Lend me your ears, Killjoys fans. This week’s episode of our new favorite space drama (sorry, Dark Matter) was everything we could possible want from summer TV fare: fun, clever, and taking on a familiar set-up with some slightly unpredictable twists and just the right amount of world-building.
In “The Harvest,” our bounty hunters do John’s “sexer” friend a favor by taking on the warrant for her missing husband. If he doesn’t return to Westerley within two days, then his work visa will expire and she will have to take on his punishment: ten years hard labor. Yeah, The Quad kind of sucks.
“The Harvest” is really about the partnership between Dutch and John. These two have been working together, presumably just the two of them, for six years. Before D’avin came along, they were the only constants in each other’s lives — or at least the most important constants. And, seeing them work together to figure out what is happening to the missing harvesters on Leith, it’s easy to understand why. John’s goofiness, earnestness, and solid communication skills bring out Dutch’s softer side, one that she might have thought was missing following her brutal upbringing. It is certainly missing from the scene in which she tortures the man her former mentor sent her to kill.
Dutch has a dark side and John keeps that dark side from taking over. In their final scene together, she calls John “irreplaceable.” More than for his piloting skills or his willingness to cut off his ear to solve a case, John’s irreplaceability comes in the fact that he is Dutch’s family — a family that doesn’t demand she kill to stay part of it. From what we’ve seen so far, she’s never had that before.
And what of the rest of John’s family? Well, D’avin spent this episode trying to charm a seal of mental health approval from new character doctor Pawter. But Pawter wasn’t born yesterday, and she can clearly see that D’avin has “stress response syndrome” from his time as a soldier. Stress response syndrome does not seem like something you should have as a killjoy, but Pawter eventually passes him anyway. She urges D’avin to get help for his condition, something it seems she might provide, so it seems like we haven’t seen the last of this character. Like D’avin and Dutch, Pawter has a mysterious past. She was banished from her home planet of Qresh and now spends her time as one of the only doctors in Old Town, Westerley. At this point, it seems like John is the only character not hiding gruesome secrets.
Killjoys continues to build up its world in some fascinating, subtle ways. Science fiction has historically embraced the theme of class politics, and it’s refreshing to see this show engaging in that tradition. This week, we learn more about the world of Leith. Much of the middle class who settled here has connections to the high-class planet of Qresh, but nowhere near the same wealth or power. Still, they’re doing better that the Westerlians who they hire on to work their fields in dismal conditions. The harvesters are little better than indentured servants, and many of them take on the job as a potential pathway to defection from Westerley. Most of them are unsuccessful in their bids.
Killjoys did something clever in making Westerley the central world within the narrative. Though it may be the least desirable of the planets/moons of The Quad, it is a home of sorts for our protagonists. This is where the misfits, the desperate, the socially weak go — and there is something powerful (not to mention culturally-relevant) in rooting for the underdog.