Is it just me or does Killjoys get better with every episode? Season 1, Episode 4 (“Vessel”) takes on a premise that could be awkward or cliche — our group of space bounty hunters is contracted to rescue and deliver to Qresh a teenage surrogate mother carrying the last member of one of the nine ruling families — and gives it both emotional weight and a sense of immense fun.
Where Killjoys got this storyline right is in giving its gaggle of teenaged surrogates a chance to develop behind the cliche of giggling, D’avin-crazy girls. Sure, some of them are sometimes those things (and that’s OK), but they are more than that, too. Constance, the one who successfully conceived this cycle, and Jenny, who has the mind of an engineer, understand their roles in a larger, unfair system. They are “daughters of farmers on Leith who didn’t need anymore daughters.” But their limited options don’t make them any less committed to their mission, and the promise they have made to see this baby to Qreshi soil doesn’t blind them to the ways in which they are being used because they have relatively little power within The Quad. Constance tells Dutch: “I need to see it through. That’s not faith, that’s fact,” and a mutual respect is formed between these women.
When Constance is threatening, the girls show immense bravery and competence. They may be teenage girls, but that doesn’t make them any less power. And Killjoys gives the girls characters to interact with who aren’t afraid of that power. Dutch, who was raised in a “royal harem” similar to the lifestyle of the surrogates, sees herself in the girls. It seems to be a painful reminder of what she has escaped. Then there are John and D’avin, who obviously have no issues following a powerful woman, given that Dutch is their boss.
In one of the most powerful sequences of the episode, the girls sacrifice their own safety and (in some cases) lives to protect one another. In a move reminiscent of Mad Max: Fury Road, Constance uses her pregnant body to shield the others from harm, knowing that the men sent to capture her will not dare hurt the child she is carrying. Soon after, Jenny basically suicide-bombs the attackers in order to give her friends a chance to escape. It is pretty heavy, emotional stuff that, given the nature of this show, the viewer doesn’t have much time to dwell on — but it is powerful nonetheless. This show rocks.
The girls aren’t the only heroes in this episode. We also get to see Dutch demonstrate that she is not only an action hero, but has a sharp political mind. (Or, as Dutch puts it: “Court politics are a bitch. So am I.”) We viewers aren’t the only ones to notice. Delle Seyah Kendry, one of The Nine, comments on the signs that Dutch is more than she seems. She is well read in the art of political philosophy and has an instrument hanging on her wall that is traditionally only seen in the wealthiest of homes. Delle orders her people to find out everything about Dutch that she can. Maybe she’ll share that dossier? I am dying to know more about Dutch’s mysterious past. Though D’avin assures Dutch at the end of the episode that, whatever her upbringing entailed, she “came out the other side clean,” I have a feeling it’s more complicated than that. We’ve seen Child Dutch kill and Adult Dutch torture. Though she is the hero of our story and she seems intent on living a moral life, traditionally, these kinds of TV backstories are hard to shake.