Saturday, July 25, 2015

Dominion, Season 2, Episode 3: The Narrow Gate

I think this show has made a similar mistake to Under the Dome with it’s opening – and given us a strict time scale. This apocalyptic war with the angels started 25 years ago – 25 years ago? The culture has changed ridiculously quickly for that tiny amount of time. 25 years – a goodly portion of the population can easily remember the time before the war!

Anyway back to the plot, Alex has to prove himself to Julian by wandering into a room full of furious 8 Balls and get a shiny – after some exposition as to why some possessing angels can’t take it and become frothing feral beasts – hence the feral beast cage. Except one of them has his key. They key for things Julian deigns not to explain. Of course Alex decides to do it – and to go in alone.

He also wants Julian to tell Vega that Gabriel is still alive and their whole bombing thing failed epicly.

Alex goes into the very ominous dark tunnels fighting desperately against 8 balls in the dark until he is rescued by 2 men – one of them a man called Eli and the other General Riesen who goes by Sam now. Well that was unexpected. He was imprisoned because he killed an 8 Ball. And he doesn’t really believe that 8 Balls and humans can co-exist despite what we’ve seen of New Delphi

Alex gets his key (in a most unpleasant fashion) and performs another exorcising hug manoeuvre on one of the 8 Balls, returning him to (dead) humanity. With the key he (and General Riesen) leave, Noma greeting him with a passionate kiss. This is shortly after Alex told Riesen Claire was pregnant with his child so I can understand the stink-eye Risesen gives him.

Julian agrees to the alliance –and pardons Riesen.

In Vega, Claire finds that Zoe has escaped thanks to rebels – and her guards are dead. She goes to a contact, an old crony of her dad’s, an engineer (apparently alone – the leader of the city can just wander around without bodyguards now?) called Gates to bribe him with quality booze to help her find Zoe. He refuses, so she demands he do it (though he nicely counters with the vital work he’s doing). She warns of rebellion, he laments the lack of Michael and eventually agrees to help

He comes to her with the location (and a nice little biplay where he reveals he knows the V1s, the lowest rung if Vega’s brutal class system, siphon off power and he lets them get away with it and Claire is happy with him to keep doing that).

With the location, Claire sends in the troops who drive them out. But afterwards, Claire questions one of the soldiers, sergeant Mills, asking why he missed Zoe. Claire is dubious that he could possibly have missed at that range. She accuses him of being a traitor and when he curses her, she shoots him in the leg.

Afterwards, totally-not-a-traitor-hones Gates tells her how impressed he was by her and shows her more footage of the rebels doing something odd – prioritising saving one item over all their supplies

Outside of Vega Gabriel intends to send one of his higher angels, Riathos, into the city to kill Claire. While he focuses his army on New Delphi. Minion angel points out attacking 2 cities at once isn’t a great idea without Michael onside but Gabriel’s daddy issues demand no less.

Such a statement requires a flashback to desert days of yore when the angels had longer hair and Michael is leading an angelic army against humans being all brutal and ruthless and contemptuous of humans while Gabriel cried for mercy (mercy meaning using an amphora full of evil godly plague). If god must have everyone killed then it should be merciful but Michael (and higher Angel Lire) want lots of suffering and pain for Sodom and Gomorrah. While Gabriel angsts about this, a human attacks him with a knife while Gabriel tries to convince him to stop and is, alas, forced to kill him. Oh woe. His first dead human.

But at least Michael is outraged and appalled by the vicious torture unleashed by Lire. Killing humans should be a necessary, sad duty, not something to revel in. To punish him he “kills” the higher angel (and turns him into a lower angel without a body) all while Lire accuses Michael of doing the same and Gabriel looks on, all conflicted.

But after killing Lire Michael asks Gabriel to kill him – because Lire was right, he was just as cruel. Gabriel refused and Michael apologised for being all harsh about Gabriel not being all pro-genocide.

In Mallory Michael is outraged that Wes just murdered Harper, the disposable Black woman killed for story reasons by the Authority. Laurel is angry Michael didn’t call her by name but not so much by the murder because, as supreme leader and confessor, she needs everyone’s confession and “sins” (I still want to know what “sin” seeing an angel is). Michael is bemused by the whole ridiculous system but then sees more problems – the “celebration” isn’t a celebration – everyone dumps their confessions on Laurel who is then sacrificed. Every 5 years they have a human sacrifice (after a great big “no-one is allowed any privacy” ritual) all to placate god and keep their little village safe from 8 Balls

I prefer 8 Balls.

Seeing Laurel about to sacrifice herself, Michael decides he cannot possibly watch her die. Her dedication also reminds him that he promised something to Alex and he needs to get over himself and get back to that. And Michael now has hope – because Mallory (and Laurel) have convinced him that god exists again – time to celebrate the existence of invasive murder sacrifice god with a kiss.

But he then disrupts their ritual – deciding to take her place (with a blade that won’t kill him?). Wes disapproves, of course. He points out she hasn’t taken his sins so it wouldn’t work anyway. After a dramatic speech about how very evil he is he asks to be the one who sacrifices. Laurel prays and says it will work because god says so.

With much woo-woo, Michael takes the glowy yellow cloud of the sins as the fire starts to go out and the 8 Balls father. He stabs himself in the heart and – elsewhere, Gabriel feels the pain, horrified at the idea that Michael is dead. The fire is reignited by the sacrifice.

The apparently dead Michael is buried

Later on he rises from the grave – normal steel can’t kill an Archangels. Undead Archangel then goes to see Wes to threaten him viciously for killing Harper and warning him never to kill anyone again (of course, he now has a secret…. Especially since he saw Michael’s wings.

Back to New Delphi – the key Julian has is to one of the ancient amphora Michael had. He also uses an axe in a way that is very reminiscent of Lire – just as his eyes turn black. Possesson is more subtle with an ex-higher angel it seems

A few notes – attacking 2 cities at once is risky for Gabriel? Um… what cause the apocalypse then? What brought down entire civilisations if Gabriel can’t muster the armies to take on two dystopian cities? I’m not sure I follow the logic of this? Were humans just much more susceptible to possession then? I’m also not entirely sure why the angels needed to have strategy meetings to take down bronze age settlements when they didn’t have much trouble with 21st century humanity (it's not like angel technologu has changed - except to change metal breastplates for leather). In fact, can I also call bullshit to Gabriel, Archangel, being forced to draw a sword to fight off the attack of a knife wielding human.

On the one hand I am very happy that we got to see that Mallory is far from good and shiny. Human sacrifice is never going to be a good sell and clearly in this world nothing is pure or good any more. However, even when seeing they were doing human sacrifice there seemed to be a real attempt to sell this as good (and don’t even try to sell the whole volunteer theory – it’s volunteer or die to monsters and watch everyone you love die to! Also I think losing someone every 5 years along with normal rate of death and 8 Ball attacks every time it rains means this community won’t last long). Michael was briefly outraged – because he had a crush on Laurel. I am hopeful that this is the first thread of challenge to this and it makes me wonder where the show is going with this. If Mallory truly is the voice of god ten, coupled with Michael’s past godly slaughter, are we seeing a world setting where their deity is, well, not a very nice guy? And, in light of that, is it not actually possible that Gabriel may be right?

Michael at least was angered by Harper’s death – but I really think a “stern talking to” is a pretty pathetic non-consequence for killing her.

I am curious as to where Claire is going with this rebellion. As she fights she shows herself to be ruthless and capable - but at the same time isn't brutally repressing a V1 rebellion going against everything she's supposed to stand for?