This review contains spoilers.
1.6 Sorry For Your Loss
Throughout the first six episodes of The Tomorrow People, there’s been one real stand-out character in the process and, unfortunately, he’s the guy who has been getting the least amount of character development or screen time, probably because he’s not a bland white person. Russell has been chronically undeserved, especially for one of the lead characters, but he’s at least been one of the only Tomorrow People to have an emotion other than mope. He’s been fun, cracking jokes, showing energy, apparently stealing everything that isn’t nailed down using his powers… generally, he’s been the likable one. Now, he gets his own episode.
Unfortunately, from the cold opening onward, it’s pretty clear that Russell isn’t going to get anything other than yet another stereotypical horror story for a childhood. Granted, it’s a pretty well-executed stereotypical tale of a father living his dreams through his son, but it’s still something we’ve seen before and it’s still something that feels a bit racist.
You see, Russell is the son of a domineering immigrant father who drove him too hard. Indeed, he forced Russell to practice piano for six to eight hours a day until he became good enough to pass an audition to some sort of fancy performing arts school and who seemed to never be happy with his son’s success and who only criticized him even when he was playing piano beautifully. The father also sacrificed the family’s big house and his own fancy job to help his son become a piano genius, even after the son stopped caring about piano and only wanted his father’s love (just in case we missed any stereotypes along the way). Of course, the father dies, because if he doesn’t die, there’s no tearful funeral scene or need for Russell to confront his past.
Meanwhile, while Russell and John are away teleporting across the country and getting into bar fights, the B-plot is that there’s another breakout, a girl named Piper, and Cara and Stephen have to decide whether or not to protect her from Ultra or to disobey John yet again and try to rescue her. They decide to rescue her, because as we’ve seen on the show, Stephen never makes a wrong decision in the long run, because his choices always lead others to learning about themselves in some meaningful way, even if it results in someone’s death. You know, the usual stuff.
In spite of the familiarity of the back story, the A-story plot of John and Russell at least allows them both a chance to grow as characters. John isn’t handcuffed to leadership, and Russell gets to be a well-rounded character, both mourning his loss, showing his propensity for gambling and cons, and being pretty charming when drunk in a bar. Despite the stereotyping, the script from Jeff Rake and Ray Utarnachitt at least treats those two characters well, even if the B story leaves a lot to be desired. I like the idea that Darcy the Ultra supervisor has a family, and that she’s got a sister who ended up in New York looking for his missing sister, but even that was clunky. Two sisters on opposite sides, the sacrifice of a hero, the redemption of a heretofore evil Ultra agent, the sigh-inducing first physical sign of the long-dreaded love triangle between Cara, Stephen, and James brought about by a staggeringly stupid kiss-cute plan to hide from Ultra agents by blatantly making out.
One bright spot in the episode is the bar fight that Russell and John get involved in. By this show’s standards, it’s practically the bar fight from Roadhouse. Director Nathan Hope does a good job of setting the fight up, and a better job of executing the fight without having the Tomorrow Persons lean upon their powers. It’s still shot a little too close for my tastes, and it a little too frantic as our heroes beat up a cast of nameless rednecks, but it’s a step up from the show’s usual fights. At least the show has good pace and everything seems to move along pretty steadily most of the time.
There was another issue tonight that bothered me, specifically the upcoming love triangle. John and Cara together makes sense, in that they both seem to be fairly grown-up albeit of indeterminate age. But Stephen is a high school student; he’s eighteen at most, and for someone old enough to drink to hook up with a kid who just blew off his prom seems a bit much.
Maybe it’s acceptable because all the actors are in their mid- to late-twenties? Or, I guess, because Stephen is the Chosen One, he’s free to break both the laws of physics, the laws of man, and the bro code in one fell swoop.
US Correspondent Ron Hogan might be a little odd to be thinking of possible statutory rape charges when it comes to fictional television characters. Still, it seems like something that might come up in the future. Find more by Ron daily at Shaktronics and PopFi.
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