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TV Reviews

MPAA Rating
Genre
Drama, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Cast
Christopher Egan as Alex Lannen; Tom Wisdom as Michael; Roxanne McKee as Claire Riesen; Shivani Ghai as Arika; Rosalind Halstead as Senator Becca Thorn; Luke Allen-Gale as William Whele; Anthony Head as David Whele; Alan Dale as General Edward Riesen; Carl Beukes as Gabriel; Betsy Wilke as Bixby
Channel
Syfy
Reviewer
Paul Asay
Dominion

Dominion

God's not dead. He's just ... missing.

So begins the premise of Syfy's bizarre and mostly blasphemous series Dominion, a sequel of sorts to the equally unsettling 2010 freak-flick Legion. Its fanciful dystopian setting is filled with reluctant saviors, murderous politicians ... and the worst guardian angels ever.

As mentioned, God is gone—up and vanished, and no one really knows why. The angels are particularly put out by this unexpected development, and a good chunk of them—led by Gabriel himself—blames mankind for the divine disappearing act. Why? Who knows! It's not like humanity has the ability to kidnap the Almighty. But no matter: Gabriel and a slew of other angels (broken up into a hierarchy of sorts, from special archangels to lesser, nearly demonic spirits prone to possessing people) have declared war on humanity.

But we humans are a scrappy lot. Concentrated into just a handful of heavily fortified settlements and with the help of rebellious archangel Michael, we've been able to fend off these heavenly interlopers for a while now.

Being the easily bored mortals we are, however, we bicker while we fight off our common enemy. Vega—a city built on the ruins of Las Vegas—seems perpetually on the cusp of war with other cities while ruling clans maneuver for position and power. If the angels in Dominion had IQs collectively surpassing those of a standard poodle, they'd just sit back and watch humans kill themselves off. After all, they've got an eternity to wait for us to do ourselves in.

And perhaps that's just what they'd do if it wasn't for the appearance of the "chosen one," a mortal soldier/savior named Alex who's covered in tattoos and burdened by feelings of inadequacy. He'll make everything right. You betcha. Except he's got his mind on other things, particularly taking care of main squeeze Claire, one of Vega's pretty leading ladies. Only she's been publicly betrothed to Principate William Whele, who appears to love her deeply but also worships the evil angel Gabriel, making for a complicated love ... quadrangle? Hexagon? I've lost count.

Dominion is Pretty Little Liars mashed up with Kabbalah, a stew of Gossip Girl, Gnosticism and I, Frankenstein. It's so ludicrously unhinged that it'd almost be fun if it weren't for how seriously spiritually awful it is. And how much sex and violence and profanity it boasts. Of course.

If you were able to strip Dominion of all its pseudo Judeo-Christian trappings and treat it strictly as a metaphor, it actually might offer some meaningful messages. Alex is a reluctant savior, perhaps, yet he's willing to serve a higher calling for the benefit of others. And evildoers are usually either atheists (poo-pooing the civilization's backing prophecy as "religious theater") or worshippers of the evil forces bent on destroying humanity.

But when you remember that these "evil forces" are, in fact, God's angels—well, clearly, things quickly get wild, weird and warped, biblically speaking. Even "good" Michael is presented as part nattering schoolmarm, part lusty politician. Indeed, it'd be pretty easy to read truly blasphemous motives into this television series—a narrative that encourages viewers to shed their faith in an absent God and the duplicitous religion He heads and instead worship ... ourselves. But, really, that's probably giving the show's creators too much credit. I don't know if they were really trying to insult most of the world's believers (Jews, Christians and Muslims can all find much to hate here) as much as they simply thought it'd be a hoot to turn religion into a juvenile, comic-book romp.

Not that the show is suitable for even atheist juveniles, mind you. While the plotting and dialogue is geared toward undiscerning 13-year-olds, the content is MA for a reason. Unclothed actors prance across the screen on the way to lascivious rolls in the hay with both humans and angels. People are shot, stabbed and dispatched in brutal, bloody ways. They swear so much that you'd think some of the angels would be armed with burning coals.

In short, there are a, well, legion of reasons not to tune in to Dominion. And I can only hope that the whole mess is swiftly cast out of the Syfy schedule.

Episode Reviews

"Pilot"

People worship at base of a statue depicting two hands cradling a baby—an image of mankind's prophesied savior. This so-called savior is later revealed when Alex's father dies, and the tattoos that cover his body are miraculously transferred onto Alex. William Whele seems to be a true believer in this chosen one: "My faith is not a theater," he tells his atheistic father, "nor is it a delusion." Later we see he actually worships Gabriel and his human-hating angels.

Alex and other men and women shower together. (We see them naked from the side and rear.) Whele's father, David, fondles a diplomat, Arika, while she's in the shower. (His movements are out of the frame.) We hear later that Arika is the "wife" of another female leader. Archangel Michael rises from a bed filled with women. (He guiltily makes it clear that he's had sex with at least one of them.) Couples kiss passionately. Women, particularly Becca, dress provocatively.

Angels possess the bodies of mortals. One, served up as a gladiatorial sacrifice, kills several people with the chains binding her. Alex shoots an angel in the head, and we see the bleeding bullet hole. Another angel is stabbed in the chest. A third is obliterated by cannon fire. We hear an angel's wings slice several soldiers to ribbons. A man is stabbed in the gut and bleeds to death. People and angels fight with swords.

David talks about wanting to "buy" a powerful child. Characters drink wine, lie, and say "d--n," "h---" and "a--."

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