Killjoys 4x09 "The Kids Are Alright?" Review
Last week’s episode of Killjoys, written by Julian Doucet and directed by Stefan Pleszczynski, was an incredible ramp up to what I’m sure will be an equally intense and emotional finale on Friday. It has some of my favorite lines to date, and some absolutely incredible acting from Kelly McCormack (Zeph) and Atticus Mitchell (Pip), both of whom I already loved, but who hadn’t had as much of a chance to shine yet. There are a couple of emotional deaths (par for the course for the penultimate episode of a Killjoys season), but also some fun moments, including some goofy undercover outfits and Legolas and Gimli Fancy and D’avin competing for Hullen kills.
The Kids are Alright? opens with Delle Seyah in Khlyen’s lab on Arkyn, going through Khlyen’s research on the plasma, when suddenly the computer alerts her that there’s been a breach in the docking bay. The cameras are down, so as the intruders near, Delle Seyah hoists a massive cannon-like weapon — but it’s just D’avin and Johnny who burst through the door. They toss Jaq’s backpack in her direction and give her a recap: Osman is now going by Jaq, the Lady is after him, and Arkyn with Delle Seyah would be the safest place for him until they defeat the Lady. As D’avin goes to fetch Jaq and the rest of his gear, Delle Seyah explains to Johnny that she hadn’t returned to Qresh because she’s waiting until Aneela can rule by her side, and that she’s been tracking down Khlyen’s safe houses in search of a weapon he’d created to destroy the Lady. Luckily, we (and Team Awesome Force) found that very weapon — a spore that destroys and nullifies the plasma — just last week. Delle Seyah also reveals that since all the plasma has been frozen, she hasn’t been able to get back into the green space to reach Aneela. Seeing the pain on her face, Johnny tells her that he used to dream of seeing her hurt like this, after she killed Pawter. But, he promises her, they will find Aneela.
On Lucy, D’avin is packing Jaq’s clothes and belongings, labelling each item despite Jaq’s protest that he’s the only kid there. Dutch tells Jaq to be sure to learn from Delle Seyah — knives and guns aren’t the only way to fight. D’avin gets choked up at the thought of leaving Jaq behind, and when Jaq reassures him, “Dad, I’ll be fine,” he gets even more emotional, choking out “I was just getting used to [being called Dad].” Like Dutch told Jaq earlier, D’avin may be big and strong, but he’s made of marshmallow. D’avin gives Jaq a printout of his Killjoys ID photo, the only photo of himself he had. “Don’t forget me,” Jaq whispers into D’avin’s chest as they hug one last time. (Dutch told Jaq that D’avin would cry “like, snot-bubble hard” at the goodbye, but I’m the one who’s bawling here.) As Jaq walks away with Delle Seyah, D’avin shakily says to Dutch, “promise me, when you kill the Lady, you will make it hurt.” “Right through the heart, Papa Bear,” she responds.
At the Armada, Turin lays out the plan for getting the children back. Two teams will intercept Black Root ships, steal the Hullen uniforms, and take the Hullens’ places in order to infiltrate the Hullen-occupied RAC. On Westerly, D’avin and Fancy have taken out the Hullen and bicker about each other’s fighting styles, and decide to place a bet — if Fancy kills more Hullen on the RAC, he gets D’avin’s gun. If D’avin wins, he gets Fancy’s ponytail. But there’s time for that later — right now, it’s time to infiltrate the RAC. Weej and Turin’s team of Killjoys lead the charge, undercover in the first Black Root ship, with D’avin and Fancy’s ship following, and Dutch and Johnny bringing up the rear in Lucy. But as Weej pilots the ship toward the RAC, a force field suddenly appears as Weej’s ship smashes into it, vaporizing on impact. Turin rarely looks flustered, but the death of “his guy” Weej sends him reeling. The other two ships retreat to the Armada, and Johnny explains that, based on the final reading from Weej’s ship, the force field works like an immune system, only letting Hullen through. Weej should have been able to pass through, since he was ex-Hullen, but since there were humans on the ship as well, the field stopped the ship.
While Johnny works to figure out a way around the field, Dutch has Zeph look at the wound she seems to have gotten through Aneela. The scar looks years old, and as though it were caused by a laser or a brand. The intricate markings seem like they must be some sort of message. She runs the symbols through her database, and the closest match she finds is Scarback, so Zeph and Pip take a trip to go visit Fairuza, the ex-scarback monk. She identifies the mark as a shadow scar, the language of the scarbacks’ dead. Every scarback creates their own to be carved on their body at death. Each scar is made of 3 smaller symbols—the ones on Dutch’s back are “ascend/evolve,” “elixir,” and “disappear/dissolve.” Not that that clears anything up. Zeph tells Pip that she needs to think, with a meaningful look, and the two find a spare room to… bang some things out. It doesn’t do any good, though, and Zeph has no idea what to do with the meaning of the scar. As they lay on the bed, Pip asks Zeph about her necklace — “It’s from the Badlands, right? The freaky farmers on Leith with the bonnets and the babies?” “Also known as my family of origin,” Zeph responds. Pip apologizes, but Zeph shrugs it off, saying, “This is why I don’t do relationships with dudes.” (And yes, according to Kelly McCormack, who plays Zeph, Zeph is in fact “hella bi.”) Pip knows that their original arrangement was just sleeping together, but he wants to know her, and asks if they can talk. Still clearly stinging about his comment about her family, Zeph makes a snarky remark about them talking about how her sisters were treated like cattle and how fun it is to be shunned. She then says one of the most striking and relevant lines of the season, if not the show:
“If everything I want and everything I choose is just some message of trauma, what gets to be mine? When do I get to stop being a victim and get to be the authentic me?”
The two cuddle and talk some more, and you get the feeling that they’re becoming much more than “bang buddies,” as Pip so eloquently put it.
Lucy and Johnny find a patent for a device, called a regressor, that can alter one’s DNA for a short time. In theory, they can connect Johnny to both the device and the plasma Zeph had syphoned from Weej, and he can control the field, letting the Killjoys through. Until the seizures start. The only prototype is on Leith, with a hippie cult. So it’s time for, as Johnny puts it, “sass, wigs, and possible punching.” Dutch and D’avin don wigs and robes and join the hippies in the forests of Leith. They’re welcomed by the cult leader, who has Dutch put on a white glowing mask (that looks suspiciously like one of those anti-acne LED masks) and tells her that he will help her “unlock the potential of her genes” using the regressor. As he activates the device, Dutch experiences flashbacks of Aneela’s life, ending with her in the green space reaching out with the symbol carved on her hand. Dutch cries out, and D’avin pulls the mask from her face, ending the spell. They then knock the cult leader and his guards out, whip off their robes to reveal jumpsuits, put on baseball caps, and pretend to be taking the regressor out for maintenance. “Lots of confusion on the astral plane,” D’avin says, with Dutch adding, “The chakras are completely tits-up.”
While Dutch and D’avin are infiltrating the cult, Johnny works on a plan to get the green pool out of the RAC. He plans to use Khlyen’s jump cube to whisk the pool and its contents onto the Armada. While he works, Lucy notes that his dopamine levels have decreased since their return to the quad, and wonders if he’s worried about fitting into Dutch and D’avin’s lives, with them in a relationship. Johnny tells her that there’s no one he’d rather third-wheel with than “those dysfunctional dumplings,” but admits that he wishes he had someone himself. Lucy points out that he has her, and he smiles, saying “Always and forever, Lucy-girl.”
Now that they have the regressor, Johnny will be able to temporarily lower the field around the RAC, but if they don’t get back out before he has to disconnect from the regressor, they’ll be done for. Pree and Gared will rescue the children and head for Westerly, Fancy and D’avin will keep the Hullen away from Pree, Gared, and Dutch, and Dutch will get to the green pool, throw a transponder in so Lucy can use the jump cube to port it onto the Armada, and meet up with Fancy and D’avin. They’ll have about 30 minutes to do all this before Johnny’s brain starts rejecting the regressor. Let’s see if the plan works this time.
In the lab, Zeph is working on connecting the regressor to the green, when Pip surprises her wearing a Hullen uniform. Zeph insists that he doesn’t have to prove himself to anyone, but Pip is determined to go on the mission — after all, with Zeph and Johnny staying behind, they’ll need a designated geek. “Look, I can do the whole ‘I’m dying, not really living,’ thing, or I can dress up like a mime and go rescue a bunch of kids from the world’s worst sleepover,” he tells her. Zeph hugs him tightly, and tells him to make sure he rides with Dutch — she may hate him, but she owes Zeph, and an assassin is a good person to have as a bodyguard.
The three teams take off, and Zeph gets Johnny all hooked up. He apologizes for leaving her to do everything while they were missing, and promises that he’s going to help her fix both Dutch and Pip when this mission is over. Johnny successfully connects to both the regressor and the green, and the six make it onto the RAC. While Dutch and Pip crawl through the air ducts (Dutch grumping at Pip’s slowness), Pree and Gared blend right in with the Hullen controlling the RAC, easily making their way toward the kids. Fancy and D’avin scout ahead, clearing the way of any Hullen who might oppose them, and having a Legolas-and-Gimli-level competition to see who can kill the most Hullen. As Dutch and Pip drop out of the air vent (Pip half-slithering, half-caught by Dutch), Pip wheezes a little from the dust and asks Dutch if she brought his inhaler. (This has absolutely no bearing on the plot, but was too cute and goofy not to note!) Dutch drops the transponder into the green pool, Zeph sends the jump cube, and they successfully steal the pool. Pree and Gared get the kids onto the ship and head down to Westerly, but the others are still in the RAC, and the regressor is starting to reject Johnny. But just then, Johnny pulls his hand out of the green, saying that he felt the shield die. But that’s not as good of news as it sounds. The ship is going through a hard reboot, which will give the Hullen control over the RAC’s cannons. The green that powers the Armada’s engines is all still crystalized, so they can’t get out of range or raise their own shields. They don’t have enough time for Pip to hack into the system, and not enough manpower to take down all the cannons manually. The only option is to use Turin’s master code to set the whole station to self-destruct. But the code has to be entered manually — someone isn’t coming back.
Right about now you’re probably getting a sinking feeling about who the notorious Episode 9 death is going to be this season. Fancy, Dutch, and D’avin start arguing over who it should be, each suggesting themselves. But then Pip speaks up, saying, “Whatever RAC rises from these ashes, it’s gonna need Killjoys. And a designated asshole. It’s okay; I know I’m a dead man walking — it doesn’t scare me. The thing that put a spider in my brain, that does. And I know that you guys are the only ones that can stop it.” Dutch says that she can’t let him do it, that she promised Zeph she’d keep him safe. But Zeph would never forgive herself when she couldn’t find a way to save him, Pip points out. But she will get over him dying to save the rest of them. The three Killjoys salute Pip, as Turin sends the self-destruct code to him. In the lab, Zeph is totally unaware that her friend-with-benefits-turned-something-more is about to sacrifice himself. Johnny comes and tells her that they’re using the self-destruct code on the RAC. “But those have to be entered manually,” she protests, then realizes the somber look on Johnny’s face. “Dutch?” she asks. “No.” “Fancy?” She knows who it is by now, but is hoping against hope. As Pip prepares to input the code, the others safely away, Zeph’s voice comes over his coms. I can’t even describe the scene, in which Atticus and Kelly (who play Pip and Zeph, respectively) absolutely blow it out of the water and shatter my heart, so I’m just going to transcribe it.
“I was wondering when you’d call.”
“I want you to get out of there, and I want you to do it now — do you hear me?”
“Then the RAC would blow you up, and I’m not cool with that.”
“Why are you doing this, Pip?”
“Because if I didn’t, then I’d probably never get laid again.”
“But I haven’t figured out how to get into the green yet. We have so much thinking to do. Just find Dutch — she’ll get you out; she’s magic!”
“You scientists don’t believe in magic.”
“I will if it’ll bring you back.”
(If you’re not crying by now, you don’t have a heart.)
“You’re looking at this the wrong way, Zephyr. A genius farm girl from Leith almost falling for a svelte loudmouth from Qresh? Hells if that ain’t magic.”
“It’s okay, Zeph. I know.”
Pip starts the self-destruct sequence, and we watch as the RAC combusts into rubble. Turin looks shaken, having lost “his guy” and his second home in one day. Johnny holds Zeph as she sobs on the floor.
Later, we see our trio on Lucy recovering from minor brain surgery. They made a remnant of the knowledge of Jaq’s location, so that the Lady won’t be able to glean the information from their minds, and destroy the remnant. Once it’s all over, Jaq will find D’avin. Zeph comes onto Lucy, asking to speak with Dutch. She gives her all the information she’s found on the possible meanings of the symbols, and some ideas to serve as a springboard for John. She doesn’t even look Dutch in the eye. Dutch tells her that they need her, and that it was Pip’s choice, but Zeph points out that everyone knows that Pip made terrible life choices. “You know what they say about Team Awesome Force?” she asks. “They say, ‘D’av will take the bullet, John will fix what’s broken, and Dutch will bring you home.’ You were supposed to bring him home.” Dutch doesn’t know what to say to that, and Zeph runs out, tears streaking her cheeks.
On Westerly, D’avin watches the children running through the streets, and Fancy comes to collect his prize, since he beat D’avin by two in their Hullen-killing contest. He puts his hand out for D’avin’s gun, but as D’avin starts to hand it over, he pulls the trigger, hitting Fancy in the chest with a stun blast. “Now we’re tied,” he declares, striding toward the Royale. “Ex-Hullen count for two.” Inside, Dutch and Johnny are waiting with drinks. They toast to Pip, and Dutch takes a swig from her flask. After Zeph left, Dutch had another flash of Aneela and realized what the message was — she wasn’t just telling Dutch how to get in, she was telling her how to get Aneela out. Dutch staggers, and Johnny looks at what was inside her flask: green. “You’re the thief who saved my life,” she says, panting. “But you need a better guide.” She collapses to the floor and stops breathing. A moment later, she gasps and sits upright. You can immediately tell from just the way she breathes that it’s Aneela who lies before D’avin and Johnny (Hannah John-Kamen regularly blows my mind). We then go into the green space, where Dutch is now in Aneela’s place, sporting her signature braid, and says, “Hey Lady, miss me?”
I’ll be honest, I’m a little lost as to what the words “ascend/evolve,” “elixir,” and “dissolve/disappear” meant to Dutch. We saw flashes of Aneela draining herself of plasma in her cube, with the word “ascend,” Aneela drinking plasma, with “elixir,” and her disappearing into her green pool, with “dissolve,” and while I get the correlation between each of those, I’m not sure how that translated in Dutch’s mind to “I need to drink green to bodyswap with Aneela.” Other than that, though, it was a completely solid (if heartbreaking) episode! I’m really looking forward to seeing the boys interact with Aneela, especially since Dutch implied that Aneela will be of more help in figuring out how to defeat the Lady than Dutch would be — it reminded me of Waverly taking the demon goo back from Wynonna in Wynonna Earp since she knew that Wynonna would be able to figure out a solution better than she would.
Based on the trailer for the finale, it also looks like D’avin and Johnny go into the green, and Johnny in particular relives the moment when Delle Seyah killed Pawter at the end of season 2. I can’t help but wonder if they’re going to bring her back—after all, Aneela went into her memory and brought back a copy of her younger self (which became Dutch). Dutch and Aneela’s mother is also in the trailer, and I’m excited to see more of her (though it doesn’t look like they inverted her color palette, which I feel was a missed opportunity)! I’m not one of the lucky reviewers who received screeners this season, so this is all wild speculation, but I’ll see you right back here after the finale, where I’ll discuss and dissect and speculate about Season 5!
The Season 4 finale of Killjoys airs tonight at 10/9c on Syfy.