Vagrant Queen gives you the best of Star Trek and Firefly without taking itself too seriously. Read our spoiler-free review.
I know those are some big shoes to fill, but if I had to compare Vagrant Queen to anything, it would be these two beloved sci-fi properties.
Like Star Trek, Queen depicts a vibrant world full of human and alien species living in harmony (mostly). Though the new Syfy show starring Adriyan Rae might be even more colorful than Trek, it can certainly thank the long-standing franchise for leading the way and giving it a space to exist.
But Vagrant Queen has a decidedly Firefly air about it as well. It’s not quite cowboys-in-space, but our hero Elida (Rae) has a similar charm to one Malcolm Reynolds. She doesn’t always make the best decisions, she’s a little cavalier, and possibly not as charming as she wishes to be, but she’s got a good heart and the kind of loyalty you can truly admire.
Where Queen shines on its own is the tone of the show, which embraces its particular quirks. Elida pokes fun at her own one-liners, several characters raise an eyebrow at her chosen name, and the series isn’t afraid to be a little slapstick.
In fact, that’s where you can find most of its charm.
The story begins with Elida as a scavenger. We immediately see her battle prowess and wit on prominent display — as well as the fact that she’s clearly on the run from the Republic. Her friends are few and far between, but they’re loyal. (Mostly. More on that later.)
Elida doesn’t want to be queen, even though her the rebellion could really use her leadership. It’s clear she wants to do the right thing, but she’s been on her own for so long, it’s hard to imagine a life where she’s tied to the throne.
But when an old friend, Isaac, brings the promise of good news, Elida can’t help but change her trajectory.
Unfortunately, her relationship with Isaac (Tim Rozon) is less than stellar. They left on bad terms, and even though they seem to want the same thing, there’s still a lot of love (and loyalty) lost between them.
Rozon’s Isaac also has a little Malcolm Reynolds in him. He’s a con artist, sure, but he’s also got a good heart. He doesn’t necessarily want to hurt anyone, but he’s desperate to get back to his wife and child on Earth.
He may have a one-track mind, but he and Elida were family once. Vagrant Queen promises that not all hope is lost on that front, even if the road will be a little bumpy.
Luckily for both Elida and Isaac, Amae (Alex McGregor) joins their merry band of misfits. She’s the exact opposite of the two of them — she’s highly organized, insanely optimistic, and incredibly capable (there are definite Kaylee vibes here).
Amae is a people person, and she immediately shows her loyalty to Elida and Isaac. She also inspires them to hope for a better future. She reminds them that not all people are opportunistic assholes. It’s obviously a nice change of pace for both of them, and they embrace her with open arms.
Vagrant Queen also provides us with non-subtext queer representation right out of the gate. The show has a 10-episode run, so I’ll wait to see how they continue to handle it, but I have a good feeling about this series and how it’ll depict sexuality, and especially female sexual empowerment.
But our heroes are only as good as our villains, and Lazaro (Paul du Toit) makes an excellent foil. Like the rest of the show, he’s a little quirky and over-the-top, but he can make you laugh and cringe in horror within the same scene.
He’s been hunting Elida for 15 years, and his constant failures have begun to catch up with him. While he’s at the top of the food chain everywhere else in his life, he still has to answer to his bosses, who aren’t happy with the wild goose chase he’s been on for nearly two decades.
Lazaro is desperate to kill Elida and regain glory, which makes him even more dangerous to everyone around him. While he has his moments of mustache-twirling, the brief glimpses of his psychopathy remind you not to turn your back on him.
At the end of the day, Vagrant Queen is a flashy action-comedy TV series set against a science fiction backdrop. But it also has a lot of heart.
This show is about found family, loyalty, and duty. Elida has chosen her new family in Isaac and Amae, and just because her blood is special, it doesn’t mean theirs is any less important. Loyalty is paramount in a world where everyone is just looking out for themselves. But what happens when your duty pulls you in two different directions?
This is the question Elida will be struggling with on Vagrant Queen season 1. I don’t think this show will be for everyone — it sometimes feels like one step below parody — but I do think it has a lot to say and a lot to offer this genre.
If nothing else, its a vehicle for increased diversity, where we get to see a woman of color kicking ass, both as a rebel and a queen, as well as a queer woman who constantly proves she’s better than pretty much any man in the room no matter what she sets her mind to.