Oh, Killjoys. Between you and Dark Matter, might heart most definitely belongs to you, even if I sometimes have to admit that Dark Matter may be the stronger show. Imagine my pleasant surprise when, with an increased budget and a more focused storyline, revolving around the Rack gearing up for war against the Hullen, you outstripped Dark Matter by a significant margin this year, with the only real letdown being your rather lackluster final episode.
Continuing on from the last series, this series of Killjoys sees Dutch, Johnny, and D'avin trying to muster a ragtag army -- complete with a fleet of ships and a few surprises up their sleeve -- to fight a nigh-unwinnable war against the Hullen. Learning more about her origins, Dutch realises that the best way to end the war is to kill Aneela herself -- an action that will also kill Dutch. Meanwhile, on Aneela's flagship, Kendry is introduced to the politics of the Hullen, including Aneela's ongoing struggle with the Lady, an ancient being trapped within the Green, whose abilities to manipulate it and command the Hullen are on par with Aneela's own.
It gets off to an oddly slow start, all told, with the first few episodes feeling almost ponderously poorly paced. Perhaps not coincidentally, those first few episodes also see the team split up, with Johnny pursuing a storyline involving cyborgs (which never actually goes anywhere, instead just sort of sputtering to an abrupt halt) while Dutch and D'avin clean up the remaining Hullen in the Quad, another storyline that just sort of sputters and plugs along before coming to a less than inspiring end.
The series only really starts proper once the team is all back together, at which point the focus shifts squarely onto the war effort -- and conveniently, at around the same time, we start to get proper story segments with Kendry, as she learns more about the inner workings of the Hullen. The overall effect is that everything in the first two episodes is functional, sometimes even interesting, but kind of a slog to get through, as the characters collectively engage in holding pattern plots while the story waits to reunite them all.
From episode three onwards, though, the pace picks up sharply. The series becomes as slick, fast-paced, and energetic as we always knew it could be, combining the best parts of its first two series, and taking a few pointers from its sister series Dark Matter, too.
There's a sense of things building to a head, with the war promised in the final episode becoming a tantalising carrot on the end of a stick -- but each episode also stands on its own surprisingly well, with quicker and more action-y fares (Attack the Rack, Heist Heist Baby) pairing up well with slower, more thoughtful episodes (Reckoning Ball). There's a vein of charming humour throughout, but also a sense of genuine stakes.
All of which makes its finale all the more disappointing. Everyone watching knew, I think, that the war couldn't live up to the hype: With only forty minutes and the show's laughably low budget to work with, something had to give somewhere. But in truth, while the war was certainly rather a letdown, that's not what the episode's biggest letdown was: No, that prize goes to Aneela and Dutch.
Well. Mostly Aneela. Set up for three series now as being a wild, uncontrollable, powerful villain who wants nothing more than to destroy Dutch completely, she is dealt with rather abruptly by Dutch transplanting her memories into Aneela, forcing a redemptive arc on her. It's a weirdly banal way to end Aneela's reign of terror before it had even really begun, and while it sets us up for Aneela and Dutch confronting the Lady in the Green, I admit to not finding the Lady that exciting a villain. Intriguing, sure, but not exciting.
It feels like nothing so much as just a huge disappointment, as if the writers had great ideas for how to get to the end of this story arc, but zero ideas on how to actually give it a satisfactory ending, so they cobbled something together in a hurry and hoped nobody would notice. Except we did. We did notice.
In good news, however, the show has been renewed for two more series, the second of which will be its final series. Five years is not a terrible run for a space opera -- Farscape ran for less, and that was wonderful -- and it's nice to see that there's a definite end point in sight, a clear point that the writers can plan for, so the story doesn't end up cut off halfway through by cancellation.
Yes, I did hear the news about Dark Matter. Why do you ask.