Syfy’s new series Dominion opens with the assertion: “25 years ago, God left.” It doesn’t say to where, or what it was about 1989 that annoyed Him so much that He saw fit to finally have enough with humanity. What viewers can use to glean a little more of regarding the show’s backstory is the lackluster film the series is based on: 2010’s Legion, starring Paul Bettany as the archangel Michael, who has decided to side with humanity in a war against his brother Gabriel and a lower class of angels. Michael is back in Dominion, this time played by 300‘s Tom Wisdom, and his main objective is still to protect a “Chosen One” who will save mankind from angels (or at least, TV specials about them). Hit the jump for more about what these angels should learn from Wings of Desire.
An intimate knowledge of Legion is not required to follow Dominion, which takes play 25 years after the film. (Which actually means God got fed up and left in 2010). The main idea now is that after the angel wars, humanity has been reduced to living in walled cities, in order to keep out the “bad” angels, who are able to possess humans and cause them to kill (and also do a real number of their teeth and hygiene).
The city that is the focus on Dominion is Vega, once Las Vegas, which is ruled by a military junta, and split into castes and Houses. The people worship a “Chosen One” who they believe will come as a Savior for mankind, and win the war (making the God who rules the world of Dominion as not the Christian one, since the advent of Jesus is totally ignored. And as an afterthought, if angels are running riot and killing of humanity, where is Satan? Also on vacation?)
The half-backed mythology aside, Dominion does everything it needs to to set up a bog-standard supernatural series: There are warring factions within Vega (led by Alan Dale as General Riesen and Anthony Head as Secretary of Commerce David Wheele, both playing against type), a Romeo-and-Juliet-type romance between Riesen’s daughter Claire (Roxanne McKee), the Gabriel (Carl Beukes) vs. Michael battle, and of course the revelation of the Chosen One. The Romeo of that forbidden romance is Alex Lannon (Christopher Egan), a somber young soldier with no discernible eyebrows, who also happens to be the baby Michael saved in the Legion film (the character Jeep from the film also makes an appearance in the pilot).
No surprises here who the Chosen One is, but that’s beside the point. Dominion is only really interested in setting up the framework for the series regarding the factions in the war itself, not about the revelation of the savior (which was the main thrust of the film). What’s interesting about Dominion is that it has chosen an unusual group of supernaturals to focus on. Gone are the tired werewolves and vampires and zombie stories dominating other series: Dominion is of interest because this story and its mythology are something new.
It’s clear from the pilot that the show is still tinkering with a lot of that mythology, and it’s not advised than any viewer think about it too deeply. For seasoned sci-fi fans (or even Syfy fans), there aren’t any surprises in how the 90-minute inaugural episode plays out. But the idea of an angel war, and uncovering their powers (as well as this very changed vision of humanity, after “The Extermination”) could be worth exploring.
As Lannon, Egan hasn’t proved himself yet as having enough charisma to really lead the series; then again, like most supernatural series, the humans are the least interesting part. But there are politics and battles and strategies and questions of loyalty and betrayal that could keep the show interesting, even on such a shaky mythological foundation. For a summer show that’s exploring something new on the supernatural spectrum, Dominion might be worth a look for a few episodes at least. But don’t expect it to soar to exceptional heights.
Dominion premieres Thursday, June 19th at 9 p.m. ET on Syfy