Friday, December 8, 2023

Breaking News: Murder Serum Still A Bad Idea

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This week on Killjoys, Johnny goes Hullen and turns into a creep; Zeph and Pip escape the RAC and go to the Necropolis to try to find Johnny and Dav (and they bring a dominatrix with them). Also, Pip probably got a giant spider in the mouth.

Dutch stays in the Lady’s clutches and doesn’t make an appearance this week outside of an ambiguous moment inside Johnny’s head. Instead, we focus on everyone else, reintroducing the rest of the cast in their present-day incarnations and picking up from where they left off last season.


Dutch’s expression is literally me, watching this scene.

A-Plot: In the Season 3 finale, Dav, Delle, and Johnny were trapped in the elevator used to enter the Scarback Necropolis when the Lady’s Hullen swarmed the Necropolis’ docking bay in an attempt to capture Aneela and Dutch. Lucy severed the elevator shaft at both the docking bay and the Necropolis, securing the Necropolis from Hullen intrusion, but leaving the trio floating in space.

And now, they’ve crashed on an unfamiliar planet, outside the Quad, with no idea how to get back home.

Johnny, who finished out last season with a punctured lung, is de-stabilized after a fight with some bandits. At a nearby outpost, Dav and Delle determine that their only chance to save Johnny’s life is to turn him Hullen by injecting all of Delle’s remaining Green, which she uses to communicate with her people, into his brain stem.

It works, but the psychological change is immediate, creepy, and intensifies as the episode progresses. Johnny is exhilarated by his newfound mental acuity and reflexes, but seems to have a real problem with impulse control and a general complete dissolution of any moral compass or human empathy he had before. He makes things significantly worse for them when one of the “farmers” at the outpost attempts to double-cross them and turn them over to their “landlords.” Johnny susses out that they aren’t farmers at all—they’re prisoners—missing the key detail that they’re organ farmers (really, they’re the farms), as well as prisoners, not dirt farmers. So now, they have prison guards coming to figure out why there’s a bunch of tracker chips offline (because Johnny shot them). Dav and Delle take away Johnny’s hall pass and try to get an escape plan going to get them all off-planet.

Johnny, however, has other plans—namely, getting more Green to complete his transition, and he sets Delle up by telling her a distress beacon from one of the guards’ tracker chips is in fact a signal to Lucy. He slam-dunks Dav psychologically, baiting him over how he’s “Cleansed” Hullen in the past (sex), knocks him unconscious, cuffs him into an escape vehicle, and abandons Delle. 

Kudos to Aaron Ashmore, because this was chilling.

B-plot: Zeph and Pip escape the Hullen-occupied RAC and make it to the RAC-occupied Hullen Armada in an attempt to rendezvous with Dutch/Dav/Johnny. Unfortunately, no one knows where they are—they know they went to the Necropolis, but nothing after that. Zeph decides they need to get into the Necropolis, which she can do with a combination of phasing and teleportation. However, she needs someone familiar with the layout of the Necropolis to make sure she doesn’t phase them into the middle of a wall—she needs a Scarback, but there are no Scarbacks who will enter the Necropolis, as they now consider it a tomb (since Aneela massacred all the monks there in the lead-up to the season 3 finale).

Gared pipes up and suggests a renounced Scarback—who now works as a dominatrix (I tried to dig up her name, I really did). Convincing her takes some negotiating, but it works out. Gared and Pree opt for some “worship” while they’re there.

The face you make when your boyfriend is about to introduce you to the local dominatrix and you have all the questions.

Zeph, Pip, and the ex-Scarback teleport to the Necropolis, where they find a bunch of dead monks, the pool of Green that Dutch and Aneela disappeared into at the end of last season, and a giant spider a la the ones that swarmed out of the Green when Dutch and Aneela went in.

Pip locates the video records of what happened at the Necropolis, but a frozen Hullen “doll” nearby suddenly wakes up, pins him down with his mouth held open—and then one of the giant spiders mentioned earlier crawls out of their mouth, and presumably into Pip’s. Pip is still walking around, but with a gash on his face and a gap in his memory.

Using the retrieved video records from the Necropolis, Zeph & Co. back at the Hullen Armada figure out that Lucy planted a tracker on the elevator, so all they need to do is locate Lucy. Easier said than done, but if anyone can pull it off, it’ll be Zeph.


Almost none of the plot threads started in this episode are wrapped up. The trio haven’t actually gotten off-planet yet (their situation is dramatically worse than it was at the beginning of the episode), and even then, no one on their side actually knows where Dutch is. Whatever happened to Pip will probably come back to haunt them at a key moment.

It feels serialized, and in the best way—there’s a sense of propulsion, direction, and pacing that earlier seasons could be hit-or-miss on, since the show’s strengths are primarily in the finely detailed worldbuilding, incredible characters and character interactions, and brilliant self-contained thematic episodes. But frankly, they have a sprawling story to tell, and ten episodes a season to tell it in. With two seasons max signed off on by SyFy, they know exactly what they have to work with, and I’m honestly looking forward to where this is building towards. This show, historically, has not slouched when it comes to plot resolution.

Speaking of character interactions, this episode had some incredible ones, and they get better the more you pull them apart:

Dav and Delle: Dav’s emotionally-driven decisions and raw concern for his brother contrast perfectly with Delle’s more ruthless approach. And yet, they both are ultimately willing to do whatever it takes to save Johnny’s life, and they make the same error in judgment that allows Johnny to dupe them both in the end. The scenes that Delle and Dav share are particularly rich. Delle manipulates readily to obtain her goals—even Dav, if she deems he’s getting in his own way (a trait that she and Johnny seem to share, now). She insists that she’s telling Dav “what he needs to hear,” that she’s doing it because they won’t find Dutch and Aneela without Johnny. But near the end of the episode, there’s a montage of the trio passing their time in space, and it ends with Delle’s horrified expression when she realizes: “Oh gods. We are a family.” 

That. That face.

It’s perfectly timed: Delle realizes that there is a sense of connection and maybe even concern there for the Jaqobis brothers, only to realize she’s been betrayed by Johnny. 

I’m going to hold off on discussing Johnny’s transformation in this episode until a later date, because there’s a lot to unpack there.

Speaking of Delle: 90% of the problem I had with Delle killing Pawter Seyah Simms (Johnny’s then-girlfriend) at the end of Season 2 is that, following the worldbuilding up to that point… that’s the writing on the wall for Delle, who until that moment had been solidly morally grey. But straight-up murder is hard to sell back to people (unless the character in question is a white dude), and Dutch will literally dismember someone who hurts Johnny, no questions. So, in that sense, Delle was already dead—not to mention moving from “ruthless in pursuit of an unknown but sometimes ambiguously aligned goal” to “villain.”

Delle’s character has also consistently coded as “lesbian” (in a tropey genre way), so backing her character into a corner where she’s either dead or evil rubbed me the wrong way, especially given that it happened maybe a couple months after 307. And I didn’t see a way they could change that without completely bending the characters until they were unrecognizable—or at least, I didn’t have much faith that they could pull it off.

Kudos to them, though, because they did. It took them an entire season, the introduction of the Lady, and the establishment of Aneela as a mirror-self version of Dutch (literally and figuratively)—but they did it.

It also doesn’t hurt that the Delle/Aneela relationship arc is one of my favorite f/f relationship arcs to grace my TV screen… probably ever. It hasn’t been super popular in fandom, and I’m okay with that, given that once certain sections of fandom descend, the whole dynamic of rivalmancy/“evil queers” (with a wink and a nudge) usually gets flattened and domesticated and prettified until it’s unrecognizable. This relationship is moving precisely because the characters are screwed up, ruthless, spectacularly unbalanced, and sometimes reminiscent of demigods in their scale of power and sense of being almost beyond morality—but they’re still the epitome of “they save each other”. They’re never going to be “alright”, but they will be absolutely legendary. 

Get you a murder girlfriend who gives you the strength to tell your personal demons ‘I’m not alone anymore’

Zeph and Pip: Zeph basically drove the entire B-plot of this episode, and it was beautiful. I really liked the dynamic of Pip as her cheerleader and A+ not-quite-boyfriend, and his surprisingly eloquent little speech about how, even though they both had the skills to get out of the RAC, Zeph was the only one who was willing to “open the door,” take the risk, and walk out of there. I love how his “Pip talk” completely defused her self-doubt. He’s seen her put her life on the line, and it makes him want to be brave and honor that the same way Zeph talks about Dutch/Dav/Johnny, and how they risk their lives for their mission and for her, so she can’t do any less for them.

It’s not going to be good for his health, but it was thematically satisfying. The character development felt organic, and it definitely made me a little emotional.

I also really like that it was delivered in a way that still made it clear Zeph was the main character, and that story beat was about her overcoming her self-doubt in the absence of her mentors. Pip was an excellent foil here, and a great barometer for her character development. The fact that her breakdown this ep was over whether or not she’s skilled enough to be worthy of someone’s trust with an experimental technology, and her sense of responsibility if something does go wrong in their teleportation and everyone with her ends up dead, speaks volumes. It’s no longer just about being clever or being right for her.

Next week: Johnny transcends planes and gets in a fight with Dutch, Dav continues to be the best big brother of all time and have all the faith that his little bro is still somewhere inside Hullen!Johnny (in spite of the incredibly creepy things Johnny said this week), and I cannot wait to see what kind of fate befalls that creepy dude touching Delle inappropriately in that trailer.

Images Courtesy of SyFy


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