Killjoys S01E01 “Bangarang” REVIEW
Airing in the UK on SyFy, Mondays
Creator/Writer: Michelle Lovretta
Director: Chris Grismer
Essential Plot Points:
- A Killjoy is a bounty hunter, working for The Recovery and Apprehension Coalition (RAC) – aka, “The Rack”.
- Dutch and John Jaqobis are two such Killjoys.
- They operate within the Quad system, which is owned by The Company, but they operate outside of Company jurisdiction.
- John’s brother, D’Avin Jaqobis, is rescued, and has a kill warrant on him rescinded.
- Dutch has a mysterious past, and a mysterious benefactor.
The dictionary definition of a killjoy is: a person who deliberately spoils the enjoyment of others. The Killjoys of this show are bounty hunters, who kill for money, so they could probably be accused of spoiling other people’s enjoyment. However as far as the viewer is concerned, nothing could be further from the truth: Killjoys is all about our enjoyment.
Killjoys is a new venture from the Canadian channel Space, co produced by Syfy. A much-needed new space action show which doesn’t take itself too seriously.
It features a trio of bounty hunters working for the Recovery and Apprehension Coalition, or RAC (no they’re not fixing broken down spaceships), in the midst of an inter-planetary war, shady mega-corporations and revolutionary monks.
In their universe “Joy” is a slang term for money, and these killjoys are bounty hunters, they kill for money, kill for joy – geddit?
It opens cold with John Jaqobis (Aaron Ashmore) tied up and tortured for allegedly stealing a spaceship. Things are looking grim as his (business) partner Dutch (Hannah John-Kamen) is caught snooping around outside. However the pair proceed to turn things around nicely and catch their man.
After handing over their captor to The Company, John goes rogue to rescue his brother (Luke Macfarlane), an indentured fighter on a slaver ship with a kill warrant on his head. He’s only the junior partner, though, and is chasing warrants above his pay grade (he’s level 3; level 5 is a kill warrant).
While on board the slaver ship we meet the wonderfully named rival bounty hunter Fancy Lee (Sean Baek), and a mysterious older man (played by Rob Stewart) who seems to be keeping an eye on Dutch.
Dutch comes to the rescue, but realises she’s in trouble when she can’t make good on the warrant and execute John’s brother. Cue a spot of deal making with The Company and we have another mission: retrieve an artifact stolen by a rogue monk. In return for which, the company will lift the warrant on D’Avin Jaqobis head.
The trio end up retrieving the artifact but along the way Dutch is poisoned by Fancy Lee, and either hallucinates or is actually saved by the mysterious man, who appears in flashback seemingly training a young Dutch in the ways of assassination.
After a very neatly choreographed fight sequence which includes a necklace of exploding miniature mechanical spiders, all is good, the artifact returned, warrant lifted on D’Avin, off to the pub for a drink.
There’s a fair bit of exposition here, but come on it is the first episode and it isn’t particularly heavy-handed. Using a computer scan to put names to our protagonists is a neat gimmick, and apparently D’Avin’s been out of the loop for a while, so he needs some things explaining to him, which is a handy, non-clunky device to disguise the necessary infodumping.
All in all what we end up with is a decent-little set-up. We get to see a few different planets, some space ships, a few fights, and we’re starting to work out the lay of the land. We’re also getting some clues for what looks to be a continuing arc with Dutch’s mystery benefactor.
Dutch is very competently and believably played by Hannah John-Kamen; her two compatriots are a little stiff in comparison, but hopefully they’ll warm up a bit as the series continues.
Creating a new space show these days is a risky business and not many end up going the distance. Killjoys takes a well-known recipe: a mysterious stranger, a character with a murky past (x2), some sexual tension, a smart-mouthed computer, a secret red box and a cute pet robot sidekick (not really, well not yet anyway). Throws in some sidekicks: an extremely camp bartender, a revolutionary monk, a treacherous rival assassin, and an experienced old-hand mentor.
What it adds to this recipe is something which the others tend to forget, fun!
It’s quirky, quippy fun, and it isn’t afraid to swear and shoot people in the head, even though it’s supposed to be rescuing them…
- Strong female lead.
- Swearing – and not fracking made-up swearing either!
- Really good use of music, including a couple of bands in the bar.
- Cool gadgets – a necklace of exploding miniature mechanical spiders.
- It has a proper title sequence, with a song!
- The smart-mouthed ship’s computer, Alice: “I only nag because I care.”
- It can look a little low budget in places
And The Random:
- The “Scarback” Monks are so called because they suspend themselves from metal hooks which pierce their skin, a practice which dates back to the 1800’s.
- As this is a Canadian production it’s only right we see a few Canadian TV stalwarts. Patrick Garrow has been seen in both Bitten and Nikita, and Rob Stewart had a recurring role in Nikita as Roan.
Review by Arthur Scott