Friday, October 25, 2013

The Tomorrow People, Season 1, Episode 3: Girl Interrupted

We start with a 5 year old flash back. A school dance; 2 guys enter and one tells his friend that a girl sat on the sidelines “never says no”. He goes to speak to her and it’s clear she’s self-conscious, nervous, uncertain and deaf. She also looks a lot like Cara. He talks to her for a brief moment and suggests they go somewhere quieter.

He drives her off before pulling over and complimenting her. They kiss, it’s all sweet and nice until he groups her and she recoils. He says he heard about her from the guys – and she smacks him. He lunges for her and she flees the car, ripping her clothes as he grabs for them. He chases her, screaming her name, Cara (it is Cara!) and pins her to the ground. She flings him off her with telekinesis, staggers to her feet and unleashes another bolt sending him flying.

She stands in confusion not just over her powers, but she can suddenly hear.

Today she’s on a subway, hearing everyone’s thoughts and finding it a little overwhelming. When everyone clears out she teleports to the underground HQ (this place needs a name! I can’t believe people pretentious enough to call themselves the “Tomorrow People” haven’t come up with a cheesy name for their hideout!). She goes to Russell and John – and John notices she’s not exactly chipper and that she went on a food run and came back without food. She snaps out of it and asks what the plan is (John and Russell were talking about finding paranormals before they became agents or Ultra stopped their powers) and he shows her a key – and says they need Steven.

Steven is at a party, taken there by Astrid to try and get him back in to the social scene after his various problems when he thought he was mentally ill. He spends a lot of the party reading people’s minds, including Emily, a troubled girl at the party who has apparently gone through hell. As he leaves the party he hears her think that “in 48 hours, I will be dead”, apparently looking forward to it.

Jedikiah, at Ultra, is continuing his work of kidnapping kids, injecting them with strange, DNA altering chemicals and then threatening them with death. The injection that strips their powers also causes agony and convulsions.

Which is what John talks to Steven about back at the Hideout as a lead in for their new mission – plant something in Ultra’s computers which will give all their information to Tim (the super computer they have for reasons unknown) allowing them to track new breakouts as soon as Ultra discovers them. It’ll be useful but so dangerous – John asks Steven if he’s ready

Errr, if he’s not then why even have him undercover? This is the first time him being undercover has seemed to be remotely useful.

Steven takes the chance to tell Cara about Emily but she says that he needs to stay out of people’s minds, that thoughts aren’t always clear and he can’t really intervene based on what he’s mined from their heads. Steven protests – he knows Emily, since they both went to therapy (she was apparently driving when something bad happened to her sister in a car – I guess a crash) together; but Cara warns him that as he reads minds he’ll find everyone has a sad story, he needs to forget about humans and focus on their own. Especially since they’re struggling to survive.

At Ultra, Steven gets to meet his new partner and trainer, Agent Darcy Nichols – who a) gets him shirtless (I approve) and b) wants to test his time stopping power by shooting him (I have to admit, I’ve been tempted to shoot him once or twice myself). She shoots him – with a blank, it’s not like she can kill anyway being Paranormal and he doesn’t stop time (he didn’t think to teleport out of the way, use telekinesis? Something?)

As Steven walks through Ultra, Cara is there in his head – and in everyone else’s. There doesn’t appear to be any telepathic shielding around. She guides him to the restricted area, dipping into people’s heads when she needs info to guide him.

She gets him to where he needs to place the dongle and he does – but when it comes time to guide him out she’s overwhelmed by the people around her, their thoughts drowning out Steven. He tries to make his own escape – and runs into Jedikiah.  He quickly makes up the excuse of wanting to talk to Jedikiah about Emily. Jedikiah also thinks he shouldn’t help – because it risks exposure which he thinks will lead to a war in which millions will die because everyone will be so horrified by people with super powers who can’t possibly kill, apparently. When Steven leaves, Jedikiah orders the floor he was on swept.

Steven teleports back to the Hideout with Russell doing his normal fawning and John checking everything went well – Steven says it did and Cara explains why she went silent – her powers work too well and sometimes she has “episodes”. Steven says she’s missing the world being stuck in the hideout –but she’s happy to be out of the world.

Flashback to a younger Cara handcuffed at a police station. Her father arrives and the police tell him she’s under arrest for the murder of Tyler, the boy who tried to rape her. The police take her to the cells, dragging her – and she teleports away the second they’re not looking.

At school, Steven continues to be worried about Emily and follows her and grabs her notebook so he has a reason to catch up with her and check her. Astrid notices his behaviour and he explains why (citing an overheard conversation with the guidance councillor) and she calls him both creepy and sweet – which is pretty accurate. They catch up with Emily who has also noticed Steven’s stalkeryness. Emily tries to drive them off but they stay, Steven says he’s a friend and knows about her sister. Emily was driving the car when she had the accident that killed her sister – she blames herself and so do her parents – which pretty much shuts down Steven’s attempt at the “I know what you’re going through” game. They offer to help again and Astrid reveals that Steven overheard what she said to the councillor – except Emily hasn’t been to the councillor all year. Oops.

At the hideout John checks with Cara because this time of year is hard for her. He wants to help her and points out she can let him inside her head – but she cuts him off, he keeps his own secrets and parts of his brain off limits. She tells him its ancient history.

Steven arrives at the hideout trying to use Tim to analyse some random numbers she plucked out of Emily’s brain and she’s confronted by John and Cara. John  tells him that it’s too risky to help humans but Steven has no time for that, considering the risk he’s taking to help paranormals. Cara comes with her real reason – humans aren’t worth saving and if they knew their secret then everyone around Steven would hate him. Sounds like Cara’s been burned. In the argument Steven reveals Cara’s powers have been acting up which is news to John.

They’re interrupted by Tim who has used his new link to Ultra to find a new breakout. John, Russel and Cara set off (Cara insisting she’s fine), Steven not allowed to come since he can’t expose himself as working for the Tomorrow People.

But when they arrive at the dock they run straight into an Ultra ambush – time for unarmed fighting! Russell and John manage to escape (how do you hold someone who can teleport anyway? Oh yes, tranquilisers, tasers) but Cara is taken.

Back at the hideout John tells Steven Cara’s past and that this is the anniversary – and Cara always has a hard time this time of year.

Steven returns to Ultra as the undercover man to find Cara (who is alive and in restraints and not dead or with her powers stripped for… reasons). And yes, Jedikiah found his little dongle. Jedikiah intends to kill her because her telepathy is impressive – none of their telepaths can crack her. Steven begs for her life but Jedikiah calls her a fugitive murderer. Steven begs him to strip her powers instead and even offers to give her the injection.

But when he goes in to Cara she says she’d rather die than go back to how she was. He appears to inject her and the glass vial on the hypodermic falls to the floor and shatters and she shakes and convoluses.

Later we see them on the tube, sitting opposite each other. When the train empties, she teleports next to him and speaks in his mind.

Seriously? Ultra just let her go? They didn’t check to see if Steven faked it? They didn’t just get one of their telepaths to TRY and read her mind and see if she could block them or not? Really?

We get a flashback to what happened – Steven stopped time and replaced the vial with saline and then Cara acted out the convulsions.

Back at the hideout, Cara tells John Steven saved her life – and she’s worried about Jedikiah ever seeing her using her powers since it will expose Steven. Russel is happy fawning at Steven’s awesome super power. Steven also gets a call from Astrid – Emily has disappeared and it’s the anniversary of her sister’s death – she’s worried about her. Steven checks with Tim and realises Emily intends to throw herself in front of a train – she rushes to tell John and Cara (john says it’s too dangerous but Cara agrees to go)

Emily pulls her car up to a level crossing and parks across the tracks, the bells already warning a train is coming. The three arrive and Steven thinks about using telekinesis to move the car but Cara runs ahead. She teleports into the car next to Emily. She talks to Emily tells her her sister wouldn’t want it, that it was an accident that this won’t make it right. Emily drives off the crossing

That seemed… awfully easy.

They teleport away before Emily sees Steven – but Astrid, in her own car, sees Steven teleport.

Emily returns to her home and worried parents and Cara reflects she never can. Steven asks what happened and she shows him, something she hasn’t shown anyone (not even John)

We see another flashback – the rapist she killed was the son of a very important man. When she returns to her father- shocking him with her ability to heal –he warns her that no-one will believe her. If she wants a life, she needs to go, to run. Her father gives her money and urges her to leave – but Cara hears his thoughts, hears him thinking “we’ll be better off without her.” She tearfully says goodbye to her little sister.

Steven goes home and finds Astrid waiting for him. She asks him if he has anything to say – about Emily. She tells him she saw him at the traintracks – and then him disappearing. He denies it – and she’s not impressed by him lying. She tells him she will discover the truth.

I have complained that the Tomorrow People is sloppy in its inability to make its world coherent or make sense – in fact it sometimes makes no sense in order to make the plot work; like all the guards at Ultra not even carrying tasers let alone guns, for example, or the super computer the Tomorrow People apparently have. We have another example this episode – keypads. Keypads are wonderfully secure locking devices but when you have an organisation with a significant number of mind readers and when your enemies are also mind readers they make zero sense. It would actually be more secure to use biometric details locking. Or a card that had to be scanned. Or a freaking KEY.

But these doors can be opened with a keycode because it was necessary for the story – it’s the only reason.

Also, isn’t the substance they make their buildings out of supposed to block powers? It blocked teleportation – but not telepathy? Despite Steven having an Ultra-given telepathy-blocking watch?

Am I being nitpicky? Taken individually, yes, I am. But collectively we’re in the third episode of the very first series and already the show’s playing fast and loose with its world building, bending it to work the narrative. It’s sloppy

For a brief 5 seconds I thought we were actually going to see a disabled character on the show – and then she was magically cured by the woo-woo. And becoming even more gross with the whole “I’d rather die than go back”. Sure part of that is losing her powers, but her being deaf seems very much a part of it as well – and being deaf is not worse than dying.

I don’t buy the whole idea that everyone would turn against the paranormals. Curiosity, nervousness, certainly – but loathing even from loved ones?

I’m glad Astrid saw Steven, she may become a more involved character now. And Russell needs to do something other than fanboi Steven’s time stop power.