Syfy’s space opera Killjoys returns tonight — here’s why you should watch

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A couple of years ago, Syfy went back to its roots when it greenlit three new television shows: The Expanse, Dark Matter, and Killjoys. All three shows follow the crew of a spaceship in some sector of space, and they all harken back to the days when episodes of Andromeda, Battlestar Galactica, Farscape, or Stargate were easily accessible in broadcast or syndication.

The Expanse wrapped its second season in April; Dark Matter returned in June; and on Friday, June 30th, Killjoys is beginning its third season. Its trailer promised plenty more bounty-hunter-in-space action, as well as cyborgs, green goo, and more one-liners. Here’s why the show’s worth checking out.

Some minor spoilers for seasons 1 and 2 ahead.

What’s this show about?

Killjoys was created by Michelle Lovretta, the mind behind Syfy’s series Lost Girl. Killjoys is about three agents who work for the Reclamation Apprehension Coalition (RAC), a loose union of bounty hunters who will pick up any contract, from delivering cargo to tracking down criminals. They operate in the Quad, a four-planet, inhabited system.

Who are the main characters?

Dutch (aka Yalena Yardeen, played by Hannah John-Kamen) is the highest-ranking RAC agent. She has a secret past: she was trained from a young age to be an assassin, and she’s still grappling with her history. Her partner is Johnny Jaqobis (Aaron Ashmore), who met Dutch by trying to steal her ship. He’s a smartass, but sort of the heart of the group. Finally, there’s D’avin Jaqobis, Johnny’s brother, a former soldier with a traumatic past. He’s also been on the receiving end of some experimentation, something that’s been playing out in the show.

There are a bunch of side characters as well: Pree is the owner of the Royale bar, a frequent location for the show. Alvis Akari is a resistance fighter and monk. Turin is a high-ranking RAC agent. Khlyen is Dutch’s former mentor, a high-ranking RAC agent. Dr. Pawter Simms is a disgraced royal and medical doctor. And then there’s Lucy, the artificial intelligence in Dutch’s ship.

What’s the setting like?

The show is set in The Quad, comprised of a planet and four moons, all in a star cluster known as The J. The planet is Qresh. Earth-like, and home to the people who can afford to live there, it’s pretty good at keeping undesirables out. The largest moon is Westerly, which was heavily mined by The Company. It’s home to a huge population of miners and workers. Many of them don’t really want to be there, though, because of the extensive pollution. The moon is Leith is cleaner, but has tight restrictions on who can travel and live there. Finally, there’s Arkyn, the smallest moon, which was home to the first colonization efforts, until something went horribly wrong. It’s uninhabited, but there’s a mysterious facility there.

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What’s also great about this particular world (or worlds) is that each feels completely unique and lived in, like there’s a bit more than meets the eye with everything. So far, the show’s creators have done a good job using this to bring forward some of the background characters, like Pree or Turin.

What are the big plot arcs?

In the first season, the protagonists make their way through the universe: D’avin joins the crew, and they begin taking warrants in the Quad together. A mysterious figure from Dutch’s past begins stalking her (Khlyen), while a war brews between a major company that controls the Quad, and some of its residents. The RAC agents are supposed to be neutral in all this, but Dutch and company are sucked into the middle of everything. At the end of the season, D’avin is captured by a mysterious program, Red 17.

In the second season, the team works to get D’avin back, and begins to unravel the mysteries behind Red 17, the failed experiments that occurred on Arkyn, and how Khlyen fits into everything.

Where is season 3 picking up?

The team suffered a series of devastating losses in the second season, so they’re going to be picking up and dealing with the fallout from that, with Dutch essentially calling for war to avenge them. From the trailer, it looks like Dutch will also be dealing with a dopplegänger, among other things.

What makes Killjoys worth watching?

As with Dark Matter, I’ve really loved Syfy’s return to form when it comes to shows about spaceships. I grew up with shows like Babylon 5, Farscape, Firefly, and Stargate, and I’ve missed the stories about the crew of a spaceship going out on random adventures. Killjoys in particular hits a sweet spot for me: it has a fantastic diverse cast, a vibrant location, and a badass leading lady. While the show doesn’t hesitate to take its characters to some darker places when it needs to, its writers and actors inject quite a bit of humor into each episode, which makes it quite a bit of fun to watch. If The Expanse is a serious guard dog, Killjoys is a carefree Golden Retriever. It’s full of quippy one-liners and action, and it crams in plenty of story and lots of world-building.

Okay, where can I catch up on this?

Unfortunately, the show isn’t on Netflix. If you have a cable subscription, you can stream it on Syfy’s website, and it’s available for purchase in all the usual places. Season 3 starts on June 30th on Syfy.

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