away?
In a total Shepard Book moment, Pawter reveals that she has connections in very high places. When she finds Johnny bleeding out on the floor of Lucy, she gets a med ship to respond to the emergency by stating her full name and promising vengeance if they do not. Though Pawter has claimed royal connections before, she has never demonstrated them — not even when she was arrested in last week’s episode. Killjoys is building Pawter’s character up in subtle and intriguing ways — not only through the unfolding of her mysterious past and family connections, but in her relationships with the Lucy crew.
Though her tryst with D’avin seems to be finished, the two are honest about the messiness of it all. And, after Pawter saves Johnny’s life, Dutch gives Pawter a hug and a thank you for her trouble. I would love to see more exploration of the Dutch/Pawter dynamic. Could these two have known each other in a past, royal life?
Though this week’s episode did little to find Dutch’s evil ex-mentor Khlyen, it more than made up for it with the deepening and testing of the relationships between Dutch, D’avin, and John (I’m still crying about the earnestness with which John told soldier D’avin a story from their childhood, only to get stabbed in the gut — both literally and emotionally — moments later).
Other highlights included the answers to some big questions about Pawter, Dutch, and D’avin’s mysterious pasts and the escalating stakes of an episode that included a club/market scene straight out of Farscape. Never change, Killjoys, because, right now, you’re filling a serious science fiction/adventure void in the TV market.