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Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Killjoys S2.

Series 2.

Ah, Killjoys. While I deeply enjoyed the first series, I always felt it was missing something -- some element of wackiness and daring that were the hallmarks of space operas of the past. It was never quite as clever with its (clearly very small) budget as the space operas of old, never quite as interesting and daring, so while I did enjoy it and was genuinely looking forward to the second series, my enjoyment of it was muted.

In the second series, Dutch, Johnny, and D'avin enter into a shadow war against the Sixes, immortal and unfeeling agents of a mysterious organisation known as the Black Root, and attempt to discover the origin of the green plasma that grants them their immortality. As they do, however, they discover that the Sixes are merely the vanguard of an alien invasion by a species called the Hullen, who are led by Aneela, a woman who is identical to Dutch. Meanwhile, Pawter, with Johnny's help, attempts to expose the Nine's nefarious plans for Oldtown.

Well, there's clearly been a pretty sharp budget increase. The special effects are better, there's a little more of an earnest attempt to portray alien worlds (a little -- Arkin is the only one that truly looks alien, but the show makes good use of lighting and camera angles to make a few other places look distinctly strange), we get a few flashy special effects moments, some better costumes, and even a new opening sequence! So that's all nice.

The cast. Well, some of them.

This series is also a lot more focused on arc plots, instead of episodic ones. While the first series mostly revolved around various different killjoy warrants, this one has a much heavier focus on hunting down Sixes, deciphering the mystery of the green plasma, and untangling the Nine's plan for Oldtown. I don't actually think there's a single purely episodic plot in the whole series, and that actually works out quite well for it -- with only ten episodes to use, it doesn't really have enough space to be markedly episodic the way the first series was.

The result is a series that feels a lot less aimless, with two main plots that intertwine with each other before joining at the end: Pawter's feud with the rest of the Nine, and Dutch's feud with Khlyen. I found myself much more invested in the plot, and since time wasn't being taken up with pointless episodic plotlines, major arc plot elements could be more neatly and interestingly foreshadowed. 

(It doesn't always work, especially during moments that are meant to have emotional weight: For example, when Khlyen dies at the end of the series, my only thought was that I couldn't have much emotional reaction to his death, because even though he'd had a bigger role in this series, we'd never gotten much of a chance to see him interact. Similarly, when Johnny kills Delle Seyah, I didn't have much of a reaction either, because despite being one of the main antagonists, Delle Seyah hadn't had a very large presence in the series.)

How blue.

Interesting, this also helps the worldbuilding more than a little. The first series often had me feeling more than a little bit at a loss, as worldbuilding details were thrown at us thick and fast, and with very little context or explanation. Meanwhile, I actually felt like I got a good idea of how the world works in this series.

The acting remains very solid -- in fact, it might be even better than it was in the last series. Hannah John-Kamen consistently brings her A-game as Dutch, alternating between being playful and severe, while always maintaining a sense of elegance and danger. Luke Macfarlane and Aaron Ashmore also do great jobs, especially since the writing for their characters is a bit more consistent this year, with D'avin consistently being the ridiculous, sarcastic, but almost puppyish one, while Johnny is both sharper and more cynical, and oddly more idealistic seeming.

Our occasional jumps to Khlyen and Fancy also work pretty well. Rob Stewart brings just the right mix of coldness and wry amusement to the role, and some of the series best moments involve him (one moment I'm particularly fond of, from the final episode, is when he calmly discusses murder with a bank manager). Sean Baek does a pretty superb job as Fancy, too, although he's not really given enough lines to properly shine.

Sabine, a great recurring character.

It looks like the next series (if it gets one) is going to move beyond the Quad to the wider galaxy, which seems like a pretty good direction for the show to go in. Hilariously, this makes the possibility of a Killjoys/Dark Matter crossover, which has been teased in the past, even more likely, although I wouldn't hold out hope as to it actually happening.

Still, I enjoyed this series a lot, and I'm looking forward to the third series a lot -- presuming it's renewed, which I hope it is. I need space operas, guys. I need them to live.

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