Advanced Review: Dominion Pilot

A week ago I was fortunate enough to catch the pilot episode of the new SyFy series Dominion. Before I get to the review, I’ll admit that I have been one of SyFy’s more vocal critics over the years. Since the series finales of shows like Stargate Universe and Battlestar Galactica, all we’ve seen on SyFy’s lineup are buddy-buddy dramedies light on serious science fiction, reality show competitions and B- movies like Sharknado instead of layered dramas that embrace the gamut of speculative fiction. So it was a pleasant surprise for me to see SyFy make a serious push toward meaningful sci-fi programs again in its upcoming lineup. Let’s hope that shows liek Dominion are the first of SyFy’s network renaissance.

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What’s The Show About:
Dominion is based off the 2010 film Legion. Basically God has disappeared, and for that the angels blame humanity. The archangel Gabriel then leads the lower angels into a war against humanity so they can claim Earth for themselves. However, the archangel Michael has sided with humanity and turned against his own kind, including his brother Gabriel, leading to the Extinction War. Dominion takes place 25 years after this war and the events of Legion, centering primarily on the Kingdom of Vega (formerly Las Vegas), one of the new fortified cities built to house humanity’s survivors.

Quick Review:
We meet the character of Alex Lannon (Christopher Egan from Kings) one of many human soldiers in Vega’s Archangel Corps. He has a very violent encounter with a few ‘eight-balls’ or lower angels who possess humans due to not having their own physical bodies. Let me just say that these angels are not white-feathered or very friendly at all. We clearly see how deadly these angels are and at the same time how bad-ass Alex Lannon is in a fight. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that Alex is primed to be an important character in this show.

After Alex returns to Vega, we’re introduced to the rest of the cast and get a feel for life within Vega’s fortified walls. The archangel Michael resides in Vega as its sworn protector and leader of the Vega Archangel Corps (the city’s human military service). It also appears that Vega is led by a Senate of sorts, headed by the benevolent General Edward Riesen (Alan Dale of The OC) head of House Riesen. His second in command is David Whele (Anthony Head of Buffy), the scheming Secretary of Commerce and head of House Whele who is out to replace Riesen as Vega’s ruler. These two powerful men have very different views of how to rule Vega and ensure its safety; one wants to transition the government into a democracy while the other wants to tighten the reins by way of a dictatorship. Throughout the episode as Riesen and Whele make their motivations more transparent, its clear that their political war will benefit only the angels looming at Vega’s walls if they don’t start working together.

One of the other important characters we meet is Claire Riesen (Roxanne McKee from Game of Thrones), General Riesen’s daughter and heir apparent to ruling Vega. We immediately see that Claire is compassionate and uses her position to help the citizens of Vega, particularly the children. She and Alex are lovers, but have to keep their romance on the DL since she’s basically royalty while Alex is just a lowly soldier. Alex and Claire have believable chemistry in their scenes together. Despite wanting to be together, their designations are an obvious complication. Alex wants to leave Vega for a place where titles don’t matter while Claire is hesitant due to loyalty to her father and obligations to the citizens of Vega. A push and pull like that gives their relationship more weight despite the short time that we’ve been with these characters.

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Archangel Michael as a character does remain a bit mysterious for most of the episode. He is romantically involved with Senator Becca Thorn, head of House Thorn, but has a clear self-loathing for indulging in baser human desires. He comes off a bit wooden at first, but as the episode unfolds we discover that he has a very vested an interest in the well-being of Alex Lannon and will do whatever it takes to defend his adopted home. I am hoping that we find out why Michael sided with humanity over his own kind, but I’m guessing that will be revealed as we see his interactions with his brother-turned-enemy Gabriel.

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Final Thoughts:
I really liked Dominion. The pilot did a great job of introducing the world, its back story and hints of future storylines. The supernatural element of the show meshes well with the character drama, family strife, political intrigue and a bit of romance. Along with that, the show’s look and feel was way more professionally done than many of SyFy’s past shows. Long story short, this is definitely a show that I’ll be watching.

Dominion premieres Thursday June 19th, 9/8c on Syfy.

Trailer:

BTS Featurette:

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