There’s a lot going on in this episode, and most of it results in headscratching for me. Let’s start with the positive aspect though: After what felt like a mostly irrelevant filler episode last week, a lot relevant things are happening now. Due to Ben and the returning Ricky, the 2nd Mass learns about a Skitter resistance movement that sees an alliance with the humans as their best chance to overthrow the alien overlords. That’s kinda a big bomb to drop, but the result is a bit weird.
Weaver is perfectly in character. After not exactly seeing the value of studying a captured skitter in season 1, he now also doesn’t see much value in interrogating one – even after said skitter claims to work against the overlords and to be willing to share vital strategic information with the 2nd Mass. At this point, one would expect Tom to be the voice of reason. He’s the history professor who is Weaver’s right hand exactly to prevent such scenarios and make his commanding officer see the value of non-explosive resources, such as… strategic information. After all, it was Tom who captured a live skitter to study it. But what does Tom do? The same as Weaver. While he does keep the skitter alive for the purpose of interrogation, he completely refuses to believe there is a skitter rebellion. The 2nd Mass already knows for quite a while that the skitters are harnessed. And they also know that the harnesses are mind control devices; the same devices used to control Ben and Ricky and the other children. They know that it is entirely possible to resist the effects – Ricky may not be the best example, but Ben sure is. He was the one who probably hated skitters most and enjoyed killing them even more than Pope. Now Ben makes an ideological u-turn and asks his father to just listen to the one skitter… and Tom still refuses that there’s any truth to it. Everything Red Eye tells him sounds exactly like something Tom would tell Weaver. It should be something Tom of all people can relate to and give it at least a chance. But nope, he acts like it’s the most improbable thing he ever heard.
That would be the big headscratcher. One of the smaller ones is the developing romance between Hal and Magret. It’s not just weird because one still has to assume that she is well in her mid-twenties and Hal 17 at best. I remember in season 1 (maybe even the pilot), Matt complains about not having a birthday party and mentions “but Hal had one, too”. So one can assume Hal turned 16 after the invasion. The time passed in the story is somewhere from 4 months (if season 1 was more or less ‘real time’ plus the 3 months jump to Tom’s return in season 2) to maybe 6 months (seeing that the 2nd Mass is preparing for their first winter, it’s clearly not been too long). Hell, let it be a year – there’s no way Hal is older than 17 1/2 now. That’s weird enough, but the episode – with such a big thing to be revealed – focussing 50 % on Hal and Maggie doing the “will they or won’t they” dance is a shift I’m not too fond of. For the moment, Lourdes and Jamil are taking a step back – but they are also a “outta nowhere” couple not mentioned or developed in season 1. It was just “bam, it’s season 2, Scott is dead, oh and this guy is his replacement tech and Lourdes’ boyfriend”. Two of the Berzerkers also seem to be a couple now. And Tom and Anne were looking for a room to be alone when we last saw them. There’s a bit much coupling going on in general, and the fear that Pope and Anthony will return to announce their off screen marriage is a very real one in the face of that.
Speaking of them, not a single word about their whereabouts. Come on, writers, you can’t seriously put them on a bus. Pope was certainly a bit of a showstealer, but he wasn’t too much the center of attention to derail from the main characters. And Anthony was just about to get some development. You send an ex-con/gangbanger/moderate racist jerkass away with a black ex-cop and expect no-one wonders how they are doing as a team? Really? That arc was one of the things I was looking forward to most.
This is also the intro to my weekly complaint that Dai doesn’t really say or do anything of importance and remains an advertised extra. Even the Berzerkers get more lines and more things to do, while Dai continues to just tag along if Hal and Tom go somewhere. Weaver chimes in by losing not a single word about the discovery that his daughter is alive and ran away with her boyfriend shortly after being reunited with her father. Sure, no big deal, the hope to find her was what kept Weaver sane; why deal with this situation in any way?
Last but not least we have Ricky returning just to be killed off for real. Frankly, that had no impact at all. We had a kid die not too long ago when Jimmy got killed. That was a wakeup call and a reminder that everyone can die, children included. It was a bit pointless to kill Ricky, too. In theory, it was a big deal – he sacrificed himself, so Red Eye would survive. But on screen, it wasn’t a big deal at all and felt too much like “k, character did his duty, we can shoot him now”.
Things to hope for in S02E06:
1. Tell me where the hell Pope and Anthony are. In a perfect world, show me how they become Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid of the apocalypse.
2. Slap some reason into Tom Mason. Make him realize that Red Eye sounds exactly like he sounds when talking to Weaver.
3. Stop the weirdness with Hal and Maggie. At least let them address the fact that Hal wouldn’t even be legal if there was still a society in place. PLEASE.
4. Give Weaver at least one short moment to reflect what happened with his daughter. He can accept it and all, but let him show at least a bit concern for her. After losing his “adopted son” Jimmy, that’s the least he should do.
5. Develop Dai’s character. (lulz!)