Review of Domino Day – a lively and entertaining witch story that can be considered as the modern-day Buffy for a new audience.
Each new group of people should have the opportunity to experience their own version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I am unsure of which specific group we are currently in, as I lost track after the Z generation. However, they should be grateful to be part of the generation that gets to enjoy Domino Day as their representation. In terms of stories that involve supernatural elements, young women finding their strength and facing temptations, navigating the harsh realities of the world, and forming bonds of sisterhood, it’s actually quite good.
Domino (Siena Kelly) is a young Mancunian witch (and barista and part-time tattooist) who must feed off the energy of others to stay alive. She sources her meat from dating apps – I do not know how un-hot young witches manage – and rare is it that one of her hookups doesn’t prove himself worthy of being drained.
Unfortunately, the first episode takes a turn for the worse when a despicable individual attempts to commit rape and secretly records their encounter. As a result, he obtains incriminating footage of her secret. Shortly after, Domino discovers that her powers have a destructive capability.
The local group of witches, who also operate a plant shop that supplies other witches and follows the traditions of wise women and herbalism, is aware of a new witch in the area who is not affiliated with their group. They are attempting to locate her and assess her abilities. If they do not bring her into their group and report their findings to the Elders, they and the new witch will face punishment. The Elders are said to be stricter than Buffy’s mentor, Giles. The leader of the group, Kat (played by Alisha Bailey), has sought the guidance of her ancestors, who practiced a type of magic that has since been forbidden by the Elders, in order to determine the best approach for dealing with the new witch, Domino.
There is a romantic subplot involving Leon (played by Percelle Ascott, who portrays a good man with ease), a mysterious character named Silas (played by Sam Howard-Sneyd) – who is Domino’s ex and has recently cut off contact with her (so far, only in the sense of young people, but keep watching) – and the dubious proprietor of the nearby magic store, Cal (played by Darren Tighe), to whom she brings Silas’s book of spells to see if its hidden knowledge can be revealed.
To sum it up, the arrangement is excellent. It is both rich and enjoyable and, as all stories with supernatural elements must be, firmly rooted in the real world. The coven embodies the sense of having a tight-knit group of supportive female friends who also happen to possess the ability to read auras and serve wine. While they may be shooing away losers at nightclubs, they are also providing protective spells.
Domino’s growing powers and her concomitant unease stand in nicely for just about any awkwardness or learning curve you remember from your 20s; they also bring the notion of working out how much space you want to take up in the world, and how little the world wants you, to the fore. There is an African tribal aspect to Kat’s ancestors and their outlawed magic, while the Elders appear to be a white, western organisation, which brings ideas about colonialism, racial oppression and erasure into play.
The performance gracefully navigates numerous challenges without losing balance. It exudes impeccable style without appearing pretentious and maintains a high level of energy without becoming chaotic. There is constant action and the surprises and developments are well-timed, although not particularly groundbreaking (at least, in the first half of the series that I have watched).
Even more indescribably, it gives off the impression of being a production led by women. Laura Sequeira is the creator and writer, with Eva Sigurdardottir and Nadira Amrani as directors, and a predominantly female cast. The show captures a feeling of sisterhood among the coven and effectively portrays Domino’s own fear of her desires, as well as the disbelief of those around her at the intensity of those desires. It is part of a growing trend in media to depict male violence as a constant underlying issue that eventually reaches a breaking point, rather than a random, unexplainable outburst.
I can’t quite say it is a pleasure to watch, but it is good to see. It’s a real sign that things are changing – in television, at least; I don’t mean real life – and that what we really mean by telling women’s stories is starting to happen. Magic.