This review contains spoilers.
After last week’s promising start, episode two of supernatural drama The Fades had quite a lot to live up to. Having introduced us to the world of the fades and the coming apocalypse, as well as the 17-year-old chosen to stop it, it was time to up the gore count as the ghostly goings on claimed even more lives.
In another high body count instalment, Jack Thorne’s (Skins) drama more that lived up to its Supernatural in Grimsby in downers target, with more death, gore and Star Wars quotes than has ever been seen on the Beeb on a Wednesday night.
With the fades now established as a threat, the addition of the taste for pre-pubescent flesh has now been added to their repertoire. A revelation that would have been far more shocking had the two little sods not totally deserved it. Just desserts aside, this new facet to the fades themselves led to some fantastically gory scenes of chewed limbs and the like, upping the horror credentials considerably.
Could it be that we’re finally witness to some decent horror TV?
Very possibly. Alongside the surprisingly good gore, the story itself took a couple of surprising turns – most notably killing off yet another of the plucky band of warriors – which leaves the grand total of zero plucky warriors left. Clearly, being expendable is part of the job description.
Neil’s death was in no way as impactful as it might have been. He was way too cryptic to be likable, and let’s face it, he fell for the oldest diversionary tactic in the book, so not too bright either. It does, however, leave a nice side-kick shaped whole for Mac to fill, now that Paul has decided to be Buffy.
Yes, rightly or wrongly, psychic, healer and all round guy with a destiny, Paul, has apparently decided that saving the world can easily be handled alongside his A Levels. And with the newly acquired flame shooting capabilities, what could possibly go wrong? That’s right – Paul now shoots flames out of his healing hands, and it sits as uncomfortably on the page as it does on the show.
In the space of one episode, Paul has discovered two new powers without explanation. Admittedly, exposition is most likely forthcoming, but as of now, they feel a little out of kilter with the rest of the episode.
Given over in large part to character development – particularly Mac, and Paul’s burgeoning relationship with Annie – the ultra supernatural elements were a jarring juxtaposition. Even the flesh-eating ghosts seem less fantastical than superpowers in the grim reality of anytown UK, in which all this is taking place.
The character development itself gave rise to one of the most interesting reveals of the show. Namely, that Mac’s daddy is none other than the DCI charged with finding both the ‘missing’ Sarah, and the murderer of two schoolchildren. Almost thrown away, this in particular highlights how the interconnectedness of the major players is slowly being revealed.
Speaking of, History Boy Mark is now the only connection between his wife’s disappearance, and the partially digested bullies. It’s altogether possible he could find himself in some trouble…
So, a slower, far more cryptic episode than last week, but the feeling that this series will continue to be interesting remains. While we’re yet to really see what Paul, or the fades, are really capable of, the show is still in its infancy, quietly but effectively sowing the seeds that will hopefully turn an intriguing premise into a great story. As it’s still so early, it’s difficult to say with any certainty how well those seeds are growing.
For a while at least, the slow burn is definitely working for The Fades – this is a story will clearly take time to tell, and to rush it would be certain disaster. Added to that the much improved VFX, the willingness to kill off main characters, well placed, well done horror elements and a great central performance, and what we should be left with is a show to be proud of.
So far, so good…
Read our review of episode one, here.
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