“I think the show at its core is sort of about people finding belonging in this word that’s absolutely crazy and cruel. Our family continues to grow. The three of us sort of solidify more, and we open our arms to other people who are out there floating on their own….We’re also trying to get a mission done but in doing it we all become this family. It’s kind of nice, all these misfits finding each other”
~ Aaron Ashmore
Aaron Ashmore possesses a textbook case of boyish charm. He is the first of the cast to showcase his personality in the pilot, yucking it up with Korin Jeers and his henchmen while Dutch plays damsel in distress long enough to catch their quarry off guard and badass their way into the (superior) opening credits sequence. I had a feeling that I was going to fall in love with this show after the first scene. I was not wrong.
Aaron is a truly gifted actor. His range is incredible, and his ability to shift energy with subtlety and fluidity is like watching a masterclass. He also provided a large portion of the humorous beats in the first season when the whole tone of the show was a bit darker and more dramatic. Now everyone contributes to the laughs, but Aaron as Johnny still probably cracks the most intentional jokes.
John plays the part of the highly intelligent, rakish but good-hearted hero so well that when the pressure mounts and he simply cannot take it anymore, his explosive reactions have that much more impact. The first time Johnny blew my mind was during the first season episode, “Come the Rain.” He used his quick mind and compassionate heart to keep everyone alive and resolve the hostage situation. But then all of the stress from the past several weeks bore down on him, and he abruptly realized he was tired of taking care of everyone else. He ended that standoff with a few well-placed nail gun discharges to the dome and a bitter swig of his drink.
D’avin might be correct that Johnny is a “hug wrapped in a puppy,” but even still, he has his limits. The constant life-or-death stress of their work can send him right over into a dangerous head space, and that was before he was turned hullen briefly. Hullen Johnny was such a feast of emotion that Aaron was nominated for a Canadian Screen Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Continuing Lead Role. It was well deserved.
Johnny played an admirable mentor to Zeph in the past. And now their relationship is on equal footing after she figured out how to save him from his hullen torment. Still, like D’avin, John’s best relationship is with Dutch. He’s comfortable backing her plays and even taking orders from her, but there have been times where he’s put his foot down and claimed a little happy for himself. At the time, I wasn’t exactly thrilled with Johnny about his decision to work with Pawter without telling Dutch, however, some time and a rewatch made me more forgiving.
Hell, even in the pilot he outright defies her and sneaks around in a good hearted but boneheaded bid to save D’avin from a kill warrant. I’m always more impressed with John when he is honest and direct like in, “The Lion The Witch and the Warlord” when he tells Dutch that he is not her conscience, he is his own person who has developed his own taste for vengeance and he has the right to it. (Side Note: Remember Bellus and how she counseled Dutch throughout “Bangarang?” She was a great character. Turin rendered her superfluous, but she was so believable in her role as warrant broker and grizzled caregiver to Dutch and Co. in S1.)
Most of the time, though, Johnny and Dutch are friendship goals to the extreme. From laying on their tummies, feet kicked in the air reading comics, to picking each other up after every loss, to demonstrating their solemn devotion to one another repeatedly against seemingly insurmountable odds; this is a friendship written with so much love and care it belongs on the short list of the Best TV BFFs of All Time. He named her “Dutchess” for Trees’ sake! How absolutely adorable is that? Ashmore has a long list of credits but this starring role has given him such a huge bank of choice reel-worthy scenes, and I’m glad I got a chance to witness them these past five years.
Westerley has been almost fully terraformed. The humans are still breathing in the atmosphere and the warnings that working the factory workers day and night to get done ahead of schedule also amount to nothing because everyone seems to be fine…?
The localized Fog of Alien Inoculation was a nice touch, especially since it led to multiple scenes reminiscent of Stephen King’s The Mist (the cool short story and film not that whack SPIKE TV show). But Zeph was pretty clear that Westerley would be inhospitable to human life at the end of this process. All season they’ve had a bit of trouble adhering to consistent stakes. (Remember how Lucy “died”, but Nucy took her place 5 minutes later and then Lucy came back?) This is a flaw. I know that intellectually, but I … can’t be bothered to care that much? We don’t have a lot of time left with our heroes, and all I am focused on is these people I have been loving and rooting for for the past 5 years. I want them to win the day and save their home. At this point, only character and emotional dishonesty will make me rear back and side eye.
The way things have evolved since the beginning has been the theme of the entire season and there are moments throughout the episode that remind us of that. The aforementioned relationship between Johnny and Zeph was at first filled with resentment on his part while she toted around a bolder-sized chip on her shoulder born from her childhood. Now they’re tripping all over themselves to give the other credit for their brilliant plan.
Old Town was just the grimy little place for Dutch and Johnny to dock. They weren’t citizens and they weren’t interested in fighting any revolutions. Now they and the family they’ve made along the way are the people’s only protectors. Old Town, like Asgard, is not a place. It’s a people. True renewal comes when they bomb The Company’s factories and decrepit infrastructure while saving the people and waking them up from the Lady’s hypnosis. The slums they were relegated to by the parasitic and powerful needed to be destroyed just as much as they needed to be saved for true justice to be served in the universe.
Nothing tops the frankly odyssean distance between Dutch and Aneela’s first meeting and this reunion at the Supermax now at the final hours of our story. Delle Seyah killed Pawter, and Aneela killed Alvis. By rights, they should not be a part of the apocalypse-averting Quad Squad Awesome Force but here we are. They fit even though they have no right to. They’re family but they come with baggage.
Hannah is a jewel of a performer. I get lost in her eyes whenever Dutch is feeing a deep emotion. As I said on Twitter:
While Aneela is still a bit erratic and tends toward violent outbursts, she is cogent. Having Dutch restored to her in “Wargasm” still holds as one of the most poignant moments I’ve seen on television. Dutch literally completes her. But they are not the same. Aneela still loves and trusts Khlyen implicitly. Like Yalena Sr. she doesn’t see Khlyen as someone who could possibly hurt them. Dutch has her misgivings so they set up the perfect trap using Gared as their messenger/stooge. It was a very clever plan, but knowing what he knows about the Lady’s intention to burn down the Quad and salt the earth if she is not victorious, Khlyen is doing what he always does and that’s what he thinks will lead to saving his daughters. Siding with the Lady, as wrong as he knows that it is seems the only option. Jack’s reemergence in the story makes things even more complicated in those final moments.
There is only one episode left. Every character is in play now. Let’s see how or even if these heroes save the Quad and the human race next week.
- “You’re what I’m fighting for, Yala Yardeen.” (!!!!!) *scrawls this on the cover of every notebook I’ll own into perpetuity*
- Johnny still holds onto his issues with Delle Seyah. I am glad she’s on our side and I love her but someone should keep the torch burnin for poor “pretty Pawter.”
- The space skype between Pree, Turin, and Gared and Zeph and Johnny especially the line “Sorry to disappoint, Grumplestilskin.”
- “Maybe it’s my turn to do the saving.” Yes Gare-Bear! ugh I love them.
- The Land Robell weirdos wanting to marry D’avin
- Aneela thinking Dutch’s pottery is a weapon
- The ear thing with Delle Seyah and the Robells was like a cross between Ferengi oomox and Bajoran pagh touching
- “I don’t need luck, Jaqobis. I have breeding. And knives.”
- “If anyone can sort this shit out, Yardeen can.” omg Turin. This unlikely line is when I started to tear up. It’s almost over, y’all!
- Dutch’s speech
- “But will Johnny hear my thoughts?”
- Fancy being for Gared what D’avin was for him at the end of the third season.
- “Oh Westerley! I’m Westerlin! Oh Westerley! I’ll say it again…”
- The mother and daughter we followed since last season was an effective way to humanize Old Town beyond our heroes
- So was Carl… poor sweet hapless Carl. Sigh
- I audibly gasped when I saw the cube. Of course it was the cube but with everything happening I’d forgotten about that lone jump ship mission
- Alexa play “The End” by The Doors