Between episode 2 review: Who’s The Boss

People keep dying in Pretty Lake, making it much less pretty. Here's Mark's review of the latest from Netflix's original sci-fi Between...

This review contains spoilers. 

1.2 Who’s The Boss

Picking up not long after where the first episode ended, I was really hoping Who’s The Boss would turn this around from a parade of uninteresting characters. It didn’t, and instead carried on with patronising notion that young people, left to their own devices, will make nothing but a horrible mess.

But before I get to that, the first piece of information we’re presented is that the fatalities are now at 6,043 on Day 14, although, unless I missed it, they’ve never actually told us exactly how many people lived there in the first place. Assuming that Pretty Lake is an average US town, approximately 30% of the population are 0-22 years old, so there are in the region of 1800 people left alive.

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But that’s no problem, really, because Adam’s going to figure it out, since he’s watched every episode of CSI, ever. The pin-everything-to-the-wall method of solving problems is getting a bit thin as a trope these days, but Between just can’t resist giving it another go. Perhaps they’re fans of Elementary.

From that tired idea, the show then decides to illicit some emotion from its audience by whatever means it can. The choices were clearly either a kitten in a microwave or poor Jeremy getting killed by another kid trying to drive a car. And people do love their pets…

This, and a few other scenes sprinkled through the episode, seemed manipulative, to put it nicely. The fact that they couldn’t even be bothered to present him any longer than a few seconds before his death says plenty about this character’s limited purpose. 

This was made all the more stark by the lack of any emotional connection with any of the characters this show has regurgitated so far. It’s chilling.

After briefly looking promising in episode one, Wiley Day turns out to be the girl who has a baby and then wants nothing more to do with it. Issues like how they feed the baby, and Wiley’s personal milk production are all considered too much like real life to include, so she goes off and has a really dumb adventure instead, where she’s mistaken for being dead. There’s a great joke in that, but I’ll be magnanimous and let you make it yourself.

The rest of this sorry exercise is an excuse to continue the puerile rivalry between the rich and poor sections of Pretty Lake society, as represented by Chuck and Pat.

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The advantage that Chuck has is that his father, the late Mr Burns (sorry, Mr Lotts) now isn’t around to pour scorn on his efforts to replace the local police. Meanwhile, Pat is hampered by a moronic brother that he is forced to defend, resultantly destroying what little credibility he had going to begin with.

But, the worst moment of the week award goes to Chuck, when he meets Gord and after discussing the activities of Ronny, he then starts a conversation about ‘the Dukes’. Really?

Thousands of your local population litter the streets dead, and you want to jaw about College Football? It was one of the truly cringe-inducing moments, but not the only one. When they find the body of Chuck’s sister in the woods, and everyone suddenly becomes part of a CSI team, was equally crass, and added to a pile of happenings that would only work in a parallel TV universe.

I could mention what happens in the prison, but it is neither intriguing nor compelling, like so much of what transpires elsewhere.

Things progress inevitably, moving towards a curious scene where the survivors gather around the massive pile of bodies. 6,000 people would be a much bigger pile, though, and someone has made them all candle holders. That there weren’t any fireworks or perhaps a piñata seems a missed opportunity.

In the next story, it already seems obvious that the government won’t take down the fence and that they’ll probably cut the power. But critically, children will cry more than they did at the sight of dead relatives when they can’t use their Xbox or mobile phone. Two episodes in and I’m already looking for this turgid exercise to end.

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I’m not sure who – through getting people who were once on Degrassi and constructing this Under The Dome-lite narrative around them – thought Between was worth greenlighting, but they were sadly mistaken.

Jumping to a conclusion now – the mystery is solved, these people all died of the very low standards associated with American network TV, which have now infected Netflix for no obvious good reason.

Population of Between reviewers: 1Characters of interest: 0

Read Mark’s review of the previous episode, School’s Out, here.