This review contains spoilers.
Just when you thought Cara’s back story couldn’t any more traumatic, along comes Julian Masters (James McKay). It’s not bad enough that she was nearly assaulted and was definitely jailed, forced to abandon her family at the time of most peril for her as a new breakout. As it turns out, Cara was also groomed by a dangerous person named Julian Masters, who uses his powers for ill instead of good. Namely, Julian spouts some pedantic 99% garbage as an excuse to torture, maim, and rob the wealthy, and six years previously, Cara was simply a dupe drawn into Julian’s web.
Now, Julian’s back as the monster of the week, and apparently he’s such a Bad News Bear that both Ultra and the Tomorrow People see him as a huge threat, because a) he loves to torture people for the thrill of that obnoxious static swell noise that plays when they get close to death and b) he’s pretty open about using his powers whenever and wherever, rending the fragile veil that separates the masses of saps from the next step in human evolution.
The episode was fine, as far as direction goes. Director Nick Copus did a good job with framing scenes, and some of the shots of Russell skulking around while observing the rogue gang of criminal breakouts were pretty good. Ditto some of the scenes in which Julian abused his powers and beat up normal people. Even the Tomorrow People fights showed a little pep, thanks to some creative deployment of the teleportation trick to avoid things like falling down a flight of stairs and the like. Still, there was entirely too much shaky camera for my taste, and that’s a stylistic problem I have with the show that isn’t going away any time soon. It defeats the purpose to choreograph a fight scene if no one can tell what’s going on; the one time this sort of shooting makes sense and provides dramatic effect is during the basement breakouts fight scene with the criminal cadre. When it’s a mass of bodies and nameless/pointless extras fighting it out, it doesn’t matter that we can’t follow the action because it should be deliberately frenetic.
This episode’s big brawl worked better than it had any right to, and I liked the use of Charlotte (the rescue girl from last week) as the ringer to finish the fight using her ability, even if it seems awfully quick for her to figure out how to harness her abilities after what looks like a few hours of hanging out with John. That’s more a flaw of the episode, written by Nicholas Wootton and Ray Utarnachitt. Everything seems to take place in a real hurry, and it seems like no process seems to take too long for the Tomorrow People, be it healing from a gunshot or learning how to use your dangerous abilities. The fact that Julian talks like a homeless man’s Bane doesn’t help matters. His love of torture is also pretty clichéd at this point.
The B plot also does the show no favors. Stephen’s been an agent in training for a while, and apparently there’s some sort of competition between him and a new agent named Hillary. This hasn’t been mentioned at any point during Stephen’s training or in the show itself; this is an entirely new development that the show is springing on us halfway through the first season.
Of course, it’s a development without much in the way of stakes; Jedikiah mentions that Stephen should help weed out the non-hackers to avoid any more loss of life, but that seems counter-intuitive… given the high turnover of dead Ultra agents, wouldn’t they want a fresh group of competent agents to replace those lost? It seems excessive to eliminate someone who is a good agent, but not a great agent, because they seem to run through a lot of manpower and it costs a lot to train any employee, much less a telekinetic mutant. Much like Hillary, we all know Stephen is going to continue on at Ultra no matter how badly he’s been screwing up.
US Correspondent Ron Hogan was shocked to see that there were 22 episodes of The Tomorrow People ordered. The CW must really need programming to make an order like that of an unknown quantity sci-fi show. Find more by Ron daily at Shaktronics and PopFi.
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