I’m just going to get this out of the way before I get into the meat of this article: Killjoys is a lot of damn fun. It’s not always perfectly coherent or consistent but this is an instance where I really don’t care. When watching the ten episodes of the first season, I kept trying to click my critique switch onto full and it steadfastly refused because they gave me ridiculous actions sequences, wonderful melodrama, dramatic music and a lot of shirtless Luke MacFarlane.
Boiled down to the basics, Killjoys is a show about three bounty hunters (also known as Killjoys): Dutch and brothers John and D’avin Jaqobis. The operate in a planetary system called The Quad which is largely controlled by The Company and operates under a strict class-based system.
As you can see they don’t waste time coming up with fancy names for their worldbuild. And that’s one-hundred percent okay because that is definitely not the point of this show.
While watching Killjoys, I kept connecting it to Dark Matter, which I reviewed two weeks ago. I watched the pilots in the same evening and then binged Dark Matter first. The shows air back to back on SyFy and seem to often get lumped together in conversation and (from what I’ve seen) on social media as well. And while I enjoyed Dark Matter, and rooted for it to succeed (because it tries SO HARD) it is ultimately a show with a lot of weaknesses that I can’t help but pull out and examine.
Killjoys has just as many weaknesses. It relies on tropes just as heavily. Dutch, our female lead, is just as much a badass gun-toting, ass-kicking trope as Dark Matter’s Two. We get an old jerk of a cop. A flamboyant bartender. A pretty lady doctor. D’avin, one of our male leads has amnesia but knows he did something horrific. John is good with machines and other tech. Dutch has a mysterious past that no one knows about. Killjoys leans on a lot of stereotypes.
And yet, it still does not set off any of my critical alarms. I know the stereotypes, the bad writing, the wrote plots, are all there, but unlike Dark Matter I don’t want to tweak or fix any of it.
Because of a promise. Or a lack of one really. It isn’t laid out in obvious terms, but for me Dark Matter makes a promise in its pilot episode for a certain level of narrative complexity and character depth. It’s a show that’s going to really go for something. Killjoys makes no such promise – it’s clear from the first scene this is going to be a fun, dramatic, silly, fabulous romp of a show.
And it delivers just that.
Does Killjoys have serious and dark moments? Of course. But all of it is infused with a witty sense of drama. From the set dressing, to the acting to the directing everything is aimed at this goal. Even in the supporting players. You have Pawter Simms, the local doctor, and exiled daughter of an aristocratic house, who is addicting to drugs, who you first meet when she’s rather merrily and drunkenly starting a barfight. You have Delle Seyah Landry, a scheming aristocrat playing by Mayko Nguyen who gleefully chews every bit of scenery she can get her teeth into and Rob Stewart who plays the villainous Khlyen with such wonderfully dramatic menace it sometimes borders on ridiculous.
Killjoys is not high, in-depth quality. But, honestly, I don’t think it’s really trying to be. There is so much I could pull apart and critique but, as I said, I don’t want to. It’s a show that offers up pure, munchy, bounty hunter enjoyment.
And sometimes you need that kind of show. Sometimes you really need that kind of show.