The Tomorrow People episode 8 review: Thanatos

Review Ron Hogan 6 Dec 2013 - 07:43

Ron remains unimpressed by The Tomorrow People, even eight episodes in

This review contains spoilers.

1.8 Thanatos

Another week of The Tomorrow People, another mediocre episode. The show has some great ideas, but the execution is poor most of the time. Even when the execution is solid, the writing is poor or the characterization inconsistent. Is Russell a master thief and martial artist, or a moron? He could be all three things, but during a top-secret mission by the Tomorrow People to break into Jed the head of Ultra's apartment, Russell ignores Cara's orders, makes a huge racket, and finds himself busted. He's able to fight off Jed and trigger the alarm to allow him to teleport away, but it turns out he's got someone hanging onto his back the whole time.

Jedikiah is now in the heart of the Tomorrow People's resistance headquarters, and it's only a matter of time before they have to do something with him. Let him go? Kill him? There are multiple options, all of them bad, because Jed is the only person who might be able to explain what Thanatos means, and why Stephen saw his father say it to him during a near-death experience not too long ago. Of course, there's another problem with keeping Jed around, and that's the fact that Ultra can track down people by their brain waves and arrest them. Jed's both the Tomorrow People's biggest asset and biggest enemy, depending on how long it takes them to make him crack and reveal what he knows.

Cue the race against time.

This week's episode was directed by Rob Bailey, who has a short film to his credit but not much else. It's a credit to him that this episode shapes up to be fairly solid, provided characters are fighting and not talking. He's given some convoluted set-ups, what with Russell accidentally kidnapping Jed, but he makes it work better than it has any right to do. He has a good knowledge of how to stage and film his fight scenes, and the camera mostly stays out of the way of the action, yielding the occasional satisfying long shot to show the actors actually struggling, rather than stunt folks kicking one another around. This show's fights always seem to work better without the use of the powers, or at least with limited use of the powers.

That said, the show this week is lousy with flashbacks. There's more time spent in the past than in the present, and at some points it's tough to follow along with what time frame this is supposed to be taking place in. Using flashbacks is practically a Tomorrow People trademark at this point, and while the relationship between Jed and John is interesting, it's not so interesting as to take up the bulk of an episode, either in the past or in the present.

Of course, John and Jed (and Cara, to some extent) remain much more interesting than Stephen, who continues to fall in the trap of always making the right decision, from letting Jed's Tomorrow Person girlfriend get away from Ultra after revealing her presence to Ultra's founder The Founder—who we finally see in person—to making the decision to poke around in Jed's mind in the first place. Granted, he doesn't find out much information about Thanatos, aside from the fact that it's a person's nickname and they go visit a nice old man named Aldous Crick, who has something to do with the early days of Ultra before it became a front for Jed's hate of people different than he is.

The situation with John and Stephen's father is an interesting one, if only because it explains why John is so single-minded about keeping the Tomorrows safe from Ultra. He's assuaging his own guilt about the death of an innocent man; however, this doesn't explain why he's been so insistent on helping Stephen find his father this whole time, since his father's apparently dead, or as dead as someone gets on a show like this. Then again, he may have been sure that the father's been dead all along; I'm having trouble remembering back too far when it comes to this show. That guilt drives John rather than love or loyalty is a pretty standard operating feature on a show like this, but I like that he's still keeping his actions a secret from the rest of the group, and that it gives Jed some ammunition against John to bring out at any point.

That's a fun enough wrinkle from writers Phil Klemmer and Alex Katsnelson, but it seems too little to make much impact. Most of this episode remains your standard interrogation scene dialogue, with Jed responding sarcastically or snarkily while, say, Cara beats the crap out of him or Russell gets the crap beaten out of him. The fact that John goes to eliminate Jed only to get captured by Ultra doesn't give me much of a thrill, because Cara got caught earlier this season and Stephen actively works for Ultra and should have already had his cover blown dozens of times at this point due to general incompetence, so I'm sure the show will find a way to get around its predicament without much stress.

Characters on this show can get shot, captured, and otherwise entangled, and it doesn't really matter, because this isn't The Walking Dead or Game of Thrones or even Teen Wolf and nobody's going anywhere until (more than likely) a season finale. Until then, The Tomorrow People remains about as exciting as a glass of warm milk.

Read Ron's review of the previous episode, Limbo, here.

US Correspondent Ron Hogan is rapidly running out of goofy jokes and comments to make in this little italicized blurb at the end of the article. Find more by Ron daily at Shaktronics and PopFi.

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