This The Passage review contains spoilers.
The Passage Episode 6
After five weeks of convincingly selling the relationship between Wolgast and Amy, The Passage put their bond to the test — and it wasn’t an entirely successful attempt. Still, with Babcock back in the main, a lot of viral vampire horror, and one pissed off Jonas, the second half of the season is off to a good start, even if “I Want to Know What You Taste Like” isn’t the best of the lot.
The best part of the week was the heavy horror elements. There was much to be creeped out by as we learned more about the virals. The series certainly benefitted by getting away from Project NOAH, and going into the wild. I thought the gory reveal of Dr. Pet’s corpse may be the worst things got, but Winston’s rampage was full of ugliness. The camera slowly showing him in the cabin feeding on a woman still alive – and then that woman’s eventual turn – was incredibly effective. The water pump station scene was another horror highlight as Wolgast, Richards and some Red Shirts had to fight off Winston’s viral kids.
Like Babcock said, we’re in a horror movie now (but it’s a horror movie where bullets and sunlight combined appear to work against virals).
Still, this episode stumbled out of the gate by finding Amy and Wolgast stuck in an elevator. She wakes up, and he warns her to keep quiet about the power scream that repelled Winston. Richards busts them out of the elevator, and instructs they be taken to a safe room. Am I missing something? These two were making a break for it, so it just seems like we’re picking up at an odd moment.
It also didn’t connect that Amy broke from Wolgast so quickly. She seems to side with Guilder quickly, revealing her powers, and showing a willingness to use them to track Winston, who has broken free of Project NOAH. We get that Amy really wants her A Wrinkle In Time book back in a big way, and that it’s all she has to remember her mother by. But this shift happens so quickly. Did the viral injection also speed up puberty?
Thankfully their relationship seems back on track by episode’s end, but the tension between them, as Amy lashes out with the “you’re not my father” attack, and Brad angry because she’s not listening. But, as awkward as the writing for these were this week, the final scene between them was strong as they bond over their grief, and Wolgast reveals he lost a daughter.
Oh, and Lila is around, too. But based on the bonk Brad got on the back of his head, and the fact that I didn’t see Lila at NOAH in the end must mean Guilder isn’t planning nice things for them. And where’s Lacey?
Side note: I enjoyed having Lila about, but she still doesn’t contribute much to the story. And, despite how much corniness I can allow at times, Wolgast finding Lila’s ID in the car was lame.
Double side note: Guilder is not a good actor. Jame Le Gros, who portrays him is, but Guilder is so blatantly slimy, and not at all charismatic. As Wolgast said, Amy is too smart for fall for it (I hope).
About the Babcock/Sykes flashbacks: They didn’t completely land because the series has taken too long to give Sykes anything to do, or to flesh out her character.
Last week we had more of her, and it seemed she was primed to die because she was being so damn nice, and getting better lines. But what was meant to be a revelation (after all, we now know Shauna was going after Richards to seek revenge against Sykes for abandoning her) feels like it came out of nowhere, and detracted from the main action.
This is a challenge of an ensemble show where there are a lot of threads to pick up, but this pay off may have worked more if we’d ever seen any interaction between Sykes and Babcock before. The date night watching David Cronenberg’s body horror transformation epic The Fly was fun, but unearned. I just found myself not buying into their “suicide sisters” bond. And the flashbacks contributed to overall jumbled pacing this week.
Caroline Chikezie is underserved by her Sykes material. Out of a lot of engaging characters on this show, they’ve made her the least compelling (Richards is up there, and I guess he’s on the side of angels now, or not, or what’s the deal?). And it’s annoying to suggest a brilliant scientific mind would not be able to make deduce Babcock’s question about CGI vs. practical effects.
That said, Babcock is coming into her own as a villain, and seems to enjoy the death she and the virals are about to bring down upon the humans. She gets an upgrade as a threat by toying with Sykes. She is planning on destroying everything that Sykes loves, and then getting to know what she tastes like.
Also, she has a point: Sykes is a bad person who kept convincing herself that every horror she committed was justified.
(By the way, nice shout out to A Quiet Place.)
Jonas Lear at least has come to terms with what he has wrought. And boy, is he looking rough this week! The doctor has time for some post-viral injection sex with the newly healed Elizabeth, but he knows the clock is ticking on her transformation. For as measured as we’ve seen Henry Ian Cusick as Jonas, it’s satisfying to watch him deteriorate a little, and crack. Fanning has gotten to him.
And when his and Sykes’ plan to use Amy’s blood to overpower Fanning’s fails, it’s great that Jonas is like, screw it, let’s kill the buggers. I love the line, “Fanning was my best friend, and I’m going to kill him anyway.” When he tries to, he looks very ok with his decision.
Sadly, he aborts the mission once they all learn that killing the master kills their progeny. I am guessing he stops the execution more for Elizabeth than for Amy’s sake. And once he does, that new rage in Fanning’s face was terrifying. As if things between Fanning and Jonas weren’t already personal enough. But for a moment, it seemed Jonas was enjoying his job again.
Fanning, like Babcock, graduated in his villainy this week when he had his mindscape chat with Winston. Telling the human serial killer turned vampire to kill a child is bad. And it shows that Fanning is now aware Amy is “playing for another team,” and not worth the risk. I think he knows she’s a threat to even his own power. Plus, when a character starts talking about a “cure for humanity,” you know he is uber bad, and not just misguided.
Finally, big kudos to Brett Gentile’s work as Winston last episode, and this. The redneck killer who thinks he’s more charming than he is can tire quickly, but I enjoyed Winston as a feral monster on the loose. He is really the first viral we’ve seen who has free reign, and he delves in right away unleashing horror on the world – so much so that it is easy to imagine how quickly the viral infection could spread.
But Winston and Fanning’s conversation oozed with villainous dynamism. Both vampires enjoyed wielding power in their human lives, in very different ways, and they now feed on the viral power even more. I also appreciated his perverse code of honor when Fanning instructed him to kill Amy: “Isn’t she family?”
As evil as Winston was, it would have been interesting to see him stick around longer, and rebel more against Fanning.
Despite some character missteps, and pacing issues, this action-packed horror-filled episode of The Passage was still quite good. The plot was weaker than last week, but not enough to throw off the show’s forward momentum.