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'Dominion' review: Good vs. bad angels

Chris Egan as Alex Lannon in the pilot

Chris Egan as Alex Lannon in the pilot episode of "Dominion." Credit: Syfy / Ilze Kitshoff

THE SHOW "Dominion"

WHEN | WHERE Premieres Thursday 9-10:30 p.m. on Syfy

WHAT IT'S ABOUT You've heard about the good angel on one shoulder? And evil on the other? Las Vegas has both chips on its (future) shoulders.

That's because those wing-wearing sides went to war over the human race in the 2010 theatrical film "Legion," and Syfy's new saga "Dominion" picks up that tale in 25 A.E. (After Extermination). Desert sanctuary Vega is now one of the fortified cities housing refugee humans who continue the fight, here getting help from upright archangel Michael (Tom Wisdom), who turned against destructive angel Gabriel (Carl Beukes). The regal British-accented Michael is tight with wry all-American rebel soldier Alex (Christopher Egan, "Kings"), for reasons that become clearer across the colorfully cluttered span of this extended pilot.

A lot needs to become clear. The year, the place, the angel factions, the human "houses" competing for power, profiteering possibilities, family legacies, romantic tangles, surviving technologies. Not to mention societal slang like "eightballs," meaning the lower-ranked black angels who inhabit human bodies.

So who knows who anybody is, really, or what they want, or how they're aligned? Duplicity and conspiracies abound, alongside a "savior" faith awaiting "a chosen child."

MY SAY "Dominion" seems to have assembled elements of just about every fantasy/sci-fi trope -- dystopic urban landscape, royal house-joinings, flying monsters, secret-message tattoos, "religious theater" vs. "politics." Not 10 minutes into the pilot comes a good old-fashioned penance whipping. There's even a subtitled angel language.

For the record, Syfy's "Dominion" premieres at 9, after Syfy's "Defiance" returns at 8 for its second season in a post-apocalyptic American metropolis (St. Louis) where humans struggle with alien forces who . . .

Never mind. Let's stick to "Dominion." Maybe the Thursday pilot's portentous whispers in candle-lighted spaces will seem less pretentious and more profound as "Dominion" moves past initial exposition from a cast trying not to sound like they're from all over the planet. (Many "American" accents disguise actors from Britain, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, where the series is filmed.)

BOTTOM LINE Good vs. bad makes sound and fury. Whither the soul?


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