August 8, 2014

THE SKED Season Finale Review: “Dominion”


DOMINION has performed well enough in the ratings that there’s a fair chance of it being renewed (especially since it’s evidently produced on the cheap).  This is fairly remarkable, since even by the currently debased standards of Syfy, the post-apocalyptic Biblical sci-fi fantasy is notably awful (it makes its lead-in, the merely not-bad Defiance, look like a combination of 2001: A Space Odyssey and Blade Runner by comparison), with acting and writing so wooden that if it sacrificed itself, it could save an entire rainforest’s worth of timber.

Dominion‘s plotting, when comprehensible, is mostly a hash of plot twists and mythology cribbed from better works.  (The show itself sequelizes the very minor fantasy-horror movie Legion.)  A major chunk of tonight’s season finale–the first half written by Executive Producers Todd Slavkin and Darren Swimmer, the second half by series creator Vaun Wilmott, and all of it directed by Allan Kroeker–was straight out of The Avengers, Skyfall, Se7en and Silence of the Lambs, among others.  The show’s Big Bad, evil archangel Gabriel (Carl Beukes), had seemingly surrendered to the humans of Vega colony (which used to be Las Vegas, as demonstrated by the repeated static establishing shots of a slightly CG’d Caesars Palace), where he was imprisoned in the all-glass cage that’s become the favored accessory of supervillains.  Of course, he was in control at all times–as it turned out, most of his guards were his secret homicidal disciples–so he amused himself playing mindgames with his “captors,” which included revealing to Chosen One Alex (Christopher Egan) that the love of his life Claire (Roxanne McKee), now married to secret Gabriel worshiper William (Luke Allen-Gale), was carrying Alex’s child.  Despite the fact that Gabriel’s brother, ambiguous good guy Michael (Tom Wisdom), had every reason to doubt Gabriel’s “surrender,” Michael got suckered into falling into his own murderous wrath, killing his lover Becca (Rosiland Halstead) for taking part in medical experiments on another archangel.

Meanwhile, Claire figured out that her husband was a Gabrielite–she would have had to be a moron not to, since the dialogue drew a bright red line connecting William to Gabriel–but unaccountably allowed William’s execution to be supervised by his own father David (Anthony Head).  Even if David hadn’t also been a secret Gabriel acolyte, this would have been a crazy decision, and indeed David let his son go, setting all the other acolytes in town on fire to cover his tracks.  There was a lot of self-sacrifice and some dream sequences in the rest of the 90 minutes, and it was all too flat and uninspired to be any fun.

Since the Dominion cast has some real actors in it (Alan Dale as well as Head), and they come off almost as artificially as the lesser-known stars, one wants to resist the temptation to condemn the performers for their uniformly afternoon-soap level work.  There’s no defending the writers, though, who seem unable to string words together in a way that would form a believable human sentence.  There aren’t enough production values on display to redeem the experience–at one key point in the finale, the show clearly couldn’t afford a shot of Michael flying through a glass ceiling, so we just heard it happen off-screen while some glass tinkled down.

Dominion is lucky to air on a network where the closest thing to a hit is Friday night wrestling, but it’s undeniable that the show holds onto nearly all of its Defiance lead-in, so clearly it’s satisfying its fans.  Perhaps, if the series is renewed, in Season 2 it can work on entertaining the rest of us.


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."