Saturday, July 18, 2015

Dominion, Season 2, Episode 2: Mouth of the Damned

Alex the-petulant, Noma and their dispossessed buddy Pete are all captured by the forces of New Delphi. Or possibly 8 Balls. Or maybe the forces of New Delphi ARE 8 Balls since they all speak with creaking demon voices

They’re taken to New Delphi and all marvel at the apparently civilised, human 8 Balls. Maybe Alex could organise a mass exorcism hug event?

They’re taken through what looks like a thriving dystopian city to meet boss guy who is not happy about them killing one of his men. He wants a life in exchange. Alex tries to excuse himself by pointing out the guy was an 8 Ball (a term the city of New Delphi – of humans and 8 balls – doesn’t use). They live in peace in New Delphi, apparently – and everything is bartered (which still means Alex owes a life – bye Pete). Alex invokes Gabriel; sure New Delphi is all about trade but they also hate higher angels: Enemy of my Enemy and all that

Alex is split off from the rest to speak to the boss. Boss man is suspicious but Alex gives him some info about the bomb and gets a reprieve. New Delphi also has empyrean steel – special anti-angel weapons.

Which he’ll need because Gabriel is already killing New Delphi’s patrols. In the tradition of super-villains everywhere, he wants Alex alive so he can kill the man himself. So many shows would end quickly if the big bads would just say “for fuck’s sake, kill him!”. But the steel means his minions must hide who they are in the city.

Noma still spots them even as the guards find the dead patrol. Seeing Noma, the angel attacks, Noma calmly evades the attack as pandemonium rages leaving Noma and the new angel facing off against each other.

Meanwhile Alex decides to the fight the man guarding him to try and get a weapon to fight Gabriel – and because beating on wannabe allies is helpful. The guards ends up dead when the second angel reaches the room but Alex gets his hands on Empyrean Steel which is really really bad for angels when you stab them repeatedly.

Noma, alas, doesn’t win her fight and is rescued by Boss man Julian, who shoots the angel with Empyrean steel bullets (couldn’t she have just won?). And Gabriel arrives – offering trade. Julian loathes higher angels so much he refuses to negotiate despite all his talk of trade. Gabriel also kills one of his injured angels so he doesn’t have to leave him behind.

Julian still won’t ally with Alex because he wants the full truth – why does Gabriel want him. Alex shows Julian his god-script tattoos. So Julian has a task for Alex – he gets a disk-key from a room full of insane 8 Balls (who they keep because they’re still their people). The markings apparently don’t mean all that much to him compared to Alex’s skills.

Over to Michael and the town of Mallory. He leaves the town and its holy fire to track down an 8 Ball which cowers appropriately in his presence. He demands an explanation of the holy fire – which burns (I assume it “burns” in a way beyond the obvious being fire and all). Michael the begging 8 Ball towards the fire – and the lesser angel begins to smoke and then catch fire.

Michael returns to town to speak to Laurel, his own shaken faith meets her firm piety (and it’s an interesting dynamic that it’s the angel whose faith is shaken). She wants him to stay and heal and move on from all his guilt and pain.

She tells him about their prophet and prophecy and all their peace and shininess. She also shows some very shrewd, prescient insight into Michael’s past which suggests she may not be lying when she says she hears god’s word.

The woman who saw Michael bathing last episode is walking through the woods when she’s ambushed by an 8 ball. She’s Harper and she manages to win free and stagger into town – but, of course, she recognises Michael though I unable to say anything before she gets medical attention. Harper was very close to Laurel but she ran away from Mallory due to the rules: she refused to confess her sins to Laurel which is apparently a town rule.

Suspicious guy is, again, suspicious of Michael since he’s sure that Harper recognised him. Like last time it doesn’t end well for him.

That night Michael is left alone with Harper – and he shows her his wings. He introduces himself, says he’s not going to hurt her but she has to keep him a secret. She also throws in a lot of lies about being a secret agent for god. When Laurel hears that Harper is awake, she spends a second celebrating before saying she wants that confession.

This includes a ritual of holding her hand over a flame which won’t hurt if she tell the truth – she’s having an affair with a married man which she thinks is all her fault because JEZEBEL. Of course she doesn’t want to confess Michael – even as Laurel holds her hand in the flame, burning her. She runs from the room.

This upsets Laurel because the prophet’s rule is clear – every 5 years the town has to be cleansed of all sins or they will lose the fire unless they banish her. Their faith is rigid – Harper confesses or gets exiled. Michael speaks up for self-determination and their own will, letting Harper chose her own path rather than enforcing a faith on her. His pleas move Laurel

Harper is tearful – the deadline is one day: confession or exile. And the suspicious guy kills Harper

In Vega, Claire is nearly assassinated – but Claire is much scrappier than she looks and her attacker, Zoe, is subdued by the guards and imprisoned. Claire wants to know why Zoe deserted the Angel corps to try and kill her – and it’s because Zoe loathes the sickening class system that puts V6s on top while grinding the V1s to dust

Claire doesn’t seem to buy it and instead accuses David of being behind it. David is amusingly unruffled by assassination accusations – she’s also very sure that the V1s don’t hate her. David isn’t so sure.

Of course Claire – or, rather, Arika has a plan B that involves a captured 8 Ball (and we have more exposition or confirmation that the 8 Balls crave the possessions of the people they are inhabiting). Claire is leery of this plan but Arika wants to brand David a traitor and have him destroyed

Arika uses the objects she craves and threat of violence to break the 8 Ball, Rose. It’s very very very creepy. Very creepy indeed how Arika makes Rose so servile and broken. Of course Arika acknowledges that even broken Rose can be dangerous – but that’s a risk she’s willing to take.

David finds a naked Rose waiting for him in his quarters. She briefly tries to seduce him before showing her teeth and running as David reaches for his gun – which leads to more hallucinations of his son. The whole thing was caught on video – and recorded by Arika.

Arika starts the blackmail – she’s already showed the video to all the V6s and David is dragged away.

Rose goes to Arika, begging for her photo – and Arika shoots her in the head. Because she is just that dangerous.

Claire goes to Zoe to pledge how much she wants to make Vega a better place.

Claire’s confidence on being beloved by the V1s makes me wonder. I mean she’s kind but she still stands on the very top of the pyramid, a pyramid that exists by being supported on the crushed lowest rungs of society. It’s easy to declare yourself kind or beloved when you are so removed from the reality

I am also very curious as to what Arika will do next – is she leading Claire to corruption and damnation or is she providing the hard, sharp edge that Claire lacks?

I’m again leery of an apparently brand new religious community that-totally-isn’t-Christian but we have a lot of Christian trappings. And now to stay safe from angels they need to be cleansed of all their sins? Define these sins? What is the source of this definition? How much are we going to examine this theocracy? A theocracy, considering the penalty of exile, which is as brutal in its own way as Vega is. Especially if murder by the second in command can be washed away with a confession

I would have loved Michael’s plea for agency – if it weren’t just a plea for Harper to be allowed to keep his own secret. He isn’t asking for her agency, he’s asking for his restraint on her agency to hold. Harper’s introduction hasn’t been a great one – Jezebel, silenced secret keeper for Michael – and now murdered. Seriously? This is the best they can do with this Black character? For someone who was around for two episodes that was a whole lot of tropes.