Dominion – “The Narrow Gate” Retrospective. Blood and Sacrifice.
Season 2, Episode 3
Airdate: Thursday, July 23, 2015, 10/9c on Syfy.
So far, so very good—the second season of Dominion doesn’t disappoint with its grittier and more in-depth exploration of its world in “The Narrow Gate.” If you have any questions as to the beef between Archangels Michael (Tom Wisdom) and Gabriel (Carl Beukes), wait no longer. “The Narrow Gate” illustrates up close and personal how it all started between them, and I love every single moment of it.
What “The Narrow Gate” delivers is a series of meticulously placed plot twists, and compelling character development that left me wanting more by the end. “The Narrow Gate” isn’t just about battles and betrayals; the writing expands the scope of its storytelling by threading together complex themes of faith with harrowing scenes of rebirth and death. Rebecca Kirsch’s work as the writer for this episode shines in the subtle moments, from the loaded dialogue between Claire Riesen (Roxanne McKee) and Senator David Whele (Anthony Stewart Head) to the way she maintains the continuity of events in the shocking revelations at the end. That said, a lot happens in this episode, and not just in the action scenes. “The Narrow Gate” is an emotional ride with several peaks and valleys that I found to be frustrating at times. Although, once I realized the direction the story was going, it felt well worth it. There are several game changing events that have such tremendous consequences, they will surely make the remainder of the season unpredictable.
1-2-3-4, This is How You Start a War
With the exception of Helena, every substantial location in the world of Dominion has a major part to play in “The Narrow Gate.” Alex (Christopher Egan), Pete (Luke Tyler), and Noma (Kim Engelbrecht) struggle to fulfill their plans of a military alliance with New Delphi. Michael remains in the town of Mallory—a play that turns out to have some very deadly consequences. Finally, Vega remains on the brink of civil war as Claire and Senator Whele resort to sinister political tactics to gain full control over the city. The way all the story lines share a connection through their need for power is enjoyable; the degree and lengths each character goes to in order to achieve their goals define the episode masterfully. Take for example Claire; she goes to extreme lengths to secure power in the city for her safety, as well as that of her unborn child. But is it worth it? McKee’s Claire represented a character full of hope and promise in the beginning of the series; now she is becoming an adversary ruthless enough to challenge the master of deception himself, Senator Whele. Meanwhile, Alex’s drastic measures to ensure a secure advantage over Gabriel and his horde of higher angels put some characters at risk. One of the big reasons I completely enjoyed this episode is the feeling that it’s anyone’s game, and while alliances shift, there’s a bigger battle that threatens to eliminate both humans and angels.
The Trouble with Michael
Even though the majority of “The Narrow Gate” centers on everyone moving closer towards war, Michael’s story line is the one that provides the emotional core. His reflection of his shared past with Gabriel during the biblical era of Sodom and Gomorrah perfectly underscores the lesson of what it means to have blood on your hands. Michael’s perspective of a more innocent Gabriel is jarring to watch as it unfolds. Considering how Gabriel had no problem letting human blood flow through the streets in season one, seeing the rebel angel caution Michael to take life with honor threw me for a loop. Observing how Gabriel deals with killing adds an ironic sense of humanity to him. Could it be Gabriel doth protest too much? For as much as Gabriel hates humans and resents their existence, could he actually be more empathetic to their nature than Michael? Perhaps, as Michael searches for redemption and God, he may remind Gabriel of his love for humans again.
When Michael isn’t contemplating the connection the people of Mallory have with a spiritual entity, most likely God, he wastes no time getting close to Laurel (Olivia Mace). If I have any problems with Michael, it’s the transition he undergoes from murdering Becca (Rosalind Halstead) in season one to his sudden feelings for Olivia in “The Narrow Gate.” Don’t get me wrong, I’m only wary because a mere three months have passed since Michael’s brutal murder spree. Also, it’s hard to forget that Harper (Diva Alicia Fox) is dead in part to his actions. It’s just too soon for me to shake off Michael’s cruel side, and the flashbacks don’t help. Throughout “The Narrow Gate,” I experienced many conflicting feelings about Michael, and that has a lot to do with Wisdom’s great interpretation of the character. Wisdom has a way of seemingly being very trusting with a smile while in another moment, exacting the perfect icy glare when Michael talks about shedding blood. There will hopefully be more to come in Michael’s journey that will show more sides of his personality. A bit of humor wouldn’t kill him.
There are plenty of memorable scenes in “The Narrow Gate;” I particularly love the slight connections to Greek mythology, like Alex’s search for the “key.” The scenes remind me of the tale about Hercules’ trials, and the Minotaur of the Labyrinth. Julian (Simon Merrells) even refers to the place Alex must journey to as the “underworld.” Then there are the movie references that I feel connect with the Mallory story line, such as The Hunger Games. The price the people of the town must pay in order to remain safe is disturbing, yet makes complete sense in the world of Dominion. Mace does a great job of playing both the fanatical and devoted sides of Laurel. On the flipside, another memorable performance comes from Christina Chong, whose character, Zoe Holloway, is a rebel V-1 Vega citizen on a mission to take down the government. Chong portrays Zoe with such a Katniss Everdeen quality, it makes you hope “the odds be ever” in her favor. Overall, the Dominion women have dominated the series from the get go, but never more evident than in “The Narrow Gate.” All the major elements — from story to production, and Oz Scott’s direction — are well executed, showing plenty of thought behind each major plot point. I definitely cannot wait to see what’s in store for the people of Mallory.
What did you think of “The Narrow Gate?” Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter @conallen.
Tune in to Dominion on Thursdays at 10/9c, only on Syfy.
All photos © 2015 Syfy Network, a division of NBC Universal, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
© 2015, Connie Allen. All rights reserved.
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