Sunday, April 3, 2011

Review: Outcasts "Episode 2"

Non Spoiler Review:
Episode 2 picks up with the survivors from the destruction of CT-9, and the subsequent search to find Stella's daughter, Lily. Tate must negotiate for her release from a group who's identity is revealed quite quickly. Julius Berger is introduced, revealing he is a whole bag of crazy and undoubtedly going to cause massive problems for pretty much everyone.

The secondary characters get more play here, especially Cass, Fleur and Jack, attempting to deal with a tense hostage situation with these others. And amid all this drama more secrets gets bandied around about the troubled early days of Forthaven.

Lots of interesting stuff this week. While the hostage drama moved a bit slower than it could have, the hints of the backstory and the politics of the colony continue to fuel the intrigue. Julius is going to be an interesting factor. 

Spoilers Now!
Fleur sits by Karina's body confessing she killed Mitchell, but they at least brought Linus back (though that's the last we hear of him this episode). They're going to say Mitchell shot himself, as the citizens have had enough to deal with. She and Tate commiserate about losing her, and as they return to the command center, Fleur is concerned about the bipeds that attacked their camp. There are insects and birds on Carpathia, but the existence of aliens sound crazy. We're the only aliens on Carpathia, Tate insists, and he's more concerned about one of the missing escape pods.

At the crash sight, a girl (obviously Lily) crawls out of the wreckage, while on the horizon a group of men appear above the sand dunes. They take her to some caves where there's a crying baby. Their leader, Rudi, explains she's ill and the people coming to find Lily will make her better. 

The survivors from the other escape shuttles are filing into Forthaven, while Stella searches among them for her daughter. Julius Berger has taken the liberty of waiting in Tate's office and welcomes his old acquaintance. Julius never imagined Tate (a scientist) would end up as a statesman. Tate brings him up to date on his family's death, while Julius explains the situation on Earth became very grave when they were departing five years earlier (lots of geopolitical stuff involving China, and the nuking of Shanghai).

Julius mentions he will be leading the survivors in thanksgiving prayers. He had an experience on the transport he says made him very spiritual (uh oh). Tate doesn't know what to think of that, but Julius attempts to put his mind to ease and knows he has a lot to learn about Carpathia. He won't be stepping on anyone's toes.

The missing pod is located, but Tate won't allow Stella to go on the rescue. He wants her to deal with the missing ACs that Mitchell mentioned. She sees off Fleur and Cass, who promise to bring back her daughter if she's out there. The two of them team up with the expeditionary force now led by Jack.

At the crash site they find no one left, but all the bodies are stripped of supplies and covered up. Some were finished off, but there's no one fitting Lily's description. That's when mystery man Rudi arrives with his men.

Jack knows who it is. They're Mitchell's people, and he doesn't listen to Jack anymore now that Mitchell is gone. He tells them to come with him and he'll return the girl if they make the baby better. News of a baby is a surprise to everyone, but they surrender their weapons and go along.

One of the CT-9 survivors, Ashley, comes to see Stella. She's eighteen and her mother died on the ship because someone stole her place on the escape shuttle—Julius Berger. She wants him punished. Stella goes to see Julius, and she asks how he got his space on the shuttle. The evacuation was controlled by activated passes to distinguish essential personnel to escape. He admits to taking the pass of a friend—Catherine Burroughs—but she said his life was worth more than hers, and in his terror he gave in. The truth, as unflattering as it is. He asks if she has any other questions, but she says no and leaves. He then summons a man from the next table over. "Where's Ashley Burroughs?" he asks.

She's walking aimlessly through the streets when Tipper runs into her. She knows her life is in danger, so he takes her inside to get high on some local plant life and we get some of Tipper's story—he was a child prodigy, which is how he ended up on the colony. They bond while discussing their last days on Earth. After staying for awhile, she says good night and leaves, but she's taken a knife.

Jack, Fleur and Cass are led to the refuge of the men who, as Jack explains, are clones. They were experiments developed in the early days with enhancements to give them a survival edge, but Mitchell saved them after Tate ordered them executed. They bring out Lily, and Fleur realizes she's Stella's daughter. Cass gets him to agree to taking the three of them in exchange for Lily. But he also wants Tate.

Stella confronts Julius again, asking why her husband wasn't on the transporter. He's contrite, and explains that it was chaotic in the final days before they left Earth, and though her husband was given only one spot, he chose to give it to his daughter. Julius suggests they pray for those that were lost. As far as Ashley's allegations, Stella suggests the DBV as an option, but Julius refuses and doesn't seem to think Tate would agree to a warrant. He tells her the investigation is closed and the girl is delusional. Later, Tate advises Stella to pick her battles, but she thinks Ashley needs to be protected.

As Julius holds his prayer group with the survivors, Ashley walks up with her knife but is quietly headed off by Tipper. Julius has noticed this and walks over to tell her he's sad that he can never trust her again. Tipper leads her off sobbing, while Julius returns to the group.

The clones are led back to the outskirts of Forthaven. Rudi gives Fleur the baby to take to the hospital while the others remain as hostages. He'll kill the rest if they don't heal the baby, as she reports to Tate later, and informs Stella that her daughter is alive.

The baby has pneumonia, but Fleur doesn't know if they'll return Lily. Tate confesses to ordering the executions years ago, which alarms Fleur (given how peace loving she is). They're called ACs—Advanced Cultivars that were used for genetic patterns to help them survive in the advanced missions. He thought they were responsible for the C-23 virus and so he did what he thought was necessary to save the colony. Fleur had thought they were making a better world here, and Tate assures her it is. He wants her to come with him when he goes to talk to them.

Jack gets into a fight with one of the ACs, which only makes a tense situation worse, prompting Lily to make a run for it. But she's caught and Jack takes a beating from the guy he started a fight with.

Tate and Fleur meet the ACs. Rudi is extremely not happy to see him. They don't need Tate now, and one day they'll have their revenge on Forthaven. Tate tells him they had no choice—at the time they were sure it was the ACs who caused the virus. Rudi wants to know who is parents are, but Tate doesn't know. Rudi suggests that whatever killed their children could still be out there. Can he be sure it was a virus? There's still a lot about Carpathia he doesn't now. Next time Fleur comes alone with the baby, he says. Back in his office, Tate is reviewing papers when a hand drawn card begins to move across his desk. Freaky.

Tipper brings in Ashley to see Stella, advising that something weird is going on between Julius and her. Stella gets a great idea—let's use the DBV on her to see if there's anything she can find out about Julius. Instead, Stella returns to Julius, suggesting he leave Ashley alone now. He assured her he never slept with her but Ashley threw herself at him on the transport. Stella is going to protect her now, she warns. And then Julius starts musing about the soul, and she leaves.

Tate doesn't know how the ACs produced a baby, but he takes cell samples for further research and Stella finds out and is thoroughly pissed that he would put the hostages in jeopardy. He's ready to send it back anyway, and the ACs gather everyone for the exchange. Fleur heads off to meet them.

Jack doesn't like how things are unfolding, sensing a trap. Cass tells him to wait before acting again, but Jack attacks his guard. Lily runs off again while Cass and Jack fight the clones. Cass is forced to stab one of the clones while Rudi watches from a rock and then walks away.

Cass, Jack, Fleur, Lily and the baby return to Forthaven, greeted by Stella. Stella doesn't recognize her (it's been fifteen years), but they share an awkward embrace. Then Lily tells her she's not her mother because she abandoned her. On that note the three others walk back together. Fleur isn't sure Rudi was going to double-cross them. Cass is angry and tells Tate he has blood on his hands—again. What if they make the same mistakes? he says.

Julius meets Ashley in the bar, suggesting they go somewhere private. He admits to being wrong when he kissed her the first time, but he tells her she'll never have the chance to stab him again. But Ashley seems stronger now. She's going to live for her mother and start a new life in her memory. Julius asks her to tell Stella that he understands her terms and they won't be speaking again. He leaves her as Tipper enters. Ashley's much better now.

Tate needs to find Rudi, return the baby and find a peaceful solution to the new AC situation. He tells Stella he took the samples for a reason. Their birthrate has plummeted and they need to do something pretty quick. For some reason the ACs have started to reproduce, and the baby could be the key to their colony's future.

The Verdict:
The AC reveal came so quickly, almost as an offhand remark it was easy to miss. The idea of villainous clones isn't entirely groundbreaking, and it might have served them better to have a more mundane explanation. It's apparent they'll fill the role of the dangerous others outside the gates. But the questions Rudi raises about the virus and all the unknowns about Carpathia hints at more might be out there.

Tate's darker aspects are beginning to spill out, and those around him are starting to question his methods as they find out more secrets. He is a scientist first, after all, and he approaches matters with a cold objectivity. Cass had another dark incident in the past that is really weighing heavy on him. Was it for Tate? Mitchell seemed to know about it last episode, as well. And what was the story between Mitchell and the ACs, and why do they turn on Jack so quickly once Mitchell was out of the picture? Weren't they all supposed to have a happy new settlement together?

I had assumed the attack on Fleur and Cass' campsite was the ACs, but now I'm not so sure. Could there be another race on the planet? Will we get to see anything aside from the sound of chirping birds? And probably more important was the brief, but weird, moving card on Tate's desk. Hallucination or something else?

The age of the colonists is interesting to consider. Ten years on the colony plus five years in transit mean all of them were relatively young when they left Earth (Tipper just a kid). No wonder Lily is upset, given she'd barely be three when her mother left. It obviously was a profound sacrifice that saved her life (at the expense of her father), but it looks like Stella has her work cut out for her reforging that relationship.

Julius is B.A.N.A.N.A.S. But he plays it really well—charming one moment and very manipulative and devious the next. He must have quite a history already if, after fifteen years, Tate and Stella are still concerned about what he could be up to. She seems to be on to him, though, which speaks to some sort of association long before.

Tipper has quickly grown on me, and I love his interaction with Stella (who is slowly loosening up). Stella's ongoing suggestions to use the deep brain visualization for every little problem gave me a chuckle. It could easily become a plot device to establish guilt and innocence rather quickly, though. It looks like Fleur and Cass are going to be her regular heavies to carry out Stella's missions. They are all relatively likable, though Jack seems unusually reactionary, it's a wonder he hasn't gotten himself killed already. I guess there's a reason Mitchell was in charge.

Overall, Episode 2 brought more pieces together, and continued to develop the major characters. Outcasts remains a great looking show with its South African scenery and the great job on the aesthetic of Forthaven. 

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