Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Outcasts (Episode 4)

After a brief break and sorting out a few problem with my BT Vision+ box, I'm finally back up to date with episodes of Outcasts. But first, let's skip back an episode...

A wounded and exhausted AC appears at the entrance to Forthaven, requiring assistance. Why Eliyah, this rogue AC, is in a bad way and why he came to Forthaven isn't really explained. I guess the latter might be because his violent blackouts are increasing in frequency and he thinks the folk of Forthaven can fix him. However, considering it turns out that Tate was the one who caused his problems in the first place and that Cass and Fleur decide the best thing for him is to return to his fellow ACs, it seems that Eliyah had something of a wasted journey.

Anyway, Eliyah is locked away in a cell with a flimsy lock where he has flashbacks of cruel manipulations and experiments conducted on him by Tate in order to produce a "better" clone. It's emphasised that Tate was only doing this to help the humans on Carpathia survive but it paints him as something of a grey man who is quick to suppress certain ethics in order to ensure survival. Before long, Eliyah shoulder-barges the door and easily escapes, free to roam around Forthaven. Security obviously isn't much of a priority.

Soon after, Lily, Stella's daughter, approaches old-school DJ Tipper and tips him off about the escaped AC. She does this by handing him a printed out memo detailing the event. Again, a lack of security there. Why the council of Forthaven needed to send this out as a memo is beyond me but it does raise something that has been bothering me for a while regarding the technology level on Outcasts.

The humans here are sufficiently advanced that they can travel vast distances on large transport ships to other Earth-like planets. The journey only takes about 5 years and yet the closest known star to our own Sun is Proxima Centauri - which is just over 4 light years away. That means these ships must be capable of almost lightspeed travel or better, which is pretty damned advanced. And yet the only other two instances of higher technology we've seen thus far are the genetically manipulated clones and that Deep Brain Visualisation thingy that Stella plays with. Everything else is equivalent to modern-day tech - or earlier in the case of Tipper's turntable. They still write things on paper (or maybe it's supposed to be a sheet of e-ink?), travel around on foot, use needles to inject people, have modern day pistols and rifles.

They even use pickaxes and shovels to dig a hole for a water pipe and, in the process, uncover what appears to be a fossil of a human-like jawbone. A little more on that later.

So where's the rest of the higher tech? Why does it feel like this is just set about 10 years from now but somehow space travel has advanced significantly whilst not a lot else has? It's like the writers are aiming for a western frontier-like ambience to the show whilst unfortunately ignoring the fact that it's set in the far future.

Back to the story and Fleur and Cass locate Eliyah, befriend him and then agree to help him - by sending him back out into the wilderness without treating him for his problems at all. However, Cass is loyal to Tate and betrays the AC and Fleur. Whilst some XPs and the other PAS officers (I assume there are others - we only ever get to see Fleur and Cass!) attempted to capture Eliyah, Jack - the XP leader since Mitchell's death - shoots him. Even though it looked like the AC was about to attack someone, this seems a bit harsh - and against the commands given. Of course, Jack's not reprimanded and later we find out he's siding with a clone-hating Berger.

Then at the end we get that big cliffhanger regarding the human fossil. Have humans been on Carpathia before? Or, more likely (though a bit of a let down), perhaps it was just a humanoid native of the planet that died out millions of years ago? Why doesn't anyone try digging up the rest of the fossilised body in the hole? Why doesn't there appear to be any scientists in Forthaven to give this fossil to? More questions left unanswered.

Aside from a flood of niggling little questions about how Forthaven works (this week we saw some more of the town - which seems to consists solely of empty transport containers), Outcasts does continue to improve - but it's a slow process. The mysteries, such as the fossil, help a lot but let's hope we get a satisfactory conclusion to these by the end of this series. Because, with the news that Outcasts is moving to the late slot on Sunday nights due to plummeting viewing figures, it's unlikely we'll get a second series.

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