This review contains spoilers.
One of the positive things you can say about this week’s episode of The Tomorrow People is that director Felix Alcala actually does a really good job at creating menace. The show is full of fights that are typically poorly done, and there’s usually not much atmosphere different from your usual CW show, but at least for this week, and at least for the scenes involving the villain of the week, we get some decent horror movie style set-ups and pay-offs, even if the show continues to tinker with the rules of its psychics in order to pull off some of the tricks.
The cold opening tonight, in which we are introduced to the threat of the week for this episode, is straight out of a 2000s-era horror movie, but it’s actually executed really well. A creepo attacker is mentioned, and a girl is left on her own to wait for security to return. Of course, after the guard walks away to lead another vulnerable woman to her car, the creepo strikes. This is where the show gets interesting. The creeper whistles, then teleports, then whistles again, and keeps repeating this until he gets close enough to grab the girl. In case you didn’t get that he was a rogue breakout turned evil (they never show him teleporting, he just does the horror movie villain pop-up trick), when the girl gets her mace out and tries to spray Creepo J. Rapist, he cleverly uses his powers to turn her spray back on her so she ends up macing herself. It’s a pretty funny moment, albeit in a blackly comic sort of way.
Of course, because this is The Tomorrow People, once folks actually show up to do something about the Tomorrow Rapist, everything goes downhill. Last week, Cara and Stephen explored their mystical mental connection via intercourse, despite the fact Cara is dating John, the defacto leader of the Tomorrow People. This conflation of elements leads to a horrible development as Stephen, Cara, and John attempt to out-cliche one another courtesy of the script from Nicholas Wootton and Micah Schraft. John speaks in nothing but canned leadership dialogue for a good five minutes at one point. When he’s not speaking in leader-speak, he’s speaking in the worst romantic drama cuckold dialogue imaginable. He blames himself, misreads Cara, and so on. Cara also gets a lot of terrible ‘woman torn’ dialogue when talking to both John and Stephen (who in turn gets spurned one-night-stand/pseudo-obsessed stalker dialogue). The only one who gets any decent lines is Russell, and most of his lines are a direct response to the episode-long sniping between John and Cara.
If it was just one character behaving in a stereotypical manner, I could probably dismiss it. Say, Cara’s torn because she’s had sex with both guys and has feelings for Stephen but knows that John is the safer choice for the good of the people. However, everyone seems to be checking off marks on a list of goofy stereotypes. John gets some petty revenge on Stephen, then forgives Cara. Cara has been covered. Stephen finally decides to use his new-found powers selfishly, by teleporting Astrid around, making out with girls, having a party, and using his Tomorrow People powers to become a great basketball player—Teen Wolf style—only to have his powers taken away from him by Jed for abusing the privilege, since Ultra has nothing better to do than hassle Stephen for using his telekinesis to make baskets during a high school scrimmage (instead of tracking down the dangerous rapist, the very kind of threat Ultra was designed to stop).
Stephen, being Stephen, goes off on his own and stops the threat, because he has to prove something both to himself and to both sides of his life, Ultra and the Tomorrow People, who all agree that he’s useless without his powers. And he is useless without his powers, because it takes Cara and John coming to his rescue to keep him from drowning, but the Chosen One gets to have a vision of his late, lost father, who reveals to him some secret Obi-wan Kenobi ghost clues while Stephen drowns in sewage water; the show tries to milk the tension of John giving Stephen CPR, but he’s the main character and at no time his is peril believable or dramatic.
Thus is the problem with The Tomorrow People. There are attempts at drama, but none of them really work because there’s no actual sense of peril and no real stakes. We know Stephen is making the right decision by chasing the rapist, because he’s always right. We know someone will stop the rapist, because there’s no room for an ongoing threat aside from Jed and Ultra. We know John and Stephen will forge some sort of peace, because they have to for the future of their species. We know that Cara won’t pick Stephen so early in the season, because that throws off the show’s dynamics; ditto John dumping Cara for cheating on him while he was gone comforting one of his best friends after the death of his father. We know Astrid loves Stephen, because it’s telegraphed pretty hard, as are Cara’s feelings for Stephen.
When the love quadrangle is set up from the jump, and when one of them is the Chosen One, it doesn’t exactly create much drama. There’s never any real drama in the show. Predictability is fine if it’s done well. The Tomorrow People is like eating a bowl of unflavored oatmeal for breakfast; unless you add some flavor or spice, you’re just shovelling bland mush into your system.
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