This week on Killjoys: It’s a “road trip” episode, and like any good road trip episode, it’s not about the destination, it’s about the horrible manipulative things you say to string your older brother along until you can become fully Hullen.
There’s a lot of moving pieces here, and a lot of things that have to happen in order to get the three separate groups of characters all reunited. It works, because Dutch isn’t really present until the last few minutes, and there’s something really satisfying about seeing all of my favorite characters from all of the different spheres that the Killjoys inhabit interacting for a couple of episodes—it’s new enough that it still feels like a payoff. But I’m starting to miss Dutch.
Johnny and Dav
After knocking Dav out and driving off in a stolen vehicle, Johnny plans to use one of his “Green detection probes” (launched at the beginning of Season 3) to locate a pool to complete his transition, and then ditch Dav. The show lets us waffle back and forth regarding Johnny’s motivation and level of internal conflict over this for a little bit, but it does eventually confirm (via the neat little narrative device of Johnny’s Dutch-shaped hallucination) that Johnny doesn’t really care if Dav lives or dies. He just needs Dav to cooperate long enough to complete his transformation. After they discover that the beacon was knocked off its flight path and crashed, Johnny also needs Dav’s unique relationship with the Green in order to find the pool.
There are detours along the way that facilitate a number of manipulative interactions that whittle away Dav’s trust in Johnny. By the time they’ve reached the pool, Dav has had enough, but even with surprise body armor, Johnny overpowers him, and nearly kills him—except that Dutch emerges from the pool and shoots Johnny in the back, before walking to shore and collapsing, as the Green crystallizes behind her.
Again—the end objective itself isn’t the point, especially with this plot. In fact, once they find the pool of Green that Johnny is looking for, things come to a head and wrap up fairly quickly. The point of this story is to make all those little subtextual character points main-text, needle those character insecurities until we get to see them in all their awful detail, and push those core relationships to their absolute limit. Things that characters would ordinarily equivocate on, shy away from, lie about—those get aired here.
What I doesn’t cease to amaze me over the course of the episode is how Dav does not, for one second, give up on his little brother. No matter how hurtful Johnny’s words are or how frustrated Dav gets. Yes, it would’ve gotten him killed if not for Dutch’s timely appearance: Johnny plays the “please kill me” card in their final fight, and it allows him to get the upper hand. But even dealing with a completely unrepentant Johnny (who’s already shot Dav), all Dav has to say is “Let my little brother go”. He never once believes that that’s the “real” Johnny, which lines up beautifully with his own history with mind control and just.
Somebody give Dav a hug. And maybe a therapist.
Bea and Delle Seyah
Back at the outpost after being captured, Bea tells Delle to not piss off the Warden. Delle pisses off the Warden, banking on her Hullen abilities to get her out, apparently not accounting for his Hullen-grade tranquilizers. Before Delle sours that relationship, though, the Warden casually mentions that her baby should cover most of her payment to get off-world—weird, since he traffics in organs, so you’d figure he’d be more interested in her uterus than the baby? Y’know, adult, fully-developed, etc.
When Kendry regains consciousness, the Warden has strapped her down, and is trying to induce labor. Kendry realizes that there’s more to this operation than simple organ harvest: The Warden is probably selling the children on the side. Bea confirms this, but is too frightened to try to escape. Kendry gives a chillingly inspirational speech, shows her healing abilities to the Warden, and convinces him to go into business with her and cut out his employers—while the laproscopic camera that Bea enabled records the interaction and sends the footage to his employers.
The Warden is arrested, and they’re free to go. Bea gives Kendry a hug and leaves, and then Zeph, Pip, and Pree show up (Pip and Pree have been deputized as Killjoys), and arrest Kendry.
Zeph, Pip, and Pree
Zeph and Pip have the awkwardest conversation about where their relationship is at, now that they’ve escaped the RAC. Zeph says she doesn’t do relationships, and I for one really hope that the narrative doesn’t try to “prove her wrong” or coerce her. Pip is obviously not super pleased, but wants to be respectful.
They use a Hullen doll to tap into the Armada’s records, and determine that Lucy is probably located in definitely-not-a-play-on-Orion’s-Belt. When they find her, though, Lucy has been reset to factory defaults in order to protect the location of the elevator. Because they don’t have the security code, or any idea where Johnny might’ve put a fail-safe to restore Lucy’s current state, Lucy starts a twenty-minute countdown til she “purges” them.
They try various vocal cues, after determining that that’s what the failsafe probably is, until finally realizing that the cue is a recorded song, not one of the crew’s voice. Specifically, the song that Johnny was playing the night he met Dutch, when he tried to steal Lucy. When they play it, Lucy comes back on-line, locates the beacon, and they zip off to save the trio stranded on the Debtor’s Colony.
After they’re reunited:
- Johnny is in really bad shape, psychologically
- Dutch is still inexplicably unconscious
- Kendry’s water breaks
More Insight Into The Hullen
“Dutch” serves as an interpreter this episode, teasing the truth out of Johnny, because Johnny’s performance is very convincing, and unlike Sabine in Season 2, the point is not to confuse and leave the audience wondering what the real story is. Conversely, we get a look at what Sabine may have been going through from a slightly different angle, and to what degree her behavior was purely manipulative in order to achieve her objective (get Khlyen).
The main takeaway I got was this: The Hullen may look human, but they really, really aren’t. The transition from human to Hullen isn’t conflict-free: Johnny’s emotions get the better of him, his sense of entitlement, and his utter inability to stay engaged with something that bores him. He’s unable to stay consistent, and it undermines his manipulation. But even in the midst of that, both Johnny and Sabine use their appearance and their hosts’ residual emotional connections to manipulate beautifully. And Dav, bless him, is as human and good as it gets, and therefore a fantastic target for manipulation. Put next to human!Johnny, maybe, Dav doesn’t look quite as spectacular, but Johnny is also much more articulate, whereas Dav just cares—Remember, this is the guy who let a Black Root agent go almost-free (there was a tracker on her) because he empathized with what it felt like to wake up a science experiment.
Johnny plays every card in his arsenal to get Dav to cooperate. He starts with the impersonal, and then takes advantage of their past, and then finally gets extremely personal. In vague order:
- Reminding Dav of all the reasons they have to not trust Kendry, who is in fact powerful enough to stop him, and more experienced at controlling her powers. (Dav cares too much for this to work, but they’re already separated.)
- Dutch is and remains Johnny’s trump card. He asserts that if they find the Green, they find Dutch. Dav will grudgingly follow Johnny anywhere for that. Ironically, finding Dutch is exactly what happens, although Johnny doesn’t seem to have any intention to get Dutch out once he’s there. (Dav figures out that no one having as much fun as Johnny is would give that up. Oops.)
- Nostalgia. Johnny reminds Dav of things they survived and accomplished together. He also guilts Dav over “leaving” him to care for an ailing mother and deal with an abusive father. (Dav is tired of being blamed for “abandoning” his family at this point, because it’s already been made clear that said abusive father kicked him out.)
- Emasculation, in a word—Johnny appeals to Dav’s potential anxieties around fatherhood, eventually zeroing in on two things: One, that Dutch won’t want anything to do with a child, much less Aneela’s/Kendry’s child, and he’ll get to keep one or the other in his life, but not both. And two, that he’ll be a terrible father, just like their father was to them. (Dav, hilariously, looks completely uninterested in “one last hurrah” before the kid arrives, so whatever insecurities he has, they’re probably not related to being “tied down”.)
There’s no clear answer for most of these, especially the latter ones; and really, all Johnny offers are articulations of deep-seated fears, and once Dav grasps that, he just puts his head down and tries to power through. He doesn’t let his lingering fear undermine his loyalty to his team and family.
Speaking of Dav—I did not expect to like him this much
The last two seasons have really dealt some blows to Johnny’s exterior “sunshine” persona, while Dav has gone from the suspicious, mistrustful loner we met in the series premiere to displaying some deep moral convictions, incredible empathy, and generally balancing out the chaotic, off-the-rails situations they find themselves in by reminding them that the horrible things they see aren’t normal, and aren’t supposed to be. When Dutch is unable to lead the resistance because of her lingering trauma and anxiety over her identity, he steps up and makes sure it doesn’t fall apart, no fuss. When Turin uses Dav and Fancy to locate all of the Cleansed RAC agents and take them into custody, Dav relieves Turin of his rank and arrests him. His military background has, in many cases, kept the situation from from degrading into something much worse.
After I don’t know how many iterations of toxically-hypermasculine soldier dudes in love with their guns, I am happier than I thought I’d be with an ex-soldier who steps in to remind a bunch of repurposed bounty hunters that, in fact, conventions exist around warfare, and they exist for a reason. And as someone who’s been a victim of people who abuse their rank and their position of authority, Dav knows as well as any of them how important those conventions and structures are, and what the cost of ignoring them can be.
Johnny, Part One
I really do love how these two episodes deconstruct the man-child/“charming sociopath” that’s been valorized in a lot of popular media recently (though I don’t think it’s meant to be a complete deconstruction): Hullen!Johnny is charming, and scary intelligent—at first. But he’s far too overconfident in his abilities, far too quick to become violent when he doesn’t get his way, and too arrogant to keep his cards close to his chest and play the long game. He responds to criticism of his judgments and plans with boiling rage, and when he doesn’t get what he wants through charm, he goes right for his gun to take it.
Next week on Killjoys…
Look, I know Dutch is upset because, wow is Johnny in bad shape, but—hasn’t Dav been slapped upside the head enough lately? Better question: Why on Earth did anyone leave Turin in charge of the Armada, with a way to manipulate the Hullen dolls? Also, baby shenanigans.
Away In A Manger: Black Lightning 2×09, “Gift of Magi”
Well, my friends, we’re nearing the end of Black Lightning S2, and I think it’s time to declare a sophomore slump. Anyone here with me? Let’s get into this week’s episode and discuss.
Jen and Kahlil are still on the run, but Kahlil was cut with one of Cutter’s Special aka Poison knives, so he’s quickly succumbing. The pair find a barn, where there’s a lot of soft lantern light and Kahlil can curl up in the hay. At first they swap cute-funny stories about when they first met, but soon Kahlil can’t manage talking let alone breathing well, so Jen goes out to steal some antibiotics from a hospital. (They don’t yet know that it’s poison, they assume his wound is infected). Jen is getting really good not only at controlling her powers, but using them for specific tasks, and I’m here for it although I really wish it wasn’t in the context of this storyline.
She manages to get the antibiotics and injects Kahlil with it, but it doesn’t work. She grows increasingly desperate, and as Kahlil’s death seems imminent, she goes outside for some air and a good cry. That’s when she goes back to her brain-salon, where she sees Perenna (her brain-version of Perenna, not the real one) and a twin version of herself. Mind-Perenna tells Jen that she already has everything she needs inside of her; it’s very Inside Out. Together with her brain creations she figures out that Cutter is actually *right there* watching them through binoculars. She manages to capture her and tie her up, tasering her with her hands as a form of torture in order to get her to tell her what she did to Kahlil. It’s not long before she figures out it was a poison knife, and cuts Cutter with it so that she’ll be forced to show Jen where on her person the antidote is. Turns out, it’s in that very obvious vial on her necklace!
Jen goes to a dark place when she’s torturing Cutter, which is kind of hard to watch. Again, I’d be more interested if this whole thing didn’t revolve around Kahlil. Anyway, Jen gives both Kahlil and Cutter the antidote and they’re on their way again. But only after they declare their undying love for each other.
I’m happy to report that no one left Kahlil’s aunt for dead in her house, as Black Lightning, Thunder, and Gambi have set up camp there to help her recover from what turned out to be one of Kahlil’s pain pills and try to figure out how to find Jen. They know Kahlil is hurt so they check hospitals, and end up being in the same hospital as Jen at the same time!
Jefferson and Anissa figure out Jen was there because she left a trail aka scorch mark in her path, but the fact that she keep eluding them is driving Jefferson to be irrational and reckless. Gambi and Anissa manage to keep him under control, but Lynn is losing it too. When she’s not crying in the wreckage of Jen’s room that she destroyed, she’s trying to get Kahlil’s mom, and then his dad, to give her clues as to where they might be.
Of course neither of them can help, but along the way she grabs a gun from the Inner Sanctum aka Gambi’s basement so that’s concerning, considering her emotional state.
In a parallel storyline, Tobias has set his sights on a kid named Todd, an academic prodigy who has just been rejected for a research grant in favor of the white kid whose rich dad just funded a new wing of the university. It’s unclear what Tobias wants Todd to do, and Todd seems dubious at best until Tobias deposits $100,000 into his bank account. Money is the root of all evil, amirite? I mean, capitalism is. But that’s a discussion for another place.
Lastly, this episode ends with a scene in which a mysterious someone murders everyone in a bar in Texas before getting a phone call from his boss telling him that his next job is in Freeland. I feel like we’re about to meet a bigger bad than Tobias, but time will tell! Just someone end this Kahlil-Jen nonsense and give us our family back kthanks.
What do you think is in store for the final episodes? Are you happy with this season so far? Black Lightning is going on hiatus until the end of January, so I’ll be back then to see where we’re at. Enjoy what’s left of the year, friends!
Images courtesy of The CW
Winter Hiatus Blues
Even in December with the broadcast networks hiatus for scripted series starting, and pilot season underway, there’s so much to discuss!
The continuing behind the scenes drama of Les Moonves’ ouster from CBS, ABC’s entertainment president Channing Dungey stepping down, NBC’s Greenblatt moving on, and FOX setting up for its new leadership once the merger goes through…every big 4 network has a lot to deal with between now and the TCAs in early February. The exec panels will sure be a time… Especially if ratings come up at all.
As of this Tuesday, and as always, I’m talking about scripted ratings: FOX is number 1 with a 1.13 average followed by NBC, ABC, and CBS. CW of course is last with .35. Last month, four of the five networks had six shows at or above their overall average.
Now, ABC has eight shows, the CW has five, and the rest have six.
Across the five networks, only a third of new shows are performing above the average on their network. The Connors (considered a new show), FBI, The Neighborhood, Last Man Standing, New Amsterdam, and Manifest. The highest rated new show on The CW, Legacies hovers right below the network’s average.
Interestingly, across the board, long running shows are still high rating performers (or what’s high now) for the networks. The exception to this is SVU at a tenth below the average.
Their “success” indicates that we probably won’t lose any of the longest running shows anytime soon. Still, the network with the largest average season length (including shows yet to premiere) is FOX at 5.3 followed by CBS at 4.5. Removing the shows already cancelled and predicted as canceled doesn’t make an impact because of The Simpsons‘ whopping thirty seasons! (Unrelated but with the announcement for Crisis on Infinite Earths, DCTV isn’t going anywhere either.)
Of course some of this will shift when the rest of the new slate premieres begin in January. I do not envy the folks in charge of scheduling spring shows, especially as more time slots are lost to winter reality or competition shows.
You can put whatever new show after strong shows and still have a dud in the ratings race.
On The CW, ableist In The Dark has had zero promotion beyond the scheduling announcement that it starts after Supernatural. Their other new show Roswell: New Mexico or Roswell: TVD received the coveted post Flash slot plus actual promo. Except for The 100, their other spring shows already received cancellations, so ratings definitely don’t matter.
FOX only has two newbies to premiere, with The Passage starting after The Resident and Proven Innocent taking the 9PM slot after Cool Kids. I don’t know that people watching an hour of comedy will stick around for a procedural, but anything can happen these days.
ABC on Wednesday revealed that in a vote of confidence (or in hopes to increase viewers or to get Whiskey Cavalier onto the schedule earlier) is moving the last bit of A Million Little Things behind Grey’s leaving current slot holder Station 19 off the schedule until March. Considering AMLT hit a .7 last week… The Fix is the only other newbie to get a spring slot, starting in March in The Good Doctor‘s place. Grand Hotel is now a summer show. ABC what are you doing?!
NBC and CBS have yet to fully unveil their new schedules so more on that in January! However, pilot development is in full swing and reboots (and spin-offs) continue to rule the pack.
Predicting what pilots will make it to series this early is silly, but I do think that a chunk of the reboots in development will definitely make it to air. If they’ll get renewed is another question. Even though this year, only Charmed received a back 9 order (Last Man Standing was ordered with 22 episodes). Last year, all the shows that received fewer than 9 episodes in the fall except for Good Doctor were cancelled. So now in May, that trend continues, or the new trend is that any back order indicates a renewal.
Which is why even though I think it’s silly to bank on so many reboots in development, I know that networks are still going to do it. I won’t list all of the shows in development because there are a lot and many will die by January. The CW has three alone! And NBC already has a series order for Law and Order: Hate Crimes or as my friend calls it, “SVU but grittier” making it the seventh L&O series.
By late January, early February, the big entertainment sites will have lists of all the pilots in contention and then we can really get into the details. Until then, what shows are y’all waiting to see for the first time (or again)?
‘Legends of To-Meow-Meow’ Cranks the Insanity up to Eleven
It’s that time year of again. The Arrowverse crossover, but the Legends misplaced their invites. While Kara, Barry, and Oliver were getting acquainted with Batwoman and dealing with body switching, the Legends were dealing with their own alternate reality issues. Or should I say the Custodians were dealing with their own issues. Or, should that be the Sirens? Or the Puppets?
Yep, this was one of those kinds of episodes. ‘Legends of To-Meow-Meow’ didn’t just surpass the insanity of every other episode this season. It multiplied it, as Charlie and Constantine broke the timeline more with each attempt to fix it.
At first, Charlie hits the town on her own, going to Las Vegas to stretch her newly returned powers. Going out as Marilyn Monroe, she runs into a prison buddy, a leprechaun. She barely has the chance to warn him about faulting his powers when Mick, Nate, and Ray strut in dressed like they just walked out of an 80’s action show. Which they did, apparently, as they introduce themselves as the Custodians of the Chronology and we get ‘A-Team’ style opening credits. They kill the leprechaun without hesitation, which is a big clue for Charlie that not everything is right.
She returns to the Waverider with cat-Zari to figure out why the team is suddenly so murder-happy. She transforms into Sara, planning on just ordering them to stop. But it doesn’t work because in this timeline, without help from Constantine, Sara was killed by the unicorn at Woodstock. The team attacks her, recognizing her as a shapeshifter. Charlie makes a quick retreat from the ship, taking cat-Zari along to find John.
He’s being kept imprisoned at the Time Bureau. Because he was the epicentre of the timeline shift, he has memories from both timelines and his brain isn’t keeping up very well. When they find him, John turns Zari back into a human. Only to turn her right back when she’s against his and Charlie’s idea to save Sara instead of fixing their alteration. Charlie breaks John out, with some help from Mona and a very emo Ava. Some of the Lege- Custodians die in their fight out, but everything will be fine once they save Sara. At least that’s what Charlie and John tell themselves.
They travel to Woodstock, blasting the unicorn into rainbow gloop before it can gore anyone. But this time, when they return to their time Nate, Ray, and Mick are the ones with the memorial plaques. Plus, without the guys around, Sara, Ava, and an android?Gideon have formed a Charlie’s Angels style team that assassinates fugitives. Charlie attempts to infiltrate the team as Amaya, but her cover is blown almost instantly. She does learn the boys were killed by the Fairy Godmother. The fairy is also the reason Zari’s a cat.
John and Charlie go to Salem for their next patch job. Charlie transforms into the Fairy Godmother to trick Prudence into releasing the fairy before she can kill the boys. It seems to go off without a hitch until she returns to the jumpship. Good news, Zari is no longer a cat. Bad news, she’s now a puppet.
So is the entire team, as John learns when he boards the Waverider. They aren’t just puppets. They’re puppets that sing their own intro and have a historical figure of the day. Since the Fairy Godmother didn’t kill Mick, he became her new charge. She turned the team into puppets before Mick took her along on a crime spree.
Charlie and John keep trying to Band-Aid the timeline, but each fix ends with someone else dead in the new timeline. Yet, even when they get to a point where no one has died, John’s mind has so many timelines clashing in his mind he collapses from the strain.
He finally agrees with Zari that they need to fix the timeline properly and stop Dez from leaving. When Charlie refuses to help they leave her behind, but she’s not giving up without a fight. She transforms into Ava, heading to the Waverider to clue the team in on the magical ongoings in New Orleans. But there’s something still wrong with this timeline. All the Legends are alive. No one is made of cloth. But they still have a ‘shoot first ask questions never’ policy when it comes the fugitives. Gideon picks up on the three Constantines at that point in time. The team assumes the extras are shapeshifters, sending Mick and Ray to blast them.
Charlie finally realizes it wasn’t just John’s absence from the team that caused the changes. It was her absence. Without her, the Legends don’t learn fugitives aren’t all unicorns with a taste for hearts or Fairy Godmothers that sing about murder.
In New Orleans, this-episode’s-John stops Desmond after last-episode’s-Constantine broke up with him. He tells him he’s sorry for all the pain he’s going to cause him and wipes his memory just before still-in-a-relationship John can return. As Mick and Ray fire on this-episode-John, past-John and Desmond share a kiss which becomes the point from which the timeline fixes itself. Reality is right once again, where the only puppet person is the possessed Professor Stein and the Legends aren’t mythical creature murders. Ava and Mick even heal their rift from the last episode, finding some common ground.
John comes clean to Sara about their misadventure. He even tells her about Neron. Sara promises to help him take down his demon. So all’s well that ends well. Except, there’s no word on what happens to Mona after she met the business of the Kaupe’s claws. Nor is Hank happy the Kaupe escaped, which he learns about in the middle of a golf game with someone… something wearing Desmond’s face.
Was this the strongest’s episode of Legends? Probably not. It sacrificed some substance for the sake of 80’s spoofs and sing-alongs. But that’s not to say this episode wasn’t good. Far from it. The alternate timelines were laugh out loud funny and the Puppets of Tomorrow song is going to be stuck in my head. They were so good I’m willing to overlook characters like Ray, Nate, Sara, and Ava feeling so drastically different in their respective spoof realities. I’ll chalk up to the discrepancies in their characterizations to time being so broken.
It could have easily become frustrating watching John and Charlie patch broke timeline after broken timeline while they ignored the obvious answer. But it never got to that point because every step of the way you knew John was doing this to keep Desmond alive. John Constantine, always the tortured soul, willing to let his mind be torn apart by multiple timelines before he gives up on his love again. It’s a tragedy the timeline being fixed has to come at the cost of Dez’s soul. But maybe it isn’t lost forever.
The scene between John and Desmond pulled at the heartstrings. As did the moment when Charlie finally realized she was the missing the link for the Legends. It’s always a good moment when a Legend finds their place on this mismatched, rag-tag team. It’s hard not to compare this episode to ‘Here I Go Again’, when Zari found her place on the team. Which is a glowing compliment when that episode is one of the best of Legends entire run.
The brief callbacks to the earlier episodes was a nice way to tie off the first half of the season as well. The Unicorn was only eight episodes ago. Yet, monsters, magic, and pure insanity feel like they’re always been a part of Legends of Tomorrow. Well, pure insanity has been a fundamental part of Legends since season two.
It just shows how this series isn’t afraid to shake up its own formula. Thus far it’s worked every time, with each season being better than the last. It’s still early to call season’s four place for certain. Season’s three back half had some heavy ringers, but so far this season is on the right tracks to be the most memorable one yet. They’re sure to come back strong when they return in April.
Only Legends Could
- “You missed calls from Barry Allen, Oliver Queen, and Kara Zor-El,”
“Sounds like the annual crossover,”
“Yeah, that’s going to be a hard pass,”
This whole exchange is amazing. Easily wins favorite lines of the episode.
- You can tick off Sara Lance’s annual dalliance with death. Sara dying, almost dying, or faking dying should be a running gag at this point, but for some reason, I can never find it funny.
- Everyone just understands cat-Zari. No explanation needed. Much like when Nate understood pig-Ray.
- The CW tradition of bad wigs continues with emo Ava. (Kate Kane, by some miracle, avoided the curse.)
- In the Siren’s reality, Sara’s wielding Mick’s gun and Gideon has Rip’s.
- I want more of DC’s Puppets of Tomorrow.
- There’s a timeline where Nate and Hank die from a Garden Gnome.
- Why yes, Legends did give us the true love’s kiss fixes everything. And yes, it was a kiss for a mlm couple. Legends never ceases to amaze.
- I got a flirty vibe from Charlie and Zari at the end. Time will tell where that goes.