This Killjoys review contains spoilers.
Killjoys Season 3 Episode 7
“All girls are filled with magic”
Above all else, a leader must know herself, and while it’s unlikely Dutch read Shakespeare’s Hamlet, she instinctively understands that she must be true to herself before putting more lives in jeopardy. Tonight’s episode of Killjoys weaves the themes of loyalty and desperation across the fragile relationships that must be resolved if the Hullen are to be defeated. “The Wolf You Feed” drives home the reality that leaders often emerge through unexpected circumstances, and in one of the season’s most jarring episodes, Dutch’s already complicated life gets metaphysical as she learns truths she may wish remained hidden.
However, it’s Dutch and Zeph’s girls’ night out that arguably exposes the most significant reveal of the series and also the most difficult to understand. Still coming to grips with the life and death decisions the team faces on a daily basis, Zeph continues to solidify her role on the team. The fact that Dutch is willing to trust a relative newcomer speaks to her desperation in the war against Aneela and the internal struggles she continues to battle. Willing to have Zeph put “Hullenized shit” in her brain, Dutch risks her life to gain an edge against her lookalike, but is her true motivation simply to find out why she and the commander look identical?
Though present day Aneela remains absent throughout tonight’s episode, her presence dominates virtually every scene. Dutch intends to get inside her opponent’s head through the memories that Khlyen removed from Aneela, but her vision quest takes an unexpected turn as more is disclosed to her than anticipated. Writer Nikolijne Troubetzkoy skillfully parcels out details of their connected past, and Jordana Blake is absolutely delightful as both young Aneela and Yala. The tender scenes between Khlyen and his innocent girls reveal the complexity of the man who once forced young Yalena to carry out covert assassinations as a routine part of her training. But when Dutch observes Khlyen tell Aneela that “If she sees what you have done, she will come for you,” our thoughts immediately jump to the horrific. However, though Aneela and Dutch have blood on their hands, a case can be made that Khlyen victimized both young women leading them down their chosen paths. Or, is it something else entirely.
Though Dutch’s trip down memory lane begins innocently enough, it’s not long before she must question the reality of everything she encounters. She assumes Khlyen left these memories for her to find in the fight against Aneela, but that may or may not be true. When she witnesses young Annela and Khlyen prepare to leave a dying Qresh without the young girl’s mother, the wheels begin turning for her and for the audience.
Fast forwarding through Aneela’s past, we learn that an older Aneela has killed dozens of human test subjects trying to establish a bond with the green. It “perfects or kills,” she tells her father. And it’s here that we see the early stages of her descent into madness, but also recognize that it’s not entirely her fault. As a result of her isolation, Aneela’s self-reflection leads her to see something in herself that she perceives needs to be fixed even though her father disagrees with her assessment. Nothing he says can assuage her feelings of abandonment and rejection.
Khlyen imparts the story of the two wolves that becomes central to understanding this episode and forces Dutch and viewers to question everything we’re presented. Within the context of the story, the wolves represent the individual’s conflicting emotions and feelings that must be reconciled, and it doesn’t take much effort to connect the two women to the wolves in the story. We know the plasma allows for communication, so when she asks him if the green speaks to him, it’s somewhat surprising that he says it doesn’t. At the heart here are the conflicting messages he sends his daughter, and coupled with her extended periods of isolation with the plasma, it’s not a shock that she’s turned out the way she has.
Killjoys interview w/Michelle Lovretta on Sci Fi Fidelity (at 46:20):
Not only do we learn details crucial to understanding Dutch and Aneela, but it appears that as a result of his ultimatum to the nine families, Khlyen may be at the heart of the current human/Hullen war. He tells her their family line has been struck from the records, and reveals his plan to colonize The Quad. Not knowing which came first, it’s unclear whether his objectives represent retaliation or evolution. Having been left a prisoner in the tilted cube, Aneela secretly drains her own plasma into a tub and then submerges herself in it, though to what end we don’t know. With whom is she attempting a connection?
As if things aren’t confusing enough, the journey takes a profound turn toward the bizarre. “I know what Khlyen was hiding in those memories,” Dutch tells Zeph as she watches Aneela singing to and playing with young Yala. Dutch now becomes convinced that Aneela is her mother, but Zeph halts this line of reasoning telling her it’s not scientifically possible; Hullen can’t breed and need humans as hosts. Leave it to Zeph to crush a perfectly good theory that on the surface may have provided a way out of this mess. But lingering questions remain: why was Dutch with her as a child, and why do they look alike.
Is it possible that this entire conflict revolves around a mother and daughter acting out their individual issues with each other? Aneela tells little Dutch that she’d like Qresh and asks if she’d like to help her get out of here just before jumping to another memory; her harem as a child. The day she met Khlyen.
At this point we have to acknowledge that some of these memories may be somehow fabricated, but either way, what does Khlyen believe Dutch will be able to do once she’s worked her way through all of them? Aneela tells Khlyen that “I did something bad,” and informs him he’s Dutch’s father, a fact that doesn’t appear to be possible from a timeline perspective. We know that Zeph is helping Dutch skip around the memories, but whose memories are these? Seemingly, Dutch has transitioned into her own past and finds herself at the watershed moment of her adult life, standing over her murdered husband on her wedding night. Though signs already pointed in that direction, it now appears clear that Khlyen killed Yala’s groom leading her to flee, setting up her confrontation with Johnny Jaqobis. All of this notwithstanding, the fundamental question remains unanswered at this point. Why do Dutch and Aneela appear to be mirror images of the other?
The brain’s complexity has been well documented both in science fiction and in real life, so when it appears that Dutch’s exploration has taken an unexpected turn, it’s not at all unexpected. Confusing yes; surprising, not so much. Leaving Aneela’s memories behind, Dutch now finds herself trapped in her own. Some may argue that it’s quite a leap that when Johnny shows up to find Zeph, he immediately knows where Dutch is headed. That may be true, but this one simple scene beautifully uncovers the genesis of the connection that has bonded these two so tightly.
I’m not sure which is more significant, Johnny’s initial meeting with Lucy or that with Dutch. His interaction with the artificial intelligence controlling the ship he’s trying to steal from the princess is priceless and sets the tone for their relationship down the road. How fitting that Johnny finds Yalena Yardeen pointing a gun at him, both desperate to get off world as quickly as possible. Though we don’t know what he’s running from, the two make an instinctive decision to work together to escape. “I can tell you how it all ends,” present day Johnny tells Dutch still holding a gun on him in this reality as well.
There’s no question that some of what we’re presented in “The Wolf You Feed” is difficult to reconcile, not the least of which is the day Dutch met Khlyen in the harem. Aneela tells Khlyen she got into the green to relive their good memories, and though he acknowledges putting these memories into the green, he also contends she can’t take them out. While this still doesn’t adequately explain how it is that Dutch and Aneela look identical, it now points us toward some modicum of understanding. Aneela tells him she can remove memories, and we see her rise out of the green holding young Aneela. “She’s the me I should have been if we never went to Arkyn. She’s your good wolf, papa.”
So how do we now make sense of what we’ve just seen? Is Dutch a physical manifestation of Aneela’s other side, the good wolf? We know Khlyen imprisons his daughter in the tilted cube while he is presumably off working on his Level Six experiments at the RAC, while at the same time, he trains Yalena Yardeen at the behest of her father. He puts pleasant childhood memories into the green for Aneela, and while in the pool, she eventually pulls her younger self out of these memories and into her reality despite the fact that it should not be possible. To extend that line of reasoning, young Aneela and young Dutch are one and the same which would explain why the adults look alike, though there appears be an approximate ten year age difference at the time of extraction.
So what Aneela has actually done is to remove the memory of herself as a child to present this version of perfection to her father. All because she feels that she’s disappointed her father and lost his love and approval. When Khlyen sees what she has done, he takes the child version of his daughter and trains her under the guise that her parents asked him to educate and prepare her for life among the elite. It would seem then that Khlyen fabricated the Yalena Yardeen backstory to explain the sudden appearance of the young girl. What other explanation is there for why they look alike, and how else do we reconcile the childhood of Yalena Yardeen? In a sense, this scenario is similar to the time traveler suddenly finding him or herself in the same timeline as an earlier self.
While Dutch examines these hidden memories, D’avin gets the easy job and must only assume the leader’s role and keep the alliance from falling apart. The Ferren voice their displeasure because they pledged their allegiance to Dutch and feel misled while Turin undergoes a dramatic character transformation that, on the one hand, threatens their ability to take on the Commander, but on the other, opens the door for the elder Jaqobis to step in and assuage the mounting fears of those who see Dutch’s absence as an act of betrayal.
We watched Dutch battle her feelings of guilt over the deaths of those she vowed to lead, and now Johnny must face the same as the alliance puts the abandoned Hullen ships through a series of ill-fated flight tests. Thinking he has mastered control of the ships, Johnny watches in horror as the pilots lose control and eventually collide killing two of their group. There exists a thin line between confidence and hubris, and while Johnny may not have crossed it, he’s come dangerously close. The realization that if D’avin is the only one able to fly these ships, it’s going to be a short war, strikes home immediately. With 34 ships, 34 pilots will be needed, and it becomes painfully clear that all options must be considered.
Obviously, Turin and Fancy did not part on the best of terms, and now D’avin must play the diplomat and ask his friend to bring the cleansed RAC agents on board to step in as pilots in the fight against Aneela. All Fancy asks is that D’avin “have our backs” as he sets out to round up volunteers. As expected, Fancy encounters opposition, but when Turin begins rounding up cleansed agents for confinement and vetting, all hell is about to break loose. From a narrative standpoint, this decision makes sense, but Turin has witnessed too much to adopt this stand at this point in the conflict. Like everyone else, he knows their backs are to the wall, and to ignore the fact that these agents represent the only viable option becomes somewhat problematic.
It’s here that D’avin, once again, emerges as the reluctant hero stepping up because no one else will. He’s clearly capable, but it’s not in his nature to stand at the center, and that’s precisely why all factions pledge their allegiance to him after he releases the former Hullen agents and places the fallen from grace Turin under arrest. “If we turn on one another,” then all hope is lost he tells them perhaps not realizing how close the alliance has come to total disintegration. Nevertheless, Dutch’s return only complicates an already tangled situation, but fortunately she has the foresight and reflective nature to tell D’avin that it’s his army now. “I’m not the wolf you need.”
Like Dutch and Aneela, we too have reached a crossroads, and the groundwork has been laid for the inevitable confrontation of the divided self which has now extended into a real world battle between physical manifestations of the same individual. So has Aneela known all along that Dutch is her “good wolf” and chosen this path to figuratively and literally eliminate that side of her psyche? It certainly would seem so, but the larger question involves Dutch’s reaction to her time inside these memories.
Both women have their dark sides, and it’s fair to lay most of the blame for that on Khlyen who is no longer around to defend himself or pay for what he’s done. Is he lying when he tells Dutch he doesn’t know why they look alike? Kind of. Does he lie to spare Dutch the truth? Maybe, but he must know that the truth is out there, and that Dutch will eventually learn it. Or has he merely parsed words since he knows what Aneela has done but doesn’t understand how she did it. That said, did Khlyen simply make a child rearing mistake and then do his best to clean up the mess made by his daughter?
It may be too late for any kind of reconciliation, and while we recognize that Aneela is, to a large degree, responsible for Dutch’s life, we also acknowledge that the act originated out of feelings of desperation and abandonment. Can Dutch reconcile this past and forgive her, and perhaps more importantly, can Aneela accept that forgiveness? It may simply be too great a hill to climb for both.
At least within the context of the world of Killjoys, Sir Walter Scott was spot on when he wrote, “Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practise to deceive.” So where do we go from here? It seems unlikely that either side will attempt to broker some sort of detente as tensions continue to escalate, but whether Dutch knows the truth about her origin story remains unclear. Can the Hullen and the human race peacefully coexist, or does it have to be all or nothing?
“The Wolf You Feed” inevitably takes us back to Khlyen’s story of the two wolves and the possibility that he simply attempted to make the best of a bad situation. That things spiraled out of control clearly rests with him, but Aneela’s role in the coming holocaust can’t be denied leaving Dutch the ultimate victim here. So on we move toward the end of season three, and Michelle Lovretta’s Killjoys writing team continues to buck the trend of flash-above-substance that so many genre shows seem to follow as they age. How the characters respond to the challenges placed before them remains the heart of the show, and few do it better than Killjoys.
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