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Killjoys negotiates an AI threesome in order to save a child’s life

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Killjoys airs Fridays at 10 p.m. E.T. on Space. Photo courtesy Bell Media
Killjoys airs Fridays at 10 p.m. E.T. on Space. Photo courtesy Bell Media

Spoilers for Killjoys Season 4, Episode 5 – “Greening Pains,” follow.

It’s difficult to say that any one modern television episode is bad. The much more professional nature of modern tv (and the accompanying increased budgets) means that even a poor episode tends to be well-made, have passable acting and even a decent script. It’s the nature of a medium which has so rapidly advanced in quality and competency over the past two and a half decades. This is especially true when it comes to science fiction, where the usual frames of reference come from the mid-1990s to the 2000s due to the general lack of new sci-fi television offerings over the past decade. If compared to the filler episodes of something like Farscape or Babylon 5,Greening Pains” is a perfectly acceptable hour of television. However, it just doesn’t measure up to the standard Killjoys has set over the past three seasons.

The main plot to the episode is simple: D’avin’s child is rapidly aging due to his Hullen genetics and Team Awesome Force needs to find a way to stop it before it kills him. This requires kidnapping a bio-weapons expert from everyone’s favourite cyberpunk techno-goth strip-club, Utopia. Things go slightly south when it turns out that the expert has uploaded his mind into a computer core, but the team manages to “hack” (even by tv standards it’s a bit hokey) him into a PDA and partner him up with Lucy in order to develop the cure. Along the way D’avin gets incredibly high through combat stims, while Zeph and Pip apparently get off on watching Lucy and John negotiate something uncomfortably close to an AI threesome/cuckolding scenario (Lucy ends up liking it a lot more than she thought she would).

The problem is that there is very little actual tension this time around. D’avin is remarkably casual for a man facing the impending death of his child and the show’s cutting away to Zeph’s increasingly desperate attempts at keeping the child alive doesn’t really fix this. In part, a lot of this comes down to a sense of wearying inevitability. Babies are pretty limiting, fictionally speaking. They can look cute and make parents look cute and goofy, but outside of that? Not much. The episode comes off as a painfully apparent tool to get D’avin’s child to a point where the show can do something with him, and the audience is essentially along for the ride. Is it better to have an in-universe explanation for things rather than the normal method of sending the character away for a season to get aged up? Yes. Still, it could have felt less perfunctory.

If anything, it’s the side characters who are the real stars of this episode, despite it being the most trio-focused (D’avin, Dutch and Johnny) of the season. Pip and Zeph get a few moments that flesh out their growing relationship, and there are signs that Pip is growing on her. Zeph’s trust in Pip speaks volumes for someone who tries to remain as emotionally distant as possible. More to the point, it also shows a bit of why she might be so distant due to her roots in a strongly patriarchal culture where she was expected to be a womb and nothing more. We see some of the same at work between Pree and Gared as well, with Pree jokingly lamenting that the big man was getting him to settle down after a life of debauchery and crime. Considering the paucity of gay relationships on tv, it’s always nice to see the show give the two some air time.

Speaking of Gared, this episode finds him partnering up with Fancy to track down child thieves on Westerley. Fancy seems to have reverted back to his older, jerkier state, leaving Gared to be the face of the operation. There are some nice touches here, with Gared continuing to show a lot of warmth and the thieves disguising themselves as creatures from Westerlyn folklore. Killjoys has always been good at worldbuilding, and it gives Westerlyn culture a real richness. It turns out that the Hullen were behind the kidnappings as part of their search for D’avin and Anneela’s kid, and now Gared has been taken too. This felt like the tensest part of the episode and it is a plotline that I look forward to seeing more of. Last season had the ice cold Delle Seyah as the main audience viewpoint into the Hullen, so Gared will be a refreshing change of pace, especially when compared to the even more alien forces of the Lady.

Meanwhile, things at the armada have gone pear-shaped as the Lady seems to have asserted control over the drones there and called them back to her own forces. The drone Zeph mind-jacked appears to have joined the Killjoy side, saving Turin’s life as he faced down the newly-awakened drones. The combination of Turin’s sarcastic jerk-ness and the drone’s sheer earnestness was hilarious, and hopefully a dynamic the show continues.

Killjoys Season 4 Episode 5 - Greening Pains. Photo courtesy Bell Media

Killjoys Season 4 Episode 5 – Greening Pains. Photo courtesy Bell Media

The show ends with three real scenes which appear to set the table for the main plot of the season moving forward. First, the Lady finally acts through Pip, mind controlling him into kidnapping D’avin’s now-teenaged son. It’s been pretty clear what happened to him since episode two, so it’s nice to see the show finally fire Chekhov’s Gun. The fact that Zeph is the first person to show trust in Pip, knowing that something must be off, is refreshing. The past few episodes have shown her to be a bit dismissive towards him, but she’s also been the only one to see what lies beneath his seemingly immature façade of a slimy criminal.

The second scene is Johnny’s confrontation with Delle Seyah, which in many ways encapsulates why this episode felt so disappointing. In my past two reviews I’ve stressed that the greatest strength of Killjoys is its emotional continuity. Even side conversations are often rich with implied callbacks to previous episodes, which plays a key role in how natural the relationships between the characters feel. It is fitting that it’s Johnny who is the person to finally tell Delle Seyah that she needs to make amends, to earn back the humanity she might have never had to begin with. But the scene is written in a painfully generic way. Johnny just tells her that she is a bad person and should maybe think about not being bad in order to stop feeling bad.

This is the woman who murdered his fiancée in cold blood. She’s pushed him to break so many of his moral boundaries (he decided to hold his unborn nephew hostage last year to try and stop the Hullen invasion she instigated). Out of all the conversations in Killjoys, this should have had the most history pulsing through it, and yet, at a critical moment, Killjoys greatest strength is nowhere to be found. It’s puzzling, especially considering that Adam Barken, this episode’s writer, is a veteran of the show and even wrote “Johnny Be Good,” the episode where Pawter died.

In the last scene, the main trio meet up to establish the core plot for the rest of the season. Killjoys has a tendency to break its seasons into five-episode chunks of linked storylines. The first half of this season was about setting up the recovery of the Jacobis brothers, the birth of D’avin’s child and the coming of the Lady. After running into holes in Khlyen’s story last episode, Dutch finally realizes this episode that he deliberately inserted inaccuracies into her memories in order to trick the Lady. Having finally realized what’s going on, the team is in a position to start delving into Johnny and Dutch’s memories in order to find the tools Khlyen gave her to stop the Lady. Considering how lost the team has felt this season, it’s nice to finally see them find a sense of direction in the face of an ancient and seemingly overpowering evil.

In short, this episode wasn’t very good, but it did its job. D’avin’s kid is now a more usable character within the show, Westerlyn is slowly returning as a focus and the main trio know what they need to do to take the Lady down. Could it have been better? Probably. But there are times when a show just needs to get on with it and take care of certain issues, and it’s best that Killjoys did this sooner, rather than later.

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Schitt’s Creek to conclude after next season

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The popular CBC sitcom Schitt’s Creek will conclude with its sixth and final season, star and co-creator Dan Levy announced in a statement today. Photo courtesy CBC.
The popular CBC sitcom Schitt’s Creek will conclude with its sixth and final season, star and co-creator Dan Levy announced in a statement today. Photo courtesy CBC.

The popular CBC sitcom Schitt’s Creek will end at the conclusion of its sixth season, series co-creator and star Dan Levy announced March 21.

“We are so grateful to have been given the time and creative freedom to tell this story in its totality, concluding with a final chapter that we had envisioned from the very beginning,” Levy said in a statement. “It’s not lost on us what a rare privilege it is in this industry to get to decide when your show should take its final bow.”

Schitt’s Creek premiered on CBC in 2015, becoming one of the network’s most successful half-hour comedies ever. The show follows the fish-out-of-water Rose family, forced to assimilate into a small town after they lose their family fortune.

Though the show’s first season received mixed reviews, it grew in regard with both fans and critics over subsequent iterations. Schitt’s Creek’s fifth season, which premiered on January 8, 2019, scored a 100 per cent “Fresh” ranking on the review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes.

The show is also among select company among Canadian sitcoms, drawing strong viewership in the United States and elsewhere thanks to distribution on Netflix and the American Pop network. Critics have reacted favourably to recent episodes, with TV Guide’s Megan Vick writing that each season of Schitt’s Creek has “gotten better and better.”

Read Levy’s full statement below.

New episodes of Schitt’s Creek air Tuesday nights at 9/9:30 NT on CBC.

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Watch the Oscar-nominated Canadian short “Animal Behaviour”

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The National Film Board of Canada is offering Canadians the opportunity to watch the Oscar-nominated Canadian short film "Animal Behaviour" until the end of today. Photo courtesy NFB
The National Film Board of Canada is offering Canadians the opportunity to watch the Oscar-nominated Canadian short film "Animal Behaviour" until the end of today. Photo courtesy NFB

To get prepped for the 91st Academy Awards, the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) is offering Canadians the chance to check out Animal Behaviour, nominated tonight in the Best Animated Short Film category.

Animal Behaviour is a new short from Alison Snowden and David Fine, who previously won an Oscar in 1994 for Bob’s Birthday. The short is the 75th Oscar nomination for the NFB, and the first short film for Snowden and Fine since Bob’s Birthday. The 91st Oscars air tonight at 8 Eastern on ABC and CTV.

Watch Animal Behaviour below (expires tonight).

Next up on The Mutt: Wynonna Earp future in doubt as Season 4 delayed

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Wynonna Earp future in doubt as Season 4 delayed

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Wynonna Earp Season 3 Episode 11/12 - "Daddy Lessons/War Paint". Photo courtesy Bell Media
Wynonna Earp Season 4 is in jeopardy, according to the The Hollywood Reporter, due to financial difficulties. Photo courtesy Space

All of a sudden, Wynonna Earp is in Purgatory.

Earpers were stunned Thursday night when executive producer and showrunner Emily Andras posted (and subsequently deleted) a tweet suggesting that fans of the show may soon have to fight for it. Another tweet, posted shortly later, took a decidedly more straight-forward approach.

Andras appeared to be responding to the news that funding for the fourth season of Wynonna Earp appeared to be on shaky ground, according to a report from The Hollywood Reporter. According to THR, financial challenges faced by IDW Entertainment have stalled production on Season 4, despite the company being contractually obligated to deliver the show to Syfy.

In response to the news, Earpers took to Twitter with the hashtag #FightForWynonna, which at the time of publication was one of the top Twitter trends in Canada. Though Season 4 has yet to be officially cancelled, IDW has yet to commit to a start date for the new season.

“IDW is committed to continuing to tell the Wynonna Earp story,” the company said in a statement posted to Twitter. “Much like the fans, we are passionate about not only the series, but the comics, the characters and the overall message that the Wynonna Earp franchise carries. We are in the process of working out the details for how the Wynonna story will continue and will share new details very soon.”

Our resident Earper, Ghezal Amiri, was a big fan of Season 3, writing that the show’s season finale, entitled “War Paint”, was a “wildly emotional conclusion.” Read her recap here.

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