Friday, April 29, 2011

Review: Outcasts "Episode 6"

Non Spoiler Review:
Episode 6 jumps right into the middle of a crisis—three XPs are two days missing, leaving a pregnant wife about to give birth, and three other children waiting for their mother's return. Jack struggles to find out what happened to them, but is keeping secrets about the true nature of the mission they were on. When one of them is found alive and returned home, everyone is elated, but what follows is an increasingly ominous revelation of what exactly returned to Forthaven.

Probably the weakest episode so far, this week seemed to meander on and on with the mystery (an ongoing problem these last couple of episodes), but takes forever to get to its conclusion. I realize the running storyline addressed this week requires build up over the course of this season, but what's becoming increasingly clear is that Outcasts is indulging in a classic science fiction clichĂ©, that for me just isn't working. The political side of things is much more interesting, as Julius raises the stakes, and his schemes seem to be moving along towards an inevitable confrontation. So a mixed bag again this time.

Spoilers Now!
Three expeditionaries are missing after performing some secret mission for Jack (and, apparently Julius). As search parties spread out, they see a flare but turn up dead ends. Jack is feeling responsible and brushes off Tates' questions, but the president suspects Jack is running his own operation against the ACs. 

One of the missing is single mother Josie, and Stella takes it upon herself to look after the three children while their mother is gone. Meanwhile, Marie, wife of one of the missing men, is about to go into labour, and she's the only pregnant woman in Forthaven at the moment (so lots of pressure there). Tate and Stella both want to ensure she delivers a healthy child.

Josie appears wounded outside the gates and is brought inside to a happy crowd. She explains they were ambushed by ACs and only she got away. Everyone applauds her return, but she's acting a bit vacant and stunned, and when she's brought back home to her children they notice her odd character right away.

Marie goes into labour as another man, Mark, is found, and he reveals that it was Josie that tried to kill them. Stella leads the team that goes to arrest her (in front of her children) and Tate and Stella interrogate her to little success. Josie just wants to see her children. Tate wants it all kept quiet until they find out what's really going on. They suspect she may have just snapped considering she left a husband back on Earth to come to Carpathia. 

Mark is in hospital as Julius comes to see him and reveals he knows about Jack's black op against the ACs. Mark can offer little explanation except to say Josie went crazy and suddenly killed Brian (Marie's husband).

Meanwhile, Rudi addresses his troops after apparently discovering the black op launched against them. He tells them they will be precise in their revenge but will not act rashly. They'll target the XP leader and deal a fatal blow to Forthaven. Two ACs head out and soon find Brian's body and the photos of his wife.

Stella receives a radio message from Josie who says she's miles outside the community. But she's still in her cell. Tate is now quite open to the idea of weird things happening given his own visions of people who shouldn't be there, so he sends Cass and Fleur to check it out, while he and Stella debate what exactly is happening. Stella is taking the logical route, thinking hallucinations are a result of their society under pressure. Tate's not so sure.

He goes to watch Josie in her cell, and she seems to be interacting with someone unseen. Then he goes to see her children and talks to them about their mother's behaviour. The youngest child seems to know matter-of-factly that this woman is not their mother.

Julius gets debriefed by Jack. The mission he asked him to undertake is still incomplete (assassinating Rudi), but he wants to find out why Josie attacked her own men. Julius wants assurance Jack is on his side against Tate to correct the flaws in their society. Jack is less sure about going against Stella, and Julius himself isn't certain yet if she will be friend or enemy when it comes down to making a choice.

Cass and Fleur arrive at the area where the radio broadcast came from, just as all the power goes out in Forthaven. That's due to the ACs, who have dug under the wall and gotten into the settlement. Alarms go off and faux Josie escapes, while Marie goes into labour. Cass and Fleur run back to town. Nearby is a seriously wounded Josie, but they don't see her.

Tate, with the children, rendezvous with Stella, who is dealing with the crisis. Julius wants to be involved in things, of course, but both Stella and Tate brush him off. Faux Josie somehow finds her children in all the commotion and makes off with them.

Real Josie manages to get on her feet and heads towards Forthaven. Meanwhile, Marie's pregnancy is seriously more complicated...either the baby survives or the mother, and Stella opts to make the difficult decision to chose the baby and let Marie fight for her life.

Cass and Fleur draft Jack and his men to help maintain order inside the settlement. Cass spots the ACs and manages to warn Jack, saving his life. They bring down both intruders, and arrest one survivor.

Real Josie stumbles up to the gates, only to be nearly shot, as everyone thinks she's run off with the kids. She's thrown in the brig with the AC and treated like dirt by Jack. But Stella realizes something else is going on, and asks Cass to break her out after Jack refuses to listen. So he does so, heading off to the rocks with real Josie in the hopes of finding a place that the children might go to. And so they do find the children, who realize this is their real mother.

But the XPs catch up, and hot-headed Jack is about to shoot Josie despite Cass saying it's all wrong, when faux Josie appears at the top of the hill. She stands in silence and looks at them, then seems to just walk away out of sight.

Cass advises a stunned Jack they should keep it all between themselves and reports back to command. Tate suggests they all just imagined the other person, and tells him goodnight. Julius pops in right after, declaring the previous night's attack warrants a massive response against the ACs. Tate refuses. Julius pretty much threatens that he should side with him on this, but Tate throws back Jack's secret operation to assassinate Rudi. Of course Julius denies any knowledge of that, and he's sorry Tate chose that path.

Marie is told of her husband's death, but she and her baby both survived, so Stella can take some solace in that. Meanwhile, Julius contacts CT-10 again, saying he will be ready to overthrow the government with the help of Jack, and he's also confident Stella will be onside when they arrive.

The lights come back on as Stella joins Tate at the bar. They're still debating whether there were two Josies. Tate knows it wasn't a hallucination. What if something destroyed the hominid species, he suggests. They're not alone here.

The Verdict:
Despite the tension of the episode it felt so drawn out any drama was seriously deflated. Perhaps it was just a pacing problem, but it felt like this week was two hours long. Add to that an unsatisfactory ending—despite the mystery of the faux Josie, which itself is an ongoing plot with the phantom kids and dog, there was no explanation about where faux Josie went and why no one went after her. They just cut back to the goings on at Forthaven.

There were some good bits—following up last week's diamond-mania, it was nice to see Cass toss one of them into the garbage before they headed out on the search. As well, the the characterization is usually pretty good here. It's just the actions that produce some eye-rolling moments...

It's debatable already how fit Tate is to be president. I'm happy with how Stella is being handled, but Julius is seriously crossing the line of believability in how he can maintain his power grab without being found out. Still, Jack's behaviour was the most egregious. What is the power structure in Forthaven that allows him such free reign...and not only that, but to act so gun crazy? That just didn't seem realistic at all. Add Julius' more overt machinations in dealing with Tate, Stella and Jack, and the political schemes sometimes are a bit hard to swallow.

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