Saturday, October 3, 2015

Dominion, Season 2, Episode 13: Sine Deo Nihil

Alex is about to get his Chosen One Stripes – facing a huge influx of 8 Balls and dwindling ammunition, he strides forwards with bared arms and chants the exorcism – as his marks glow he explodes with energy and drops all the 8 Balls, though doing so exhausts him. The former 8 Balls stand up – all free from possession. He orders the newly released confused 8 Balls to get to safety

Claire states the obvious – special chosen one ness

But Vega is under attack by the 8 balls who got through the open gates because of William Wheele. Claire tells them all that she left David Wheele in the control room and gets the surprised look she so richly deserves. Luckily for her, her dad arrives in a chain of armoured cars so now Alex has to explain that her dad is now a Diad angel controlled by Duma who is loyal to Gabriel rather than questioning her decision making on trusting David

This also means that Gabriel’s forces know everything David does – he then goes on city-wide TV to demand that Alex be delivered to him.

In the control room Arika joins David and he tells her what William did. They discuss guilt and killing and Arika’s creepy yet quite deep belief that everyone you kill is now a part of you that you have to carry with you, to both comfort David and encourage him to move. Arika also wants to save Claire.

They meet with Alex and Claire (who are arguing over who is more important and who should be sacrificed for who). After the brief snarling, Alex tells Claire to run with Arika to safety in Helena; after protests she agrees while he describes how much she means to him (with Noma right there, gaaaah).

So when Alex and Noma go on, they have a discussion about how much Alex loves Claire – but he also says how much he loves Noma. Good, can we please have more showing of this? Alex goes on while Noma holds off the people following them.

Claire decides to give herself up so she can be taken to her father to save oh-so-special Alex. She is taken to Duma who uses her father’s memories to promptly disarm her and destroy her plan of stabbing him. Oops.

Claire appeals to her dad to fight against Duma, bringing him to the fore so they can have a tearful reunion (now would be a great time to do the stabbing thing though wouldn’t that need Empyrean steel?). When Alex finally confronts Duma, he is back in control and holding Claire hostage, forcing Alex to disarm.

For some reason Duma credits Alex for how humanity manage to hold out for 25 years (How? Why?). There’s a fight and David manages to push Duma down long enough to beg Claire to shoot him she foes… but not to kill because Claire and David shoots her back. She falls and Noma comes in and shoots David/Duma properly. Leave it to Noma to do it right

Which means Claire and Alex now have a tearful death scene. I think Noma’s supposed to look sad as Claire dies but she looks like she’s bored. Frankly, so am I. Claire has annoyed me for far too long. Noma chivies Alex back into the fight

Alex continues to angst but Noma has another swift angry wake up call for him to get him back into action. A huge swarm attacks – but it’s not 8 Balls, it’s the humans that Alex has saved. They’ve all found weapons (from somewhere) and recovered from their possession and are out fighting. Yes he’s now a super-inspiring leader of the people of Vega because he’s just so damn special. Alex decides to have an epic speech about how special Claire is and he totally isn’t special, honest (hah). Led by Noma everyone kneels to him

I have to fight the urge to vomit.

Meanwhile Gabriel has dragged Michael to Mallory and its ever burning fire. Gabriel rants and yells – the whole town is deserted. Gabriel has an ultimatum, either Michael prove Lucifer is alive or he kills him. He rants on about how Lucifer made everything terrible by empowering humans with knowledge which, in turn, drove god away. He blames Lucifer for everything more than everyone else. Michael also confesses that he didn’t burn Lucifer’s body – he buried him at Sea. Bad bad Michael. Baaaad Michael. Gabriel still isn’t convinced – but then Lucifer’s prophet intervenes.

He’s evacuated Mallory for their own good but Gabriel is all twisted by the darkness inside him from the amphora. Gabriel begs the prophet to speak to Lucifer since he had the gift of healing. Well the bargain comes with threats and invoking Lucifer’s debt. The Prophet sets Gabriel on fire. Apparently the fire is healy fire – and now Gabriel is back to himself and all repentant and loving his brother

And Michael realises that Lucifer is rebuilding his body through faith – the people of Mallory are sacrificing someone to him every 5 years (along with keeping the fire lit et al) they’re giving him lots of power to put himself back together again. And Alex would be a super duper sacrifice because he’s the “last pure heart.”

They demand to know where Lucifer’s body is, but the prophet is just one of many. He taunts them that Lucifer is already after Alex – and Michael is suddenly horrified that Alex is in Vega with Noma and he and Gabriel fly off.

Arika and David make it to the Helena evacuation helicopter – but David refuses to leave the city because he has a sense of responsibility. They part with David’s clear “we were good together.” Actually they kind of were. David is overcome by 8 Balls as

Through this we also get a 25 year old flashback to Gabriel’s plan to kill Alex in the hope that it will extinguish Michael’s affection for humans (somehow). He’s accompanied by Noma who supports Gabriel despite obvious conflict. Gabriel and Noma kill Alex’s mother. Noma flies off with baby Alex but when Michael finds her she hasn’t kill the baby because she couldn’t bring herself to do so because Alex is all full of godly power. Michael hides what Noma did and gives baby Alex to Jeep to raise who apparently isn’t Alex’s biological father) and passes on the markings to Jeep to give to Alex (the markings are currently on Michael). When Jeep’s gone, Michael tells Noma he expects her to sacrifice herself for Alex if/when it comes to it.

Noma swears to protect the Chosen one and Gabriel lands all pissed that Noma has given up on him and that Michael has giving the markings to a human. He warns Michael that Noma clearly can’t be trusted.

And now we have a brief Julian cameo. Do we really care about this guy? He rambles on about the lower angels needing hope because they’re all oppressed by the higher angels. He rants on about it just being the beginning where we have a montage:

Noma kisses Michael

David (who is alive) is dragged before Riesen (who is also alive, apparently?)

The prophet goes into the basement of his church where Lucifer’s body is. Damn it Michael, 5 minute’s search is all it would have taken! He ominously says “it is time.”

Which is when Noma stops and turns – she tells him she gave up too much with her wings and needed to be healed. She has been – she has white wings now. Looks like she made a deal with Satan

And so concludes the season finale of Dominion and I find myself…. Frustrated. There’s a lot about this show and its potential I like, and there’s a lot of good stuff here. We have some good acting, some good conflict, some really well written scenes, excellent emotion and excellent battle scenes. It has all of the tools for a really good series and there are so many stories that have excellent potential here (and I really like the introduction of Lucifer into the mix).

And then I’m frustrated because none of this potential is really realised. In failing to live up to this potential it has pretty much ruined a lot of characters

Primarily, I just can’t stand Alex. This man is a classic Gary Stu. The one special, notable or vaguely interesting feature about this man is that he has some gnarly tattoos that give him the specialist magic. His personality is bland and bordering on the petulant. He doesn’t actually do or achieve anything to be hailed as so special (what has he actually done all season? Seriously? Because I can’t remember. He left with Gabriel then wandered to New Delphi then wandered to Vega. Along the way he achieved… nothing. He is boring. There is absolutely nothing noteworthy or meaningful about him. But because he is the Gary Stu, everyone hails him as super special. Michael, Noma, Claire, Gates (all of whom are willing to/have sacrificed absolutely everything for this damn man) all hail him as the Chosen One but he has done NOTHING to earn this accolade. Worse, we now have this damn “pure heart” label being thrown around but nothing Alex does suggests his heart is any purer than anyone else (unlike several members of the cast)

This man doesn’t deserve to be protagonist. He is dull, he is empty, he is a vessel for deus ex powers and the whole cast fawns on him.

Gabriel is another whiny character who gets on my very last nerve. His constant daddy and brother issues, his endless angst completely destroys his portrayal as a villain because everything is just covered in petulance. I don’t even want him to be defeated any more, I want someone to slap him and tell him to grow up and get over himself. Everything about him screams tantrum and the flashbacks (to humanise him? To give him Manpain?) just seem to emphasise this.

Claire is dead and I can’t even be upset by it because she has driven me to distraction. She has been an utterly terrible ruler form the very first (with her ill thought out destruction of Gabriel’s eerie). She didn’t even take down David, that was on Arika. She achieved nothing as ruler except to sabotage her own civil war – and that whole civil war was a disaster. This was supposed to be about the whole class divide that Vega has and the terrible injustice it caused – that lasted about 5 minutes before that whole fascinating storyline was ditched (along with Zoe, another potentially interesting character) to have a proxy war between Claire and David. Other than inept leader Claire has been love interest and mourned the loss of her baby – before finally sacrificing herself for Alex.

And Noma… arrrgh Noma. They finally introduced some back story to tell us why Noma constantly sacrifices herself or Alex, puts up with being the forgotten extra in a love triangle and generally doesn’t get even the tiniest fraction of respect or regard she deserves – but this is terrible. They belatedly slapped a whole load of guilt on her to justify her whole purpose on the show being one of service and sacrifice. It’s clumsy and prevents any further development and devalues the sacrifices she’s made. She’s not the noble, honourable one giving up everything for the greater good – now she gives up everything for the greater good because she OWES it.

Of course, she now serves Lucifer. Which between her and the Prophet means two of the three recurring POC on the show are on the side of the devil. Yeah… that’s not great. Other than Arika, the other POC on the show have appeared only very very briefly as side characters

The third is, of course, Arika who is also the shows only LGBT character we have left after the departure of Ethan and Uriel (we briefly had Arika’s lover who was also a WOC, but she rapidly disappeared) and is gloriously evil and conniving for… reasons. See, we still have no damn clue why Arika does all the evil things she does – she just does it. She’s planning something – but at the moment she’s just sinister and conniving which is not exactly a positive portrayal. Even if she and David’s growth, development and acting remained the only compelling elements of the show

On top of this we seem to have a few storylines that… well.. it’s not that they didn’t go anywhere, so much as they aren’t finished so we’ve had a whole season with few conclusions.  So the Julian storyline is still… there (and there could have been some nice development of how lower angels were treated in Heaven and the rigid hierarchy – but like the class divide of Vega it just wasn’t developed). The Luficer story is going to be the key storyline next season – but there’s still Gabriel and his war which is, again, kind of in limbo as he works through issue after issue after issue. There was William Wheele dragged back, again, to really take up screen time he didn’t need. But that also leaves us with David’s and Arika’s storylines to develop as well.

There’s a lot going on and nothing was really resolved by the finale. I’m still really interested where this show is going but kind of annoyed because I don’t think anything will go nearly as well as it should. And Alex will still be there.