Dominion Season 2: What could have been
This show is killing me, man. Season 1 really surprised me by being unexpectedly decent and unpredictable. It was by no means a flawless season, but despite myself I got hooked on the show … and then Season 2 started *le sigh*
I’ve already talked about the bullshit treatment of Uriel’s character, the dumping of LGBT characters, and the abysmal treatment of female characters, but the show keeps fucking up so this week I have something new to talk about … bad story telling (with a particular focus on Julian/New Delphi).
Julian/New Delphi being such a big focus this season has come to bug me because so much time is being devoted to a city that was a footnote in season 1, when a city and a character that we became invested in season 1 has been shoved aside to make room Julian/New Delphi.
The screen time devoted to this new character and city could have, and should have been spent on the most neglected series regular from the first season, Arika. What makes the situation even more galling is that, given what information we have about Arika/Helena, the current Julian story arc would have fit perfectly with information (and hints) that we were given about Arika in season 1.
1) In season 1 Arika being ‘intuitive’ was mentioned a few times. This aspect of her seems to have been dropped in season 2 (or at least hasn’t been referenced so far), but if Arika had been the Dyad, her casually dropping mentions of her “intuition” would make sense because she was using it to provide a cover for her having information/wisdom/knowledge that she could not otherwise explain having. In 1.04 Arika talks to Noma about having secrets and hiding something because she knows that Noma is a higher angel, however “Arika” isn’t supposed to be thousands of years old and couldn’t know that, so Arika pretends to “intuit” that Noma is a hiding a big secret.
2) For someone so young Arika has amassed A LOT of power. If Arika is human she was likely around 10 (tops 15) years old when the war happened 25 years ago. In 1.08 Arika states that Evelyn created the society in Helena, that she built Helena up from ruins and wreckage, but in 1.08 she also states that she IS Evelyn, therefore she’s the one that created Helena.
How could Arika have done that as a teenager? Maybe like Lexa from The 100 she was a child prodigy or chosen one, but if that was the case how could she have kept her identity hidden from her people? Because the handmaidens she was with in Vega certainly did not know Arika was actually in charge of Helena. If however, Arika appeared to be a woman in her 30s when the war began, and she had thousands of years of experience behind her, it would explain how she could have rallied broken, scared, desperate women around her and gained power. It would also explain why she went to such lengths to mask her power by creating “Evelyn” - because she needed a figurehead that people would see grow older, while she stayed eternally young hidden under her haika, operating from the shadows.
3) Arika had no trouble killing off her handmaiden’s to get a job done. We’ve seen her metal, her ruthlessness time and again, and we know that angels can be brutal, cold and ruthless killers. Arika being a sneaky fuck is not out of character for a higher angel, and it would not be a stretch, given what we’ve seen of Arika and how fiercely protective she is of Helena and the Divine Feminine, to think she could have been overzealous carrying out her duties as the higher angel Lyra in the past when she believed fully in her “Father”.
4) Arika being a betrayed higher angel, could be used to explain why Helena is such a different city from everywhere else/the the world before. Arika created a society that rejects everything that has to do with her “Father”, she created a society the rejects the very idea of her “Father”. If she had been betrayed (from her perspective) by Father’s cherished archangels, Michael and Gabriel, had her body stolen from her, cast into the darkness for eons, abandoned by all including her “Father”, rejecting everything to do with him and celebrating everything that is opposite him would make sense.
5) Even though the show had Simon Merrels play Lyrae (easily changed to Lyra) in the flashbacks, the show has stated that “Julian” is an entirely different body, a possessed body, not the body Lyrae lost. So if the story had been Arika’s, Uriel (and Noma) not recognizing Arika would make sense, just like Michael and Gabriel didn’t recognize Lyrae. So season 1 Arika/Uriel continuity would not have compromised in any way.
6) We know that Helena’s defenses are not as strong has Vega had believed, so Arika amassing an army of civilized Eight-Balls would make complete sense. Not only would it explain how Arika knew how to train Rose (because the information about Eight-Balls being attracted to their former possessions is not commonly known information, so how did Arika know exactly how to manipulate Rose?), but we could get some more interesting Helena social dynamics out of it. Like maybe Helena’s priestesses (which Uriel dressed up as in 1.08) are a guard composed of female higher angels (it would explain where the heck all why there are so few female higher angels around, and it would answer the question of what job Arika was trying to recruit Noma into in 1.04).
It could also have allowed for a fun Arika-esque take of the civilized Eight-Ball thing, where her Eight-Ball army is only composed of men who had been captured. Sacrificing dudes to the lower angels and then essentially enslaving them seems like an idea Arika would come up with (and Julian’s army seemed to be mostly men anyway)
As for how Arika/Helena taking on the role of Julian/New Delphi would impact the arc of the story so far season 2, I think it fits so well that other than better pacing, and getting rid of the most boring, plodding elements this season, the story arc would not have been damaged.
i) Instead of Arika being wasted for the first four episodes, she would have been in Helena. We could have gotten a glimpse of Helena which we’d been teased with in Season 1. We could have gotten to walk through this beautiful sun drenched, heavenly beach city, seeing everything looking so perfect of the surface though something doesn’t seem quite right with civilized lady!Eight-Balls walking around and ominous clouds lingering threateningly nearby. Instead of being Arika being missing in action for the first half of the season, she could have been a major part of one of the major plots for the season, she could have been in Helena greeting Alex (and flirting (some more) with Noma), preparing her schemes.
ii) Instead of wasting a shitload of our time introducing old man Gates and trying to convince us that Vega would topple over and fade from existence if Gates didn’t exist, the show could have delayed David being ousted for an episode or two, and had him and Claire vying for control fleshed out a little better. Imagine if we’d gotten to see Claire out and about amongst the people, or meeting with senators and community leaders, if we’d gotten to see her acting like an effective Lady of the City, while David worked against her from the shadows.
What about all the technical know how Gates Stu provides you may ask? Vega got by just fine in Season 1 without him. David certainly would have known someone who would have the necessary skills. Like how cool would it have been if Claire had turned David’s guy/insider against him? Once again we would have seen HER (not Arika) plan something that actually worked and it might have given the audience some faith her ability to be a leader and to deserve being a leader.
Following that point, it would have allowed Claire to (following Arika’s instructions about how to do it) be the one to train Rose in the operation to discredit David. Arika would already be up to plenty in Helena, so the loss of her in this plot point would not be a complete tragedy, and it would haven shown Claire being interesting and actually getting her hands dirty in order to achieve something. This kind of violence and cunning from Claire would have been far better than the ineffective yelling at and stabbing of dudes tied to chairs.
David’s plot of being disgraced and aligning with Zoe could then continue on exactly as it’s played out so far in canon.
iii) What about Edward Reisen, you might say for some reason. Well, Arika/Helena replacing Julian/New Delphi would make Reisen’s presence make more sense as well. Why was Reisen heading to New Delphi which had a reputation as a shithole in Season 1, when his friend Arika from a beach resort full of hotties exists? Seriously, Arika was his ally before he had to flee, it would make sense for him to head towards Helena hoping to get asylum from her the same way he allowed her to stay in Vega when her position in Helena seemed to be jeopardy. Him hiding out in the bowels of an underground fortress would make sense too, because once he saw some civilized Eight-Ball women walking around, he would have been like “Oh, shit! What is this woman up to? Can’t truss,” and he’d have gone into hiding to remain out of Arika’s clutches while he tried to figure out what she was up to. Therefore, he could be playing the exact same role as in canon.
iv) Alex aligning with Arika to fight Gabriel could happen very similar to canon, only it might have gone a little smoother since Noma might have spoken up on Arika’s behalf (as she spoke up for Arika with Ethan), not to mention that Arika could have played the ‘I’m Claire’s friend, I’ve felt your baby kick’ card with Alex to win him over a bit faster. Arika’s also displayed a dismissive/annoyed attitude towards mentions of Alex/The Chosen One (see her comments to Daria about Uriel’s obsession with him), so given that she doesn’t think much of him she would definitely have sent him into the room after the key to the amphora, so all of that could play out the same.
v) Also, who better to help sweet talk Alex into betraying Michael than Arika? If there is mind-fucking to be had on this show, you know Arika should be in on that action.
Then once they had Gabriel, Arika could have gotten a call from Claire (as things get worse in Vega) and she could head back to Vega in her helicopter after leaving instructions with one of her higher angel guards (basically this seasons Furiad) to find out where the amphora was. Arika would then be positioned to everything she got up to in 2.06 (and her meeting with Daria could have just happened in 2.06 instead).
It’s actually better this way, because once again Claire could have been the one to go into that meeting with David, negotiating with him and trying to trap him. Claire could have one again been doing something useful and political instead of brunching and making eyes at Gates Stu like in canon.
vi) It could be Arika’s higher angel guard that threatens to burn off Alex’s tattoos (since it was too stupid of a threat for Arika to have tried it. Julian should have threatened to cut/flay the tattoos off. If burning them would stop them from transfering, cutting them off should as well, and he could have kept them to try and translate them). Anyway, Arika’s guard is the one who gets blasted by the the tattoo (Vega being a star in the Lyra constellation would also have symbolic gesture in that we know Arika wants to seize control of things in Vega, so Vega being in the Lyra constellation could have been the tattoos message instead of the stars Lyrae and Vega circling each other)
It also could have stopped the show from pulling the bullshit they pulled with Noma.
(ASIDE/RANT: Noma ripping her wings off made no sense and was total bullshit! First of all, there was no reason for Noma to be spiked to the wall. Julian stated that torturing Alex was supposed to make Noma tell him with the amphora was hidden. She was already chained the ground with imperion steel, she wasn’t going anywhere. Watching Alex in pain was what was supposed to motivate her, not being in pain herself. The show could have just had her breaking her thumbs and scrapping flesh off of her hands as she pulled free of her shackles if they really needed to make her bleed and break herself to prove her devotion to Alex. There was no reason to take her wings.
Also, the way the wings were ripped off just makes no sense, which makes the loss of them even more upsetting. First and foremost, why were Noma’s wings even out? It made no sense for her whatsoever to spread her wings. She had been chained to the floor so flight was not an option, then she was being restrained by Pete or Dave or whatever his name is, so flight was still not an option. Also she was fucking indoors, so FLIGHT WAS NOT AN OPTION! Why the fuck would she have spread her wings?!?!?!?!?!? You might say she panicked and spread them, but NOMA WAS ANGEL CORP. She’s been in lots of on screen physical battles and in lots of on screen pain and kept her wings hidden to maintain her cover, so she is not someone who just spreads them whenever there is a hint of danger. So basically having her reveal her wings so they could be used against her bullshit.
And finally, how are the thick bones and connective tissue that attach the wings to an angels back more fragile than the feathers/thing wing bones? If they spiked Noma, it would have made more sense if she just ended up cracking/fracturing the bones of her wings, ripping them up feathers sticking everywhere sort of result, having them ripped off her back is like … okay, that sounds fake, but okay, material.
The wings being ripped out just seems like it’s being set up as a particularly gruesome end, for one of the only characters on the show who has never been a total fucking asshole and therefore deserved better, a contrivance to kill Noma off and make room for another male angel (as the shadowy figure Noma saw in the forest while fleeing is being speculated to be Lucifer). /END OF ASIDE/RANT)
Alex and injured (but not dying) Noma could have escaped and Alex could have come to realization about his tattoo warning him about Vega being enveloped by Lyra (a.k.a. Arika)Now you might say, Janine, isn’t Arika your fav? And the answer is yes.
After that you might say, Janine, wouldn’t Arika being sort of the big bad this season mean she’s endanger of being killed off? To that I say only if this show really is sexist trash, because if David Whele, Michael, and Gabriel are still walking around after the shit they’ve pulled, Arika pulling the shit Julian has this season should not threaten her continued presence on the show.
Arika is a survivor, and there are definitely ways that she could negotiate to stay alive, for example, if the amphora is not destroyed Arika could spin it into something that would keep her alive and relevant (e.g. she could build Claire an army to fight Gabriel, or maybe she knows how to use it to perform evictions, maybe she even finds a way to weaponize it, and you have Vega and Helena in a sort of Cold War scenario in season 3 where Vega holds off on using it’s nuclear technology because Arika’s amphora could do just as much damage to Vega as a nuke).
But I’m going to stop writing out how this season could otherwise have played out, because as I’ve written this it’s hit me what a perfect fit Arika/Helena would have been for this plot, and it’s making me super bitter that the show didn’t actually go this route.Ugh. This show. So terrible now. How did you go from constantly surprising (and occasionally impressing me) to being plodding and predictable at every turn, Dominion? I you made me believe in you, and then you effed it all up!