This review contains spoilers.
1.4 Kill or Be Killed
Last week, we had Cara’s cliché of an origin story. Stephen is our original cliché origin story. This week, we get to explore John’s incredible cliché origin story. We already know a little about John as a character, namely that he’s the leader of the Tomorrow People, he’s kind of dating Cara, and that he used to be an agent for Ultra until he changed teams for reasons he won’t talk about, but that are implied to be as a result of the terrible things he did while an Ultra agent. Pretty standard stuff, really. Every story needs some sort of character who used to be evil, but turned good, and now has a powerful urge to stop the bad guy because he knows what he’s capable of.
It goes without saying that because John was so easily taken in by Jed and Ultra, and was apparently very loyal to them while he worked for them, there must be some other issues at play. Would you believe it if I told you that John was a troubled kid? And that, rather than being the son of a single mother with an absentee father like Stephen, he’s actually an orphan who was taken in and raised by an abusive, alcoholic foster parent who only kept the kids around for the financial rewards? It’s true!
Aside from the mediocrity of the two-thirds of the episode (written by Nicholas Wootton and Alex Katsnelson), The Tomorrow People is kind of showing signs of life. Not many, but there are at least some. Once again, Stephen is the guy telling John and Cara what they need to be doing and why they should be doing it, in spite of the fact that John is the leader and Stephen has been a Tomorrow Person for about a week. As the case last week, he’s the guy trying to be the voice of do-goodery while John and Cara are more like the voice of reason and Russell is the comic relief who really needs more screen time because he’s the most charismatic one of the bunch. Well, aside from the villains, that is.
As usual, Mark Pellegrino’s Jedikiah is one of the episode’s strongest points. He’s one of the only characters that really seems to have consistent motivation, and he’s one of the only characters that seems to have some sort of shade of grade about him. Granted, he’s still pretty obviously a horrible person, but he does little things that make you think there might be some germ of kindness in him somewhere, like when he agrees to go to dinner with his nephew. Sure, he does it mostly to get his sister-in-law Marla (Sarah Clarke, another positive for the show that doesn’t get enough time) off Stephen’s back, but still, he did it and he made a joke about Brussels sprouts.
A second strong point this week is the show’s villain of the week. Two weeks ago, the breakout was a bit bland, but this week’s bad guy—the sadly named Killian McClane as played by Jason Dohring—was much more interesting. One of the Tomorrow People and a former Ultra agent like John, McClane serves as a good counterpoint to John because unlike him, he’s incredibly proactive, and by proactive I mean that he’s able to kill people whenever he wants using all three of the T’s to his advantage, plus also a lot of bombs. That’s right, for the first time in… well, the run of the show, we have a bad guy who is a legitimate, direct threat to human (and TP) life.
That’s the kind of teeth that The Tomorrow People has needed since the beginning episode, as it showed two Tomorrows who used their powers in creative ways during some much-improved fight scenes. They were a little more creative, a little more intense, and shot with a little more dynamic style by director Guy Bee (The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Kyle XY). The main good guys still aren’t very eye-catching or charismatic, and the show still feels pretty flat for the bulk of its run, but it’s at least starting to find some decent footing when psychic push comes to shove.
Unfortunately, the show is still the epitome of bland, and I still have trouble even differentiating it from the commercials around it. Part of that is the CW’s general style (kind of dark, muted colors, faux grittiness) and part of that is the actors involved. The Tomorrow People just isn’t doing a lot for me. I hope the show continues to build and improve as the weeks go by; the few signs of life this week are encouraging, despite half the episode being a wasted chance.
US Correspondent Ron Hogan expected the twist at the end of this week’s episode, but it was still pretty well done just the same. One of these days, The Tomorrow People might end up being okay. Find more by Ron daily at Shaktronics and PopFi.
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