Out of all the shows I watch, Killjoys is the most amazingly, thrillingly, consistently bonkers. Every episode is like watching someone get shot out of a cannon. It should be impossible to sustain the level of storytelling force it throws around every week, and yet it always holds together, moment by moment, until, somehow, finding a safe place to land.
Note: this episode and review in particular contain huge spoilers for the series plot. If you’re reading reviews to decide whether or not to start watching the show, you may want to skip this one.
Killjoys is about a woman named Dutch:
Dutch has issues. Over the past few seasons, she’s had to come to terms with the existence of the Hullen (pod people who are controlled by green goo secreted by space bugs), her crazy-eyed Hullen doppelganger, the not-unwelcome death of her father, secret government facilities that experiment on children and Killjoys alike, and becoming the leader of a resistance movement that barely knows what it’s doing. She needs answers, and bio-nerd Zeph, aka Felicity Smoak done right, has found a neurotech USB drive of memories that could help. Dutch decides it’s time to insert tab A into slot B.
Up until this episode, I’d assumed that after Aneela’s instabilities became clear, Khlyen cloned her and created Dutch to start over. In some ways, that turned out to be true, as Khlyen immediately seized the opportunity to raise Dutch the way he didn’t raise Aneela. The twist is, it wasn’t his idea. Aneela, fed up with being locked in solitary rehab, taught herself how to pull physical objects out of her memories — including her younger self.
This is one of the ways Killjoys makes so much out of committing to being bonkers. We’ve already seen Aneela’s sweet side with Delle Sayeh (although, to be fair, who wouldn’t go lesbian for Delle Sayeh?). We know she’s not naturally a killer; her mind has been warped through repeated torture. But usually the backstory for a character like this is something like “was always a little off, then overreacted to some mildly problematic but ultimately understandable situation.” Killjoys subverts this trope. Aneela’s instability is, ultimately, a reflection of Khlyen’s: the more he quietly and politely does terrible things to her, the more she falls apart. Hannah John-Kamen sells this transition with a surprising amount of nuance. Dutch isn’t the most subtle character, so it’s nice to see John-Kamen sink her teeth into this.
This episode also delivers the goods on why the Hullen have put so much effort into keeping Aneela focused on research. Pulling people out of the Green is several levels above what any other Hullen is capable of. If I were leading the Hullen, I’d sacrifice a ship to be her R&D department too.
Also in this episode, D’avin:
Or as I like to call him, Space Captain Canada.
Today in space captaining, D’avin has to stop a war crime. Specifically, a la the US in WWII, Turin has decided to round up and intern the Cleansed on the off chance that they’re all secret traitors. He does this by (accurately) assessing D’avin’s intelligence at somewhere below “will notice if he is being used to track political enemies to their base.” Unfortunately, Turin underestimates D’avin’s commitment to truth, justice, and the space Canadian way, and is predictably arrested.
In any non-2017 year, this would be a relatively boilerplate “we are the good guys, we do not war crime” episode. But given the past couple of weeks, D’avin’s speeches on loyalty and trust hit hard. It was actually touching to watch him affirm the unity of the Resistance with clear moral leadership, and to watch the rest of his troops — whose divisions we’ve seen drawn starkly — recognize that leadership and rally around it. No one embodies this better than Fancy Li, who was established as a villain in the first few episodes of the series, but has been gradually redeemed as a complex and independent character. A worse show, or one trying harder to be “prestige,” would trap him in his past by keeping D’avin suspicious of him. But Killjoys smartly realizes that the episode where Dutch fully confronts the weirdness of her past also needs to assure the audience that weird pasts aren’t a problem. It’s this sense of togetherness that keeps the show grounded enough to pull off its many absurdities.
Questions for the next episode:
– Who is this mysterious Lady who might come for Aneela? Why is Khlyen so scared of her? And why does Aneela refer to the Green as “she”?
– So Dutch is…a memory? Then why doesn’t she remember Aneela’s childhood with Khlyen?
– I’m glad that D’avin got recognition for his leadership skills, but is the party really dividing again? Killjoys is way more fun when the crew sticks together.
– “I Zephed all over his Jaqobis. I Zephed it hard.”
– “Does he know how to pilot a hive of bees?” “He does not.”
– “Dutch is still missing, the sky is falling, and you have to be charming, so…we’re probably all gonna die.”
– Oh, Johnny Jaqobis, you beautiful idiot: Let’s all pull a Lucy and give thanks that Johnny wasn’t enough of an idiot to go after an unstable Dutch without wearing a bulletproof vest.
– Zeph’s video message to Johnny was clearly inspired by those introductory videos for escape-the-room puzzle sessions. I half expected her to say that a bell would chime every twenty minutes.
– So, Aneela literally spent years lying in her own green cerebrospinal fluid? Suddenly her character makes way more sense.
– “Are you the one who decided to huff Aneela brains for breakfast?”