This review contains spoilers.
1.5 All Tomorrow’s Parties
The Tomorrow People is a show that loves to start in the middle of the action and then back up and show us how we got to the cold opening point of the episode. As if realizing that, by this point, the show is getting a little monotonous, we get a cold opening of Stephen and his Ultra minder Darcy (Meta Golding), who we’ve seen before but never heard her name that I know of. Unsurprisingly, they’re chasing a renegade Tomorrow Person. Also unsurprisingly, Stephen wants to ignore protocol, ignore the order of his superior officer, and ignore good sense by chasing after the dangerous fugitive. Here’s where things get different; Stephen isn’t chasing a real fugitive, it’s just a training exercise (that he’s failing).
That’s about where the only place where the episode diverges from the Tomorrow People template. Once again, there’s conflict in the group about the direction the Tomorrow People should take. Cara, Kyle (that kid from a few episodes ago that Stephen saved and brought into the fold), and a bunch of the others want to go out and party because they’re bored and, as it turns out, living in an abandoned subway terminal isn’t the laff-riot the Ninja Turtles made it appear to be. Since John is the party pooper, he decides to poop on the party plans by reminding Cara that Ultra has been increasingly active and dangerous, she nearly got her powers taken away last week, and all the boring, sensible stuff John is typically known for. This leads to much arguing between John and Cara, Stephen and John, Kyle and John (and Stephen), and pretty much everyone in the group versus John.
Again, that’s pretty standard stuff. There’s the standard super-powered fist fight, Russell continues to be the only character to show any signs of life or ability to have fun with his powers, Stephen somehow rushes in to save the day, and while there are repercussions for the Tomorrow People (and possibly for Ultra) in the wake of the trap that got sprung during the Tomorrow Party, none of it was terribly interesting. Stephen got to work his way up the ladder at Ultra and meet someone whom even Uncle Jed seems to be afraid of—and for good reason, given how powerful that mystery psychic had to be to floor Stephen so easily—while using his connection with Jed and Ultra to once again provide John and the resistance with some much-needed intelligence and supplies.
After last week’s experiment with Killian and his surprisingly hard-nosed attitude, The Tomorrow People continues to attempt to show a little teeth this week, but it’s less effective. When Ultra’s kill squad storms the party and springs the trap on the renegade tomorrow people, there’s lots of gunfire but aside from some red shirt background colour and one girl we’re introduced to this episode who just screams “care about me so when I get shot you’ll have feelings”, nothing really gets accomplished by it. A club gets trashed, and a lot of ammunition is wasted (and Steven foils the trap anyway by suspiciously running away from his uncle just before the power goes out and the dampening field peters out. It all feels perfunctory.
I will say that director Nick Copus does manage to make things brighter than usual, particularly in the club scene. Stephen’s scene where he is interviewed by Jed’s boss is also pretty well done. The show isn’t dynamic by cable standards, but the shots are well framed and Copus makes decent use of the Tomorrow People’s skills during the sparring match to decide if the group goes in or out with some good choreography and some good shot composition. Sometimes, you can tell he’s shooting more to hide the stunt crew than highlight the actors, but you find that a lot on this show.
Writers Leigh Dana Jackson and Grainne Godfree have turned in a decent episode by Tomorrow People standards, but after the really good last half of last week’s show, it feels like a let-down. Perhaps I expected this week’s show to have more teeth, given the surprising fearlessness from last week. Perhaps the characters argued a bit too much about things I don’t care about, or were a little too predictable in their arguments. I mean, I knew that red shirt girl Irene wasn’t going to have a great night out. I knew John would come around and join the rest of them at their party. Everyone knew Stephen would show up when the party became an Ultra trap, because apparently both Ultra and the Tomorrow People are helpless without him around.
At this point in the season, it feels like The Tomorrow People has already peaked, and we’re kind of just going to ride out he rest of the season with a bunch of decent, but never great or even good, episodes. It’s just another bit of blandness in the blandness vortex that this show is shaping up to be. I really hope I’m wrong, and we get some sustained excellence next week, but The Tomorrow People makes Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. look like American Horror Story.
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