I just watched the first episode of “Killjoys” on Netflix.
(Don’t worry; a review for a one-hour show is sure to be shorter than a review of a show that ran for eight season… right?)
Mild spoilers to follow!
Like Firefly? Like Joss Whedon (ie clever dialogue, strong female characters, exciting plots)?
This is the show for you.
The opening scene actually echoes the opening scene of Buffy, with a woman appearing frightened but ultimately being the strongest and most capable person around. (In Buffy, it’s Darla; a vampire – echoing the overall show theme of “fun cheerleader type is absolutely NOT the victim here”.)
The main girl (Dutch) of “Killjoys”, and her platonic BFF are bounty hunters. She is his boss.
Points for a cool job and setting (and the connections to Firefly are self-explanatory).
Then BFF boy (er… I’m not good with names) has a secret. Although he should have told Dutch right away, his reason for keeping it secret make sense. In fact, although certain narrative beats are to be expected, they’re all nicely done and the characters’ motivations and decisions are all fundamentally reasonable and intelligent. (As a writer I admire the challenge of having the characters’ situation constantly worsen WITHOUT the characters coming off as stupid.)
So the very first major plot point (the secret) already works on two levels – there’s tension between the two leads, and there’s tension in knowing that there’s a larger and more dangerous plot in the making.
Then there’s another bounty hunter with the same problematical kill order. Once again, it works on two levels. First, it’s bounty hunter vs bounty hunter (all the more delicious for the fact that Dutch clearly knows the other bounty hunter, and immediately goes and talks with him – I adore friendly enemies). Secondly, it’s a kill order that Dutch doesn’t want to fulfil, so now not only does she need to defy either her boss or her moral code (and partner at the same time), but she also now needs to actively protect the man who should be her target.
A third main character is introduced, and he is just as fascinating as the others, and is immediately emotionally entangled with both Dutch and BFF boy in a deep and complicated way.
And of course there’s a love triangle. Because Dutch and the BFF are so, so very close; closer than most marriage partners… but they’ve never been romantic. That suggests one of them is almost certainly desperately in love with the other; so in love they can’t say a word because their life would be ruined if the other person stepped away from them. Perhaps both of them are in love, and unable to risk saying so. We’ll see.
And of course the third character means there’ll be a love triangle. Sooner or later. And in this show, it will be done so well that I can’t wait to see it develop.
There’s one tiny, elegant moment when the third character and Dutch are at a party. Dutch is in an AMAZING dress (if I didn’t know I was attracted to women, I’d have found out today) and the third character checks her out… while wearing a hidden camera, which is feeding back to the BFF. The BFF tells him off in a way that could be either an extremely brotherly feeling for Dutch… or he could be the one suffering through (probably) unrequited love. I need to know how he feels! And her! And the other one!
Then there’s yet another character who is clearly very important, and very deadly, and has an extremely complex relationship with Dutch. He has power over her… and she has power over him (which she definitely wishes she didn’t have). It’s not clear if he hates or loves her, but it’s almost certainly both. There is a perfect moment at the end of the episode when we see this fantastically strong character collapse into a frightened little girl without a word spoken. And we already know she’s right to be scared.
I actually noticed the music of the show (in a good way, because the emotional mood was so delicious), which I almost never do. And even in that moment, with Dutch’s necklace, there’s another source of tension (internal moral tension this time, which is ALSO linked to the Third Main Character Guy and his past and his decisions).
So, in conclusion, we have three very compelling characters in compelling relationships with one another, and with an incredible array of challenges and secrets and enemies. I am so stressed out! I already care so deeply for all three main characters.
Almost every scene and plot beat does at least two things at once (purely from the script; the visuals, world-building, etc are all delicious too). That is simply wonderful to see, and it motivates me to strive to write so well. In fact, I’m writing this blog to analyse some of what was so clever about the show.
It also motivates me to immediately watch all ten episodes, then rock back and forwards in the foetal position until I get the rest. Then more. Then more.
As of this moment, this is my favourite TV show. Ever.
Edited to add: And yeah, bad stuff happens in this show… but not really. There’s supposedly an attempted rape in the opening scene, but it would take a very green viewer to think for a second it was really going to happen.
Then there’s the enslaved cage fighter… who still has all his pretty pretty teeth.
And of course the opening torture scene, with no blood and plenty of quips.
Edited after seeing the second episode: Haha! Someone did lose a tooth this episode, but of course it was just a bit character and a baddie, not one of our beautiful boys.
This isn’t a criticism! In its own way, “Killjoys” is just as much a safe & charming drama as “Gilmore Girls”, despite all the murderin’.
I’m hazy on copyright law, so in lieu of a proper show pic, here’s something from my own image collection.
Another beautiful woman who happens to be a cold-blooded killer.