Going by the trailers, it seemed a lot like a rip-off of the Firefly template with a different visual scheme, and the two shows are not dissimilar in a number of ways.
Both feature a small crew of rule-bending and rule-breaking rogues on a ship in space. They live day to day, job to job, and they perform a variety of tasks so long as they get paid for their services. There are elements both fantastic and gritty and realistic as we follow their adventures. And, as it happens, they defy powers that overshadow everything they know, just because they want to be free in the open sky.
So, the two shows are pretty similar, though I’d describe Firefly as more down to earth and Killjoys as something more exotic and epic. And that’s the thing. A number of shows really are very similar to each other, but we usually don’t care as long as we can enjoy them independently of each other. In that vein, I’d say these shows are like cousins: springing from a similar source, but not exactly the same, so we can enjoy them all we want.
And I did enjoy Killjoys. I watched the first episode as a test – my one-episode rule at work – and then I binged the first two seasons, and I’m looking forward to the third, which is coming up in a few weeks.
The story follows the adventures of a trio of all-purpose bounty hunters: Dutch, John, and D’avin. Called “Reclamation Agents,” or “Killjoys” for short, they embark on a variety of missions, from collecting criminals, to delivering goods, to salvage, to rescue missions, to escorting pregnant women with noble-blooded babies in their wombs, etc. It’s a diverse array of tasks they perform, and they’re pretty good at it. Along the way, the three of them and their allies keep tripping over, and following, the strings of a vast, high-reaching, long-running conspiracy, one which threatens their homes and everyone they care about, and one which they themselves are connected to in surprising, mysterious ways.
Yes, we’ve seen the basic formula of this countless times. What separates the ones we like from the ones we don’t is the delivery. When we’re thrust into a foreign world, what counts the most isn’t the technology, the drama, the epic saga, or the one-liners: it’s humanity, and how the characters represent such.
And that’s really what I like about Killjoys. Sure, the plot is intricate and suspenseful, the wonders, horrors, triumphs, and tragedies are all magnificent, the technology is cool, and the humor is well-timed and hilarious, but what really sells the show for me is the characters. I actually like these people! Warts and all, I like them, and I root for them!
Dutch, for instance, portrayed by the gorgeous and talented Hannah John-Kamen, is an intriguing take on female empowerment. Other “strong female characters” try to be either invulnerable, both physically and emotionally, or an emotional wrecking ball: battered, swinging back and forth, and smashing everything in the way. And that’s their definition of “strength.” Dutch, however, is a woman who can kick ass, lead others, and rely on others, men included, to support her. She is vulnerable and strong at the same time. In fact, if she weren’t so “vulnerable,” she wouldn’t be nearly so strong as she is.
Of course, be it Dutch, John, or D’avin, or any of their friends, it’s not just a matter of how strong they are. What really makes me care about these people is their compassion. Sure, they’re living on the edge of ruin constantly. Sure, they live day to day. Sure, they take almost any job that comes their way. But they still care about others. They care about their homes, their friends, their people. They even care about strangers, often forming connections pretty quickly, which, after everything they’ve each lost, is a form of strength in and of itself. And that’s why, when the grand puppeteers come along, looking to destroy good people, the Killjoy trio just can’t look the other way.
Now, considering the story and the characters, I have to say, if there’s one thing I dislike about Killjoys, it’s how relatively simplistic the setting seems. Virtually the entire story thus far has taken place with “the Quad,” referring to a planet with three moons. For a space-faring civilization, especially one with agents that are unique in their authorization to cross interstellar boundaries, that seems a little small. It’s even smaller as a setting for such complicated political, religious, and militaristic intrigues which are all the culmination of centuries of plots. Most especially, were I a member of these nine families that rule the entire Quad… I would think that rather small potatoes, and not at all worth the endless pomp and self-aggrandizing ceremony.
In other stories, the smaller stage would be annoying. In this case, it’s merely a minor complaint. That’s how much I like the show, that I’m willing to overlook all the world-building mistakes. 🙂
A cautionary warning, though, for those concerned with the younger members of the audience. It’s not as though there’s a lot of sex in the show, but they could have stood to be slightly more tactful in their depictions of such. There’s a reason why people apply the word “sexy” in their summaries and description.
All things considered, I like Killjoys. Whatever its imperfections, it’s a fun, fast, thrilling tale where the epic of a space opera is playing out on a very personal level for characters we actually care about. I won’t be adding it to my weekly lineup, but I will definitely keep following it.
Rating: 8 stars out of 10.