Summary : Dominion creates its own distinctive brand of angel mythology while exploring the concepts of faith and humanity.
The Syfy Channel’s new show Dominion creates its own distinctive brand of angel mythology while exploring the concepts of faith and humanity. The show’s fourth episode, “The Flood,” written by Brusta Brown and John Mitchell Todd and directed by Alex Holmes, is a good illustration of this.
“The Flood” opens with an injured Michael (Tom Wisdom) being rushed into an emergency room, a panicked Alex Lannon (Chris Egan) by his side. Though the relationship between the two has seemed strained at times, this scene further establishes the reciprocity of the emotion that Michael showed for Alex in last week’s episode. (Note: Watching Michael cry is heart-wrenching.)
Alex doesn’t get to stay by Michael’s side, as he’s arrested for “desertion of duty” and taken to Vega Detention Center. To avoid being strip-searched and revealing the full-body markings he now carries, he starts a fight and is thrown into solitary confinement. Alex makes questionable choices at times – he left Vega knowing that as the Chosen One he was wanted by everyone – but in this case, he makes a good, albeit most painful, one.
I’m really enjoying how Dominion seems to handle familiar themes and tropes, like “The Chosen One,” differently. For example, while the mythology of the Chosen One permeates the show, Alex isn’t the center all the time. Instead, he’s part of an ensemble cast comprised of interesting, diverse characters with rich potential. One of my favorite characters so far is Michael. He’s in the hospital, unconscious with a persistent wound, when Alex is being incarcerated. While Senator Becca Thorn (Rosalind Halstead) sleeps at his bedside, someone sneaks into the room. The person uses a lighter to coax oil from an angel feather, which is then dripped into the open wound. Though I still don’t understand how both Becca and Michael slept through all of that, it’s very cool to see yet another ability of those amazing angel wings. The scene then shifts to Michael waking in the Stratosphere Hotel, in bed with Becca lying beside him.
The relationship between Michael and Becca is interesting. The two seem to have a genuine affection and attachment. When the angel wakes, Becca explains that the bleeding couldn’t be stopped, so he was brought to the hotel, but when he checks the wound, it’s nearly healed. Michael says that Furiad’s blade should have killed him and says that he needs to see the sword fragment – Becca answers that she never saw it.
The two share a touching moment where Becca laments, “I thought I lost you.” Michael responds, “Would that be such a bad thing?” Becca reassures him that it would be. However, the end of the episode reveals that Becca lied to Michael. She not only has the fragment of Furiad’s blade, but she’s studying it. Michael also wants to study the blade, so why is this deception necessary? Since someone must have given Becca the blade after its extraction from Michael’s body, who is aiding her deception?
That same night, yet another mysterious visitor approaches the sleeping Michael and Becca. This one, however, carries a vicious-looking blade rather than an angel feather. Before she can behead Becca, Michael snaps to alertness, the wings (!) come out, and he carries her outside. The visitor turns out to be Michael’s sister, Uriel (Katrine De Candole). Her whereabouts have been unknown for over twenty years, and Michael wants to know why she’s there. Uriel is angry that he’s kept the Chosen One from them and informs him, “We need to talk, little brother. Meet me up north.”
The episode then shifts back to the hospital, where Claire Riesen’s (Roxanne McGee) visit to adorable urchin Bixby instigates the central action. There’s a slight hitch in the dialogue here, when Bixby informs Claire that “The Chosen One” came into the hospital the night before. Considering that Bixby’s known Alex for years and is close to him, it doesn’t make sense to me that she wouldn’t call him by name. It seems especially odd when she refers to him being “The Chosen One” again only seconds later.
The scene between Claire and Bixby is pivotal, though. Once Senator Frost overhears that the Chosen One is in Vega, the action unfolds. Frost wants the Savior revealed, and he attempts to force the issue by trapping himself, General Riesen (Alan Dale), and Secretary of Commerce David Whele (Anthony Stewart Head) in the agri-towers. If the Chosen One isn’t revealed, the senator will flood the towers, killing the three men and dooming Vega to starvation. The scene with Bixby also lets Claire know that something has happened to Alex. When she finds him in jail, he explains away solitary confinement with, “I had to keep the tattoos hidden.” He asks about Bixby and Michael, and though he seems happy to see Claire, he tells her that it’s safer if he’s in prison: “People around me get hurt…I don’t want to find out who’s next.”
Claire doesn’t romanticize Alex’s protestations, though. Instead, she puts him on the spot, asking him what should she tell Bixby then? He gives the trite answer to tell the girl that he “misses” her. Claire disregards the platitudes that Alex offers and drives her point home, asking him why he doesn’t write Bixby a letter, like his dad did for him. Alex argues, “That was different.” Claire’s answer is a simple, “How?” As she leaves him in his cell, she orders his release. It’s a nice moment when Alex does, in fact, visit Bixby soon after. The girl reassures Alex that it’s not his fault that she’s in there, but he disagrees.
In the agri-towers, Riesen argues with Frost, who counters, “I can’t allow a few politicians to control the destiny of the entire human race just because they feel their grip on power is threatened.” Whele tries to connect with their captor, talking about how faith can become a crutch, a “band-aid for your own fears.” Frost isn’t swayed, saying, “My faith is made of stronger stuff than dime-store televangelism, David.” Whele argues against the Church of the Savior’s tenets, saying, “The Chosen One – it’s us. It’s the people of Vega. That’s what’s going to save us.” It’s an interesting conversation that says quite a lot about Whele and his motivations; even more is revealed when he complains to Riesen that he should’ve taken care of that “V-1 runt” (Bixby) when he had the chance, yet another indication of Whele’s ruthlessness. Whele attempts to take the wireless control unit (WCU) from Frost, and the senator shoots him in the leg. Riesen applies a tourniquet, and the two talk, revealing more of their shared history. In a conversation about the battles they’ve fought, Whele recalls, “Between the two of us, we’ve probably beaten death a hundred times.”
In her father’s absence, Claire finds herself temporarily appointed “Lady of the City.” While Vega’s leaders argue about whether or not to use force, she suggests to Becca and William Whele (Luke Allen-Gale) that they agree to Frost’s demands. When she can’t convince them, Claire gives permission to cast her vote with theirs and leaves the council chambers.
As the V-2s, including Alex and his friends Ethan (Jonathan Howard) and Noma (Kim Engelbrecht), take position at the agri-tower, Claire shows up and orders that Alex be allowed to negotiate with Frost. His commanding officer reluctantly acquiesces to her expressly stated Executive Order. Frost allows Alex in, and he takes off his shirt to show his markings (and the bruises from the recent prison fight that have not “miraculously” disappeared. Continuity is a lovely thing.)
Frost doesn’t believe Alex is the Chosen One until he shares his vision from the prison. The phrase “She died for you” resonates with Frost, though I couldn’t help thinking that it’s a comment that can apply in a lot of situations. In this case, though, it feeds Frost’s faith, and he surrenders the WCU, kneels in front of Alex, and drops his gun. Whele denies a peaceful end to the standoff when he quickly picks up the gun and shoots Frost in the head. It’s a violent action in keeping with Whele’s characterization and desire to refute the Savior myth. He doesn’t want it known that the so-called Chosen One has been found.
Perhaps what Whele doesn’t yet realize is that Alex found his faith in helping Frost. Alex later tells Claire what happened, confessing that he doesn’t know what he’s doing. Cue Michael’s grand entrance (again, wings!). For a moment, Alex seems a tad petulant that he’s been missing in action, but he quickly shakes it off. He’s decided that he will take the angel up on his offer to train him: “I want to learn. About everything.”
Uriel’s return is the “family emergency” that Michael refers to when he explains his absence. After Michael thwarts her attempt to kill Becca, Uriel positions herself as a peacemaker between her brothers, saying, ““You idiots have fought a thousand times but never like this.” The conversations between the archangel siblings are interesting, revealing Uriel’s dismay at their Father’s abandonment and Michael’s continuing faith that he will return. Uriel also reminds Michael rather bitterly, “Father’s markings were meant for all of us, not just you.”
Michael points out that Uriel could end his and Gabriel’s (Carl Beukes) warring by choosing a side, but she says that she can never choose. Herein lies another deception, though, as by episode’s end, Uriel has assured Michael that if he trains the Chosen One, when he goes after Gabriel, he shall have her sword; she’s also assured Gabriel that if he persuades the Chosen One to join his side, then he shall have her sword. (I suppose that neither brother noticed the potential symbolism of her double sword.)
Michael appears to accept Uriel’s promise as genuine, and while Gabriel responds much as his brother did, the actor’s expression has a certain smirk that leaves me wondering. Do both brothers believe Uriel? Will she succeed in playing them against one another? And what is her ultimate goal?
For me, each new episode of Dominion has been better than the last. “The Flood” builds off small details, fleshing them out further. The references to Reisen and Whele’s combined past intrigues me, as well as Reisen’s alleged skill in rewriting history. Gabriel makes a pointed comment about Michael’s “colorful past” which leaves me with questions about him, too. Becca’s examination of the blade, Uriel’s deception, and Akira’s (Shivani Ghai) machinations also set the foundation for broad-scale, suspenseful storytelling.
After watching the sneak peek for the episode airing July 17, I’m especially interested in the development of Whele’s character. The last scene of “The Flood” shows him in the hospital, simply sitting at Bixby’s bedside, watching the girl sleep. After a long moment, he says, “You won’t feel a thing.” He adjusts her medicine, smoothes her hair, and holds her hand until she flatlines. Whele’s murder of a child is despicable, but how do we reconcile that act with the tenderness that he also shows? Is he regretful for what he’s doing? Or maybe Bixby really isn’t dead? Perhaps angel feathers have resurrection properties?
Dominion is a complex show, with a lot of layers, and it’s well worth the time and effort of parsing out the different storylines and characters. I’m excited to see where it goes, though there are only five episodes left in its all-too-short first season.
- Will Noma accept Akira’s offer to accompany her back to Helena? Akira is a fascinating character, in her own words “intuitive” and “a shrewd negotiator.” How exactly will Akira work her situation in Vega to her advantage? And we still don’t know the purpose of the device she turned on at the end of episode three.
- Speaking of Noma, what secret is she hiding?
- Claire tells Alex, “My father has become an expert at rewriting history.” Hmm… what other aspects of Vega history has Reisen rewritten?
- Ethan has so much personality and his comments offer much-needed levity at times. I hope we’ll see more of him in future episodes.
- When will I stop expecting a British accent every time that Giles – I mean, Whele – speaks?
- Dominion showrunner Vaun Wilmott, along with the cast and crew, maintain active presences on Twitter. Check out the #Dominion tag for more show information and behind-the-scenes details.