Season 2, Episode 11
Airdate: Thursday, September 17, 2015, 10/9c on Syfy
In the aftermath of “Bewilderment of Heart,” I cannot stop thinking about all the events that transpired—which is always a good thing for a television show. Dominion succeeds in being more than an action science fiction fantasy with avenging angels because the attention to the human drama always takes precedent. Issues of parental abandonment, and searching for life’s meaning are problems for both angels and humans. The series also puts to question the bigger thematic elements, such as the significance of good versus evil. What makes a person bad or good? “Bewilderment of Heart” threads that very question throughout the episode while paving the way for a completely new direction for some of its main story lines. In an odd way, it is the emotional complexity, stemming from being human, that grips the viewer’s attention. Everything, including the story development, acting, and direction, is outstanding—the product of a well thought out story arc that relies on a slow build of character development.
In the Mouth of Madness
Like many of the episodic titles this season, “Bewilderment of Heart” is another biblical reference that in its entirety reads: “The Lord will smite you with madness and with blindness and with bewilderment of heart.” (Deut. 28:28). I appreciate the attention to detail that is present in many of Dominion’s episodes, especially how something as small as an episode title can epitomize the key elements of the show. There is plenty of madness, mayhem, and violence injected into “Bewilderment of Heart” to last until the season finale.
The opening scenes of “Bewilderment of Heart” reveal a wave of dark clouds coursing through Vega after Archangel Gabriel (Carl Beukes) opens an amphora jar, unleashing “The Darkness.” Unbeknownst to Alex (Christopher Egan), Noma (Kim Engelbrecht), Archangel Michael (Tom Wisdom), and Claire (Roxanne McKee) are in a control room after announcing the abolishment of the V system, the cause for the civil war Zoe (Christina Chong) led under the guidance of former politician David Whele (Anthony Head). The next sequence of scenes positions all the characters in precarious situations when The Darkness takes over. It appears no one is safe from its effects except for Alex, who, as The Chosen One, is conveniently immune to them. As predictable as Alex’s circumstances are in the episode, I did not expect anything less; the man is the savior for a reason.
The minute The Darkness takes over the city all hell breaks loose in a way resembling a vicious mosh pit. As disturbing as it is to watch unfold, I like the way this plays out without excessive gore. Instead, producer Gregg Simon, who makes his directorial debut with this episode, masterfully shoots it for full shocking effect. Equally impressive is the script written by Katie Gruel and Rebecca Kirsch. Gruel and Kirsch are a great team and I hope they work together more often. What makes “Bewilderment of the Heart” another amazing episode in the series is the way the script remains consistent in its build from start to finish without indulging too many of the violent aspects on the situation at hand. The atmospheric quality remains suspenseful and steady, keeping me on the edge of my seat; the discovery of several characters’ backstories left me near tears. The dialogue punches up the dramatic effect of the risky situations, and I am in awe by how adept the actors are with the script. The performances all around are commendable; I can only imagine what is in store for the remainder of the season.
My Heart Overfloweth
The past several episodes have consisted of nothing but death and heartbreak. Yet, the events leading up to “Bewilderment of Heart” all make sense as secrets begin to unravel. The basic premise of the episode is a race against time to retrieve the amphora jar and close it—the only solution to end The Darkness. Nevertheless, like many situations in Dominion, there is a catch—only an angel can do it. This leaves Michael and Noma in the running to save the day with Alex tagging along. What producer and creator Vaun Wilmott does well is bridge both story and visuals together. The Darkness is a major catalyst in the story for laying bare the true natures of Arika (Shivani Ghai), David, William (Luke Allen-Gale), Claire, Michael, and Noma. Initially, it appears The Darkness’ ability to cause hallucinations reflects the victim’s fears, but in looking at everyone collectively, it is not fear as much as it is vulnerabilities. The fear is a product of the vulnerabilities that work alongside the guilt. For example, Claire’s hallucination focuses on her miscarriage and the ideal life she imagined with Alex. In some way, Claire blames herself for her loss, and The Darkness uses it against her in the same way it works with David’s resentment towards his son William for the death of their family.
The strength of the second season of Dominion is the way the storytelling stands completely on the growth of core characters that is emblematic of issues that are relatable: love, sadness, guilt, anger, and joy. There are many special moments in this episode, but the one that stands out is Noma’s reaction to the loss of her wings. I love the effort written into illustrating the great sacrifice Noma makes for Alex. Under the influence of The Darkness, the true devastation Noma feels at the loss of her wings is obvious for the first time; I am also pleased to see her hallucination does not involve a love triangle with Alex. That said, Noma refusing to help Alex, explaining she cannot lose her wings again, is extremely tragic. It is not until Noma asks Alex, “…how will I go to Heaven” if she does not have her wings that I felt a tear slip down my cheek. It’s sort of inexplicable; I didn’t expect to feel so moved by the scene but it made me realize humans are all imperfect in some way. We all make sacrifices and sometimes, in our darkest hours, all we want is some peace—Heaven.
When Dominion started 11 weeks ago, I wasn’t sure what to expect so I kept an open mind. I am happy I did because doing so has made this rollercoaster of a season so exciting to watch. “Bewilderment of Heart” is Dominion at its best, showcasing the strength of its talent from the actors to everyone behind the scenes.
What did you think of “Bewilderment of Heart?” 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 Dominion on its Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/DominionSyfy.
All photos © 2015 Syfy Network, a division of NBC Universal, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
© 2015, Connie Allen. All rights reserved.
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