Killjoys: Dutch and the Real Girl (Recap & Review) [Update]

Killjoys - Season 2
Dutch and Johnny

[UPDATE] The actress playing Clara in this episode is Stephanie Leonidas and not Allie MacDonald, who was a different Clara from Season one. Mike’s Film Talk apologizes to Stephanie (who kicked arse in the role) and we have changed the information to reflect the correct performer.

Killjoys opens with “Dutch and the Real Girl.” The episode starts with D’Avin heading to Red 17 with Dutch and Johnny. They enter the facility and join up with Fancy. Fighting their way to where D’Av was kept by Khlyen,  Dutch tells him that he is to stay behind and “get her back.”  D’Avin stops and starts kissing his boss as music plays and sparks literally fly.

It is not real. D’Av is going through a scenario powered by Khlyen’s green goo. A technician gives him more of the stuff through a “Matrix” port in his back. D’Avin screams.

Dutch wakes as D’Av cries out.

Johnny, Pree and Dutch attempt to land on Arkyn after a probe is destroyed by a defense measure.  The ship almost joins the drone but Lucy turns the ship around before the radiation kills everyone on board.

The two Killjoys talk about some way to penetrate the security measures and Dutch tells Johnny he is looking “think-y.” He responds with a suggestion of how they can land on Arkyn.  The Connaver gang used the planet as their home base.  They go to see Bellus (Nora McLellan) who tells them a story about a stolen device. 

The tech was used by the Connaver’s to access Arkyn.

Haardy then gives them a warrant to collect the tech and the person who stole it. They then head to Eulogy on Westerly. It is a “Barter Town” sort of place where known criminals can bet and barter their stolen goods. Only criminals are allowed in and (surprise, surprise) Pree has a record.

Johnny and Pree pose as a couple and they smuggle in Dutch via the case “full” of their stolen booty. Johnny really want to know details about Pree’s past and he is not talking.  The men and Dutch get into Eulogy.

As Dutch begins looking for the tech, the two men begin to gamble. D’Av is still in Red 17 and he is in another scenario.  The guys are winning and Dutch requires a little guidance on how to use the lens in her eye. Johnny tells her that Pree is having too much fun and then he explains that the lens will see something red.

It does.

Lucy unlocks the door after Johnny gets her into the system. A one armed woman named Clara.  Back at Red 17 D’Av takes himself out of the scenario.

Dutch finds the tech but it is embedded in the one armed guard. The two women come to an understanding and Dutch offers to get Clara out of her Connaver prison.  Clara tells Dutch that she cannot leave without Alice, her “real” arm.  “Alice”  is a weaponized appendage that is kick arse.

As the two women negotiate, Johnny and Pree head down the elevator to join up with Dutch. Pree gets the line of the episode with his “I did not wear my dying underwear” line.  Clara and Dutch undertake an excellent firefight with the men of Eulogy. Pree then ets the second best line of the episode:

“Let’s give these b*tches some stitches.” (Johnny looks at Pree.) “What? I rhyme when I’m nervous.”

Pree and Johnny join the women and Clara is injured in the shoot out as she takes out the last few guards.

D’Avin cannot be turned into a Level 6, which was Khlyen’s plan. He rescues the older Jaqobis brother because he wants to know why D’Av cannot be turned. Khlyen also explains that the scenarios were really memories.

Clara explains her backstory. She explains how the tech was inserted into her body and that the gang cut off her arm and gave her Alice. Johnny suggests she should have killed them with her new arm. “Death by irony,” says Jaqobis.

Dutch shares her backstory with Clara and explains about Khlyen and D’Avin.  The weaponized woman offers to help and takes them onto Arkyn. The entry through the defense measure  injures Clara.  Pree stays with the wounded woman and Johnny leaves with Dutch to get his brother.

Back at Red 17 D’Av learns of a group even more powerful than Level 6.  Khlyen removes Jaqobis from the data base and as this new group arrive (The Black Root) Khlyen kicks D’Av out of the fight.  Dutch and Johnny find Fancy Lee (Sean Baek) and release him. 

Killjoys - Season 2
D’Avin and Fancy Lee

The Black Root capture Khlyen telling him it is time to go home. D’Avin meets up with Dutch and Johnny. She goes to get Khlyen and D’Av tells her he is not there. As the Killjoys arrive at the ship, Fancy joins them and D’Avin shoots the other Lee. He explains that Fancy is already a Level 6.

They cut D’Avin’s hand to see if he still bleeds. He does and it proves to them he has not been turned. They head to Old Town to find Pawter and see that the bombed out city is surrounded by a wall. They decide the next step is to rescue Alvis (Morgan Kellyand Pawter.

Johnny Jaqobis and Clara share a moment and he reveals that since she is so modified she cannot have the warrant used against her. Clara is grateful and she tells Johnny that Alice has a crush on him. She asks Lucy to call her if the Killjoys ever need her help as she leaves.

D’Avin reveals to his brother and Dutch that he lied about Khlyen and she explains that she knew  already. He tells the other two about the more powerful group. In the meantime  Fancy rescues Khlyen from The Black Root.

Dutch argues that Khlyen is still the bad guy and D’Av explains that he saw Dutch on Arkyn in a memory.

This was  a great opening episode for the second season of Killjoys. It had  plenty of action, amusing quips and included some impressive intrigue.  The actors have all returned to prove that taking a break has not lessened their ability to bring their characters to life.

Kudos to Thom Allison who plays Pree. His character, with his bad boy background, appears to be taking an even bigger part in the proceedings this year.  It will be exciting to see more of these “aliases.”

Killjoys airs Fridays on SyFy. Tune in and see what the gang are up to this season. It looks like the next stop will be Old Town.


Guest starring: Stephanie Leonidas  as Clara

Backtrack (2015): Sixth Sense in the Outback (Review)

Adrien Brody in Backtrack

Backtrack is a splendid combination of horror and mystery. Set in Australia it deals with death, memories and how some things refuse to be forgotten. In some ways it could be seen as  The Sixth Sense in the outback. There are, however, many other films that contribute to this intriguing story and at least one book. (It had overtures of The Survivor by  the late James Herbert.) At least one sound effect came from Takashi Shimizu‘s The Grudge and it scared just as effectively  in this  film as the one  it originated in. 

Written and directed by Michael Petroni (The Rite, Queen of the Damned) Backtrack is first and foremost a mystery.  Starring Adrien BrodySam Neill and Robin McLeavy the film slips the horror in where it fits. Sometimes resulting in a good old “jump scare” and other times leaving the viewer disturbed and not a little creeped out. 

Before singing Brody’s praises (he does a marvelously understated Aussie accent that is spot on) let us look at McLeavy.  This actress is no stranger to the horror genre. Her second feature length film was the brilliantly brutal and quirky The Loved Ones (2009). She was also in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (which really is rather schlocky compared to this offering) and while she “plays it straight” here she does her usual excellent job of selling her role.

McLeavy plays the local “PC Plod” who Brody’s character confesses to in the film.   Robin is completely believable as the rather serious cop who has little patience for what she sees as messing about.

Brody’s character is a psychologist who has had more than his fair share of tragedy.  His daughter is struck by a truck and killed while they are out together. Before that though, some of  his past is so awful that he has “mis-remembered” it.

A young girl shows up in his office and the mute child silently asks for his help.  This triggers events that begin to veer into the supernatural, or even paranormal, and Peter Bower (Adrien) is determined to get to the bottom of this issue.

Brody is so convincing with his subdued Aussie accent that if one had never seen him in anything else they would assume he came from the land down under.  The Oscar winning actor shows just why he won that little gold man in this film.  His suffering and fear are apparent but never over the top. The actor is just brilliantly spot on whatever the emotion.

Sam Neill plays a psychiatrist who is treating Peter and once again this Irish actor performs his magic on screen. Neill and Brody interact beautifully together and it helps to move the story on very well.

In terms of story to avoid spoilers the plot  cannot be described in too much detail. There is a daughter’s death,  a 20 year old train wreck and childhood secrets that have been forgotten over time. These secrets manifest themselves in many ways and ultimately it seems that they have been altered with time.

Director Petroni moves things along at an almost leisurely pace but never quite eases up on the tension. There are no false scares here.  Petroni wants us uneasy and slightly afraid in varying degrees.  Once the first reveal is made things pick up nicely and the horrible secret of Peter’s childhood does appear.

Once the cat is out of the bag, so to speak, one can look back on the film and with a little help from Petroni it becomes clear that all has been signposted from frame one.

Backtrack is a 5 star film.  It may be slowly paced but the scares work well and the childhood revisit is both horrifying and tragic.  Airing on Netflix at the moment, this is a great find. Check it out and see what you think.

Queen of the South: Ep 2 Cuarenta Minutos – Gut Wrenching (Review)

 Queen of the South - Season 1Episode two of Queen of the South; “Cuarenta Minutos” (forty minutes) follows Theresa Mendoza’s faltering steps towards becoming the Queenpin of drugs in the US.  The journey is a gut wrenching and white knuckle experience this week. While not as adrenaline fueled as the pilot, it  has enough suspense to make up the difference.

Mendoza is still in a caged area surrounded by women being injected with drugs. Despondent, Theresa is not hungry and another woman stops by to offer help. She is a mule  waiting to make her delivery. As the young drug trafficker is speaking to Theresa she collapses. The mule is dead as the balloons inside her have started to dissolve.

Theresa shouts for help and the men outside the cage collect their dead mule. The balloons are retrieved from the dead woman’s stomach.  The urgency of gathering the drugs overtakes security precautions and the gate to the cage is left open.

Theresa runs.

She is caught and Camila asks the young woman once again why Epifanio is so keen to get her back. Mendoza explains that she does not know what  Guero did and Camila sentences her to be drugged and used as a prostitute.  Theresa desperately offers to deliver the shipment the dead girl could not and Camila agrees.

James Valdez is the “go to” man who sorts out Theresa’s identity, passport and helps her to down the 23 balloon wrapped parcels. Watching Mendoza shove the balloons down her throat is almost as stomach turning as seeing her expel the packets  later.

Time is running out and James must rush Theresa, and the drugs, to the airport. Once there they get through passport control and head past airport security. An accomplice opens a janitor’s cupboard door and  the two head inside.

Theresa begins ejecting the balloons and James gives them a quick rinse.  There are still three balloons left to expel and Mendoza cannot vomit them up. James squirts liquid hand soap down Mendoza’s throat.  Two  more packets land in the sink.

Valdez grabs the two balloons in the sink and begins wrapping the packets for delivery. One of the  balloons lands on the floor and James does not notice (more about that later). The drugs are handed off the Han.

Back in Sinaloa, Mexico, Brenda and her son are on the run from Epifanio’s thugs.  They head to her grandmother’s shop only to find two of his men waiting. A deliveryman that Brenda has known since childhood stops and picks the mother and her son up, saving their lives.

Late the delivery driver is tortured to give Brenda up but he holds out against the vicious Batman. The coldblooded enforcer for Epifanio shoots the man. Brenda’s cell phone has been pinged once and when it surfaces again the godfather’s men will kill her and the boy.

Camila has big plans. She is divorcing Epifanio and planning to increase her drug intake.  The current queenpin of Texas is also moving assets and reinvesting. Her husband calls again inquiring about Theresa.

When James reports on how well Mendoza did on the drug run, Camila orders him to talk to her and use Theresa again. She will be valuable, Varga says. James appears to be taking a personal interest in Mendoza. At first it seems that Valdez may be the new Guero.

There is one problem however. At the airport terminal, James was counting the packets of drugs that came out of Theresa.  Expecting 23, he began wrapping the product when only 22 had been vomited up.

Theresa leans over after giving her stomach such a severe workout and finds the last packet. Handing number 23 to James he puts it in the bag.  Earlier Valdez insisted that Mendoza force the balloons back up as they are late to the airport. He says that she will die as the balloons are dissolving and he cannot face that again.

Yet he does not bat an eye when he believes that she still has one dissolving packet inside her. This alone would sentence her to death as it is a pure uncut version of the drug. So at this point it does not seem likely that he is the new Dallas version of Guero.

Mendoza is visited by her “future self” a couple of times. In the first  visit successful Theresa tells a bemused and bedraggled Mendoza, “I said welcome to America. I did not say it was going to be easy.” The last time she drops by it is to tell her younger self  that she is heading in the right direction.

Braga is killing it in this remake of a popular telenovela.  The stunts are impressive even when they are not that spectacular. The car sequence where James and Theresa are rushing to the airport terminal is nail bitingly good.

Veronica Falcon is suitably icy and aloof as Camila Varga and de Almeida is superb as the godfather going into politics.  Machado is spot on as the new widow on the run.

This is drama/thriller is great entertainment. Regardless of the subject matter, we are behind Theresa Mendoza as she struggles to survive.  While not on par with Walter White in Breaking Bad we do like Theresa and feel comfortable rooting for her.

Queen of the South airs Thursdays on USA. Looks like Mr. Robot will not be the only addictive series on the network in 2016.