Thursday, May 26, 2011

Review: Outcasts "Episode 8"

Non Spoiler Review:
It's a bittersweet ending to a promising series, and, as expected, little is resolved as far as the broader storylines. The alien intelligence launches a deadly viral attack against Forthaven (just like the original virus that killed their children). While Stella struggles to figure out a solution, Julius makes his move to take control as CT-10 arrives at Carpathia. Revelations abound about Fleur and Cass, while Tate makes a huge gamble with the presidency.

It's difficult to review what amounts to the final episode of the series that ends on a cliffhanger. Had there been a second season, it would have made a good finale. The story moves briskly and keeps the tension high to the end. 

The episode (and series) suffers from too many quick cuts between scenes when characters and plot would benefit from more time. The visuals still look great and Stella and Tipper remain my favorites. Julius makes a good sociopath, who got away with a lot for far too long. We can only wonder what interesting characters were to be discovered on CT-10.

Spoilers Now!
A peaceful dawn over Forthaven is broken as Tipper is violently possessed by a burst of energy. Fleur wakes up next to Jack. He understands she's not feeling that great, but tells her to let him know if she wants to do it again sometime. In command, Stella gets Cass to retrieve Tipper to help with the transmissions, but when he shows up he finds him seriously ill with a green haze around his face.

Stella briefs Tate that this new virus is similar to C-23 and Tipper is put into isolation. As everyone goes into crisis mode, Cass tries to make amends with Fleur, but she tells him she got drunk and slept with Jack—which doesn't help matters. 

Julius aggravates Tate with his pressure to go after the ACs. Though they tested positive for the original disease, Tate doesn't believe they were the cause, and is still keeping Julius and Jack in the dark about the alien intelligence. One of Jack's men comes down with the virus, too, and it's apparent it's starting to spread quickly.

Julius contacts C-10 about the health crisis which can be used to his advantage as the transport orbits Carpathia. Julius is also about to reveal the content of the Omega file to bring down the presidency. He next goes to Jack to reveal the truth of that project to get him onside to act immediately.

With everyone indoors, Fleur and Cass help organize the quarantine, until Jack and the XPs show up and arrest Fleur! Tate demands she be let free, but Julius heads him off and reveals what's happening with the Omega file. He's gotten authorization from the justice member of council to reveal the contents and asks Stella to choose a side, given she's in charge of security. She tells Tate he can't deny the council the file, but she's not going to throw in with Julius, either.

Tate presses Julius for what he ultimately wants to gain. He's told his ambition is too small for what's at stake on Carpathia. Julius then goes to see Fleur and drops the bomb that she's an AC, and she's been collaborating with them all this time. Fleur is horrified, and even Jack tells him to go easy on her. Julius has nothing but contempt for her and tells her she caused the virus. Stella arrives to get her out. All she knows is that Fleur was part of a project called Omega. So she sends her to get the explanation from Tate while she looks in on her daughter, and says Fleur can stay at her place in the meantime.

Julius is preparing Jack to lead a final assault against the ACs (including Fleur) once council approves, but Jack isn't buying the story that she isn't human. Julius explains that there's more information in her file about the death of Mitchell, and that Cass very likely covered up his murder for her.

Stella comes to see Tipper, and lies to him that he'll be all right. She's concluded the letters they've found in the transmissions could be DNA—transmissions geared to their particular victims, like Tipper or Josie. As she leaves, she runs into Lily, who wants to come home. It's a bad time, given she has Fleur there, so Lily gets angry and walks away, running into Julius. She immediately gives up how upset she is her mother won't let her come home because someone is using her room.

Julius heads straight to Jack, with word that Fleur is held up at Stella's and soon he'll have authorization from the council to wipe out the ACs. As he starts lecturing Jack's men, Jack steps in that he still gives the orders.

Fleur is grateful for Cass' support as she struggles with the idea that all the memories of her parents are false. Tate shows up for his big talk and tells her she was a niche project to see how ethics were shaped by genes and environment. She wonders if all her thoughts and attitudes are even real. He loved her as his own child, and during the original virus, there was no indication she was carrying any disease, so she wasn't on the list to execute. What she's really thinking is if she was made from some of Tate's genes, which he doesn't answer, so she leaves. Cass tries to get her to come back. Then the XPs attack them, forcing them to run and take cover.

She and Cass barge into Tipper's place, where Lily is waiting. They plan to stay until nightfall to get her out of the city. So he leaves her there and returns to Tate, who is dealing with a censure motion from Julius. Cass yells at Tate for treating people like chess pieces. He tells Cass to ensure Fleur is kept from harm.

At the council meeting Tate addresses the members (including Jack, who has a seat). He confesses Fleur is an Omega AC but he won't risk her life by revealing where she is. Tate says he's defied the general council, so relinquishes the presidency, deciding proper leadership is needed. He's not about the office or status, just the welfare of Forthaven. Prior to elections, he will designate his immediate successor—Jack. The choice shocks everyone, and Tate urges him to act cautiously in the best interest of humanity. Their efforts should be focused on combating the real source of the virus. Stella leaves with Tate, as Julius tries to encourage a vote, but he's quickly lost control of the situation.

Tate isn't sure Jack will do Julius' bidding now, and suggests they drive a wedge between him and Julius. Stella tells him the code is DNA—it allows them to build copies and send viruses, and they need to find a way to block it.

Lily and Fleur hang out while they wait. Fleur encourages her not to give up on Stella and a reconciliation will take time. But then she sees Lily bathed in a halo like Tipper.

Stella comes to see Jack, who's struggling with the choice of being named president. He tells her he knows now that Mitchell never killed himself, and she says he gave them no choice. Stella asks him if he really cares about Fleur being an AC. She gives him a list of DNA sequences and a quick lecture on DNA. She explains the nature of the host force on Carpathia that is making copies of them. The sequence that she's detected matches Tipper's DNA. She's telling him because he's president now. But then she gets a message Lily is infected.

Cass and Tate commiserate in the empty bar as the disease continues to spread. He tells Cass to get Fleur out safely to warn Rudi, and stay with them until its all over. Meanwhile, Stella thinks they can create a defense by setting up a jamming signal around Forthaven so the aliens can't send their viruses.

Jack doesn't want to remain in the command centre, but plan the attack on the ACs. Julius would love nothing better than to get him out of there, as he's proving less than cooperative now that he's president. He amends his instructions to CT-10 and says Jack is to be added to the elimination list, though Stella is to be spared. CT-10 reports that their thermal shields are fine and are ready to enter the atmosphere.

While Cass and Fleur get out of the city and signal for Rudi, she wants to know what happened on Earth. He explains he used to work for the cartels as an enforcer and ended up killing a kid. He gave a lot of people up and Tate saved him. Fleur says good-bye and gives him a big hug, and heads off with Rudi. He'll fire a flare when it's safe for her to come back.

Julius tells Stella the XPs have gone to attack the ACs. He says he cares about her and advises her to hold off on the shield for now until the AC problem is dealt with (as it will interfere with communication with CT-10). She wants to know what he's planning.

So she goes off to see Tate to let him know, and they retrieve Jack before he leaves. Meanwhile, CT-10 prepares for entry. Rudi brings Fleur to the AC camp. The ACs are successfully bearing children and growing in number. He wants all of Forthaven to die, so they will be moving far away to start again on their own.

Julius tries to send Jack off, but he wants to hear what Stella has to say about the shield. So Julius tells him another transport is coming and if he does what he's told he can share in the power. So they arrive in command with guns to take over. Julius tells them about the arrival of CT-10 which has been invisible to their screens. Their shield will interfere with its landing.

Stella pleads with him to use the shield against the virus. Julius orders them to stand down from the shield, but Jack tells him he's forgetting that he's president. Stella didn't treat him like an idiot, whereas Julius does. Julius says if Jack betrays him now he'll go the way of the rest. He offers him his life. Jack pulls his gun on him and resigns the presidency. Julius is led away as they activate the shield.

The incoming shuttle changes coordinates as they lose contact. Tate goes back to his quarters to see his doppelganger there. He pleads one last time for peace, but the alien says they can overcome their defences if they wish, but still find them interesting.

Stella returns to sickbay to find Lily recovered. Tipper is, as well, and thanks her. Cass watches the shuttle arrive over the mountains and head for Forthaven. Julius smiles in his cell.
The Verdict:
And so it ends. With no renewal, we're left with threats to the colonists from within and from external alien forces. For the moment, Forthaven has become a bubble of safety beneath its blanket of jamming signals—aside from the giant shuttle slowly coasting towards it. Speaking of which, where are all the other shuttles from the previous transports?

In retrospect, I would have preferred the series take a simpler approach—no evil clones, and no disembodied aliens. The struggle of colonization was interesting enough, coupled with the undiscovered nature of Carpathia, that encounters with actual primitive hominids would have made a great story (rather than their fossils). The political side of things remained the most compelling storyline, and there are indications the arrival of CT-10 would introduce another, hardline political figure.

Cass, Fleur and Jack got some closure. While I'm not too happy with the AC thing spreading to all these characters, she and Cass at least showed their feelings for one another and Cass confessed his past (which was hardly a surprise). Jack, though, got the best of the deal, showing he wasn't so easily manipulated at all, and his respect for Stella pointing him in the right direction for his decision.

But Outcasts can't be faulted for being ambitious. There was lots of fertile ground to plow for several seasons worth of stories. It's disappointing that it didn't get a chance to develop.

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