Let’s get this out of the way up front: Killjoys is not Firefly. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that fans of Firefly should probably stop expecting anything to ever replace it. Scratch the same itch for high-spirited, quippy space opera? Sure. But nothing will recapture that lightning in another bottle.
Four episodes in, I’d say Killjoys either benefits or suffers most from your expectations. If those are tempered by SyFy’s recent track record, you’ll enjoy it. If they’re inflated by their ambitious new slate, including The Expanse, you may be in for a letdown.
The skinny: Killjoys follows the adventures of a trio of RAC agents (bounty hunters) in a dystopian galactic region known as the Quad. An organization called The Company runs things, but as politically-neutral “Killjoys,” our heroes have a high degree of freedom and authority, as long as they’re in pursuit of a warrant.
There are hints embedded in the world-building of a greater story arc around politics in the Quad, and a brewing revolution of the have-nots against the tyrannical Company. (And the fact that the Big Corporate Bad Guys are called “the Company” is another indicator of whether you’ll enjoy Killjoys. You’ll either accept the heavy use of tropes as an accessible approach to world-building, or consider it pure laziness. I tend to lean towards C. All of the above.)
For now, the plot is entrenched in “mission of the week” mode. I approve of this strategy, for now. Give the show time to find its footing, and for the writers to master the characters and chemistry, before tackling a convoluted master plot.
Thus far, only the leader of our ragtag band of bounty hunters has demonstrated extreme competence. Dutch starts off at “pre-Tomb Raider-reboot” levels of Lara Croft badassery, with a mysterious backstory hinted at in the pilot, which is spooling out slowly.
The Brothers Jacoby, including her partner/pilot/engineer Jon and his soldier sibling D’Avin, are lower on the competency scale, although each has his own handy strengths. I’ve been puzzled by complaints I’ve read that they aren’t up to Dutch’s level. In my opinion, that would be like Gabrielle starting out in Xena: Warrior Princess at the same level of combat proficiency as Xena. But to each their own.
The world of Westerly and the Quad feels gritty and lived-in. A few recurring background characters, including a revolutionary priest, and a doctor with some baggage of her own, promise interesting possibilities. It’s too soon to tell if those possibilities will get fleshed out or dropped.
I have to wonder whether the current media landscape, where people seem reluctant to even start watching a show until it gets a second season, is setting the bar for new series too high. For every series that hit its stride instantly, there are a dozen that took a while to really gel.
I worry that trigger-happy networks may be cancelling shows before they have a shot. How do you measure the “I’ll pick it up if it makes it to season 2” audience? Maybe you shouldn’t. Maybe I’m describing exactly the environment that’s lead to the so-called “Golden Age of Television.”
At any rate, it’s summer. Most of your favorite shows are probably on hiatus. If you like fast paced, action-oriented space opera, you don’t have a lot to lose checking it out.