Killjoys: Season 1 Finale Review: Escape Velocity

Killjoys caps a strong first season with a rushed, yet rewarding season finale.

Everything came together in the season finale of Killjoys, making for an exciting if rushed final episode to a strong inaugural season. It would have been nice to see what Killjoys could have done with a two-part season finale. There was a bit too much plot to get through here to really let the characters breathe and react to what was going on — and that is where Killjoys is usually at its best. Sure, the insane action is always a delightful inclusion, but how the three main protagonists relate to one another and why any of this intrigue matters in an socio-economically unjust solar system? That is the true heart of this show.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. In a great interview with Variety, Killjoys showrunner (and writer of tonight’s episode) Michelle Lovretta said: “I’m considering this first season the equivalent of the tease of an episode,” and that was very clear in this season-capper. The political mysteries woven throughout the season came to a head in Season 1, Episode 10 (“Escape Velocity”), revealing themselves not only to us, but to Dutch, John, and D’avin, and setting this show up for what will hopefully be a sophomore season.

The big news? The Nine are the worst. Yeah, we already knew that, but following a coup carried out by Dutch’s frenemy Delle Seyah Kendry, The Nine order Old Town to be destroyed (a la Sugar Point). Delle Seyah used the genetic bomb first seen in “One Blood” to take out a competing family. By blaming the attack on the monks of Westerley, she is able to convince the others that retaliation against Westerley is necessary.

It’s cool to see how many plot points from earlier in the season were woven together, but again, it was tough to see it all play out so quickly. Earlier in the season, the story of Delle Seyah’s coup would have taken up an entire episode. Here, it is delegated to a mere act. Consequently, the true horror of the genetic bomb is glossed right over, as is any chance we have to learn about Pawter’s royal family.

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There has been a lot of embracing of the shorter TV season, but for a show as old-school as Killjoys in its mythology and/or warrant-of-the-week formula, this first season could have used a few more episodes to truly tell its tale. It is also worth noting that, as Lovretta mentions in that same Variety interview, she is used to telling a TV season story in 13 episodes. This episode feels like it could have been broken out over a few more and only improved upon for it. I’m calling a moratorium on the fad of talking about how much better TV is when it is done in fewer installments. If you want a shorter story, go to the movies. Serialized TV needs time to develop, especially when building an entire world like Killjoys is.

That’s not to say there wasn’t some great stuff in this episode. Because Killjoys spent so much time developing these plot lines, everything here is very rewarding, even without more time to truly explore the reveals. Seemingly every scene in tonight’s episode was a callback to something that had come before. When John steps up to give the ill rat lady a blood blessing, we remember his discussions about religion and hope with Alvis just a few episodes prior. When Pawter chooses to stay with the people of Old Town, we remember all of the times she has chosen to help before, and how far our understanding of this character has come. Seemingly every minor character who has popped up over the course of the season was in tonight’s episode. Sure, it was a bit much, but it also managed to create a sense of nostalgia and familiarity for a show that has only been on for 10 episodes.

Where the Killjoys season finale truly struggled was in its attempts to balance The Quad’s political storyline with questions about Khlyen. While the two are obviously intertwined, not enough was done here to sell that connection. It might have been more helpful to mostly wrap the Khlyen stuff up in last week’s penultimate episode with a brief appearance from Dutch’s mentor in the final moments, in order to reveal what he has done to D’avin.

And can we talk about the mess D’avin is in? Not only is he stuck on the supposedly uninhabitable Arkyn, but he is some kind of prisoner/patient within Red 17, aka the killjoys’ Level 6 program. Will D’avin be programmed to become some kind of super soldier — again? Will Dutch and John find him in time? Let’s just hope we have a second season to answer these questions because, even with a slightly disappointing season finale, Killjoys remains one of the most delightful additions to our summer TV schedule. We’ve spent relatively little time in this new fictional universe, but it already feels familiar.

With so much of pop culture — especially genre pop culture — a remake, reboot, or reimagining, it’s hard not to cheer for something as fresh, quirky, and downright fun as Killjoys. I opened this season of reviewing by lamenting how Killjoys was trying a lot of what Firefly or Farscape did, but with none of the heart or memorable characters. This quickly changed and, after only 10 episodes, Killjoys has managed to set itself apart from what has come before, while still reminding us of those sci-fi classics in the best possible ways. 

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3.5 out of 5