This review contains spoilers.
6. Sanctuary: Part 1
Tensions are starting to flare up in the survivor camp of the Second Mass, and that means bad things for the people in charge. Members are defecting (and attempting to take a share of camp supplies in the process), and when a straggling survivor from Seventh Mass (Terry Clayton, played by Henry Czerny) approaches with bad news that the skitters are coming and they’re getting new tricks, there appears to be only one option. The civilians can either send their kids away to safety, or they can be killed and then have their kids taken anyway. The lady or the tiger, survivors.
One thing you can say about an alien invasion, it changes people, and not always for the better. Change seems to be the theme to the episode this week, with Weaver (Will Patton) acting positively fatherly towards Jimmy (Dylan Authors, AKA the gun-toting kid from the first couple of episodes).
Meanwhile, Rick and Ben Mason (Connor Jessup) have changed since their encounter with the skitters and their harnesses. Dr. Anne is changing as the civilians start to become more panicky and aggressive in their fear and urge to escape from the looming threat of all-out war.
Pretty much everyone is changing now, as the situation with the skitters grows more hopeless and humans continue to run from safe house to safe house. As one of the survivors yells tonight, “Safe is over!” Of course, as the teaser for next week’s episode and the end of this week’s episode has shown us, just because you call something a safe house doesn’t mean it’s actually safe.
Color me far from shocked at this twist, which I saw coming from the very first mention of the harebrained plan to move the kids to a ranch somewhere to keep them ahead of the skitter assault. From the very moment Terry showed up, I figured he had some kind of horrible thing going, and as it turns out, I was right. Color me frustrated at how predictable the turn was. I’d take incompetence of characters over predictable scriptwriting any day.
Yes, I’m well aware that things were going too good for the survivors. (As I commented last week, there needs to be a little more menace.) I further acknowledge that the idea of turncoats is a good one, considering the response the harnessed kids have had since their release. Yes, Ben and Hal and the other Masons will be able to have adventures separate from their father, while Tom and company get to have a full-on assault of skitters and mechs to shoot their way through. But just because it’s a logical move for the TV series doesn’t mean it’s the best move, or the most interesting.
That said, there was a lot to like about the writing in this week’s episode, with Joel Anderson Thompson behind the typewriter. For one, he filled in a lot of information about life with the harnesses without actually smacking the audience in the face with it. First, Rick’s cystic fibrosis clears up, and now Ben is doing a hundred push-ups effortlessly? It’s obvious these skitter devices do more than simply correct potentially fatal flaws.
Also interesting is the use of the term “razorback” as an insult to the rescued kids. It’s great to see that the other survivors, who never lost kids or haven’t gotten theirs back yet, aren’t ready to completely trust the creepy new additions in their midst, who may or may not be suffering from residual after-effects of alien mind control.
Had I not immediately seen what was coming up, I would’ve liked this week’s episode a whole lot more. Even knowing how it was going to work out, there was a lot of positives. For example, I’m loving the grizzled commander Weaver taking Jimmy the Combat Tot under his wing. It’s humanizing Weaver and it’s giving Jimmy a chance to be an actual kid, in addition to a gun-toting skitter ridder. Rather than simply dismissing Weaver (as I have been), he’s growing on me greatly, thanks to a few simple things over the last couple of episodes.
I also like the way the skitters have been handled lately. Last week’s skitter in the hallway was stellarly creepy, and this week’s altercation between Jimmy and the schoolhouse skitter is also very impressively creepy. I like the use of the mech as a distraction for the fighters while the skitter tries to sneak into the school to set a secondary trap of some sort. And I also like the way that Weaver saved the day. (I didn’t like the horribly cheesy shot of the skitter smashing the globe in its claw-hand, but I can live with it.)
My opinion of this week’s episode will be influenced heavily by where the second half of the episode goes next week. If they handle this right and really bring some pain to Second Mass (or just do something with the returning Pope), I’ll be happy. Otherwise? Not so much.
Read our review of episode 5, Silent Kill, here.