Let’s just get this out of the way at the top. The world is on fire right now in ways that none of us could have imagined, even in our wildest nightmares. We’re leaning harder than ever on the things that bring us joy, and if you’re reading this, then I imagine one of those things is intergalactic space adventure with an unlikely group of heroes. If you’re anything like me, you have a Killjoys-shaped hole in your heart and a (temporary) Wynonna Earp-shaped hole in your soul. Well, thank the gods because SYFY’s Vagrant Queen is here to fill them! I instantly fell in love with these snarky characters, their biting back-and-forth banter, and the colorful world created by Jem Garrard. We’re all in this together right now, so join me on this journey to a galaxy that is “definitely not yours.”
We open on a planet called Gallianox in what we’re told is in a galaxy that’s not ours which, wild assumption to start off, show! Anywho, an extremely badass woman of color drops down into both a sand-filled tunnel and our hearts. You see, she’s a scavenger who scored an artifact that I can only imagine will score her some serious coin. Before she can skedaddle, she’s stopped by two rival scavengers who attempt to claim her find as their own. If it wasn’t for the episode starting off with our heroine kicking serious ass, then the banter between these two scavengers would have been the thing to sell me on this show. Their comedy routine is short-lived though because the woman whips out a throwing star, slashes off one of their arms, spouts off some admittedly mediocre one-liners, and shoots the other with a sweet no-look, behind-the-back shot.
I love this opening credits sequence y’all! It’s so fun.
Back on her ship, the woman is having a nightmare about being taken away from her mother. She wakes up and starts to guide her ship to Xija Station (also not in our galaxy), but not before her ship’s AI (Does she have a name?? Does she know Lucy?) informs her that her thrusters are at 30%.
Down on Xija Station, the woman tries to sell her haul, but she gets way less than she anticipated. We also learn that her name is Elida. Hey girl! Nice to officially meet you! Elida heads to the bar of the colorful alien club of my dreams and starts chatting up the bartender who looks like if Rufio left the Lost Boys and got a Hunger Games-esque makeover. I love him, is what I’m saying. The two talk about Elida’s life on the run and Chaz tells her about rumors of the Republic being afoot. Elida’s ship is in rough shape so Chaz recommends a mechanic he knows that can help her out: his sister.
Elida goes to find the mechanic and reader, the look on Elida’s face when she discovers that the mechanic was in the midst of some queer shit was the exact look on MY face when I discovered that the mechanic was in the midst of some queer shit. Elida’s face isn’t nearly as loud as mine though and she recovers quickly, invoking Chaz’s name and asking for Amae’s help in getting her ship back up and running. Elida doesn’t have enough money for the top of the line parts she needs, but Amae offers her older parts at the low low cost of half-price…and a beer at Chaz’s bar. SOUNDS. LIKE. A. DATE. TO. ME.
Alarms blare as the Admiralty of the Republic of Arriopa lands at Xija Station and announces that all transportation is suspended while they look for a fugitive. A female fugitive who, we learn from Arrogant McStickUpHisAss, is a Queen.
Flashback time!! 8 years ago on a Loyalist Space Station, a young Elida is dancing down a hall (to the sounds of Protozoa probably), when fighting erupts. The woman from Elida’s dream calls her “Eldaya”, pushes her into a pod, and tells her to “trust only yourself” before getting shot by a young Arrogant McStickUpHisAss.
Back in the present, Elida is stealthing around but not well enough because she’s immediately spotted by a Republic soldier who chases her until she falls down a garbage chute. She manages to convince the soldier that Lazaro (that’s Arrogant McStickUpHisAss’ name) would want her alive. Before the soldier can get Elida out, he’s shot by a futuristic Doc Holliday with a full beard?!?! Ah, no, this is Isaac and oh do these two have history.
I love Tim Rozon as Doc Holliday with my whole entire heart, but I was absolutely giddy at watching him get to let his comedy chops loose as Isaac. He and Adriyan Rae have such fun chemistry and comedic timing, and I can’t wait to watch these two trade insults all season.
Chaz brings Elida and Isaac to a safe room and Isaac reveals that it’s technically probably his fault that the Republic is here because he sold them what he believed to be useless information about Eldaya. We learn that back in the day Isaac shot Elida (what?!) and she took his ship. Whose name is Peggy. Isaac’s ship’s name is Peggy after Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada and I LOVE IT SO MUCH! Isaac’s main goal is get back to Earth and back to his wife Hannah.
Down at the bar, Lazaro tells Chaz a sob story about how he got caught drinking his father’s booze because Daddio had security cameras in the house. I guess Chaz doesn’t understand foreshadowing because when asked if he knew Elida, he has her back and lies. So Lazaro shows Chaz the security footage of the two of them talking, before taking Chaz prisoner.
Elida tries to get on a transport using the fool-proof disguise of putting her hood up. Before she can strategize, she’s stopped by a man who calls her “my Queen.” She eventually follows him and finds a group of people loyal to the crown and who pledge themselves to the true Arriopa. Much like other Chosen One narratives, our heroine wants nothing to do with being Queen. She changed her name from Eldaya to Elida (the similarities between the two names gives us a classic ongoing bit in this episode) to distance herself from the people who let her mother die. To further drive her point home, Elida says “I am not your nightlight in this shitty darkness.”
In another flashback to 8 years ago, young Eldaya is training with her parents for a future of battles with the Republic. Eldaya laments about not being able to be a normal teenager.
Back on Xija Station, a group of soldiers interrupts Amae and tosses her alphabetized tools. The soldiers attempt to take Amae, but Isaac shows up and kills them both. He explains to Amae that Elida is actually Queen Eldaya and the Republic is just using Chaz to get to her because despite all that they’ve been through, he knows how loyal she is. The two then come up with a plan to get Chaz back and save Elida.
Meanwhile, Elida tries to get the loyalists to go without her because Lazaro threatened to kill any monarchy sympathizers, but they’re not having it and knock out Elida. When she comes to, she guilt-trips the woman for hitting a Queen. This lady is so focused on continuing the monarchy and Elida producing an heir but that’s not the life Elida wants for herself. She puts the woman in a sleeper hold and Nim knocks out the man who led her here in the first place! Nim supports his queen’s decisions, even if that decision is that she doesn’t want to be Queen. Protec™ Nim.
In an attempt to help Elida escape, Nim takes down two soldiers and they convince them to send a fake transmission to Lazaro to make him think they captured Elida.
Isaac and Amae, dressed as Republic soldiers, somehow manage to convince an actual soldier that they need to transfer Chaz to another location. On their way to save Elida then come up another soldier and Nim. Spoiler alert! Isaac, Amae, and Elida all had the same plan to dress as soldiers to rescue each other! It’s cute and campy and self-referential and I loved it. Before long, a group of real soldiers engage them in a fire fight.
Before our group of space friends can sneak onto the ship, Amae says that she can fix Peggy but she has to be onboard to do so. Elida is reluctant because she doesn’t want anymore blood on her hands. Isaac chooses this time to tell Elida that her mother is alive and he can take her to her if he gets Peggy back. Elida doesn’t believe him until she sees that he has her mother’s necklace. Elida takes the deal, but Amae looks at Isaac with just a hint of disapproval.
Time for a SLOW. MOTION. HERO. WALK.!! We love a fight montage with freeze frames and jaunty background music! During the fight, Elida gets shot in the arm and Nim gets hit by Lazaro. As Elida starts to offer herself up for her new friend, Nim pulls out a grenade and says “Long live Elida” before sacrificing himself. It feels important to note that Nim chose to use the name “Elida” rather than “Eldaya” as a sign of respect for the life she’s chosen to lead.
Before Lazaro and his goons leave Xija, he gets an update that loyalists have escaped. Nim begins moaning and twitching on the ground and Lazaro smiles in a way that I did not like one bit.
On the Winnipeg, Amae is bandaging up Elida and you know, I heard a rumor that chicks dig scars…Anywho, the two gaze into each other’s eyes for a beat or two longer than necessary before heading to the cockpit. The group of unlikely friends laugh at Elida’s undercover name again before the ship starts to sputter and they head off to land on the closest planet where goddess knows who or what will be waiting for them.
What did y’all think of the Vagrant Queen pilot?? Personally, I love how light and fun the show is while also keeping the stakes high. It’s clear that the bond between these characters is the heart of the show and I can’t wait to see what they get up to next. Let me know what you thought in the comments or continue the discussion over on Twitter! Until next time, Vagrants!
What were your thoughts on the premiere of Vagrant Queen? Let us know below!
Vagrant Queen airs Fridays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on SYFY and Sundays at 10 p.m. ET on Citytv.
Nic is a Digital Product Manager who lives in Queens, NY. She spends way too much time thinking about queer fictional characters, Tessa Thompson, and Janelle Monae. When she's not busy consuming every form of fiction, you can find her cosplaying as Valkyrie. You can find Nic on Twitter and Instagram.