Friday, June 20, 2014

Dominion 1.01: "Pilot"

“Alex was the baby I saved all those years ago. He is under my protection.”
- Michael

Well folks, we find ourselves at the beginning of a brand new summer journey. I decided to cover the freshman season of SyFy’s new angelic post-apocalyptic drama “Dominion”. I’ll confess, I have not seen “Legion” although I’m told it was very dark and Paul Bettany’s Michael was super creepy. We will see how the current cast holds up. We get a little background for those of us virgin viewers. God disappeared twenty-five years ago and the angels blamed humanity. Gabriel and the lower angels (now called eight balls) tried to destroy humanity (including possessing mortals for bodies) but Michael sided with humanity and beat them back. And of course there’s a prophecy/myth that he found a baby who was to be humanity’s savior. They’ve established safe cities inside angel repelling walls, including one in what was Las Vegas (now simply Vega). We find a young solder, Alex Lannen out beyond the wall where he shouldn’t be and he finds three eight balls. One can change shape and spouts some big ass wings and tries to kill him. But Alex gets back to town and the walls repel said angel. Unfortunately, that means that Alex is in some serious shit for leaving. He’s sent to see Michael (who’s coming from a naughty orgy). Apparently Michael feels guilty after sex and he worries about creating more angel babies. But he heads off to give Alex his few lashes (yes with an actual whip0 before General Rysen (played by Alan Dale of “Lost” fame) intervenes.

Alex gets sent off to guard duty over General Rysen’s daughter Claire (whom he’s in love with and trying to elope with). She’s teaching some children about the myth of the chosen one. Alex gets in trouble with William Wheel (a big wig who it seems like may be in line to marry Claire instead). They pray together and we get a glimpse of just how messed up society is in Vega. They’re a caste system and the lower you are, the crappier your accommodations. But Alex is determined to get out of there one way or the other. Meanwhile, General Rysen has a meeting with David Wheel (Anthony Head) about the angel attack. Rysen tries to play it off as a one-off thing and not a resurgence of the angels that followed Gabriel. Also, can we just take a minute to detest Tony’s accent. I don’t know why they wouldn’t let him use his normal accent! It’s like trying to listen to David Tennant in the promos for Gracepoint. It’s just so jarring.

Anyway, after a random shower scene with lots of naked men (and a woman or two), we learn that the town has some visitors from a settlement on the East Coast. Wheel is the powerhouse of the city (but they don’t run it quite yet). David is enticing a woman to be his ally by showing her the reactor tech he’s built that will sustain Vega for a thousand years. She promises 500 child-bearing brides in return. I don’t trust either father or son. Quite frankly, I strongly dislike them both. Which is probably what was intended.

Out in the middle of nowhere, Michael is meditating when he gets a visit from a friend he thought long dead. The guy’s name is Jeep and I’m thinking he’s an angel as well. He’s got tattoos on his arm which apparently relate to the savior. Jeep asks about “him” and it’s pretty damn clear that the “him” is Alex. It would make sense for Michael to keep him close all these years to make sure he didn’t inadvertently die or get possessed. That night, Claire tires to bring up the whole “I want to marry Alex” bit but gets derailed when Rysen announces he’s stepping down from being Lord of the City. He thinks the people are ready to govern themselves. I highly doubt that.

David’s female visitor is bathing when he pops by to ask about a child she brought with her. Her city keeps their children hidden by law. She explains that the boy is a savant and we see him briefly wake up. It looks like he makes the sky light. Just after Alex gets the news from Claire that things didn’t go well with her father, he gets summoned by Michael and into a sword fight with Jeep who is his…father. Go figure. I didn’t guess that actually. Also, not an angel then. Jeep gave him up at age 11. Well that’s going to put a kink in things I’m guessing. Meanwhile, David’s done something in sane (even in William’s eyes) and brought an eight ball into the city. Sure it’s in chains but it’s still a crazy ass move!

Before the festivities can begin (everyone’s all dressed in their finest), Jeep and Michael call a council meeting where Jeep reveals that he found Gabriel holed up in the mountains outside Boulder. And he’s got second sphere angels on his side now, too. They can look human like Gabriel or Michael. Well, shit. And it may just be me but when Jeep was doing his little presentation I totally had a flashback to the tenth anniversary of Power Rangers when all the Red Rangers gathered together to fight evil. This of course is nothing like that because David isn’t interested in finding out who the Chosen One is or stopping Gabriel from attacking again. He wants to get to the damn Jubilee and do his thing. And boy does he. First, he announces the engagement of Claire and William (a blind person could see that one coming) and then he orchestrates some entertainment with the eight ball he captured. I’m thinking that will backfire horrendously. And boy does it. Gabriel is controlling it and it breaks free of its restraints and goes on a rampage. It doesn’t take Michael long to kick its ass and kill it. But things are escalating. Three soldier angels are inbound and two make it past the city’s defenses. Claire, Alex and his young friend Becca struggle to find each other and try to escape the city while the city leaders are ushered into a safe bunker. Ultimately, Alex lets Claire talk him into staying but he’s not staying put for long. Michael and one of the angels are fighting and it’s a pretty awesome fight. I hope we get to see more of Michael’s moves. I’m sure there’s some wire work in there (yes I know I’m getting a little technical and geeky…sue me). He’s about to kill the angel when the other one crashes and takes out the power momentarily. I’m just waiting for Alex to do something that screams “Chosen One”.

Michael doesn’t get to finish off his enemy before he escapes. But there’s more drama to be dealt with in the bunker. The little boy stabs Jeep and takes off. He’s clearly an angel of some degree. With his dying breath, Jeep pronounces his son the Chosen One. David scoffs at it but everyone else is a little more willing to believe. Especially when the tattoos which are said to mark the Chosen One disappear from Jeep and reappear on Alex. David demands everyone keeps the secret until they figure out what’s going on when Michael returns and explains that yes Alex is the Chosen One and the little boy was a Power (one of the higher angels siding with Gabriel). This is getting interesting. I have to say I like learning about the different classifications of angels. It makes the story very layered. And I like that it’s kind of dark tonally.

While Claire prays for guidance and David rails against the idea of Alex being the savior, Alex gets a bit of a history lesson from Michael. The angel explains that the tattoos were meant for the Chosen One to decipher and use as a guide to win the war against Gabriel. Alex doesn’t want to be the Chosen One but he is definitely hiding things from his angelic pseudo father figure. Michael asks if Alex can read the tattoos and he says no even though it is clear that some of the ink changes into very clear words warning him about those closest to him. We end on a rather startling twist. William brings news of Alex’s true identity to Gabriel, his biological father. I like the twist and I can’t wait to see where all of this goes. Overall I was pleased with the pilot. It set up a lot of intriguing plot threads and character relationships to explore further.

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