Killjoys: A Glitch in the System
July 17, 2015 12:12 PM - Season 1, Episode 5 - Subscribe

An easy salvage job on an abandoned ship takes an insidious turn when the Killjoys discover they are not alone and find themselves having to confront their deepest, darkest secrets.
posted by rednikki (11 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Hey, wait a minute. Isn't this the plot from last week's Dark Matter?
posted by rednikki at 12:13 PM on July 17, 2015 [2 favorites]

I thought this was the best of the episodes with a really solid sci-fi premise they did a good job of building off.

It still had a major flaw in that the characters had to be unbelievably stupid to end up where they needed to be.
posted by humans are superior! at 1:23 PM on July 18, 2015

Yeah, this episode seemed to cohere a lot better than the previous ones and the production values appeared to be higher. The mood when they were beginning to explore the derelict vessel was credibly spooky.

I agree about the plot requiring characters to be more foolish than seems reasonable. That's a writing problem I wish they'd solve immediately. I mean, I really want to respect the characters, but the writing pretty consistently undermines them. Character intelligence is sacrificed for plot convenience, which makes me feel as though the writers don't really understand, respect or care about them. It makes it hard to have any stake in them at all.

Another writing problem that bothered me was the "soldier-to-soldier" stuff between Hogan and D'Avin. I know there must be things about being a soldier that create a bond that civilians can't share, but it seemed that the writers wanted to leverage that without really understanding or exploring it. They appear to think that mentioning it is enough, and that the writing doesn't need to demonstrate an understanding of how that interaction works. They just use a kind of shorthand out of convenience and then move on.

This isn't the only show where it happens. Last season Sleepy Hollow had an episode where someone was pointing a gun at Abby at point-blank range and she gave this moving, impassioned speech that convinced the gunman not to shoot her. But the speech was merely a checklist of tropes - taken on its own it didn't make any sense and it certainly didn't possess the emotional build that the moment called for (and that the other production elements assumed). But the other character dutifully complied as though incoherent nonsense was universally meaningful and ameliorative. That's just one example, but it's reaching epidemic levels in both movies and on TV (and it isn't just writers, it's also directors). Writers know that some kind of moment is called for, but they fail to credibly create the moment that's needed. It might work in their minds, but they don't succeed in transferring it to the page, and apparently nobody up the chain to notices or cares. Maybe they're blind to it because they're so deep into it that they see what's meant to be there even if it isn't really there.

I'm noticing this more and more. I feel like writers are not drawing on real experiences or understandings of how real humans behave and interact. Instead they're merely referencing tropes and scenes from other TV shows and movies. It leads to a certain hollowness where characters are required to be uncharacteristically foolish and interactions feel phony.

I suppose it might be the natural outcome of writing under time and budget pressure for a show on a network that doesn't value good writing, but to me it feels lazy and vaguely insulting. I love it when my imagination is engaged by a show, but not when it's engaged to do the work the writers should be doing. If I can be mentally rewriting scenes on the fly as I'm watching them and my rewrites are better than the actual script then something's wrong, and someone's taking home a paycheck they don't deserve. Sci-fi writers, even for genre ghetto shows like this, really ought to be leading our imaginations forward, not dragging them backward.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 2:32 PM on July 18, 2015 [3 favorites]

I put this episode in the win column for sheer creepiness and for raising the hurt/comfort stakes.

The whole show goes into the win column for me, actually - for characters who visually and believably enjoy one another's company and care about one another, plus humor that is both accurately placed and actually funny.
posted by kythuen at 3:44 PM on July 18, 2015

This really is like someone issued the Dark Matter and Killjoys writers the exact same logline as well as an outline of things that had to happen, and they each went off to their own writers room and wrote a script. Both had the following points:
- salvage op on allegedly abandoned spaceship, which is not actually abandoned
- crew decides to play a game of Idiot Ball by splitting up on the ship (at least SOME of them stuck together on Dark Matter...)
- ship was location of creepy science experiments by the military
- crew member infected by said creepy science experiment
- crew fails to salvage anything
- crew kills a bad guy only he's only mostly dead and comes back to attack them (on Dark Matter it was the oxygen infusion; on here it was the nanites rebuilding the guy)
- crew barely escapes with lives
- crew blows ship up
Anyone else pick up on further parallels?

I really liked the concept of these nanites that were designed to help with "enhanced interrogation" by basically tearing someone apart, causing them agony, and then fixing them when they answered the questions.

I liked how Dutch broke D'avin out of the torture chamber. I also liked the big reveal about D'avin.

I also liked that Dutch used that in order to go through space without a spacesuit. Seems like that would make the nanites work overtime, but it sure brought things to the logical conclusion.

John was totally underused in this episode and that was a shame.

I agree with under_petticoat_rule's issue with the shorthand bits about "we are military men! let us bond militarily!" It didn't work for me either.
posted by rednikki at 5:43 PM on July 18, 2015

Why would you want to get rid of nanites that make you indestructible though? I suppose as a security risk if they could be controlled, but with the ship gone boom, they seemed way more useful than not. I very much liked the role they gave Lucy the ship - "I can't help it if you're filthy" - and that they've earned Dutch's compliance at the end with her ex-owner because she clearly puts John as family, D'avin by virtue of being his brother.

Are Killjoy and Dark Matter canonically in the same universe? Because then there are overlaps in the Level 17 mysteries that are being set up and nanites/zombies explain a lot.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 5:46 PM on July 18, 2015

I don't think they're canonically in the same universe. There's an awful lot of overlap, though.

Since the nanites were controlled by an outside force and used for torture, my main concern would be that someone else could hack into them and cause my flesh to melt away from my bones, or whatever. They're protective but come with a really big risk.
posted by rednikki at 5:53 PM on July 18, 2015

Oh, I remember the thing that annoyed me! The gratuitous and forced sex scene at the end. Are they contractually obligated to have a sex scene in nearly every episode?
posted by rednikki at 6:15 PM on July 18, 2015

Why would you want to get rid of nanites that make you indestructible though? I suppose as a security risk if they could be controlled, but with the ship gone boom, they seemed way more useful than not.

The nanites were controlled by the computer on the ship. When they destroyed the ship, the nanites stopped working.
posted by Pendragon at 7:51 AM on July 19, 2015

I am just watching this now, but man the first few minutes reminds me of the old gameshow Scavengers.
(A sci fi themed crystal maze that used to be on before Time Trax in the mid 90s)
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 1:58 PM on July 23, 2015

Ahaha it's on Youtube.
I'm just watching Scavengers now.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 2:08 PM on July 23, 2015

« Older Movie: Honeymoon...   |  Dark Matter: Episode Six... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments