This review contains spoilers.
1.6 Stabbed With A White Wench’s Black Eye
Shows like Star-Crossed are built on romance. No matter how clever or compelling everything else is, without a love story, romantic fantasy dramas have no purpose. This is a stance that is easily argued against, of course but, despite the promise of a more interesting series that emerged over the last couple of weeks, it’s one that Star-Crossed has certainly adhered to. In this episode, Stabbed With A White Wench’s Black Eye, there’s more of a balance between teen drama and sci-fi than it’s achieved so far but, with the former being pretty badly conceived, that’s more of a problem than it should be.
For the strongest element of the show is undoubtedly what’s going on in the world beyond the walls of high school and, although this episode took Emery, Roman etc. to a posh charity event for the bulk of the hour, the show seems determined to place the love life of its heroine above the political issues and genuine threat of annihilation that regularly produce the series’ best moments. For every moment we had with Grayson’s parents and their veiled plot to wipe out the entire Atrian race, we also had scenes of Roman unconvincingly confessing his love for Emery over music from the standard CW love soundtrack.
These two elements shouldn’t clash as much as they do, and the reason Star-Crossed has become such a frustrating watch is completely down to the quality difference between them. While nothing in the show is going to change the world or even the TV landscape, it’s easy to imagine that, should it restructure its list of priorities and work on some of the character motivations, it could be a much better show. Maybe I’m just too old and jaded to understand the epic love connection that exists between Roman and Emery, but it doesn’t actually seem to exist. As tame as she and Grayson’s relationship seems to be, he’s the easier guy to root for.
Which made this week’s almost-soap opera moment, in which Roman dramatically announced to Emery that Grayson’s parents were Red Hawks, surprisingly rewarding, with the exchange demonstrating a level of self-awareness that the show hasn’t before. The ‘torn between two worlds’ thing isn’t as interesting as the series assumes it is, and the potential for our heroine to eventually sympathise or even convert to the side of the terrorists always felt like the story Star-Crossed should be telling. Alas, the video footage offered to one of those TV-sleazy tabloid journalists erased the ambiguity of the situation altogether, even separating Grayson from the cause and revealing his parents’ role to the entire world.
Which means that, with Eric also leaving the Red Hawks as of this episode, very few of the teenage characters are actively siding against the Atrians. This two-sided argument would have been useful when the eventual battle commenced but, as it stands, only Drake and Zoe are really planning on taking part in the war. Will this change when one side takes more drastic action? Or when the secret of Roman’s half-brother comes out? That seems to be the thing the show is waiting for, as the fastest way of forcing the two sides to clash is to introduce a child belonging to both sides, but for now we have to be content with lots of promises of violence followed up with very little action. And the love story, of course.
Read Caroline’s review of the previous episode, Dreamers Often Lie, here.
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