Retro Review: Killjoys, Season Two: Episodes 1-5

Since I had already resubbed to CraveTV for the sake of Discovery, it only made sense to check out what else they had on offer. I soon learned that season two of Killjoys had been added in my absence, and though the thought didn’t fill me with tremendous enthusiasm, it did seem worth another look.

The logo for KilljoysAs usual with my binge watch reviews, there will be spoilers.

“Dutch and the Real Girl”:

If you remember my reviews of season one, you’ll know I’m not the biggest Killjoys fan. It’s generally something I watch for lack of any better options.

That said, this is a pretty promising start to the season. It’s a little rushed, but it doesn’t lack for excitement. Killjoys is always trying so desperately hard to be “cool,” and often it ends up feeling forced and lame, but this episode actually is pretty cool, most of the time. I particularly enjoyed the unveiling of “Alice.”

And the mystery with Khlyen is certainly going interesting places.

The best and worst part of this episode is the character of Clara, played by Defiance alumni Stephanie Leonidas (nice seeing her again). The best because after one episode she’s already my favourite Killjoys character by far. The worst because she didn’t end up becoming a main cast member.

Overall rating: 7.5/10

“Wild, Wild Westerley”:

The cast of KilljoysWith the team reunited, Dutch and her crew return to the desolate ruins of Old Town on a warrant. In practice, this mainly serves to reintroduce the show’s more peripheral characters, like Dr. Pawter.

My main takeaway from “Wild, Wild Westerley” is that Killjoys actually has a lot of great characters; it’s just that none of them are main cast members. Give me a series that’s just Pree, Pawter, Alvis, and Clara. That would be an amazing show.

On that note, Pree used to be a warlord?!? You can’t just mention that and not tell the story, Killjoys!

Also damn this show’s soundtrack gets on my nerves sometimes. I’d forgotten about that.

Overall rating: 7.1/10

“Shaft”:

You know, it may not be amazing, but overall I am enjoying season two of Killjoys more than season one.

In this episode, Dutch and her team learn of a missing team of killjoys that Khlyen apparently tried to cover up. They set out in the hopes of rescuing their comrades and learning more about his plan, only to be drawn into madness and violence in an abandoned mine. Alvis accompanies them, and in the depths he uncovers new evidence that the Scarbacks may have an important role in current events.

The Quad, the setting for KilljoysMeanwhile, Pawter continues to be awesome.

The main thing I like about this season so far is that it seems to have a clear sense of direction. There’s a pretty well-defined arc, and they aren’t wasting a lot of time on extraneous matters.

I do hope this starts going somewhere soon, as right now it’s just a whole lot of, “Huh?” But for now the mystery is intriguing. I really have no clue what’s going on with Red 17, Khlyen, and the Scarbacks right now.

Overall rating: 7.5/10

“Schooled”:

Khlyen’s last message before the destruction of Red 17 went to an unlikely place: a school. And this is no ordinary school, but an experimental space station funneling in “gifted” children from Westerley, run by a familiar face from Qresh.

I’m a little lukewarm on this one. In theory it’s still part of the main arc around Khlyen, but we don’t really learn anything, so it ends up feeling like filler even though it isn’t necessarily.

It’s entertaining enough, but this isn’t an episode I’m going to remember much in the long run.

Overall rating: 6.9/10

The cast of Killjoys“Meet the Parents”:

It’s family time. While Johnny and Pawter sue for support from Pawter’s insufferable Qreshi family, Khlyen hunts down D’avin’s father in the hopes of discovery the source of his immunity to the Red 17 conditioning.

This episode’s a bit of a mixed bag. As much as I like Pawter, the attempts to make me feel sympathy for her awful, decadent family fell entirely flat, and there’s a lot of leaps here that don’t make a lot of sense. How does Pawter go from being exiled to on the Nine’s council just like that? Why was Hank trying to kill everyone again?

On the other hand, Khlyen’s story is a lot better. Still doesn’t do a lot to advance the plot (a little, but not much), but the respective actors for him and D’avin did a great job of playing each other, and it was just a lot of fun. I’ve seen lots of stories like this in sci-fi, but they’re rarely executed so well.

Overall rating: 7.3/10

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Review: Star Trek: Discovery, “Into the Forest I Go”

Picking up where the last episode left off, “Into the Forest I Go” sees the crew of the Discovery on course for a confrontation with the Ship of the Dead (or the “T’Kuvmobile” as some have dubbed it). In order to save the planet Pahvo, Discovery must find a way to defeat the Klingon cloaking technology, but it is a plan with many risks.

The official logo for Star Trek: DiscoveryStamets will have to conduct over a hundred spore drive jumps in order to gain the readings necessary to pierce the cloak, putting his health and sanity at severe risk, whilst Burnham and Ash beam aboard the enemy ship to conduct crucial sabotage.

This episode works very hard to be an epic tour de force, and in places it does succeed, but it also has many flaws that detract from what could otherwise be a great experience.

I got off on the wrong foot with this episode immediately because the fundamental premise is so flawed. Starfleet orders Lorca to retreat, but he refuses to leave the Pahvans to their fate. This is the exact opposite of the dynamic that has been established to date. Starfleet abandoning a new species to suffer a likely genocide that would be the direct result of Starfleet’s own actions is a breathtaking betrayal of everything the organization is supposed to stand for, and Lorca of all people being the one to put his foot down and stand for what’s right is equally baffling.

There’s a theory going around that Discovery is going to visit the Mirror Universe soon, but in this episode, it seems like at least one character has already crossed over, because the Gabriel Lorca of “Into the Forest I Go” is, again, pretty much the exact opposite of the character we’ve grown accustomed to over the course of the series to date.

This is a guy who has a secret lab full of exotic weapons, a Gorn skeleton, and for some reason a collection of agony-murder balls whose only possible application could be in war-crimes. From his introduction, Lorca has been nothing but nakedly sinister and conniving, and now all of he’s sudden he’s selflessly fighting for the innocent and waxing poetic on the nobility of exploration? Overnight he’s transformed from a Bond villain to Jean-Luc frickin’ Picard.

The titular ship in Star Trek: DiscoveryIt’s also a bit convenient how the spore drive turns out to also be the miracle cure to the Klingon cloaking, and I am bothered by the fact that that neither side deigns to send more than one ship to the battle over Pahvo.

Discovery’s lack of back-up could be explained by Starfleet’s decision to abandon the planet — though that in itself is, as discussed above, incomprehensible — but why does the Ship of the Dead come alone? I realize Klingons can be a bit reckless, but one would think that their flagship would travel with an escort as a matter of course.

Really, it’s just to set up a dramatic confrontation between two ships. And this is the problem with Discovery. It has repeatedly proved itself all too eager to throw logic to the wind if it can up the drama or cool factor. Any story will do this sometimes, and in small doses it’s fine, but Discovery has done it so often and so flagrantly it really damages the integrity of the show.

It happens again with Ash. Why would you send someone who spent seven months being tortured by Klingons onto a ship full of them? That is so obviously a bad idea. Ash is the absolute last person who should have been sent on that mission. Yes, we get some good character moments out of it, but it’s so dumb.

All that ranting aside, there is still a fair bit to like here.

I have been harshly critical of Burnham’s character from the outset, but she’s grown a lot over the course of the season, and “Into the Forest I Go” brings her arc to fruition. She’s every possible kind of badass and awesome there is, and I think she’s finally succeeded in winning me over.

Anthony Rapp as Lieutenant Paul Stamets on Star Trek: DiscoveryMeanwhile, Stamets continues to be the best character on Discovery, in every sense of the word, and Tilly continues to be adorable, even if her role is relatively small this time.

This is also a beautiful episode to look at. And I don’t just mean the raw quality of the special effects — which I cannot fully enjoy because of Crave’s mediocre video quality — but the way they’re used. “Into the Forest I Go” has fantastic cinematography, and there’s some real artistry to the way it’s shot.

Shazad Latif is putting on a great performance as Ash, but I’m still not sure how I feel about his character.

This episode adds yet more weight to the idea that he’s a Klingon sleeper agent, though I’m not quite ready to sign on to the idea he’s a Klingon in disguise. But this is more because I don’t want it to be true than because it seems unlikely. It would be a very cheap twist and waste all of his character development. I want to believe Discovery is better than that, but it’s seeming less and less likely that it is.

For now, I’m hoping he simply got brainwashed or something. That I could live with.

I want to like this episode. It’s got a lot going for it. But it also has too many flaws to be truly great.

Overall rating: 7/10