Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Outcasts (Episode 6)

I spent far too much time during this week's late night edition of Outcasts wondering why Forthaven did not have windows and only one generator powering the whole place. And why it appeared to take them so long to repair/switch on that one generator. Also, was that a prayer room we saw Stella in? I thought Forthaven was anti-religion?

You see, this week Rudi - leader of the ACs - decided to send a couple of his men to sneak into Forthaven (if the past is anything to go by, they could've just used the front entrance), cause a blackout and kill Jack, leader of the XPs. What did Rudi have against Jack? I thought he didn't like Tate who, let's remember, is an older, weaponless man with no guards to protect him. Did Rudi somehow hear about Jack's secret mission (instigated by the wily Julius) to send three of his XPs to kill him? Perhaps.

Unfortunately, something happened to those three XPs and they've been missing for 2 days. After a wild goose chase following flares (what was all that about anyway?), Josie Hunter - one of the XPs - turns up cut, bruised, dehydrated, and with a nasty limp after apparently being attacked by some ACs. Instead of being sent straight to the medical bay, everyone in Forthaven - all two dozen of them - give her a round of applause. Without even getting new bandages, she heads to her children who soon start to notice that something isn't quite right with mummy. Maybe the fact that she's been attacked, cut up and then wandered the wilderness for two days might have something to do with it?

Eventually another one of the missing XPs is found and he has a different story to tell. It wasn't the ACs that attacked them but Josie herself who turned on the other two. And so the PAS officers (i.e. Cass and Fleur) arrest Josie and lock her up. It's a pity they didn't have some sort of mind-reading device that could help determine the truth of the matter. Oh, they do? Well, perhaps the DBV was being used at the time to help Stella or Tipper go on little memory 'trips'?

Meanwhile, the wife of one of the missing XPs has gone into labour and is about to give birth to what might be the last child born in Forthaven for a while. There are complications with the birth so they have to perform a C-section (I'm guessing that, unlike space travel, tech and medical procedures haven't improved much?). And that's when the sneaky ACs attack and the lights go out.

Of course, there's no back-up generator in the medical bay where what turns out to be a very long caesarian is taking place. And the locks on the cells disengage when the power's lost (someone should sack the design engineer!). Josie gets out but, thankfully?, the attacking ACs are prevented from killing Jack.

By morning it appears Josie's taken her kids and can't be found. The generator still hasn't been switched back on either so it's dark everywhere inside Forthaven, which is still causing problems in the medical bay. Puzzlingly though, Josie then turns up at the entrance to Forthaven, bruised, battered and claiming not to know what's happened.

It would have been interesting if they'd not shown the second Josie at the end of this episode. They could have left us uncertain as to whether there were actually two Josie's or just that the pressure of the job and the stress of the attack had fractured her mind and split her personality. Yes, there were already hints to there being two Josies - Stella hearing Josie Number 2's radio message whilst Josie Number 1 was still in her cell and the viewer seeing Josie Number 2 lying in the wilderness when Cass and Fleur (them two again!) went to look for her. However, I sure these could have been glossed over. Instead, it's now obvious that there's some sort of presence on the planet that can manifest itself as people. Which is certainly intriguing in other ways and a pity we didn't get this little bombshell in episode 1 or 2.

The ending was a bit silly though. Why didn't Cass of Jack or someone try to scramble up the rocks to get to the other Josie? Why not a bigger reaction from those that knew, such as Tate or Stella? Why did they just brush it off and "keep it to themselves"? My wife pointed out that they do a lot of that in this series. Everyone does it and it can get a little annoying.

I have been somewhat harsh in what I've written for this episode. Actually I found that it was quite good; not perfect but it did have a fair amount of action and intrigue. There wasn't too much gloom either - both mother and baby lived at the end (although the father, the third missing XP, died). A few plot holes aside, this series is shaping up to be reasonably decent, sort of like Lost set on another planet. So it's a pity we'll probably not see a second series and (no doubt) be left with a few mysteries still unresolved. I also quite like how the show is episodic whilst still having a number of major plotlines running through the series. Each episode tells an individual story whilst significantly advancing the overall plot. Yes, some characters you only see in one episode and never again, but otherwise it generally works well.

So, Outcasts continues to slowly improve. It's just unfortunate the first episode wasn't more like this one.


The Acrobatic Flea said...

This whole "brush things off" and "let's keep it ourselves" was one of more annoying/ridiculous traits on Lost.

If people actually talked about the strange things that happened resolutions would be reached that much quicker!

I agree with you also that the "alien element", for want of a better phrase, should have been frontloaded into the series, rather thansaving it for two-thirds the way through when they have quite possibly already lost a large chunk of their audience.

As for the medical technology, they have the very Star Trek-like (and slightly silly) brain-reading device, so you'd have thought other areas of medicine might have improved as well.

Nimbus said...

They even forget to use the DBV - the only bit of visible new tech - when it might have been useful though!

I realise it can be difficult to predict tech advances, especially anything more than 4 or 5 years from now, whilst still avoiding the standard Star-Trek cliches but almost all of this show looks like it's set in the present day (or even the past). They haven't tried giving folk personal media players, networked mini-PCs, lightweight night goggles or something 'groovy' like miniature portable MRI scanners. And yet somehow they're able to, I dunno, fold the fabric of space-time in order to travel a hundred light years in 5 'regular' years?!

And, yeah, bringing the "alien element" in at episode 6 *might* work in a 22 episode American season, but not for an 8 ep UK series. Those first two episodes really put too many people off!

The Acrobatic Flea said...

It's this sticky problem of programme-makers dithering about either wanting to be "hard science" or "science-fantasy".

Outcasts gives the impression of being hard science - at least stylistically - but then handwaves the rather crucial space travel aspect as though it's the TARDIS (forgetting that in Doctor Who, the TARDIS is primarily a plot device anyway - to The Doctor into the story).

I can't see many of these issues being addressed in the remaining episodes as the story needs to take priority. It's really now too late to be thinking about details that should have been addressed earlier on.

Presumably though the DBV will play a crucial role in the denouement...