Contributor: Henry T.
Written by Evan Katz and James Wong
Directed by Norberto Barba
Sometimes, I must admit it is difficult to laugh at this show. Yes, most of us have established that this is a prepostorous series with a plot that seems to have been made up as it goes along. Laughing at it, making fun of it, or rolling my eyes at it, they are all coping mechanisms for how bad it has sunken. If the idea is for whatever audience watching to actively root against the characters who are on either side of this conflict between human and alien, then it seems to have succeeded. I’ve done so already! I already regard President Martinez and his administration as anywhere from weak to silly to really powerless and much can be similarly pointed to the aliens as well. It’s late in the season, yet they drag out an odd transition episode where little of it makes sense, lacks tension, and continues much of what has been wrong about the season as a whole. It’s ugly and I fear it may never recover enough to save itself.
Let’s start with President Martinez. I have to wonder if he’s ever going to leave the White House again. Despite a national tragedy that resulted from the aliens taking out the Washington Monument, they continue about as if it’s business as usual. The blood testing of the people in the building is a noble attempt at smoking out possible traitors. It yields little information, however. Why wouldn’t he just consider his wife as a suspect? If she arouses so much suspicion and Martinez were really very shocked at how easily the aliens have penetrated the government, no one should be above suspicion.
It may seem draconian to subvert human rights like that, but at least she would be ruled out as a suspect. The little off look she gives at the end of the episode reeks of suspicion, enough for me to think that if she were outed later as an alien, it wouldn’t be too much of a shock. All of it is set up that way already with her convenient story of her illegal immigrant parents. Don’t anyone say they didn’t see Cristina as one of the aliens coming because it’s set up so easily. Other than that, nothing has changed in the White House.
Vice President Jarvis adds to the fun, too. His story is so full of logical holes that I had to laugh whenever he was onscreen. The President discovered him as a traitor and isn’t talking to him, yet he’s free to take phone calls from Sophia, then engineer a coup against Martinez in the name of some vague patriotism (with a ridiculous cliffhanger shot of a cup of tea!) without much interference.
Frankly, my favorite scene of the entire episode was when Blake yelled at him to shut his trap. It was cheer-worthy simply because Blake cut to the point and saw Jarvis basically as a non-entity. I have to wonder how Blake and company figured out that Simon was a traitor, yet is unable to see that Jarvis is one as well. I had to laugh at everything that Jarvis did, even in his agreement to work with Sophia. His lines up until agreeing to the coup/assassination were basically questions for Sophia to explain the plot that was coming. Dempsey got to him by threatening his family, now Sophia says he has to do this for the good of the country and he bends to her will. If that isn’t a gigantic sign of how weak this guy has become, then I give credit for Sophia finding the most impressionistic members of the human race in order to take over the planet.
Sophia’s entire course of action was the point where I found much of the episode discomforting. The aliens under Sophia’s command have turned into the second coming of the Third Reich. I would hope this isn’t the writers’ intentions, but there are simply too many parallels here to ignore. Sophia is a stone-cold supervillain like Hitler and her plan to wipe out humanity to make room for her people reeks too much of the Holocaust. The purported “super-weapon” from Russia here is specifically referred to as “the final solution” by Sophia, echoing what Hitler used to justify the Jewish extermination during World War II. Simon is a dissenter so he has to be kept silent, though he does get some information to Leila so she can pass it on to some help. Not everyone loved Hitler during his reign. How can anyone expect to actively root for the aliens if this is really the case? It’s too disturbing.
I haven’t mentioned Sean and Dempsey up until this point because it’s arguable they had the most ridiculous plot of the episode (and that’s saying something). Both Dempsey and Sean share a trait that is usually the death of most shows: they aren’t fully-formed characters and at times seem like plot devices to get things moving in a direction. Dempsey’s actions in particular feel as if they’ve been made up as the writers went along. He shoots himself in the head here, for no reason, after spewing some nonsense about long-time sentinels or guardians who are protecting Earth from threats and “events” that are to come.
This is frustrating to me because the writers never seemed to have an idea as to what Dempsey’s character was. He manipulated the Presidential ticket, started randomly killing and kidnapping people, experimented on girls for a youth formula that presumably kept him alive (no explanation has ever been given for exactly why he did what he did to them), moved some stones around a tablet with no overarching purpose, and now has burned down his French chateau, only to shoot himself in the head. No, it doesn’t have to make sense; it only has to give the show some shock value.
As for Sean, well, he’s on his way to Russia. He’s a wanted American fugitive who has now taken trips from the United States to France to Russia. I’d personally like to be his travel agent just to see how he’s pulling all of this off, even with Vicky in tow. Can you honestly say that Sean has had any character development beyond that during this entire season? I can’t.
This is a frustrating series. There’s no sense of gravity to the proceedings, nothing to care about with the characters. it has gotten so bad that I actually found the music in this episode grating. I am actually rooting for both sides to wipe each other out at this point. No side wins, with Blake being the last man standing and gets to take over as President of the United States. Sophia goes after the high-ranking officials in the US government, taking out enough to render the line of succession useless and elevating Sterling, who is now the lone character on the series I actually like. Would it really be that unlikely? Given what has been occurring so far this season, it would be a genuine surprise and a unique way to end the series.