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Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Woman of the Month: Dutch

Dutch from Killjoys
If there's one type of characterization I really love, it's a tough exterior hiding a vulnerable gooey centre. Such is the case with Dutch (real name: Yalena Yardeen) from SyFy's Killjoys. In many ways she's a total power fantasy: a bounty hunter with fantastic hair and a smirk to rival Natalie Dormer's who flies from planet to planet collecting warrants for large sums of money ... but of course, there's a dark backstory just waiting to be exposed.
She's deeply reminiscent of Firefly's River and Dark Angel's Max (who were also trained as living weapons), but where River was psychologically damaged and Max emotionally stunted, Dutch has set up very strict moral limitations on herself, striving to keep her abilities in check so that she can better distance herself from her past.
But she's not a grim, stoic killing-machine, which is a trap plenty of writers fall into when they're told to write a "badass female character". Across the episodes Dutch is allowed to be playful, tearful, distraught and afraid – even if those emotions don't come to her quite as naturally as others.
Her tale is one of self-identity and found family. When we first meet her she's already escaped a long-term abusive relationship with a father figure who was training her to become an assassin, and gone on to form a much healthier platonic bond with her partner in the Reclamation Apprehension Coalition. But if Khlyen and Johnny represent the two sides of her – the broken and the functional halves – then it doesn't come as much of a surprise when Khlyen's return sends her into a tailspin.

Another interesting feature is that she doesn't really get along with other women, but though I usually find a lack of solidarity really irritating in any female character, it makes a lot of sense here and is treated like a legitimate flaw.
Ultimately Dutch is defined by two internal drives: the protection of her crewmates and a need to understand where she came from. Always the question lingers: if it came down to it, which one would she chose? As I've only watched the first season, I don't yet know the answer...

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