Saturday, July 19, 2014

“Watch the Shadows, Not the Sun”

The fifth episode of SyFy’s infernal soap opera Dominion got continued mileage out of an obscure passage in the book of Genesis.  In chapter 6, verse 1 there is this intriguing comment:  “When men began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose.” 

A little bit later in the chapter, it says:  “The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of men and had children by them.”  The reference to the Nephilim occurs right before the story of Noah’s ark. 

There is also mention of the Nephilim later on in the Bible.  In the book of Numbers, (chapter 13, verses 26-33), some of the men sent by Moses on reconnaissance into Canaan, the future “Promised Land”, come back with disheartening reports: “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are…All the people we saw there are of great size.  We saw the Nephilim there…We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.”

In Genesis, human interaction with the Nephilim, the “sons of God”, is the origin of the “heroes of old, men of renown.”  However, in Dominion, human and angel intermingling is typically the origin of blackmail—there were at least three blackmail schemes in last night’s episode.

From the pilot episode we know that the Archangel Michael has a harem of beautiful women that he entertains with his sexual prowess, in his skyscraper apartment overlooking the city of Vega.  One of these women, Becca, is a high ranking member of the ruling council.  The conniving David Whele threatens to inform the public about Becca’s relationhip with Michael unless she provides details about the archangel’s vulnerability.  In other words, Whele is blackmailing Becca for information he can the use to blackmail Michael, (I think…).

Meanwhile, Claire is rooting about in David Whele’s desk for incriminating evidence she can use against him in order to protect her father’s position.  Claire discovers proof that someone in the Whele family is an agent of the Archangel Gabriel.  She thinks it is the Secretary of Commerce himself.  She accuses him of treason, and threatens to tell her loyal public if he does not cease his attempt to oust her father as Lord of the City.  In fact, it is William Whele, the Secretary’s son, fanatical leader of the Church of the Chosen One, who is conspiring with Gabriel so that the latter can overrun the city with his pinioned minions.

As for Claire’s father, General Riesen, viewers know that he has been having an affair with an “eight ball” outside the city walls.  Eight ball is Dominion slang for a zombified human body inhabited by one of the lower angels.  Evidently the affair has been going on for a long time.  Typically, the general’s mistress is insatiable and demanding.  Until last night, little was known about her, but she achieved considerable prominence in the last episode.  She had been sneaking into the city to give an engagement gift to Claire.

Claire, by the way, has finally agreed to marry William, whom she does not love, in order to bring about political reform to Vega.  Claire really loves Alex, the Chosen One—and shouldn’t we all?  But the general’s mistress is in reality…wait for it…Claire’s mom.  Thus the general has been having intercourse with the body of his dead wife, now animated by an angelic spirit, a relationship that is unclassifiable with respect to marital fidelity.  “I have a daughter,” she tells Alex, who corners her in an alley and is about to shoot her.  Alex hesitates, allowing for yet another complicated subplot to develop.

Wait a minute.  Claire is the daughter of one of the lower angels and a human father?  Wasn’t something like this the shocker in Helix, when it was revealed that Julia was actually the daughter of the evil extraterrestrial Dr. Hatake?   That centuries old mad scientist had fallen in love with Julia’s human mother, had a child by her, and then stored the woman in a cryogenic box for thirty years.  It is always a challenge being a parent on a SyFy series, especially a mother.  (An exasperated Sigmund Freud might say ‘It’s one damn thing after a mother…”)

Last night’s episode opened with the Archangel Michael training Alex in how to fend off an aerial attack.  The session did not go well:  Alex did not land a single shot, and was repeatedly pummeled and knocked to the ground by the swooping angel.  The Spock-like Michael urged him to concentrate, and not let his emotions and desire for vengeance cloud his awareness and intellect.  Alex has been stupidly firing directly into the sun, missing his would-be attacker with every shot.  “Watch the shadows”, Michael advises, “not the sun.”  This is good advice in general—there is a lot going on in the shadows of Vega.

Dominion is on SyFy Thursday nights at 9:00 E.S.T.  See the show’s website at for more details.  

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