This The Passage review contains spoilers.
The Passage Episode 4
The Passage juggles a lot of plot threads this week, but it keeps all the balls in the air as it reveals the past and future of Anthony Carter. All this while dealing with a cracked-up NOAH agent on a shooting spree, which forces Wolgast and Richards to work together. The viral villains also make first contact with Amy in this thrilling episode.
The Carter-centric flashbacks reveal the heartbreaking story of how he ended up on Death Row, then as a NOAH candidate, and one of The Twelve. Actor McKinley Belcher III delivers a solid performance as the transforming Carter, going from the initial effects of the viral injection to being overtaken by the monster Fanning wants him to be. The sun is getting to him now, he’s rejecting food, and his lips twitch as a new fang starts to come in. Carter is haunted by his past with Rachel (Elizabeth Alderfer in an impressive role as a troubled, but an incredibly likable woman). He thinks he deserves his fate for responding so badly when she revealed that she is married and in an abusive situation.
Carter is sweet, but naïve and blinded by guilt, and Fanning has been voyeuristically watching the man’s tragic memories on a loop. It is interesting seeing him play Carter in the dreamscape, using the truth to manipulate him. He tells the young man his anger is warranted — at being another black man framed for a crime he didn’t commit, and at himself for failing Rachel — but that Carter deserves power. As Fanning draws on the energy of the other virals to overload Carter’s system, he invites the young man to join the vampire family.
The transformation, culminating in the final scene where Carter “dies” and is reborn a bloodsucker, is effective. It is a believable turn, punctuated by a hulk-out horror moment. He has been an interesting character as he trades notes with Amy, but this pushes his story in a better direction. He essentially rejected Lear’s attempts to save his human side, but how much humanity is left in Carter? Though Lear warned Carter that Fanning is a master manipulator, actor Jamie McShane showed how good at being bad he can be (and it is foreboding to think how he is able to not only appear as a hallucination but invade memories).
One more Fanning note: He is so enjoyable to watch when he appears in his human form, but the veiny, pseudo-catatonic viral-Fanning is less interesting. He is doing a lot of work via nightmares and hallucinations and isn’t zoned out, but I hope to see viral-Fanning do more soon.
I mention this each week, but the dynamic between Wolgast and Amy continues to be the core of the show, and the light-and-breezy scenes of them connecting (over traditional father-daughter treehouse moments – which also involve surveillance) are fun.
It is nonetheless refreshing to see the girl interact with other characters. The scene between Amy and Babcock is menacing because Shauna can be so disarming in her human form, but her vampire boss has taught her some tricks regarding manipulation. Amy’s powers are developing – and Wolgast no doubt saw how fast she ran when escaping the rogue agent Paulson – and Babcock plants the seed that “The Agent” might not still care for the girl once she changes. Amy is such a smart kid (and she knows how to scam a pair of binoculars), and Saniyya Sidney’s performance is sharp without being annoyingly precocious. She is already onto Babcock and rejects her, but for how long? Similar to Fanning’s offer, Babcock invites Amy to join her new family and not to fight the transformation. Also, did you notice that her “true form” is still a lie?
Not content to manipulate a child, Babcock toys with Richards again this episode. Sure, she thanks him for not executing her last week, but she amps up his paranoia by alerting him of Sergeant Paulson’s knowledge. Paulson is cracking from having the viral David Winston in his head.
There is a little moment where Winston — who was on Death Row for gruesome murders — blankly stares at Paulson, and it conveyed how messed up it must be to have these virals forcing their way into a person’s head and making them see the horrors the inmates inflicted on others. It is quite the chilling beat.
Paulson decides to revolt by taking up a sniper post, and demanding a chopper out of the compound. Meanwhile, Richards silently cracks. He can’t allow the truth to be known that Babcock is inside him.
He needs to kill Paulson lest the sergeant tells Wolgast too much. Actually, Wolgast manages to learn a lot this week. His “let’s build a tree house” scheme (which was a nice way to get him and Amy out of the stuffy, white room) allows for some birds-eye-view surveillance beyond the compound. Plus, we learn Fanning doesn’t want the humans dead and instead needs them alive because the humans will let the virals out. But he only needs one more. And Wolgast now knows about Babcock in Richard’s head.
I wonder if Paulson’s question, “How do you know we’re not the lab rats?” will connect with Richards before it’s all finished. I suspect not. The walls are closing in on the head of NOAH security and he’s fighting a viral in his head while battling the suspicions of humans.
The NOAH pseudo-science stuff involving Lear and Fanning dragged a bit. The character knows the feces is hitting the air conditioning and even discusses how humans may need to defend themselves against the new viral evolution. But he still needs a come-to-Jesus (or come to Dracula) moment where he’s like, “OK, we gonna die due to vampires.”
Maybe getting blood on his face at episode’s end will help with that. But, as Sykes asks, “Whose Blood Is That?” Though the episode title could also be related to the figurative blood of Rachel on Carter’s hand, Lear’s possible infection certainly counts as a big finale moment.
One final thought about this week’s story: the Lila and Lacey plot is not doing it for me yet, even if I really enjoy Kecia Lewis’ portrayal of the former nun/current badass. The Department of Defense is onto their attempts to blow the whistle on NOAH, which led to the death of super-reporter Sierra (who somehow assembled an entire investigative video package on the secret program in a matter of days). But the subplot takes us out of the action too much when everything is happening in Colorado.
And would someone kill Dr. Pet, already?
Aaron Sagers is a freelance contributor. Read more of his work here.