[This is a review of the Killjoys season 2 finale. There will be SPOILERS.]
In season 1 of Syfy’s original bounty hunter/space adventure series, Killjoys established itself as the successor to such beloved cult-classic sci-fi series as Battlestar Galactica and Firefly – even if Killjoys hasn’t quite reached the same level of cult status. The show follows a team of three agents working for the Reclamation Apprehension Coalition (an organization of bounty hunters whose agents are nicknamed Killjoys) in the four-planet system known as The Quad. Our team of heroes is led by Dutch (Hannah John-Kamen), the pilot/nerd/one who “gives a s—” Johnny (Aaron Ashmore), and Johnny’s ex-army brother/the muscle D’Avin (Luke Macfarlane).
While the season 2 premiere of Killjoys reunited fans with their favorite trio of rule-breaking space-traversing bounty hunters – and introduced a cyborg with a gun arm – it essentially followed a typical mission-based premise. The following nine episodes, however, managed to evolve a much larger story arc. Dutch sought out a woman named Aneela who looked just like her; Johnny worked with Pawter (Sarah Power) to discover what the Nine, the leading families of the Quad, had in store for its citizens; and D’Avin learned more about the mysterious Level Sixes.
The season 2 finale, ‘How to Kill Friends and Influence People’ – written by creator Michelle Lovretta and co-executive producer Jeremy Boxen and directed by Peter Stebbings – picks up where the previous episode left off. Johnny was still reeling from Pawter’s death at hands of fellow Nine member Delle Seyah (Mayko Nguyen) and Dutch’s team needing help to put a stop to what the Nine, and their Company, have in store for the Quad. The finale is Killjoys at its best, mixing complicated space-focused politics with quick-witted and smart dialogue, while also pairing compelling emotional development for its characters with the fun of a bounty hunter mission.
One of Killjoys‘ strengths in particular lies in its world-building. From the terminology – like the Killjoys themselves – and costuming, to the feudal system that governs the Quad, the Syfy series has developed a whole new complex world in which its characters live. However, as season 2 has unfolded with the mystery of the green plasma, its use in creating the nearly unkillable Sixes, and the Nine’s involvement in attempting to create an army of super soldiers, Killjoys hinted at something even bigger going on.
In ‘How to Kill Friends and Influence People’ the mysteries of season 2 are blown open when Dutch is reunited with her former mentor-turned-enemy Khlyen (Rob Stewar) and he offers answers to all the questions established through the episodes. The answer is, of course, alien invaders – as Killjoys has been hinting at throughout the season – led by Khlyen’s daughter and Dutch’s look-alike, Aneela. The introduction of a bigger threat again, like in the season 1 finale, broadens the scope of Killjoys while raising the stakes and, as a result, the drama.
Unfortunately, much of this exposition is offered too quickly for the audience to properly digest it, but that’s part of what Killjoys does well – deliver the complex sci-fi political machinations quickly so that the show can move on to the action. This particular pacing is what makes Killjoys a fun, escapist television series, but it likely doesn’t earn the show much credit with sci-fi fans who prefer the quieter, more intellectual branch of science fiction. Still, since ‘How to Kill Friends and Influence People’ is the finale, it’s tasked both with providing answers to all the questions established throughout season 2, and offering another entertaining episodic adventure; Killjoys pulls off this feat with all the fun and fast pacing fans have come to expect from the series.
But, what Killjoys truly excels at are the smaller moments that balance out the larger world-building or bigger complicated politics. Like any good sci-fi show worth its salt, the characters of Killjoys are what draw in and keep viewers invested with the action and storyline. For this series, that includes Dutch, D’Avin, and Johnny – and their ship, Lucy, who has become as much a character on the show as the TARDIS on Doctor Who (perhaps even more so). Lucy’s too-literal humor offers Killjoys a little slice of Drax’s comedy from Guardians of the Galaxy, though her relationship with Johnny helps prevent it from becoming too goofy.
That said, Johnny and Dutch are the focus of ‘How to Kill Friends and Influence People’ as the episode is bookended by Johnny dealing with Pawter’s death. At first, he simply watches the propaganda being spread by Delle Seyah to cover up the fact that she murdered Pawter. But he ends the episode by revealing he tricked Delle Seyah into a meeting where he shoots her out of vengeance.
Though not necessarily the most original twist in the book, the evolution of Johnny’s character and his ability to “give a s—” being pushed to this point help to earn this particular character moment. Certainly, the moments following him shooting Delle Seyah in which Lucy refuses to let Johnny abandon ship without saying goodbye, as well as the reintroduction of Clara (Stephanie Leonidas), soothe his abrupt turn in character. Still, although Johnny has gone rogue from Dutch and D’Avin in the past – earlier in season 2, in fact – this instance sets the stage for more character and relationship development among the team in coming episodes.
As for Dutch, she takes center stage in ‘How to Kill Friends and Influence People’ since her complicated relationship with Khlyen is a theme throughout the episode, culminating in his death scene. John-Kamen could certainly be accused of stealing the show in Killjoys on many occasions, and the season 2 finale is one of them. Whether comforting Johnny, being comforted by Johnny, snarking at Khlyen while battling multiple assailants, or embodying another character altogether as Aneela, John-Kamen may be the glue that holds Killjoys together – or, at least, one of the prevailing ingredients.
All in all, the Killjoys season 2 finale continues to propel the series forward, while viewers can only strap in for another fun adventure with Dutch, D’Avin, and Johnny. At this point, the show has nailed down what it does effectively, and how to balance all the aspects of story, sci-fi world-building, and character that it hopes to achieve. Although Killjoys isn’t a deep dive into science fiction’s intellectual capabilities, it’s a smart, well-written, and well-acted series that provides plenty of entertainment.
The true test of Killjoys will come in season 3 as the show moves away from its original premise and into full on war. Still, with the possibility of Dutch coming face to face with Aneela – and Clara, along with her gun arm, potentially joining the team – there’s plenty to look forward to in season 3. Killjoys may yet again prove to balance a compelling overarching narrative with fun characters and exciting action.
Killjoys returns for season 3 on Syfy in 2017.