Killjoys S01E05 “A Glitch in the System” REVIEW

Killjoys S01E05 “A Glitch In The System” REVIEW


stars 5

Airing in the UK on SyFy
Writer: Adam Barkin
Director: Chris Grismer


Essential Series Plot Developments

  • D’Avin remembers he killed his entire squ:ad – but not why.
  • D’Avin’s memory loss is due to neural blockers implanted in his skull, not amnesia.
  • Khlyen arrives to take Dutch away – threatening to hurt John.
  • D’Avin and Dutch both inhale nanites (which are later removed); the tiny machines essentially repair anything wrong with the host, hence scarring in D’Avin’s brain is healed.
  • Red 17 is mentioned a lot – maybe something Dutch knows about?
  • John is most definitely Lucy’s favourite.


“Blah blah blah blah...”

“Blah blah blah blah…”

Episode Recap

  • The crew find a seemingly abandoned spaceship, and go on a claim-and-clear mission.
  • The ship turns out to be not quite as abandoned as they’d thought. Things are not what they seem, and there at least two crew members aboard.
  • Lucy retreats to a safe distance owing to a quarantine alert, essentially isolating the crew.
  • The first crew member, Wilson, blows himself out the airlock, but not before writing Red 17 in his own blood on the window.


“Hello and welcome to The Cube!”

  • The other crew member, Hogan, is a prison guard. He tricks D’Avin and then imprisons him for interrogation.
  • Hogan injects nanites into D’Avin, and proceeds to question him. If he doesn’t answer in time or correctly, the nanites break down parts of his body, then rebuild them.
  • The ship is on a covert military mission, the interrogation program is stuck on a loop and wants to know what Red 17 is.
  • Dutch gets herself captured (on purpose), escapes, and rescues D’Avin.
  • Dutch blows herself out the airlock. The nanites keep her alive long enough for Lucy to rescue her.
  • D’Avin and Dr Pawter get more closely acquainted.
  • Khlyen brings Dutch a present: the severed hand of the red box target she let go. He threatens to hurt John unless she does as he says and goes with him.
“Look out for space rats!”

“Look out for space rats!”


We’re halfway through the season now, the perfect time to bring in an absolutely storming episode. “A Glitch In The System” not only stands well in its own right, but progresses both major plot arcs: giving us insight into D’Avin’s and Dutch’s murky pasts.

The pacing is exceptional: the initial claustrophobia of the abandoned spaceship; the excitement and action of D’Avin’s capture and his subsequent rescue by Dutch; finishing with Khlyen’s continued control over Dutch and her life.

Atmosphere is also top notch. There’s a great sense of isolation as the teams comms break down and the music that John asked Lucy to pump through the ship keeps glitching. We catch glimpses of fleeting shadows, corpses and bloody writing. There’s a nicely chilling touch as one of the discovered crew members – Wilson played by Kyle Mitchell – chews off the ends of his fingers to paint Red 17 in his own blood, before blowing himself out the airlock. Extreme finger painting!

Killjoys react to Flappy Bird.

Killjoys react to Flappy Bird.

The premise of the perpetual interrogation loop is horrifying; the ship and its systems are so broken that the interrogation program just repeats itself forever. Using the nanites to constantly break down and then repair the unfortunate subjects’ bodies is the perfect torture device. The only way out is brain death, the one thing the nanites can’t repair. Hence an infirmary full of crew members who’ve resorted to shooting themselves in the head to escape the endless cycle.

“Shit! I think I've left the iron on!”

“Shit! I think I’ve left the iron on!”

Hogan (Richard Clarkin) has been acting as prison guard for the ship since its accident. Once he ran out of crew members to interrogate he used the ship’s distress beacon to lure in unsuspecting travellers. The realisation that Hogan is so far gone that he regularly submits himself to interrogation, even though he doesn’t know the answer, is unsettling.

Richard Clarkin is outstanding as Hogan. He portrays the crazy loner determined to carry on the mission regardless very convincingly. The interplay between him and Hannah John-Kamen, when he realises that Dutch has turned the tables on him is great.

We learn the name Red 17, which could just be a plot device for this episode. However, Dutch’s reaction to the name, and her admission to Hogan that she knows all about it, makes us think it’s more important than that. She could have been bluffing, but we don’t think so. Most likely it’s to do with Khlyen and the mysterious red boxes.

What is Red 17?

What is Red 17?

The Good:

  • John keeps trying to have a moment with D’Avin, leading to some funny and awkward dialogue between the pair.
  • Space rats!
  • Red 17 is a suitably great name for some mysterious government program.
  • Genuinely unpleasant premise with the endless cycle of torture.
  • Superb pacing, and a great sense of atmosphere.


The Bad

  • Nothing! It’s a storming episode!
D'Avin's attempts at giving up smoking are still not going well.

D’Avin’s attempts at giving up smoking are still not going well.

And The Random:

  •  John has unfeasibly blue eyes – surely some sort of CGI trickery?
  • The crew member Wilson blows himself out the airlock to kill himself, but Dutch does it and survives. Lucy does rescue her, whereas she would have ignored Wilson, but surviving in outer space even with nanites is a bit of a stretch.
  • Space rats!
  • Quotes of the Week:
    “Let’s go find some treasure and blow shit up.”
    “Look out! Space rats!”

Review by Arthur Scott


Read our other Killjoys reviews



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