This is a warning, a disclaimer and a declaration of love all rolled into one. Because the fact that these recaps are full of snark and what may seem to be criticism doesn’t mean that I don’t love Dominion – quite on the contrary. If I didn’t love the show as much as I do, I wouldn’t be taking the time and effort to do this.
Please read these recaps as a humorous, tongue-in-cheek attempt to pay homage to a show that I think is wonderfully written, acted, shot and produced. (Vaun, should you read this, you are still the ninja among showrunners, and I hope you can forgive me for posting these.) ‘Nuff said. Now go away or dare read on at your own peril.
How to cram as much plot, exposition and new characters as possible into the space of one hour and still make it exciting television
The episode starts off with a lovely… mural thing. Animated cartoon. Mural. Something. I’m fascinated by the creepiness of it when you pay close attention (you know, like, the seventh time around).
The backstory of the movie Legion is narrated over the course of a full minute by a deep male voice. Alan Dale as General Riesen, as we later learn. In an American accent. So, yeah. Archangel Gabriel. Bla bla Extermination War. Bla bla humans must die for God to return. But, wait, Archangel Michael saved them, or rather gave his best. Then he saved a baby. Bla bla Chosen One, saviour of mankind. The end.
We cut to the interior of a dark, spooky space which turns out to be an abandoned casino. A young man is walking through it with a flashlight and a gun. I’m even more creeped out and also strangely fascinated by the images on my TV screen. A discarded, old doll on the floor that looks like Chucky’s evil, grimy twin, a set of broken spectacles, abandoned casino tables amidst garbage and rubble.
The sandy-haired fellow, mid-twenties by my best estimate, is clad in some kind of military uniform. He reveals a red SUV from underneath a cloth cover and stocks the boot with tinned food and other supplies. Looks like someone is preparing for… what? A camping trip? The end of the world? A quick get-away? We’ll find out.
A noise distracts him. And, oh, look, he’s got an Uzi in his boot. He must be into some serious shit. And why the hell doesn’t he take it when he goes to find out what those noises are? Come on, dude. Why just take the handgun?
Cue dun-dun-dun type of crescendoing music. He peeks round a corner; three people are playing poker at one of the old poker tables. They haven’t figured out yet that they have a visitor. Well, until Military Guy steps on a glass that splinters beneath his heel. Whoopsies.
Eyes are suddenly trained on him, but not just any eyes. Pitch-black irises, unhealthy looking dark veins on their skin and claw-like fingernails make it obvious these creatures are not quite human. “Join us, we have an empty seat,” one of them, a fat momma, tells him in a weirdly distorted voice.
Military Guy doesn’t think twice. A well placed bullet between the eyes kills the hooker-type. That’s all he can do as the other two immediately pounce on him. First WTF moment, cause fat momma throws the poker table across half the room in one swift motion, then jumps several feet into the air and crawls along a wall like a spider on steroids. Military Guy runs. Fast.
Outside in the glaring sun, he jumps into his vehicle and drives off, just in the nick of time. Or not, as it turns out. Cause the other creature thing unfurls a set of black wings from his back and charges after him. Holy shit, these things can fly!
Military Guy makes a run for it, and we learn he’s A. Lannon, passcode 2271. He asks someone via walkie talkie to open the gates. In a wide angle shot, we get a glimpse of why. What we see appears to be the ruins of Las Vegas, now a wounded cityscape that speaks of glory long faded. It’s surrounded by a wall. A pretty damn big wall.
The badass angel creature isn’t so easily shaken. And, shit, it has a forked, 3 foot tongue, too! The “Not welcome to fabulous Las Vegas” sign is a nice touch for those that haven’t noticed where we are the first time around. (To be fair, I don’t think I did. Then again, I’ve never been to Vegas.)
A. and Creep!Angel approach the gate. Perimeter breach. Cannons are armed and ready and trained on them. This city means business. Creep!Angel has to let go of the SUV and flies up, and… KERSPLAT! The cannons are not only armed, they’re also precise. Breathing a sigh of relief, A. is being admitted to the gate.
He’s being dragged out of the car by gropey soldiers, one of them shoves some kind of electronic scanning device in his face. “Possession negative,” it says. And why are there double helices at the bottom of the screen? Please, not another show that’ll try to sell me bullshit TV science, cause that’s the one thing I really can’t stand. In real life science, you generally don’t display genome sequences as a double helix, okay? You can also not isolate genome sequences by holding a fancy scanner to someone’s face. Or see a virus through a light microscope. Trust me on that one. (Also, probably 95% of liquid chemicals are colourless, and the rest are not bright red, green or blue. But that’s a whole other pet peeve story.)
Aaaaank, continuity error. Or, well, writing error. Or badly placed joke. Cause Lannon says something about a 2-for-1 buffet at the Flamingo when he’s asked why he was outside the walls. By all accounts of Vega’s layout (yes, I’ve checked – too closely, probably), the Flamingo should be well inside the walls. Come on, Lannon, you should know that!
There’s something about Eight-balls (huh?) and that he should be taken to the archangel. Okay, I’m intrigued.
Italian opera-style music. At least I think it’s Italian. It sounds Italian. We cut to a Fresco painting: Four scantily clad, beautiful women lying curled up on a large bed. Wait. Not a painting. One of the women gets up and walks up to an athletic man with a naked torso (yes, we do watch for the plot!) who stands in front of a window that overlooks an illuminated cityscape.
“You were a naughty boy tonight.”
That has to be one of the best character introduction lines ever. Something mysterious is shrouding this guy. He must be the archangel. And for some reason he doesn’t want to make children. And he wants the orgies to stop. (WTF, dude? He must be the archangel, human males wouldn’t say that.) Out the open window he jumps and flies away on black wings. Yep, definitely archangel.
A. is being transported to wherever they want to hold him and we get a glimpse of the underbelly of the city as he is being driven through it. Huge video screens advertise religious messages and coloured lights glare as a vaguely Lord-of-the-Ringsy violin tune plays in the background. People mill about, being kept in check by soldiers. The city’s going to hell.
Their destination is what used to be Caesars Palace, now adorned with a gold on red emblem. A. ends up in an interrogation room of sorts, taunted by a fellow soldier. He wants to know how A. managed to leave the city. A.’s not telling, the smug smile never wavering. Then the archangel, Michael, steps into the room. An immediate air of authority and respect encircles him, the soldier leaves the room.
“Leave the whip,” Michael states calmly. Oh shit, A. But, man, you had it coming, didn’t ya?
A. seems to believe they have a right to leave the city. Michael doesn’t. He interrogates A. about the angels he ran into. All Eight-balls, but different.
“What were they doing?” Michael asks.
“Playing Texas Hold ‘Em,” A. answers, and off Michael’s raised eyebrows, adds, “Not kidding.” Still one of my favourite lines from the pilot.
We learn that A. is a member of the Archangel Corps, whatever that is. And then it’s whipping time. Once. Ouch. Twice. Ouch. Three times. Double-ouch. I cringe every time.
Enter new, high-ranking military bald guy (hey, it’s the body attached to the mural voiceover!), who promptly stops the whipping. (Thank you!) He tells A. not to say anything and to report for duty. Exit A.
“He shouldn’t be outside the wall,” Michael broken-records. Yes, man, we know, okay? He misbehaved. Give it a rest already.
“He needs discipline.” Orgies. Whipping. Into kinky stuff much, Mikey?
So the Eight-balls, i.e. the evil angels pose a new threat. The plot thickens.
And now that we’ve gone a full ten minutes without obvious exposition, it’s destined to make a comeback. This time it’s a young woman, telling a story to a group of children. Bla bla lower angels. Bla bla lesser spirits without a body. Bla bla Chosen One. (Again? Come on, your viewers’ attention span isn’t that dismal!) Bla bla saviour will be revealed and save the world. And then they all lived happily ever after.
She finishes up her lesson and, hey, look, there’s A. guarding the young lady. Not a coincidence, is it? Her name is Claire. They smooch. They’re all over each other. And that’s what the getaway car was for, they want to run off to New Delphi together the next evening if her father doesn’t agree to let him marry her. Cause you can just see that she’s way, way out of his league.
Oh, and we finally learn what A. stands for. Pretty Military Guy goes by the name of Alex.
And who’s this smarmy apple-polisher in black? William hasn’t said two sentences, and already I wanna grab him by the collar and shake him until he can’t tell up from down. The face also looks vaguely familiar, but I just can’t place it. It won’t leave me alone until I visit the all-mother of geek databases — IMDb. Oh yes, of course. He played the annoying dude on Monroe. Hello there, Luke. I’m sure you’re a rad bloke in person, but so far I’ve not liked you on TV. (Which probably speaks to your acting skills, so it’s all good.) Also, he’s a priest of some kind. Gah. Not earning him sympathy points here.
Interesting. They pray by holding out their hands like… uh… they’re catching rainwater? Weird.
We switch to Alex in what we can only assume is his sleeping quarters. Lots of uninviting bunk beds, people milling about in underwear and waists wrapped in towels. (More orgies? What’s the deal here?) He takes off his shirt with a grunt, and I cringe at the ugly whip marks you see on his back.
A little girl with huge eyes and dark circles the size of saucers under them drops by. He calls her Bix and feeds her his cashews. I find it funny that he calls Michael a peacock, which I may have only caught the second or third time around.
As much as I adore Bix, she’s yet another victim of exposition. Alex explains how Vega’s V-System works. The higher up you are, the better off, or vice versa. And Alex’s big dream is to leave the city one day to be free. It sounds like he’s got something in the works, too.
Next up is a re-enactment of sorts of the Denethor’s feast scene from Lord of the Rings, only it’s not a king but the general from the whipping scene. He and another gent meet by a pool, and the not-general is a consul who likes berries. The general doesn’t. They could probably feed Bix for a whole month with the culinary opulence that’s presented on the general’s table.
I try not to get distracted by all the food (great, now I’m peckish — *sigh*) and listen to what they’re saying. Angel attack on the city. Not all dead. One survived, but not a problem. All taken care of. Gotcha.
Oh, oh, oh! I almost forgot!! I got all excited when I saw who was playing the consul. Cause… Anthony frickin’ Head! It’s Herc, the Berk! Only Cabin Pressure fans will understand why I’m so excited. I’ve never seen him in moving pictures. This is so great! I’m loving the show already! (And, no, I’ve never seen either Buffy or Merlin. I know, a crime. I’m sorry. I’m a bad geek.)
Whoa, we’re barely 19 minutes in, and there’s a naked butt scene! This isn’t even Canadian television. Something’s wrong with this picture! Not that I’m complaining. And not just naked butts, naked butts in the shower, no less.
Alex’s pal is kinda cute. Way more my type than Alex, but don’t tell Chris Egan that, okay? Cute guy doesn’t know the difference between lions and tigers. His name is Ethan. And there’s Noma, showering right next to the boys. Sorry, male/lesbian audience, no boobs for you tonight. More naked butt shots, however. I approve. (No, wait, I lied. As Ethan leaves, you may just spot a nipple in the distance. If you look closely. Why am I even looking for that?)
As Alex and Noma get dressed, we learn that Claire is General Riesen’s daughter. Interesting. Then three helicopters fly in, which gets people’s attention. Also, continuity error with episode 6, I think. There should only be two helicopters, but I’m not gonna tell you why just yet.
A delegation from Helena is arriving, escorted by Consul Whele and the priest. They chaperone an exotic looking lady wearing a light purple bed sheet with a hood and a hole in the middle over a screaming-pink kaftan. There’s a kid with them too, which causes a big stir. Apparently they keep their kids hidden in Helena. I decide I don’t wanna live there.
Ethan thinks the kid may be the Chosen One. Alex thinks the Chosen One is a myth.
The Consul wants to trade with the Helenians. The bed sheet lady bribes him with a gift first. Is there something more going on between the two? And is the priest the Consul’s son? And what is it that the Consul wants to show the bed sheet lady?
Oh, look, it’s a refurbished nuclear reactor. Nice. The bed sheet lady wants one. Suddenly the Consul isn’t so accommodating anymore. But we learn what he wants: Helena has an Air Force that he’d like to get his hands on. A-ha! He’s the power-hungry jerk with a hidden agenda in this story.
Night scene. Gloomy. Spooky. A dark figure in a furry hood with a machine gun opens some sort of hatch and climbs in. We never see his face. Vega’s lights glow in the distance. And this scene was really confusing me on the first viewing because I just couldn’t figure out what it was supposed to mean. Now I do, but I don’t think I fully understood it until after I read the pilot script that’s floating around the internet. Not sure if that means the writing wasn’t solid or if I’m just not very adept at putting two and two together. (Probably the latter. For some reason, I’m not great with grasping complex, subtle crosslinks in film, which is quite possibly why I have yet to find a spy movie I find enjoyable.)
Yay! Gratuitous shirtless, broody archangel! A dark figure in a furry hood with a machine gun enters Michael’s abode. Wait. Now that I write this, it sounds stupid why I never made the connection that they’re the same person. Why did I not get that the first time around?! I feel really daft now.
Michael smiles. “Jeep,” he says upon laying eyes on the fur-coated fellow right from the Middle Ages. Did he say Jeep? That’s a brand of car. Is that Fur Fellow’s name? Why would anyone name their child that? What the heck, I decide to name my firstborn Volkswagen.
And take a really, really good look at Michael in this scene. He’s smiling. Yes, a genuine smile. Savour the experience and hold on to it, because I don’t think you’ll see it again in the next seven episodes.
So Jeep has been away for the last 15 (oh, excuse me, 14 ½, but who’s counting?) years, trying to decipher the tattoos he bears on his body. And either he’s dyslexic or they’re impossible to decipher, because he’s got zilch. Talk about a time-waster.
Jeep is also asking after someone. Someone’s undisciplined, strong-willed, passionate and mercurial. Gee, wonder who that could be? Also, according to Jeep, war is coming. Mh-kay.
In the Riesen mansion, something political is cooking. Apparently the general wants to step down. Claire knows that if he does, Whele will live out every bit of his megalomaniac ego and turn Vega into a dictatorship. While she stares at her father with large, fiery eyes, I wonder why she’s wearing a rather ridiculous looking flower wreath on her head. Is Vegan (veh-gan, not vee-gan, okay?) Woodstock coming up, or something?
Oh, yeah, and this was supposed to be all about asking the general’s permission to marry Alex. But in light of political crises, she tables that particular conversation. So much for “Alex, he’ll say yes, trust me”.
David Whele comes in for a surprise visit as Arika is taking an opulent bath. She threatens him with a gun. They talk about the child she brought: Roan. Apparently he’s something of a wunderkind. Is he the Chosen One after all? And, yes, there’s definitely something going on between David and Arika. Suddenly I wonder why it’s never crossed my mind until now that David might be married. I mean, William must have a mother, right?
Speak of the devil, we cut to young Roan who awakens from a nightmare and gets up. He walks to a window overlooking the city and watches the sunrise with his hands against the window pane. I have yet to understand the significance of this scene. What am I missing? Was it just to show that something’s up with the boy? “Dear audience, pay attention, this character will become important over the next half hour or so.” Something like that?
At House Riesen, Alex is being summoned to Claire’s room. Ooooh, cheeky. Apparently under the guise that she needs some supplies for the night. Indeed, she’s holding a shopping list with extremely vital items: Eyeliner, lipstick, foundation, base, eyeshadow, blush, lip pencil. I’m not even kidding.
Conspiratorial whispers ensue barely five feet from an AAC guard. Uhm… yeah. Very clandestine. Not. The guard doesn’t give a toss, though. You two caught a lucky break. But anyway, Claire tells Alex something’s up with her father and that they need to go back to their original plan to flee the city after the Jubilee that night. You can’t quite tell if Alex is happy or distraught over it.
Michael is waiting for Alex at the bottom of the stairs. “Come with me.” Charming as ever. He takes him to the Stratosphere tower where Fur Fellow is lurking, who promptly attacks Alex out of nowhere. Cue hasty sword fight. As metal clanks on metal, I debate how I could possibly recap this scene, because it just doesn’t call for snark. It’s angsty and beautiful, and I just don’t wanna ruin the emotional intensity of it. So let me get more serious for a minute.
If you look very closely at the fighting scene, there’s a few beats that one might easily miss, for instance the moment where Michael is almost ready to step in and end the fight. The usually so stoic expression is actually replaced by genuine concern.
But then Alex manages to get the upper hand and pins Jeep against the wall. It’s when he says, “You trained him well, Michael,” that it starts to sink in for Alex. The hooded figure is his father. And the shock, confusion and betrayal is so plainly written over his face that I get a knot in my stomach just from watching it. Even on the nth rewatch.
Another beautiful moment is when Alex says, “He isn’t even human.” Michael’s two-second expression speaks volumes, and if you squint, you might even realize that the statement stung more than he’d probably care to admit. And I believe without a doubt what Alex is trying to say. Eleven years old, he was left an orphan to fend for himself. Michael may have watched over him for the past fifteen years, but he was hardly a father figure. That much is abundantly clear.
Whatever Jeep may have been expecting from this meeting, I don’t think it quite matches what he’s given. Fifteen years of abandonment can’t be patched in an instant. Alex has every right to be angry at the deceit, the years of hardship and loneliness. “You don’t have a son,” he finally tells Jeep. I think that’s the moment where both Jeep and Michael realize they may have made a colossal mistake.
The Wheles are back, and aren’t they both lovely? David has an issue with a piece of cloth that has crude, crayon-drawn black eyes on it. Something about angel worshippers. We learn that the worshippers are called Acolytes, all the while David shows William his latest trump card. He captured the fat momma Eight-ball and is keeping it chained and locked up. David’s clearly mental.
In the AAC quarters, Alex insists that Bixby meet him at the arena at 10pm that night. It’s really important. She says she’ll be there, huge eyes and everything.
And here goes another Senate session. Or, well, the elite members of the Senate, i.e. House Riesen, Whele and Thorn. And for the first time I notice the weird tassels on the General’s uniform. Who designed that thing? Also, did anyone else notice that the Wheles seem to like dark green? Kinda like their signature colour, just like red for Riesen and, hm, maybe blue for Thorn? Note to self: pay more attention to fashion in upcoming episodes.
But, oh, I stray from the actual subject. Jeep is back, four wheel drive and everything. (Sorry. But, hey, come on, he’s wearing the matching cross-country threads, too…) Lots of shocked faces at the revelation that Jeep is alive. Then lots of fallen faces when they realize he’s got nothin’. Well, except for the news that Gabriel is massing for another war.
Boo-hoo, says Whele. That’s not news. The war never ended. So, yeah, big, bad Gabe is still alive and well, and he’s got company. A flock of flappy black angels flying into a rock palace of some kind. (And I mean stone rock, not music rock.) And, yay, more exposition, this time it’s Michael’s turn to explain what the “Powers” are. Mighty higher angels who hate man and have joined Gabriel in his cause. One of them is the red version of Magneto and goes by the name of Furiad. Damn, that can’t be good.
Oh, also… guess what. Jeep knows who the Chosen One is. And he’ll tell them. Some time. Soon-ish. We hope. Although I must say I’ve had my suspicions right from the start. And they turned out to be correct. But more on that later…
Aaaaand, on to the Jubilee. It’s a spectacle, thousands of audience members, all gay and giddy. I’m reminded of those tacky travelling circus shows. Whele is up in his VIP box with some of the purple bedsheet ladies. Shivani Ghai needs to re-dye the roots of her hair. Don’t you love HD television? Also, daring dress there, Becca. Michael can’t help but notice either.
Jeep and Alex get a father-son-bonding moment. Aww. The last surviving photo of Mrs. Jeep, and he gives it to Alex. (Was she called Mercedes, by any chance? Oh, no, wait, she’s called Charlie.) And, hey, I think they might have actually used a photo of Adrianne Palicki for it, although it’s difficult to be sure. Yay for continuity efforts! And, man, Alex is actually tearing up here. How come I never noticed that?!
Mr. David “Smarmy” Whele takes the mic. There are some vaguely J.J. Abramsian horizontal light reflections that are more distracting than anything. Alex and Claire share a knowing look while William smiles complacently to himself in the Whele booth. And then the bomb drops. Whele announces the engagement of Claire Riesen to William Whele. Oh shit. This caught Claire cold. Way to go, Dad Riesen. Are we in India, or what?
Claire tries to put a good face on the matter, but upon close inspection doesn’t quite succeed. I wanna slap both father Riesen and Whele repeatedly in the face with a large, dead fish.
And then bomb no. 2 drops. Whele unleashes the fat momma Eight-ball. Oh, look, alpenhorns! The whole thing has a very Gladiator-y feel. And Michael isn’t so attractive with that foreboding frown on his face.
While Mr. Smarmy smarms away (bla bla, fear not, all very safe, bla bla, everything’s under control, bla, I’m the king), a sinister, dark figure in the rock palace mind-jumps into the fat momma Eight-ball. The force is clearly with him. This can only be Gabriel. He creeps me out already.
What follows is lots of chain wielding, havoc wreaking, chaos and panic. An unleashed, unchained Eight-ball is a fierce and fearful thing. Michael doesn’t hesitate to stick his two swords into it ninja-style.
But hold on. There’s more coming. Three higher angels approach the city from the air, among them Red Magneto. Both Michael’s spidey sense and the city’s radar picks them up.
I kinda wanna fast forward, cause there’s so much chaos until we get to the good bits. I guess I could summarize the next ten minutes as…
Also, I’ll just leave this here for you to ponder:
So, uh, yeah. Where were we? Senate plus Alex, Bixby, Jeep and some of the purple sheet people go running into a safe room. Michael fights the angels at the reactor. Reactor goes boom. Furiad escapes. Go figure.
Cut to the the safe room. I’m keyed up enough to type “the” twice. (Anyone notice?) Cue dramatic music. We focus on Roan. You will remember: the Helenian wunderkind who for some strange reason watched the sunrise over Vega not too long ago. In the melee, he grabs a knife from a table and stabs Jeep in the gut. Fuck! This is bad!
Soldiers shoot at him while he escapes out an escape hatch in the ceiling. Yep, another angel in disguise. They’re everywhere.
Jeep collapses in Alex’s arms in slow motion. His last words are addressed to his son. “You’re ready. I believe in you. You are the Chosen One.” (Gah, yessss! I knew it!) As the life drains out of him, the tattoos transfer from his body to Alex’s.
Everyone is awestruck. Claire even kneels before him. (Seriously?!)
David doesn’t hesitate and has Arika arrested. The Helenians can only be up to no good, and they don’t even have to solemnly swear.
Michael returns from his tête-à-tête with Red Magneto. He, too, kneels before Alex and confirms it: Alex was the baby he saved a quarter of a decade ago. He’s the Chosen One. Holy crap, it’s real. Now what?
In the aftermath of the big reveal, everyone is trying to take in the news. David and William, as usual, disagree. David thinks it’s just a ruse and that Alex is now their greatest enemy. William is in Saviorism heaven, cause, eureka, the Messiah is here! But what kinda sucks for him is that Claire is in love with Alex. Just can’t win, eh, Willy?
Alex himself doesn’t want to believe it either, and really, really, really doesn’t know what to make of it. His whole world just imploded and crashed down on him. Big time. Exposition makes a comeback. Bla bla tattoos. Bla bla written in a language long since forgotten. Bla bla Alex needs to decipher them to save humanity.
And then we get to the good stuff. Shirtless Chris Egan with tattoos all over his body. And, man, Tom Wisdom is really tall, isn’t he?
What is Michael wearing? Cause it’s not his usual dark grey suede coat. Something’s wrong with this picture! Tilt, tilt, does not compute.
The scene in the Stratosphere is actually kinda beautiful in that it lays the foundation for Michael and Alex’s somewhat testy relationship over the course of the first season. It’s the first time Alex starts trusting the archangel, starts seeing an ally in him. There’s a glimmer of hope that this whole mess might actually turn out all right.
Michael urges Alex to see if he can decipher any of the tattoos. And lo and behold! He actually can.
It says, “Beware of those closest to you.” Yeah, great. Why can’t it just say, “Go to Gabriel’s aerie, kill the guy, drop a nuclear bomb on the rest of the Eight-balls, and be done with it”? Or, you know, “Pray to the third full moon of summer at exactly 3:48 AM, but only when the sky is cloudless and the crickets sing their song in unison.” But, hey, why would anything in life ever be easy, right?
We cut to an undisclosed location somewhere outside the city (and Vega in the dark is actually beautiful and enchanting, at least from a distance). A dark figure in a black, hooded cloak approaches and walks up a set of stone stairs. He is being welcomed by none other than Roan, Furiad and Gabriel himself. Gabriel’s hand touches the head and greets him with, “My son.” (I am your father, Luke…?)
And who is the person beneath the hood? Can you guess? Yes, it’s William, the sneaky little fiend. “We found him,” he tells Gabe. Dun dun duuuuuun.
Cue end credits. Wow. One hour and six minutes of sheer intensity, thrill, emotion, and just plain TV goodness. I’m hooked. Now, where can I watch the rest of the season?