This review contains spoilers.
After last week’s incredibly effective twists and turns, it’s time for the story to really get going, and that’s exactly what episode four did, in spades. As we get closer to the inevitable final battle, the slow burn of the previous episodes gives way to a frenzy of activity in a place where death is anything but final.
Having not been shy about the body count up til now, this week the show upped the death rate considerably, with the cannibalisation, not only of three Angelics, but the odd considerate farmer and annoying teenager as well, courtesy of the Big Bad, or John as we’ve come to know him. Spending much of the episode in his company, we finally learned the origin of the Angelic killing fade, that the Ascension mechanism somehow got broken, and that his rebirth was almost entirely accidental.
We don’t however, know what John’s actual intentions are now that he’s here, outside of eating anything and everything he can get his hands on. Having emerged from his creepy cocoon as ravenous as a newborn, his appetite isn’t just for flesh – apparently, chocolate will also do. In fact, the only time he’s not stuffing his face is when he’s torturing Paul, or throwing up, which begs the question, what’s with all the effluvia?
One possible answer to that could lie in John’s, and now Natalie’s rebirth – newborns also throw up a whole hell of a lot. Add that to the fact that they appear to be immortal, and what we’ve got is a literal birth of a new species, so throwing up seems entirely logical. Of course, as Neil rather sensibly pointed out, it’s going to be pretty hard to kill something that’s unkillable, but then Neil doesn’t know that their not so secret weapon is about to re-join the battle…
Yes, thanks to his best friend’s insistence and sister’s existence, Paul is once again in the land of the living; however, having showed his hand to John in a spectacular fashion, he’s going to have his work cut out for him – particularly when you consider that the Angelics are falling faster than tween bullies. Let’s hope Paul came back with all his glowy powers intact; an army of immortals is coming – he’s definitely going to need them.
Four episodes in, and The Fades is already one of the best TV shows of the year thus far, and with October already bedded down, it could well be the year’s crowning glory. Consistently engaging, intriguing and downright gripping, this is a well crafted, well researched and brilliantly executed show. From the pitch perfect dialogue – the Vamp reference was much appreciated – to the eminently believable central performances from Iain De Caestecker and Daniel Kaluuya, who, having had much more to sink his teeth into this week upped his game considerably.
Even the slightly ropey visual effects add to the show’s charm rather than detract from it. The horror elements have been well placed so far, and therefore have been kept reasonably effective, although the real shocks have all been far more subtle than simply the appearance of the flesh-eating, cocoon-wearing undead.
A complex, interconnected story with a multitude of possibilities, that so far has almost completely managed to avoid predictability where the supernatural is concerned, The Fades is a powerful example of just how good horror TV can be in the right hands. And Jack Thorne’s hands are definitely right.
There’s always one big worry when a show comes out of nowhere to become the best thing on TV, and that’s whether or not the production team can keep meeting what are now the incredibly high expectations of its audience. And yet somehow, the worry is most likely unfounded here – whatever the outcome, the build up has been an absolute pleasure to watch and unless something has gone drastically wrong somewhere, the end of the series is unlikely to be anything other than gripping.
Make the most of this show while you can, horror fans – who knows when we’ll see something this good on UK TV again…
Read our review of The Fades episode three here.