What Would She Do is a series that takes a moment to appreciate and celebrate the most kickass, most inspiring female TV characters of the Sci-Fi and Fantasy genres, who keep us tuning in and feeling fierce.
For this edition, WWSD is leaving the Earth-girls behind in favor of the inter-planetary heroics of Killjoys’ Dutch.
Killjoys is a SyFy show currently in its fourth season. The series was created by Michelle Lovretta, who earlier created Lost Girl, the home of a few future WWSD subjects. Lovretta is also sometimes known as ‘my new personal hero’ because she has proven adept in building vibrant sci-fi and fantasy worlds brimming with badass ladies. Though I’m kicking off my Killjoys appreciation with Dutch, there are half a dozen other ladies in the show I could write about, one favorite being Zephyr, a mini-nerd in search of a tribe. For now, however, let’s go Dutch…
Killjoys takes place, primarily, in the Quad planetary system, which consists of Qresh, and its three moons – Leith, Westerly, and dead Arkyn. The entire Quad is controlled by The Company. Arguably, the only entity with as much liberty as The Company is the RAC – Reclamation Apprehension Coalition. RAC Agents “take no sides, take no bribes,” and vow to honor a warrant as it is given, delivering the person or item(s) requested in the condition requested. They are, basically, space bounty hunters, whose jurisdiction is everywhere and for whom “the warrant is all.” They are less-than-affectionately nicknamed for the emotion they illicit in their quarry – ‘Killjoys’. Killjoys follows a trio of RAC Agents sometimes referred to as “Team Awesome Force,” – brothers John and D’avin Jaqobis and their awesome leader, Dutch.
As in life and inter-galactic bounty hunting, things aren’t peachy forever, and Dutch’s past comes back to haunt her…and then some. Not only is Dutch a survivor of a royal harem at which she was trained to be an assassin, but she also has an intimate connection to a far-reaching and freaky-powerful entity that enslaves and makes evil super soldiers of RAC Agents and others. Dutch eventually wages war against the super soldiers – called Hullen – and their creator in order to wipe out the body snatcher types.
In the midst of the war-waging, she and the Jaqobis brothers take warrants — routine and otherwise — get embroiled in Qreshi politics, and battle it out through brainwashing, bureaucracy, and more.
In the pilot episode of Killjoys, Dutch orchestrates and acts as the surprise muscle in some Grade A hijinks to clear her and John’s warrant. Shortly after they deliver the prisoner, John illegally uses Dutch’s higher rank to claim D’avin’s warrant, inadvertently getting Dutch caught in the line of fire. Dutch is forced to scramble to save both Jacoqis and when the brothers are pinned down, she quite literally walks in and saves their asses, wearing the gown voted most likely to make you say ‘Dayum’ aloud. Rather than losing a BFF or her life, she gains a second Jaqobis. Not only does she fight like a ninja, but she commands respect from all those around her, and is a leader in the truest sense of the term. That’s all to say — it does not take long to realize that Dutch is incredibly badass.
She had me at “I have a half-assed plan,” and yet, as the show progresses, so does she. Throughout the conflict with the Hullen, she is forced to reassess much of what she thought she knew about herself. The journey is harrowing, as she has to re-examine her upbringing, monsters becoming knights, villains emerging from shadows, and her very memories dissolving into question. She responds to the information with trademark ferocity, commanding respect from those around her; deep inquisitiveness, and moststriking, vulnerability. It’s no surprise that someone would respond to such revelations shakily, but it is a shock to see vulnerability in a strong female character, especially among male counterparts. Oftentimes, badass female characters must be so trained on being infallible that feelings are treated like chinks in armor. Here, the ability to be vulnerable, to receive as well as give emotionally, around her makeshift family is one of the key traits that raises Dutch above being an archetype and transforms her into a well rounded person. Plus, there is little more badass than self-assuredness, and knowing that nothing – certainly not needing a shoulder once in a while – is going to truly weaken you.
It seems strange – even to myself – that this is the trait I’m hanging my hat on. (It’s a pointy witch’s hat, BTW) Dutch is overtly amazing in a litany of ways, illuminated above. She also grows through incredible trauma and abuse. I have the ability to appreciate and admire that, but not – through training or, gratefully, experience – to speak on it. She is also intolerant of limitation. Though limitations are sadly thrust on many of us, Dutch’s solutions include, but are not limited to, military coups and flying into suns. Far be it for me to put anyone in a box, but the practical lessons there are not widely applicable. Her owning her own vulnerability is.
Too often, women are expected – and expect themselves – to be able to do it all. The family, the job, the house, the extra-circulars, all with a smile and time for brunch. Not achieving that is not only less than ideal, it’s tired or lacking. Even though I have trouble with the few balls I have in the air, and I intellectually know that aforementioned yogi/small business owner/bake sale mom/Instagram celebrity is not the goal, I still have a nagging that I’m not enough. And I fear that any cracks in the façade of confidence and control will allow people to peek in and lower their estimations of me. Especially around male co-workers, I’m careful not to let that façade slip for fear that they’ll think I’m weak. There is a reason the girls in my office have private crying spots – because we worry that faltering will make us less than, and because those emotions tend to make men uncomfortable, so we leave.
Dutch, however, has moments of shame, fear, vulnerability, self-questioning, and embarrassment. Rather than keep in those emotions confined to her quarters, she shares them with her team. Vulnerability doesn’t affect her ability to shoot straight, and it doesn’t keep everyday women from being their personal ideals. It’s not easy, since women have been programmed over decades to do and be the opposite, but if Dutch can shed tears one scene, and then fight for herself and her cause in the next – both of which take strength – who’s to say we all can’t accomplish the same?
THE YOU GO GIRL
Dutch has a multitude of You Go Girl moments, so let’s go with the original – when she waltz in, uses her jewelry as a weapon, and saves the Jaqobis brother’s asses in Episode 1.
NEXT TIME ON WWSD: A look at a lady who is badass in any time period – Legends of Tomorrow’s Sara Lance.
Feature Photo via SyFy.com