Killjoys S2: Messed Up Father Figures, Brainwashed Soldiers, and the Struggle for Independence

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Image: Syfy

Synopsis: Dutch and John are trying to put their team back together, rescuing D’avin from the clutches of a mysterious experiment. Meanwhile, Dutch’s old mentor–the man who trained her as an assassin–is making things complicated, acting on some mysterious agenda. The stakes are high, with Dutch’s past coming for her, and their friends becoming embroiled in the surrounding politics. The team is only just getting past one major personal hurdle thrown between them. And yet, conflicting priorities rise to threaten their partnership–and their friendship.

Series: Second season is over. Third will air in 2017.

I’ve Watched: All of both seasons (10 eps each).

Verdict: I really, really enjoyed this season. 

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This is the kind of show I love to watch. Something character-driven, something that builds on everything it’s established previously. And these characters. They’re charismatic, innovative, and resilient. The challenges placed before them tests who they are.

Killjoys isn’t perfect, but the things it does well, it does very well. Namely, the character journeys, which are a huge highpoint. And like I mentioned in my review of season one, the plot doesn’t stop moving forward and the status quo keeps evolving.

Dutch is amazingly complicated. She’s the most competent character on the show, but far from standing alone, she has a strong network of friends to prop her up. They provide emotional support and backup without ever undermining her independence and authority. That doesn’t happen often enough, it really doesn’t.

Moreover, her tragic past is practically the backbone of the series. She has a history of being controlled by and then fighting to break free from the messed-up father figure (Khlyen) who trained her as an assassin. Confronting him pushes every aspect of the person she’s built herself up as to the forefront–the leader of a team, a caring friend, someone who refuses to be controlled. Khlyen will use anything he can in the pursuit of what he wants. But Dutch isn’t a brainwashed little girl. She’s someone who knows who she is and who she wants to be. It isn’t so easy for Khlyen to get her to do what he wants, not even if he tries to go through her friends. Still, this is a hard position for Dutch–she won’t be manipulated into isolating herself from her friends, she won’t abandon them, but she also can’t stop being afraid for them.

And for much of the season, we don’t even know what Khlyen’s goals are. Does he have some lofty political plan? Is it a take-over-the-world kind of thing? Then there’s his relationship with Dutch. He acts like he cares about her, and it’s really hard for me to imagine that he doesn’t. Sure, he’s terrible at it. Control is a awful, unhealthy way of caring about anyone. But the emotions appear to be there. Dutch notices his protectiveness too, but she assumes it’s because he needs her for something. So which is it? Or is it a mix of both? And even if Khlyen has come to think of himself as a (terrible) paternal figure of some sort, he still raised her for a purpose when she was a child. What was he after back then?

Many of the questions the show spends its time on are personal to our protagonists, and loaded with complexity for how they affect our characters. That makes for a compelling adventure, especially when the show then answers those questions and moves on to new ones. The consequences of what’s happened before are constantly built upon. And there are some serious consequences to come out of this season.

Spoilers

After all, this season was kind of a bloodfest. The main trio lived, but a lot of secondary or major characters didn’t. Pawter, Sabine, Khlyen, Delle Seyah. What’s even more impressive is how well done each of these deaths were, because none of them were only there for shock value. They were a culmination of who each of the characters were.

Sabine made a strong impression for the amount of time she spent on the show. The first moment we’re made to think she’s dead would have been a bad time for her to go–another fridged female character, dying to give a guy an emotional reaction. But she survived to give us a much stronger story that centered around her own experiences–a soldier who’d lost the ability to connect with other people, suddenly getting that back. And when she finally went, it was on her own terms, and it wasn’t for anyone else’s benefit.

I liked her. Even at her most emotional, facing her greatest fear entirely on her own, she had this understated strength to her. She always maintained a solid sense of self-respect. It’d be nice if she survived and we saw her again, but if she had to go, this was the way.

Khlyen, I wasn’t expecting. He was such a complex figure in Dutch’s life, and I really thought he’d be around more. But learning what he was willing to die for was the final thing we needed to clarify his motivations. He’d filled all of his potential , as the shady figure manipulating Dutch, then the mentor who’d done terrible things to protect her. Story-wise, this gets him out of her way. And character wise? This is his moment. This is him telling us–and Dutch–who he is.

Pawter hurt. She shone this season, living up to a potential I didn’t know she had, stepping up to fight for her home. Really stepping up. Estranged daughter of a powerful family or no, she shows us exactly how she survived life as a doctor working in the slums. She’s caring and tough at the same time. She can be deeply vulnerable to the people she’s closest to–but she can also be firm and immovable with her opponents. Watching her outmaneuver one especially dedicated asshole–Jelco–was glorious. Watching her make personal sacrifices and face brutal choices to save whoever she could was heartbreaking.

I’ll be honest, her relationship with Johnny came out of nowhere for me–there was no build-up to it. But once it was established, it worked well. Pawter cared deeply about her home and was fighting in a way she never had before. Out of the main trio, John has always been the one who cared the most about other people, so it made sense he would respect that. And it made sense he would back up his friend while she stepped up to a dangerous arena, then get attached. On Pawter’s end, it made sense that she’d appreciate the support he was giving her. She was entering a cut-throat world she didn’t want to be in to save her home, and Johnny was going behind his friends’ backs to help her.

Looking back, I probably should have been afraid the moment John offered her a place on the ship as their doctor, right before they went into negotiations. Planning for the future never ends well in fiction. But Pawter was such a powerful major character this season, that I really wasn’t expecting her to be in any danger. But it has to be said, she died fighting for something she believed in. She was the one spearheading this battle, she was the one whose actions forced that negotiation in the first place. It was her fight, she threw herself completely into it–and she lost. She lost right when she thought she’d achieved a victory, not just for the people she wanted to save, but for herself. She lost at the moment when she thought she’d be able to stop fighting and do what she wanted with the rest of her life. It hurt, yes. But it was her fight. Her dual with Delle Seyah, the two of them pitting their smarts and their ruthlessness against each other. And even though Pawter was willing to do what it took, it makes sense that when it comes to ruthless and deviousness, Delle Seyah outmatched her.

Which brings us to Delle Seyah’s death at the hands of a heartbroken Johnny, who nonetheless is in full control of himself when he does it. Assuming she’s actually dead, and her smile at the end was at the irony of the situation and not because she’s got some kind of protection. The last we see of her, Delle Seyah is bleeding out while listening to her own broadcast–the false broadcast that she made as a tribute to Pawter’s death, pretending to honor her old school rival, pretending to uphold an agreement Pawter would never have agreed to. That makes for a powerful image. She won, then she miscalculated just badly enough not to realize that John would sacrifice his own future over Pawter’s loss. And the last thing she’d ever hear is her own voice, lying about Pawter.

So yeah, another show wouldn’t be able to pull off having three (relatively) important female characters die in four episodes without making it feel like the wrong kind of trend. And maybe that isn’t a milestone worth celebrating. Maybe other people will feel differently about these deaths–and that’s fair. I can understand that, and it did come pretty close to the edge of my comfort zone. But in the end, I felt each of these deaths made sense–not just for the story, but for the character.

On a less tragic note, I’m so excited for season three, especially with the groups that seem to be coming together at the end of the episode. Back in season one, I talked about how I liked Fancy and wished he had a bigger role. He doesn’t in season two, unfortunately, and it hurt me when he became a Six. But it looks like he’s poised to be a major character in season three, finally.

Please let that be true. Because him, Dutch, D’avin and Pree forming the main team in a mission to take on the bad guy, while John and Clara run from the law? That’s an awesome set-up, and an awesome shake-up.

Favorite Quotes:

“Chemistry’s a bitch, and so am I.”

“Is this flirting? Because I remember it being less uncomfortable.”

“You don’t have to forgive someone to miss them. And you don’t need anyone’s permission to love someone that you hate.”

“I am not a hero. I just loved her.”

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