The following contains spoilers for Resident Alien.
Resident Alien season 2 has seen its fair share of game-changing events, from the birth of an alien baby to the revelation that Harry is actually the mysterious being known as Goliath who has journeyed back in time trying to change his own future. But despite several shocking developments, our disguised hero has not actually been in all that much danger from a personal perspective.
Sure, there’s been a fairly consistent threat from various aliens that want to destroy Earth or eradicate all of humanity—we even met a member of the infamous probe-obsessed Grays in last week’s installment (memorably voiced by none other than George Takei). But Harry, himself, hasn’t been terribly at risk since early on in Season 1 when Max was still trying to out him as an extraterrestrial. Since then, the residents of Patience have basically just embraced most of Harry’s weirder quirks or written them off as unavoidable parts of his personality, so while the premise of Resident Alien may technically revolve around his status as an alien hiding his identity from those around him, he hasn’t had to work terribly hard to do so lately.
That all changes with the return of Terry O’Quinn’s Alien Tracker, the podcast host, government consultant, and extraterrestrial expert who is determined to prove the existence of aliens after witnessing the abduction of his pregnant wife’s child. And since he possesses the same ability to see through the molecular reconstruction process that allows Harry to pass as a human that Max has, he presents a genuine danger in ways that little else on the canvas does right now. (Particularly since he already saw Harry’s alien form at a convention back in season 1).
When was the last time Harry actually had to run away from someone? Or work to hide who he is? Even worry about someone being able to see his true form? It’s been a minute. So, in that regard, “Cat and Mouse” serves as a great reminder of the series’ central premise—something I think a lot of viewers may have potentially forgotten about in the face of all the other problems facing Harry, Asta, and the rest of Patience this season. Because if Harry’s discovered and hauled off to a government black ops site to be interrogated for the rest of his life by Linda Hamilton, he’s definitely not saving humanity.
With the arrival of the Alien Tracker in Patience, Harry not only has to get back to the basics of survival (read: running for his life), Resident Alien has to return to telling stories with more immediate and tangible stakes. A lot has happened this season, but most of the story’s biggest moments have been more thematically important than anything else. Asta killed a man to save Harry, which gave the show a chance to explore guilt and grief in new ways, but also removed a direct threat that could have exposed his secret identity. (Or at least that he’s not the real harry Vanderspiegle.) The alien baby escaped but was almost immediately found by Max and Sahar, then snatched by the government. And the ongoing question of Harry’s growing humanity continues to play out with the revelation that he is also Goliath, but the show hasn’t wanted to look too closely just yet at what that really means, and we’ve seen relatively little of his reaction to this news.
Now, however, there’s a much more immediate problem to solve, one that’s ultimately presented by a man who ultimately may not be the enemy we have all assumed him to be. And though “Cat and Mouse” ends with Harry springing a trap on the Alien Tracker—having guilted Max into lying to him in order to set him up—-of the sort that implies Peter’s fate is likely pretty grim, it’s a mistake to assume that this is where his story ends. The biggest reason for this is that you don’t cast an actor of O’Quinn’s caliber in a guest role to just kill his character off after an episode or two, but there’s also the fact that this show is simply better if Harry doesn’t have things too easy. It’s been relatively easy to ignore the fact that protecting the secret of his identity is something he should have to actually work at occasionally instead of just a thing that’s taken for granted. (Even if we’re all pretty sure that he’ll never truly be found out. Or at least not in a way that can’t be easily undone or contained.)
Plus, the hour features another heartrending flashback to the Alien Tracker’s past, where we see Peter and his wife celebrating what would have been the second birthday of their kidnapped child. As we see during his conversations with Deputy Liv, this is the defining event of the Alien Tracker’s life, and one that has shaped every choice he’s made since then. His alien obsession seems to be, in large part, about his need to explain the loss of his child, but it’s also made him deeply sympathetic to the experiences of those whose stories have gone unreported and unbelieved, and who carry pain that many others don’t even believe is real.
I haven’t figured out quite yet how I think this stolen human baby will play into future events —could Peter be ultimately reunited with an older version of his child, somehow returned to him by the Grays? Has his baby somehow become as integrated into alien culture as Harry now is in our human world? (Wouldn’t that be something?) Or will Harry somehow help him finally find real peace in the face of his loss?