Review Killjoys: Sci-Fi Romp That’s Evolved A Mythos
Killjoys started life as a space Western. A Killjoy is a contracted bounty-hunter. All Killjoys work for the Reclamation Apprehension Coalition (RAC), within a planet-and-moon system known as the Quad. The Quad is run by a company, but the Killjoys pledge to neutrality from the system’s politics.
What reads like a studio pitch was enough to get me to watch. That and… Spaceships. Chasing down bad guys with cool weapons. A talking ship with a crush on one of its crew. Debtor’s prison. Cool sets and sexy smiles. Revolution and religion.
The show is fast-paced, blasts audio filled with raucous beats and witty repartee that sometimes deteriorates into ranting. It’s often dark, looks great. The production values lean toward the gritty, lived-in (often really lived-in) look, but not without its shinny newer ships and even a hint of royalty (“Rich people are annoying on every plant.”)
The main action focuses on Yalena “Dutch” Yardeen (Hannah John-Kamen ), John Andras “Johnny” Jaqobis (Aaron Ashmore) and Johnny’s older brother, “D’avin (Luke Macfarlane). At the basic level, beyond the Western-in-space premise, this is also a buddy show, with the three main characters getting pretty close and all up in each others business, and their past. And everyone has a past, and history converges.
The fourth leg of the buddy story falls to Lucy (Tamsen McDonough), as the AI that is neither coldly logical or perfect. Lucy has a thing for Johnny.
But this is science fiction, so the basic premise often evolves into a veneer as the writers and producers feel compelled to develop an underlying mythology. Some early reviews saw Killjoys as a romp without depth, an archetype as a mirror with no distortion field of its own. Many reviewers ignore the easy camaraderie that creates an emotional connection, and on a Friday night, perhaps all you want is a Red Bull and vodka and an hour without rampaging political tweets.
But with the capture of the week giving way to longer story arcs over the seasons, the show has grown in depth. I won’t give away too much on the mythology, but the primary arc involves an exploration of Dutch’s origins that end up tying much of the Killjoys universe together. This keeps the entire system in play well beyond the search for criminals.
With this extended narrative in play, Killjoys gets to explore human trafficking, the privilege of rank and wealth, and the fine edge between child abuse and teaching a child to survive in the universe as it is rather than one a parent might wish for.
In Season 4, which started on July 20, 2018, any criticism about Killjoys not finding relevance in the real world should go away for the discerning viewer.
Do I like the show? I do. Very much. It isn’t one that I skip over to DVR if I don’t have to. I like to watch it in realtime, save a few minutes to account for commercial skipping. At four seasons, and running on SyFy (via Canada’s Space) there isn’t much from love and war, sex and personal violence, intrigue and double-crossing, alien pregnancy and genetic manipulation—oh, and a spider wrapped around a brain stem, that the show fails to pack in. All tropes come with a green twist. You’ll just have to watch to see what that means.
If you want to watch, Killjoys runs Friday nights on SyFy through September 21. Previous seasons currently stream on SyFy’s various digital properties in the US, and exclusively on VRV. You can catch up on either platform with cable provider or subscription credentials.