This The Passage review contains spoilers.
The Passage Episode 3
After a decent premiere, and a good second episode, The Passage lands strong with a third installment that brings all of the main characters together, moves the plot forward, and elevates the virals threat. And if “That Never Should Have Happened To You” sets the tone and pace this series is settling into, then we are witnessing the beginning of a great show that lives up to its promise.
The episode title is a line of dialogue by Richards to Babcock in a cold open. He says it after thwarting an attempted rape by one of the guards bringing her to Project Noah. As it happens, the flashback is Richards’ memory from five months prior, and seems to take place before things really started going to hell. Describing herself as a desert rat from Las Vegas, we see pre-viral Babcock, and get to know her more as a human. And, throughout a series of flashbacks she’s psychically transferring to Richards, the agent himself begins to take more shape as a character in the episode.
Following the events of last episode — when Babcock fed on the jerky orderly who had been harassing her – the Noah top brass, and Grey who was present for her “cheat meal,” gather to discuss the female viral’s fate.
Henry Ian Cusick’s Jonas Lear seems intrigued about her actions, and begins to wonder if his creations aren’t so catatonic after all, but perhaps capable of revenge. He quickly puts things together in this episode. He seems to have figured out that the virals can communicate telepathically, and influence dreams. Upon watching Fanning and Babcock refrain from eating at the blood trough, determines they must be talking (because if you’re not chowing down at the dinner table, you’re having a conversation).
So what were they talking about? As it happens, Richards advocates for euthanizing Babcock (she’s the first viral to kill a human in three years at Noah). It is almost as if he is trying to convince himself not to go soft, despite the hallucinations he’s been having about her. Well, in their dreamscape meeting space, Fanning (Jamie McShane) convinces the woman she is more powerful than she realizes, and encourages Babcock to find a way to survive.
She does so by forcing Richards on little trips down her own nightmarish memory lane. We see Shauna Babcock as a minor, saving up (and stealing) money to go to a special effects makeup school. At a Halloween warehouse party, she slashes the arm of some cretin who accosts her friend, which lands her in jail for the night. Her mom bails her out, and reveals herself to be a piece of work; she’s the whole verbally abusive package of the “you’re not going to amount to anything” ilk. Also, her creepy stepdad sexually abused her since she was eight. Her mom knew the whole time, and puts the blame on her daughter. This is what she shows Richards why she killed her parents, and to explain how she ended up on death row, and ultimately, at Noah.
To say Babcock gets in Richards’ head is an understatement. He confronts Wolgast, now at Noah, to confirm the legitimacy of what she’s been showing him. Richards learns her history of abuse was inadmissible in court, and he starts to fray. Even Wolgast notices his former colleague is starting to crack. So it doesn’t come as much of a surprise when he inevitably stops Babcock’s execution by UV light, and not a moment too soon because she was looking crispy.
Brianne Howey made an impact last week, and keeps it up in this episode, making her one of the more interesting characters to watch. And for the first time, I found myself interested about Vincent Piazza’s Richards, and hope his character continues to develop (though I was really hoping he would put a bullet into the guard who attacked Babcock, rather than letting him go).
Meanwhile, Wolgast and Amy arrive at Noah. Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Saniyya Sidney keep a good thing going with their chemistry, and both plan to listen, memorize details, and not panic as they plan their escape. Amy delivers by counting steps between locations, creating distractions, and watching for keypad codes.
Wolgast, who we learn was framed by Richards for the murders at the sheriff’s department in the pilot, is permitted to stay by Amy’s bedside in order to keep the girl calm. Having Wolgast and Amy at Noah clicks right away, and opens the door for interesting interactions. We see Amy on her own a little, being crafty, and reaching out to her next-door neighbor, Anthony Carter (McKinley Belcher III), via notes slid under the door.
Carter reunites with Wolgast, the same agent who convinced the death-row inmate to join Noah; the newly-transformed Carter notes the irony of both of them being imprisoned together. He warns Wolgast that something bad is coming, and to protect the girl from Fanning, who is sure to get in her head.
Unfortunately, Amy is treated quickly at the facility, and given the viral injection, which kicks off her transformation.
The injection is delivered personally by Sykes (Caroline Chikezie), who tries to convince Amy, and herself, that everything is going to be just fine because she is “the most important little girl in the world,” who is going to heal everyone. Let me tell you how much I loathe Sykes at this point for being so delusional. She talks a good game about her moral intent, but it falls flat considering she knows the monsters she’s created down in 4B.
As soon as Amy comes online, as it were, after the injection, Fanning is aware of her, and has big plans for the girl. Grey (Jason Fuchs), who slips up when he tells Jonas he “belongs to Fanning” tries to warn Wolgast about Patient Zero. The scene involves Wolgast waking up in Amy’s room, and freaking out to find Grey looming over the sleeping girl (the scene is especially unsettling if you know of Grey’s character from the books).
As Carter creates a distraction in his room, Wolgast springs loose for an exploratory mission. He drugs Grey and makes his way, with the help of the orderly’s security clearance, to 4B – where he encounters a snarling Fanning behind glass. Jonas arrives, and disables the security cameras, and provides the agent with info download on what they’ve been doing with all prisoners the agent has recruited. They were trying to develop a universal immunity for humans, and instead, “we created a new species.”
The scene also address the bloodsucking elephant in the room with hilarious dialogue delivered seriously:
Wolgast: You keep saying virals. They drink blood, and turn to ash in the sun. Why don’t you just call them vampires?Jonas: Because we’re scientists, Agent Wolgast. And there’s no such thing as vampires.
Still, Wolgast and Jonas appear to be forging an alliance, with the good doctor realizing things have gotten out of control. Thankfully, with the main characters seemingly grasping the idea virals can telepathically communicate, and enter people’s dreams, there won’t be endless weeks of them frustratingly trying to convince one another. Jonas acknowledges Fanning is getting more powerful, and wants to be free.
The scene happens a little too quickly, but it’s works. It also sets up a great pay off at the end of the episode. Earlier, Wolgast jokingly looked for monsters in Amy’s room, in the closet, and under her bed. After learning vampires exist, he returns to the girl, and tells her again there are no monsters … “under the bed.”
The episode ends with Wolgast having his own dream incepted by Fanning, who tells the human to stay out of his way.
Though most of the action in the episode occurs in the Project Noah hotel in Colorado, Wolgast’s ex Lila (Emmanuelle Chriqui) is hunting down the truth behind the 12 inmates he recruited. Lila (who apparently is not returning to her fiancé) convinces a reporter to look at the case, which will no doubt end badly. On the upside, we learn Lacy (Kecia Lewis) survived the assault on her compound, and is locking, loading, and ready to kick some butt.
Heavier on exposition than action, the third episode of The Passage is incredibly good. It sets the table nicely, and feels like there’s steam building fast behind the plot. As enjoyable as the dynamic between Wolgast and Amy continues to be, it is a relief to more dimension added to the other leads. Hopefully the series keeps this up. If it does, the show will quickly become a favorite.
Listen to the Sci Fi Fidelity podcast discussion of The Passage:
Aaron Sagers is a freelance contributor. Read more of his work here.