Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Tomorrow People, Season 1, Episode 18: Smoke and Mirrors

The Founder has taken over Ultra and declares to everyone that they will no longer hunt Paranormals, that they were blessed beings who needed to be part of society and it was all the evil evil evil Jedikiah’s fault. In future new breakouts will be educated and told to behave and released!

I’m impressed – I thought Stephen “undercover” was the most ridiculous attempt at subterfuge on this show, now they’ve topped it! Seriously no-one can possibly believe the Founder here.

Meanwhile John is angsting over having killed Cassie which he rapidly gets over when he makes out with Cara when Stephen interrupts them. AND HE COMPLETELY BELIEVES THE FOUNDER HAS HAD A CHANGE OF HEART

Oh for gods’ sake! Someone get me a bottle of something at least 30 proof, because there’s no way I’m getting through this episode without it.

Anyway, we have a new breakout using his powers to do magic tricks in the street. Hillary takes this to the Founder with Stephen and the Founder is being creepily nice – wanting to be called by his first name and his door is always open – is anyone (except the not very bright Stephen) actually buying this? Stephen then has a little hissy fit at Hillary and now he chooses to be cynical about the Founder when it gives him the chance to get on Hillary’s case – but he was defending the guy to Cara and John. They have a bet on whether the Founder can be trusted or not

And Stephen is ambushed by Jedikiah for a meeting. Jedikiah wants help bringing down the Founder, Stephen point out that Jedikiah was the one with kill squads. He says the Founder plans to kill millions of humans and he needs Stephen’s hardly-ever-used time stopping ability. Stephen isn’t ready to jump to Jed’s team.

Hillary and Stephen go out for a drink and see Monty’s act (hey, anyone remember Stephen is supposed to be 18?) and track down the break out – though Cara (for once making sense) points out they are actually risking the life of a very harmless Paranormal just to test whether the Founder is telling the truth or not (or, more accurately, they’re risking the life of a paranormal to test whether the founder will reveal his evil now or later). Cara and John decide to intercept. So all four of them get to see Monty’s act and Cara insists that she and John sit with Stephen because… because… because forcing socially awkward scenes that could expose the Tomorrow People to an Ultra agent is funsies?

Hillary ambushes the magician after the show, slamming him into a wall (new caring Ultra still includes abductions) – and Cara does the same to her. Hillary and Cara fight. John and Stephen watch until Stephen points out they have to fight or Hillary will realise something’s up. In the end, Cara escapes with the magician.

While Jedikiah visits Stephen’s home - Marla is out, only little brother Luca is at home. Of course, in keeping with ridiculous family habits, no-one has told Luca about anything. And Jedikiah is carrying a gun – because he conspicuously checks it.

When Stephen returns home – with Astrid who has been called by Jedikiah – Luca is bemused because Jed has spilled the big secret. He’s done it expressly to risk Luca’s life with the big secret to force Stephen to play with him. That’s it – hold him down, let Astrid do the stabbing. Jedikiah then puts a gun to Luca’s head. Hell, Jed, never mind Stephen, Marla’s going to tear you into itty bitty pieces. Stephen knocks the gun out of his hand. Luca is duly freaked out and runs out, Astrid following him

Stephen commences the savage beating Jedikiah deserves; even going so far as to strangle the man until the anti-murder pain kicks in.

In Tomorrow People HQ, Cara explains that the reason why she nearly blew Stephen’s cover – she is willing to risk Stephen’s life to prove the Founder is evil. Because… yeah she’s Cara and isn’t fit to lead a game of crazy golf (yes there are no teams in crazy golf. She’s still not fit to lead it). John is feeling all guilty about the Founder because of the daughter murder thing. And Monty the magician is all very sad because his super special abilities are shared by other people and being able to move things with his mind and teleport is just boring and mediocre if a dozen other people can also do it.

Back at Ultra, the Founder is moping about his daughter and the threat of humans (who haven’t really being a threat except as members of the organisation he Founded, it has to be said). And Hillary bustles in with a “let’s wipe out the Tomorrow People” pitch. Because that really fits with her character development of wanting to do good and Ultra’s supposedly changed ethos. The Founder casually exposes Stephen’s “ties” to the Tomorrow People and asks him to arrange a truce – but he needs the new breakout.

Yes Stephen believes him, yes he tries to convince Cara, yes, it gives me a migraine dealing with this foolishness. And Cara has decided that Stephen has been compromised by being attracted to Hillary… what? Just… what? Stephen puts that down to Cara being jealous which is also silly but also the only explanation that comes close to Cara’s sudden leap of logic.

At Ultra HQ, Stephen is worried about Luca not returning his calls and, since he sees a tactical team setting out, he worries and has Hillary look for him on facial recognition in their super computers. But no the tactical team is just there in case violence is necessary in bringing in a street musician.  And tying him in a chair and being ready to drug him. They do – then let him go asking him to keep his tricks plausible.

Um… did that really require the whole tactical team, the drugging and the chair? And what was in the needle? This is ridiculous. The Founder can’t even answer these questions – just that they should trust him (injecting unknown substances into people)

And Jedikiah hacks Tim to get a message to John to save humanity and someone “dear to both of them”. Roger (and Stephen who will die trusting the Founder along with everyone else). He takes John to Roger’s body but he needs Stephen to bring him back but unfortunately holding Stephen’s brother at gun point just rather drastically failed as a persuasion method. Astonishing how that works.

Hillary finds Luca, delivers him to Astrid who passes him to Stephen. Things are awkward between them

And Stephen, wearing just his underwear, gets a visit from Hillary who declares her the winner of the “be my slave for a week” bet. Which means sex of course.

John runs to Cara with the news about Roger and they need to find Stephen – so she teleport’s to Stephen’s house in time to mentally eaves drop on them having sex (well, CW-style grinding underwear together). Cara returns to the HQ in a huff, deciding they’re losing Stephen to Ultra.

Later, Stephen has a late night meeting with the Founder who reveals the injection was a tracking device – he shows a computer full of all the Paranormals he’s been tagging and releasing showing there’s over 200 of them in New York alone.

Ahem, ok better than murdering them but are we supposed to see injecting tracking chips against their will as progressive? Really?

And he wants Stephen to lead them to the Refuge. Wherever that is. Using the special machine Roger built (a power amplifier) – and then destroyed because Jedikiah is EVILLLL.

Going to the Refuge needs a portal – and to do that you need someone who can stop time. And Stephen, being an amazing fool, agrees to go on a test run (which requires shirtlessness, of course)

Stephen goes to a dreamy type zone where he can talk to his father. He starts to say something ominous about the machine but then Stephen is dragged back to the real world.

The Founder as a good guy. No no no no no. He wasn’t some absent boss – he was involved in the organisation on several occasions. We saw him have someone killed when working on his little telepath search machine. Jedikiah was clearly utterly terrified of the man and struggling under his control. This was all blatant! There is no way anyone can believe all the bad stuff of Ultra was Jedikiah’s fault! How can anyone buy this for a second? Not just Stephen, but anyone – the guy never kept his actions secret!

There is NO REASON to trust the Founder or Jedikiah. This isn’t an either/or choice here.

However, while John and Stephen are both ridiculously wrong to trust the Founder – Cara deciding to just shatter Stephen’s cover because… what? Spite? Pique? Childish tantrum? That’s pathetic. Cara has been an utterly awful leader for her stint as boss but this is a new record even for her.

John angsting over killing Cassie may seem a lot like the classic “ooh look convoluted angst” since it clearly wasn’t his fault and protagonists/main characters beating themselves up for bad things out of their control is common in fiction to prove how good and pure they are(and the fact the Founder can use telekinesis to throw a bullet from him to someone else begs just what the limits of this “no murder” clause is). But it could be so much more, assuming you extrapolate on a lot of things Tomorrow People has hinted at but utterly failed to explore in decent depth. Paranormals can’t kill. It’s an inherent biological element of the Paranormals – and while too many characters look at John as a convenient killbot, there’s an undercurrent that not being able to kill is an ASSET of the species. That John, as a killer, is a freak, an abomination – a perversion of what they are. He is broken for lacking that limit, that inherent limit that, in some ways, is more fundamental to who they are as people than even their powers. In that room where Cassie died, John was the only person who even had the capacity to kill – because everyone was a Paranormal, inherently not murderers.

John’s ability to kill isn’t an asset – it’s an abomination, it’s a sign he is broken and part of him that goes against everything they stand for and will stop him from ever being a true Paranormal.

At least, if they had the gumption to explore it more, this could have been the element. But it’s only touched upon – and the whole not killing thing is not treated with anything close to the depth and fascination it should have!

I just cannot abide the ridiculous decisions these characters make. I am really past done with them – all of them. They’re ridiculous, the plot makes no sense, the characters make no sense and either everyone is being really clumsily retconned or there’s a lot of selective amnesia. You’ve heard that saying about how monkeys on typewriters can eventually write the perfect story? Well, this is one of their earlier attempts. If the moneys were drunk.