Their Chosen One is acting like a child throwing a tantrum, their leader is having a secret rendezvous with an angel, their schemer keeps being out-schemed, and their villain could be replaced with a cardboard cutout.
If you missed the last episode of Dominion, it’s completely fine, because the first sixty seconds or so of this episode recaps each of the many major plot points of the last episode. Mostly this serves to make you regret that you had to watch all 90 minutes of the premiere episode to get this information when you could have gotten it in this quick recap. Argh!
Again, this episode is packed with an abundance of backstory, lots of pointless jargon, and more scifi tropes than should be allowed to fit in a single hour of television. While some of the characters have moments of inconsistency — Claire and her father both do an about face on the leadership of Vega, conniving Consul Whele is shocked by what he really should have seen coming — there are some plot elements that could bloom into an interesting story… if not a particularly original one.
In fairness, Dominion is gorgeously shot with plenty of eye candy, so if you’re looking for a supernatural drama that won’t challenge you to think too hard, it’s not bad choice. (And, honestly, the show would make for some fantastic drinking games.) Anthony Stewart Head plays an excellent villain (complete with American accent) in Consul Whele, and the highlight of the episode was a conversation in which Whele admitted that before the war he’d been a televangelist — a bit of information that really made the way Head is playing the character click. There are some fun moments here and even a couple of surprises… if you can overlook the rest.
You can catch episodes of Dominion on SyFy Thursdays at 9/8c, but you can also watch full episodes on SyFy.com (with a participating cable provider). Now, let’s dig into this week’s episode.
We open with Alex watching his father’s funeral from a distance while having nostalgic flashbacks to fighting angels with Jeep when he was younger. The flashback ends with Jeep telling Alex he’ll never leave him — and we know how that worked out. Surprise: Alex has some daddy issues… and the whole Chosen One thing isn’t helping, either. He drunkenly barges in to see Claire, saying they should leave the city now, but Claire repeats last episode’s argument, saying they can’t leave with the city in distress. Alex retorts by saying Claire’s a spoiled princess who lives in a tower and isn’t affected by the attacks — at least he’s not a hypocrite. Now that’s sure to win your girl back, Alex. Surprising no one, Claire tells him to get out.
In politics this week, all of Vega’s senators are unhappy with Whele bringing an angel into the city last episode, and there’s much argument over the matter in the senate chambers. “I am the first to admit I had a lapse in judgement, but I was doing it for Vega,” he tries to explain, going on to say that the angel was found inside the city walls. That doesn’t line up with what he was saying last episode, but there’s no surprise that Whele is trying to spin this to paint him in the best possible light. It’s Riesen who pulls him out of the fire with the suggestion that the city has more important things to worry about.
We don’t yet know why Riesen, who’s a dictator but seems at least be a modestly benevolent one, is sticking with a conniving scoundrel like Whele. But when Riesen visits Whele later to call him out on the act he gave to the senate, he admits he needs someone with Whele’s bureaucratic skills to keep the city running. And considering Whele’s long-term plans to take over the city, this isn’t any good for Riesen’s long-term future. But what’s in the best interest of both of them is keeping the whole “Chosen One” thing under wraps so as not to stir up a religious fervor that could destabilize the city. Whele says that people who know about Alex’s identity are being “spoken to,” which is apparently code for “I’m feeding them to my lions.” (Literally. There are lions.)
Whele certainly has an admirable flair for the dramatic… I only wish he were more creative about its application of it. In a post apocalyptic world where you basically control the former city of Las Vegas, the best thing you can think to do is hold psuedo-Roman gladiatorial matches and feed people you don’t like to lions? Top marks for effort, Whele, but you get an F for creativity.
Meanwhile at Gabriel’s stronghold, the assembled angels are having a funeral… of sorts… for those who fell in last episode’s attack on Vega. Gabriel tells them to enjoy their bodies and then walks away from what seems to be the start of an angel orgy. Yes, apparently angels have orgies in this world. (And what will the fanfic writers do with angel orgies already being canon? I’m not going to Google to find out.)
Gabriel’s left the angel orgy to have a chat with Michael — who is not, despite Gabriel’s hopes, interested in discussing terms of surrender. This turns into an epic discussion of the angels’ daddy issues, which are many. This is ground Supernatural has pretty thoroughly tread on and to more entertaining results, since their angelic host is more entertaining than the very generic characters we see in Dominion’s angels. Michael is cool and aloof, intelligent but not sure how to interact with the humans around him on their terms. Gabriel is quite the opposite, expressing emotions to the point where Michael easily goads him into a fight. And on that note, why don’t the two of them fight this out and let everyone else get on with their lives? Apparently that wouldn’t ale up enough air time, so the story will continue to dance around the possibility of a great war.
Meanwhile, the Helena delegation is imprisoned after the assassination of Jeep last episode by an angel disguised as one of their own. In a power play by Whele, they’ve been stripped of their ceremonial robes — and when Whele calls Akira, their leader, to see him he doesn’t allow her to dress, first, so she’s wearing nothing but undergarments before Whele and his guards. Akira is savvy enough to see through this: Whele wants something from her. “Helena has the only air force left and I need it,” he says, planning on using her as a bargaining chip to get what he wants.
But Whele doesn’t predict that Arika can be just as underhanded as he is: she convinces the rest of the delegation to poison themselves (or helps them along to it) in order to frame Whele for their deaths, something sure to bring war down on Vega unless Whele cooperates with her. It’s an impressive reversal of fortunes, but it seems odd that for all Whele seems to be intelligent, this level of underhandedness — no worse that you can see him doing himself — has caught him off guard.
Riesen family drama continues as both father and daughter do a complete 180 on their positions from the previous episode — the elder Riesen is no longer planning on resigning due to the angel attack, but now Claire seems to want him to step down and let a republic rule the city. The whole exchange is pretty confusing. While it makes sense for Riesen to have rethought his position with the city under military threat, Claire’s change of heart seems to be entirely based on not wanting to marry William… though she also doesn’t seem to want to run away with Alex.
The one surprise here is that Riesen does realize Claire’s in love with Alex and mentions it when she won’t bring it up herself…. however, he’s not willing to budge on the point, telling her “You and William could run this city.” But apparently that’s not the only reason Riesen wants the marriage to happen — he has congestive heart failure and he could die at any time… not that Claire realizes that.
Sneaking in to see Claire — again, which can only lead me to believe that security is terrible — Alex runs into a maid who spots his tattoo. For a second, I think his cover is blown, but then she leaves the room and sprouts wings, so something worse is clearly about to happen…. except Alex makes it to Claire’s room first. He apologizes, at least for calling her a spoiled princess. He says he’ll stay in Vega and they can work it out, which of course means make-up sex. (And as much nudity as SyFy can get away with, which means some creative camerawork and posing.)
On his way out, however, he bumps into the angel he met earlier — with her wings spread there’s no mistaking her for anything else. In the fight scene that follows Alex surprisingly manages to hold his own — a real shodk considering the lack of combat prowess we’ve seen from him so far. He finally lures her into a kitchen where he turns up the gas stoves and then throws a lighter towards her… which seems to set her wings on fire, but otherwise does little damage. She flies off through a window, wings dramatically ablaze.
Alex, who shouldn’t be here in the first place, slips away in the post-attack confusion, intending to leave Vega for good this time — he’s a target and putting the people he cares about in danger. When Claire finds him and offers to go with him, he says no — he couldn’t live with himself if anything happened to her. They have this exchange in the open barracks room, so surely no one heard them. In the end, Alex leaves to spend the next episodes wallowing in solitary angst. Who isn’t looking forward to that?
Oh, and General Risen is sleeping with an angel. I don’t know what’s happening with that, either.
So will we all be tuning in next week to see where this show goes next? Get your drinking games ready, because we’ve got a whole season of Dominion to look forward to!