Saturday, July 13, 2024

Killjoys Returns to Tellen

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This week on Killjoys: The Hullen capture Jaq, but thanks to his training from Dutch, he’s able to rescue himself. D’av tells Johnny why he really “left” their family at sixteen for the Army. Dutch nearly flies into a sun. Zeph is deeply annoyed that Dutch almost made her watch her die.


When we open, Dutch and Johnny are in orbit around Tellen (Johnny & Dav’s home planet) and planning D’av and Jaq’s extraction. Dutch, still smarting from her argument with D’av, opts to stay behind. As Johnny prepares to leave, Lucy informs them that a silica storm is closing in on D’av and Jaq’s location.

Dutch stays on Lucy and waits for Johnny’s signal to come pick them up. While she does, she gets a chance to process some of her feelings about her argument with D’av via Zeph. Zeph also needs to do a little processing of her own about Pip’s worsening condition. The two skirt around the issues that are bothering them, focusing on understanding Khlyen’s magic particle. Zeph figures out that it’s a spore of some kind. However, the spore is decaying fast now that it’s been removed from the cryopod. Since Zeph is on the Armada, she walks Dutch through using a centrifuge.

Despite decaying rapidly, the spore regenerates so quickly that a centrifuge doesn’t provide enough force to separate the spore into its component parts. If they leverage a nearby sun’s gravity, though, that should do the trick. The problem with this idea is that it requires Dutch to take full manual control of Lucy, which only Dutch can deactivate via a voice command. So if, say, she passes out from the g-forces, Lucy could fall into the sun.

So, of course, Dutch passes out. Zeph, now on mute, has to figure out how to affect Dutch’s environment as a muted hologram. She’s able to trigger the fire suppression system by melting one of the consoles, and Dutch wakes up, turns off the manual override, and all is well. Zeph scolds Dutch and tells her that she can “let in a little light” and accept help from people. And also maybe not put people on mute when they say an idea is risky.

Down on the planet’s surface, D’av and Jaq are looking for “something” that belonged to D’av’s mother. They run into none other D’av and Johnny’s dad. Grandpa Jaqobis takes them back to the family bunker, where they have to wait out the silica storm—and Grandpa Jaqobis’ manipulative stories and toxic masculinity. Tempers wear thin, and Grandpa Jaqobis’ slightly-more-pleasant facade drops, especially once D’av reveals that the “something” he’s looking for is 50,000 joy left by D’av’s late mother and hidden for them by Johnny. Grandpa Jaqobis found it and drank it all away.

Johnny finds D’av and Jaq just as the Black Root arrive. Amidst the increasingly ugly arguing, they’re able to capture one of the Black Root. But when D’av and Grandpa Jaqobis go out to take down the remaining Hullen so that Johnny and Jaq can get off-planet, Grandpa Jaqobis refuses to follow D’av’s lead and gets captured.

Back in the bunker, D’av tortures the captured Hullen to find out what they want with his son. The Hullen refers to Jaq as the “Firstborn,” and then his team leader activates a chip embedded in his spine that fries his brain stem, killing him. The remaining Hullen contact D’av and Johnny and offer their father in trade for Jaq.

Things look like they might get better when an old girlfriend of Johnny’s shows up. She offers to get Jaq to the rendezvous with Dutch, and they can rescue their father. Charlie, unfortunately, has been bribed by the Hullen, and D’av, Johnny, and Jaq are all captured. The Hullen leave D’av and Johnny handcuffed together with Grandpa Jaqobis in a locked room, and open the air filtration system to the outside, leaving them to, essentially, suffocate on particle-contaminated air.

Using a combination of Dutch’s training and his ability to “remember” the future, Jaq escapes the Black Root. Johnny cuts himself, D’av, and their father free from the cuffs using a small laser saw that he lifted from their dad’s tools. Jaq opens the door to the room, with a bag full of guns, and they all escape.

Later, Johnny and Jaq look at the stars from Lucy’s cockpit, giving D’av and Dutch time to talk. Jaq confesses that he feels like his presence prevents D’av from fighting effectively. He shows Johnny the pendant Kendry gave him as a parting gift, and asks if he’d be safer with her.

D’av and Dutch have a very careful conversation in the galley. D’av confesses that it was incredibly difficult to not fall back into toxic patterns with his father. Dutch, who won’t look at him, says that that’s what him leaving felt like—like he didn’t trust her not to fall back into the toxic patterns she’s familiar with. D’av affirms that he’s not “giving up on them,” and the two congratulate themselves on having an adult conversation.

And then Dutch doubles over, with some kind of intense pain on her back. D’av opens up the back of her top, and finds a brand burning itself into her skin.


Killjoys’ biggest strength is its character work, in no small part because the show doesn’t shy away from the complexities of either its heroes or its antagonists. The plot-heaviness of the episode still means a lot gets skimmed over or alluded to, but the close quarters of the setting means that we get treated to some of the intricate layering that makes the show intriguing.

Jaqobis family drama

Probably the most intellectually interesting part of the episode is all the different versions of the same story that Jaq (and the audience) hears: The night that D’av left to join the Army. According to Grandpa Jaqobis, D’av had “behavioral issues,” so he packed him off to the Army. In Johnny’s version, Johnny had hidden out in the woods from their father until late, a frequent occurrence—and when he came home, D’av was gone.

According to D’av, though, their father had a habit of beating Johnny when he got drunk. One night, D’av intervened, and a physical altercation between him and their father occurred. His father, who was the sheriff at the time, gave him a choice: Go to jail, or join the Army. D’av chose the latter.

Even until the end of the episode, Grandpa Jaqobis finds a way to give himself credit for everything good about his sons. D’av “became a man” because he sent him to join the Army. The fact that his sons turned out to be decent human beings is because of him rather than in spite of him. In the end, he tells himself, “I did the best I could.” Satisfyingly, D’av replies that he didn’t.

Let Dutch have more friends, but also, let them be girls?

Dutch and Zeph’s interactions this episode were a gift, as always.

Dutch can become rather isolated from other regular female characters on the show. She interacts with plenty of guest stars, but very few regulars (who don’t end up dead). This has been especially true for the last several episodes, where Zeph and Dutch have separate arcs taking care of their respective boys. Hearing them argue with and encourage each other this episode was lovely. Their interactions radiate respect and concern for the other, despite the two radically different personalities, skillsets, and outlooks they have.

Like Johnny, Zeph keys into Dutch’s emotional state pretty well. She’s generally good at not pushing Dutch’s buttons, either, but this episode, she’s a little short on patience with antics that might cost her friends their lives. In the moment, this rubs Dutch the wrong way. After the action, though, Zeph admits that Pip’s prognosis is not great. She’d really like some of her friends to survive.

Dutch, while she’s not so great at handling others expressing positive emotions towards her, reaffirms her faith in Zeph’s abilities. And to the extent that she’s able to, she’s more than willing to learn how to use a centrifuge, hurl herself against a sun’s gravity, or do other similarly reckless things, in order to help.

Following up on “The Argument”

This episode mostly laid to rest the reservations I had about the show portraying D’av as “right” and Dutch as “wrong.” Jaq’s training from Dutch is key to his own rescue; he actually kills one of the Black Root Hullen in the process. D’av lasts all of ten minutes before torturing the captured Black Root Hullen, and Jaq hears everything through the door. Whatever Dutch might have done, aside from forcing Jaq to participate in the torture, D’av wound up doing anyways.

At this point, there are two more episodes left in the season. But more than anything else right now, these characters need to sit down and talk.

The problem is the conversation at the end of the episode boils down to Dutch saying, essentially, “It felt like you didn’t believe I could escape the toxic patterns I grew up with.” And I have to say—isn’t that exactly what happened?

Even if we file this arc under the header of “toxic patterns” instead of “abuse,” Dutch did fall back into the “toxic patterns” she grew up with. It might smart, but D’av had a choice to make, and Dutch was awfully adamant that learning how to torture someone should be part of Jaq’s training. And while D’av has an entire episode dedicated to unpacking his father issues, Dutch still hasn’t had a real conversation about it.

This conversation was relationship triage. But the fallout of this arc needs a lot more than just, “You’re not breaking up with me, right?” And they’re running out of time to deal with the subject in a satisfying way.

The other possibility

I wasn’t really sold on this theory until the very end of this episode, but—Dutch’s mannerisms in her last scene with D’av, before the surprise metaphysical branding, felt strongly like a mix of both Aneela and Dutch. I had a good two minutes of false starts before the actual pain set in for Dutch.

Given how closely Dutch’s mysterious new wound followed upon this, there may be more subtle sharing going on. If so, that would make an apparent revision of how Dutch views her own experiences into something more internally consistent.

Dutch’s “How dare you” in response to D’av’s statement that she was abused as a child is believable as Dutch. It’s also reminiscent of Aneela’s “How dare you speak his name” in the Season 3 finale. That Aneela practically worshipped Khlyen, and she blamed Dutch for his death.

Any spillover between the two of them isn’t so much a complete inhabiting as it is a melding. Dutch has already acted as a surrogate for Aneela’s presence with Kendry. This may explain some of her odd behavior this season, and her uncertainty as to how to reach out. Aneela is and always has been a lonely character.

Next week on Killjoys: Everybody’s back together and going undercover to rescue the kids held on the RAC. There’s no possible way this could go wrong.

Image Courtesy of SyFy

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