Entertainment Magazine

Review #2915: Outcasts 1.6

Posted on the 24 July 2011 by Entil2001 @criticalmyth

Contributor: Bronzethumb

Though there’s a few skips along the groove that it’s cut out for itself, the sixth episode of “Outcasts” delivers a solid, if shallow, story. The writers are definitely playing to the show’s strengths and doing their best to skirt around the weaknesses, but despite a very strong A-plot, a shift in the series’ direction from hard science fiction to something more reminiscent of “Lost” in its early years and good set-up for the final stories, much of the episode was a disappointing let-down.

Review #2915: Outcasts 1.6

Wisely, episode 6 starts in the middle of the action, with expeditionaries searching the area around Forthaven for three of their own who have gone missing while on a secret mission for Jack and Julius Berger. One of the lost expeditionaries, Josie Hunter (“Primeval”‘s Juliet Aubrey), is found and brought home, but even her own children sense that something is different about her, and they’re proven right when somehow another Josie makes contact with Forthaven and claims that she’s still stranded in the wilderness. Meanwhile, the ACs launch a covert attack on Forthaven, Stella takes a personal interest in the birth of Carpathia’s first child in a long while, and Julius continues making plans to oust Richard Tate from office.

As the best episodes of “Outcasts” do, this one hinges on surprises and suspense, and no plot development has been quite as surprising or suspenseful as the reveal that there are somehow two Josies running around on Carpathia. And credit to the writers for not simply having a dramatic-note-reveal halfway through the episode, but instead teasing it out and playing on the viewers’ expectations. Details on the two Josies are few and far between, and the way the pieces of the puzzle are slowly put together clash with what the audience thinks they know about the kind of show “Outcasts” is – a hard science fiction story, where everything is rational – along with the few instances of characters perhaps hallucinating strange things.

All of this stacks together so that when the two Josies finally appear side-by-side at the end of the episode, viewers are surprised but not disbelieving. Credit goes to Juliet Aubrey for the way she portrays two versions of the same character: the original feels more like a well-rounded individual, despite Josie being as thinly-written as the other characters on the show, while the other Josie has many subtle moments where it’s clear she’s trying to be the original and not quite succeeding. She really sold the alien-ness of the doppelganger and made the intense moments work as and there was genuine fear for Josie’s children as the doppelganger took them

The build towards an all-out war between Forthaven and the ACs continues in this episode as both sides fire what might be the opening salvos. Unfortunately, despite the potential of what that conflict might look like on-screen, the movements of this episode were a bit of a let-down. The reveal that Jack sent Josie and her teammates to assassinate Rudi came so late in the episode, and in the midst of the rest of her storyline, that it didn’t have the dramatic impact that it ought to. Only at the end of the episode, when Richard and Julius have a chance to discuss it and the potential repercussions, does Jack’s decision feel like it has the weight it ought to.

Meanwhile, Rudi’s attempt at a St. Crispin’s Day Speech was as woeful and impassionate as everything else we’ve seen from the character since his introduction, and did more to deflate the tension than ramp it up. And while the AC’s two-man infiltration mission started off with just the right amount of dark precision to make the audience worried about what might happen to the characters if they crossed paths with the intruders, it wound up coming to naught. All they accomplished was shutting down the power – furthering the doppelganger Josie plotline by allowing her to escape – before being taken down rather easily by Cas, Fleur and Jack while unloading their guns at half-a-dozen stationary targets and not hitting a single one. From a dramatic standpoint, it’s a very disappointing outcome and hopefully not a precursor to what a larger conflict between Forthaven and the ACs will look like.

Beyond that, there was very little in the way of character development or even character action in episode 6: they were all just there to service the story, and were practically interchangeable. There were several openings for good character moments, and the conclusion of the episode cried out for a scene of Richard comparing his experiences with his maybe-but-probably-not-hallucinated children to the appearance of two Josies, but instead the episode felt like it could’ve replaced all the regular actors with mannequins or sock puppets without missing a beat. Beyond the strong A-story of the two Josies, the best thing about the episode was how it continued laying groundwork for what we might see next.

The amount of time devoted to the birth of the Doherty child reinforced what has been a small but important plot point throughout the series: the lack of population growth through the birth of new children. The phenomenon that Richard has been experiencing is not just given more scope through the appearance of the doppelganger Josie, it’s given more malice, as we see her walk into the real Josie’s life and take her children. And finally, though his screen time was limited, Julius Berger continues to push at Tate and deal with Jack, leaving the audience to wonder what exactly will happen once the new transport ship arrives on Carpathia and what –of who – it will find in Forthaven.

A bungled B-plot and weaker characterisation than usual do a lot to mar episode 6, and it would’ve scored an even lower rating had there not been a lot of intriguing set-up or if the main story hadn’t been as well-executed as it was. Despite some strong episodes previously, “Outcasts” proves itself to be a very hit-and-miss series, and it only has two episodes left to turn it all around, capitalise on all the strong set-up and deliver a strong finale.

Rating: 6/10


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