Friday, July 19, 2024

Killjoys Takes a Field Trip Into the Green for the Season Finale

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This week on Killjoys: The Killjoys drop the spore, the Lady escapes, and OH YEAH that whole memory wiping thing? That happened.


Last week, Aneela bodyswapped with Dutch. This week, we pick up right where we left off. In roughly chronological order:

D’av, Johnny, and Aneela go into the Green to save Dutch and defeat the Lady. Before they go, D’av gives the spore to Turin in case Aneela betrays them. Once in the Green, D’av, Johnny, and Dutch spend most of the episode fighting to get to Aneela. Meanwhile, the Lady, realizing Aneela truly has her bearings and the means to end her, turns on the charm.

She takes Aneela down to her memory of the plasma pool where she first entered the Green, and gives some exposition regarding her true nature. She’s a memory of someone who came into contact with the Green, a long time ago. Her physical body is dead; in fact, the imprint of her left in the Green may be missing key memories. But in the Green, memories are as real and alive as anything else, and the Lady wants to live again. She offers Aneela eternal life; then, a share in her power. Finally, she offers to give Aneela a family again—Jaq and Kendry. All Aneela has to do is help her escape.

When the trio arrive at the Lady’s ruin, Aneela isn’t where they expect her to be. D’av hears Jaq’s voice calling to him from the direction of the temple, and follows it. Johnny and Dutch are just far enough behind D’av for the Lady to overwhelm him, and Aneela (who was counting on D’av to be able to hurt the Lady) appears to turn on Dutch. The Lady and Aneela leave, and Aneela gives Dutch some rather cold-sounding parting words: “You were here. You mattered.”

While Johnny and D’av are busy being angry at Aneela for betraying them (like they expected), Dutch realizes what Aneela meant: She can re-create the spore here, in the Green, because in the Green, all memories are real. While Aneela stalls for time with the Lady, Dutch empties the spore into the Lady’s source plasma. The whole place starts to crumble and fall apart. Realizing she’s been played, the Lady drops a critical piece of information: If the walls fall, there will be no more barriers separating the Green within from the world without. Aneela and the Lady start to fight.

When the trio reaches the surface of the ruin, only Aneela appears to be there. Forgetting that the Lady is a shapeshifter, they grab her and run, while the real Aneela remains unconscious within the walls of the ruin. Aneela wakes up in time to see the walls start to crumble, and Khlyen, conspicuously absent this episode in his physical form, appears behind her.

The trio climbs out of the Green in the lab on the Armada, and Dutch watches in horror as the Green turns to water. Aneela didn’t make it out.

And then, of course, a hand reaches out of the water and grabs onto her.

On Westerley, Zeph, Gared, and Pree deal with a virus brought to Westerley by the children they rescued last episode. No good deed goes unpunished, or something like that. Turin, initially relieved when Qresh decides to help them, is less enthusiastic when he realizes that Qresh’s idea of “help” is nuking Westerley to stop the spread of the plague to other planets.

Zeph synthesizes an antidote, which convinces the Qreshis to not carpet-bomb the whole planet. Unfortunately, once cured, everyone infected loses their memories of who they are.

We end the season in what (on any other show) would most likely be a dreamworld. Dutch is married to Johnny, and owns the Royale. D’av is a Killjoy with a warrant for Jaq and no memory of either of them. Old Town now looks like it’s home to a factory producing plasma.

The Lady is out of the Green, and she owns everyone.


Zeph – Making the hard call

While the show’s pace sometimes means it glosses over important emotional moments, they addressed Zeph’s grieving immediately. Personally, I’m very pleased that the character they chose to address it is a gay warlord barkeep who used to lead a bunch of gay bear mercenaries that openly embody the kind of romantic masculine brotherhood inherent in all-male societies with a code like “Fight for love and honor”. There’s a difference, Pree tells her, between “making the hard choice” and being needlessly reckless. There’s a difference between letting someone die and honoring someone else’s choice to sacrifice themselves.

Dutch has had to make so many hard choices. None of the people in this fight, not even Aneela, are infallible. Blaming Dutch, while convenient, takes away from Pip’s choice.

Agency is something this show comes back to time and again. If they had to hit this particular beat, I’m glad they hit it (and wrapped it up) so soon, and that they chose to do it in this fashion.

Dutch and Aneela

Dutch was set up to have to make yet another hard call this episode—whether or not to give up on Aneela. You can see the toll it’s taken on her, and how badly she wants to not have to pull the trigger. And as much as I knew that Aneela was playing the Lady, the hurt and disbelief on Dutch’s face was agonizing. It’s incredible how deeply Dutch has come to care about Aneela, and how much she wanted Aneela to be trustworthy.

Dutch and Aneela’s parting words (“Be brave” / “Be brutal”) before they split up to gather the boys and face the Lady are a direct callback to the season 3 finale. It also serves to confirm that Dutch, who served as a kind of surrogate for Aneela’s presence at Jaq’s birth, performs a similar role in this episode as a surrogate for Kendry’s presence and care for Aneela. And while Dutch cares for Aneela regardless, this wouldn’t be the first episode where Dutch serves as Kendry’s hands. The two of them are aligned in this episode in a way that they haven’t been for almost two seasons: They may be the only two living people on the show who care for Aneela and want her to survive. That’s… a lot.

No one else trusts Aneela—people nearly start a gunfight over who gets to kill her—but it all amounts to static once Aneela and Dutch are in the same place with their goal in sight. Similarly, nothing threatens to break Dutch’s resolve until Aneela’s apparent betrayal. These two women are the eye of the storm, and everything else spins around them.

Killjoys is probably technically classified as an “ensemble” show—but Dutch and Aneela steal the whole thing, every time.

Speaking of callbacks…

In a previous review, I mentioned that Dutch tends to become isolated from other women on the show. While it’s not that there are no other female characters—I love Zeph dearly—it hasn’t escaped me that the show’s list of core female characters rotates a lot more regularly than the men. Unfortunately, that’s because they tend to die.

Full disclosure, Pawter Seyah Simms and Banyan Grey were exactly the characters I had in mind when I wrote that. Two fully fleshed-out, highly competent women, both tough as nails in their own ways, with a sometimes contentious relationship with Dutch—who died just before they could come to an understanding with her.

But we got to see them both again this episode. I was ecstatic. It’s unfortunate that they became someone for Dutch to mourn instead of live and work and fight with. But at the very least, I’m glad that they weren’t simply forgotten.

Suddenly, an AU

I am so stoked to be wrong about how they got the Lady out of the Green. Let’s just get that out there. With the tidbit about the “walls coming down” opening the passages between the Green and the real world, I’m convinced that Aneela (at the very least) is still alive, and Khlyen may have rejoined them in the world of the living. Which, while I’m never going to like the guy, I can appreciate a character who has a function. And they have certainly put a lot of function into Khlyen’s character.

Second of all—it’s telling that the Lady, herself only a memory (a remnant) of someone long-dead, believes that memory is “who you are”. For her, that is absolutely true.

But we’ve met Dutch, a memory of Aneela’s brought to life—she’s very much her own person. We met Aneela in season 3, who knew something was missing from her memories, and never stopped looking for it. We’ve seen how Aneela suffered without her memories of Dutch, and not just because the Lady constantly experimented on her. Aneela suffered so much because Dutch was part of her. Khlyen could remove the memory of Dutch, but he couldn’t make her existence, and its effect on Aneela, any less real.

If you really want to break down the science of it, too—memory doesn’t just live in the brain. It lives throughout the body. Particularly traumatic memory.

Of course a character like the Lady thinks that replacing a person’s memories would render them a different person. She’s been effectively able to sever a person’s emotional bonds while leaving their own memories intact. The damage is real, and lasting.

But what makes the Lady so terrifying—her manipulation of the brain—can’t rewrite what the body remembers. And that may prove to be key in season 5.

The Mother Tree

For some reason, I keep expecting the Scarbacks to be relevant again as more than just a religion founded on the belief that Aneela is “the Devil”. So many details about the Lady—the branching, root-like pattern when she infiltrates the bodies of her victims in the Green, for instance—echo Scarback philosophy. The “Mother Tree”, in this sense, isn’t the Mother Tree of Arkyn; it’s the Lady’s source plasma.

“The seed travelled from a home that we’ve forgotten”—which, admittedly, can mean a lot of things. The creative team on the show has taken full advantage of that.

But this season, we went to the place the “seed” traveled from. We saw where the Lady entered the Green. Her philosophy, and the nature of the Green itself, fits with the Scarbacks’ worldview better than “human is good, Hullen is bad”. Which is where we left the Scarbacks at the end of season 2.

Likewise, the idea of a universal memory, a collective consciousness, is a powerful idea that feels far larger than simply, “Aneela is Bad, Watch Out For Aneela”. Praising the trees on one hand and calling Aneela the Devil on the other sounds quite a bit like the Scarbacks themselves worship either the Green, or the Lady who lives within it. I have zero objections to the show’s choice of “welcoming party” for the Lady, but the parallel continues to be relevant.


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