Dominion Series Premiere Review: “Pilot” (Season 1, Episode 1)

Dominion - Season 1

After watching the pilot episode of Syfy’s newest original series, Dominion, I’m still not quite sure how it ever got off the ground. Now, I don’t mean to slam the show by saying that – but it’s not often that a small-scale flick like Legion, which proved a modest success at the box office back in 2010 but wasn’t really anything special in terms of plot, premise or acting, gets a follow-up, let alone in the form of an entire TV series. Was there any reason to so extensively revisit the world of Legion, in which an army of angels led by archangel Gabriel fight a war of possession against humankind? Honestly, probably not – but Dominion entertains regardless.

The show opens 25 years after the conclusion of Legion, in which the archangel Michael succeeded in protecting a newborn child, prophesied to be the Chosen One, from Gabriel’s army. In Dominion, humankind has succeeded in repelling the angels with the help of heavily fortified cities, the biggest of which is Vega (formerly Las Vegas). Within that city, which has implemented a strict caste system, two houses vie for dominance. House Riesen is led by General Edward Riesen (Alan Dale), Vega’s selfless military commander, and his beautiful daughter Claire (Roxanne McKee). House Whele, meanwhile, is led by the shrewd political operator David Whele (Anthony Stewart Head) and his devout son William (Luke Allen-Gale), who’s betrothed to marry Claire.

However, Claire is in love with Alex Lannon (Christopher Egan), a young soldier in the Archangel Corps, which are led by Michael (now Tom Wisdom). What few know is that Alex is that baby from Legion, all grown up, and his father Jeep (now Langley Kirkwood) and Michael still believe that he’s the Chosen One. All hell breaks loose when this revelation becomes known to Alex himself and the leaders of the two houses, both of whom see Alex’s incredible value and what a danger he poses to their society.

There’s an awful amount of set-up in this 90-minute pilot episode – I’ve maybe mentioned a little more than half of the characters who pop up, and I haven’t even touched on many of their motivations. By the end of the episode, however, it seems pretty clear where Dominion is going. The show is attempting to marry the same kind of political drama that NBC’s short-lived Kings (which also starred Egan) possessed with the grim, post-apocalyptic vibes of AMC’s The Walking Dead. (After all, apart from the few times that they are seen flying around in this episode, the angels’ disheveled appearances and unquenchable bloodlust conjures up thoughts of that series’ zombies.)

Dominion is more successful with the first half of that aforementioned mixture than the second, thanks mostly to Head’s menacing work and Egan’s success in turning Alex into likable protagonist. Watching those two clash over the course of the series should allow for some juicy, compelling drama. Dominion has a long way to go, however, before it can claim to hold a candle to The Walking Dead‘s addictive storytelling and dramatic pathos.