Aug 01 2015

Dominion – “A Bitter Truth” Retrospective. The Fear is Real.

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Season 2, Episode 4

Airdate: Thursday, July 30, 2015, 10/9c on Syfy.

Rating:

Julian tries to impress Noma and Alex with his big guns

Julian tries to impress Noma and Alex with his big guns

“A Bitter Truth” isn’t just a suggestive title for the latest episode of Dominion; it also serves as the perfect description for all the events that take place within it. Rather than witnessing the repercussions of Archangel Michael’s (Tom Wisdom) departure from Mallory, the story focuses on the major problems at hand with the core characters’ journey toward saving humanity—or its destruction if Archangel Gabriel (Carl Beukes) has his way. “A Bitter Truth” ties up some loose ends introduced in “Heirs of Salvation,” increasing the tension in Vega and New Delphi to a fever pitch. Julian’s (Simon Merrells) ulterior motives rise to the surface; Senator David Whele (Anthony Head) finds himself at a disadvantage; meanwhile, Claire Riesen (Roxanne McKee) and Gates Foley (Nicholas Bishop) fight for their survival. If last week’s “The Narrow Gate” was an exploration behind faith and sacrifice, “A Bitter Truth” is almost the antithesis, delving into the heart of one’s own darkness and fears.

Buckle Up!

In the opening sequence of “A Bitter Truth,” there’s an instant sense of danger with an unconscious Noma (Kim Engelbrecht) strapped to a chair in a dimly lit room. When she wakes up, her immediate reaction switches from confusion to horror at something she sees off screen. Engelbrecht remarkably portrays Noma’s struggle to escape her binds as a menacing fog with a demonic face comes into view. It doesn’t bode well for her, and just when it appears her fate may be sealed, the scene cuts to a caption that reads: “5 hours earlier.”

What a way to start a show!  Oz Scott’s vision in directing Noma’s scenes sets the tone while providing a foreboding atmosphere for the circumstances that lay ahead for all the major characters, especially Alex (Christopher Egan). Although I’m not a big fan of flashback scenes, I do love seeing a story told in reverse because it becomes a mystery I must piece together. In the situation with Noma, I know she is in New Delphi and Alex has won Julian’s allegiance. So, how do those events lead up to Noma’s situation? I am also left wondering about Alex and Pete’s (Luke Tyler) fate. Where are they?

David is at Zoe's mercy, or so she thinks

David is at Zoe’s mercy, or so she thinks

The New Delphi story line is one of my favorite plot points. The mythology in the world of Dominion broadens but I’m also anxious to see how Alex’s powers as the “Chosen One” will come to fruition. He definitely has mastered the ability to cast out angels from possessed humans. Then there’s the matter with Julian who has an equivalent to Pandora’s Box full of destructive weapons at his disposal.

I used to be fascinated with the Mallory story line until it became a bit too much, like Children of the Corn meets Wicker Man. At a glance, the townspeople’s rituals, like forced confessions, give it a cult-ish vibe, making it difficult for me to root for them. Characters like Laurel (Olivia Mace) are compelling with Mace nailing all of her scenes. Mace’s excellent performance is a big part of why I find Laurel likeable. As the season progresses, I hope we see more of her.

In direct contrast to the sleepy town of Mallory, the drama unfolding in Vega steals my attention like no other. Most episodes have a core story line, and in “A Bitter Truth,” it points mostly to David. The devious and cutthroat politician faces off with his inner demons when Zoe (Christina Chong) captures him. Chong and Head have a great dynamic onscreen presence; their chemistry enthralls me. Zoe and David are both such embittered characters. I hope we find out more about Zoe in upcoming episodes.

Adding to the grit of the scenes between them, David’s visions of his son William (Luke Allen-Gale) continue to plague him. Allen-Gale is really fun to watch onscreen, showing a more sarcastic and animated side of William.  Meanwhile, Claire and Gates meet up again. Unbeknownst to her, there’s a price on her head. Despite the chaos that surrounds them, Claire works well together with Gates—even better than with Alex. Claire is evolving as a character, and behaves in many ways that are drastically different from season one. I wonder if showcasing her dark side has been the plan from the beginning because it’s written so well this season.

Overall

William continues to torture David in more ways than one

William continues to torture David in more ways than one

The second season of Dominion continues to intrigue me with the way the characters continue to grow and reveal alternate sides to their personalities. The new cast members are great additions to the series, and I hope they will stay on until the end of the season. I am a bit torn because while I love the acting and dynamic drama throughout “A Bitter Truth,” there isn’t as much of an emotional impact as was prevalent in “The Narrow Gate.” Finally, seeing how angel possession works, and Noma finally revealing her true self, are both quite memorable moments. The scenes with Gabriel and Michael are always somewhat poignant but I still can’t believe Gabriel once cared about humans. David’s story line remains a highlight for me, especially regarding his mental state about William’s unknown fate affecting his conscience.

Head is superb at showcasing the many layers of David’s emotions; it’s hard to hate him. Behind all the evil doing, and, of course, murder, David is a man who is unable to eviscerate the last shreds of his humanity. There are small moments that distract me and break my suspension of disbelief. For example, is it wise for a pregnant woman to be holding electrical wires? And how many times does David have to get his ass kicked? Overall, nitpicking aside, the character development throughout “A Bitter Truth,” coupled with the progression of several story lines, allows the plot to move forward. The performances are fantastic, and with the threat of Julian’s bag of tricks, I can’t wait until Gabriel catches on to what’s happening in New Delphi.

 

What did you think of “A Bitter Truth?” Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter @conallen.

Tune in to Dominion on Thursdays at 10/9c, only on Syfy.

Follow the series on its official site at www.syfy.com/dominion, where you can also watch videos and clips of the episodes. Also, like the Facebook page:https://www.facebook.com/DominionSyfy.

Follow Dominion on its official Tumblr: http://dominionsyfy.tumblr.com/, and on Twitter @DominionSyfy.

 

All photos © 2015 Syfy Network, a division of NBC Universal, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

 

 

© 2015, Connie Allen. All rights reserved.

Connie Allen

I'm a writer, cinephile, avid reader, and pop culture enthusiast. I love historical dramas, and fantasy/sci-fi series. Currently living in SoCal.

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