Yes, this episode took me quite a long time for me to post my review. The new episode airs in less than six hours, and I’m just now sharing my thoughts on last week’s episode. That’s because what I have to say about last week’s episode isn’t pretty. In fact, last week was my least favorite episode to date. But before we get into that, we’re going to recap what happened.
Charlie and the gang come across a group of children whose parents are all dead. Turns out, their parents were rebels and Miles was most likely responsible for killing them. So they head off on a magical journey to rescue the kids’ leader from a slave ship where children go in and soldiers come out. Charlie infiltrates the facility and ends up being branded. The first thing I have to say is how wonderful it was that Uncle Miles did not show up in the nick of time once again to save her. Just when things looked bleak for our plucky heroes, the lighthouse magically turns on, proving enough of a distraction for them to get the upper hand. So, now Miles knows about the pendant, and the first thing he wants is for Aaron to hand it over to him. To destroy it. Am I the only one thinking Miles might not necessarily be on the up and up here?
On the other side of things, Danny and his mom are reunited. Danny doesn’t understand why his mother is being so utterly complacent about the entire thing. Monroe tries to get one of the other pendants through torture and blackmail, and we get the start of how the Blackout happened. Long story short, Rachel sold a project she was working on that could stop the electricity in exchange for Danny to have a greater chance of survival.
One of the things that made me fall in love with this show was how anti-cliche it was, but I feel like with this episode we have stepped on to the slippery slope of cliche, and the writers might not necessarily be able to be back off it. First of all, we have training facilities where children are “reeducated” into being proper soldiers through torture. What sort of miserable brainwashing is this? Oh, right, the part that says the best way to make your audience hate your villain is to have them kick the dog, or in this case, torture young adults into submission. Because clearly everyone that had the tar beat out of them is going to be a loyal, lifelong servant of the Republic. Yup. Then there was the whole torture the family member kerfluffle. Because we all know that’s what the bad guys do, right? Just in case you forgot, we’re going to lay it on extra thick this episode. What hurt the most was watching Kripke talk about this episode like it was the most brilliant thing he’s ever written when it was actually just one tired cliche piled on top of the other.
Here’s the other thing that bothers me about this episode. The show started on a premise that it turns convention on the head. Danny, for instance, becomes the damsel in distress and the hero has a bit of a sketchy past. (But don’t worry, he’s still a good guy once perfect little Charlie gets to him.) And they completely derailed everything in this episode. Ben and Rachel, the doting parents of our innocent little protagonists, are actually responsible for more death and destruction than the Monroe Republic. So, in order to maintain that they are the good guys while Monroe is the bad guy, we have to make Monroe even more evil than he was before. The more the death toll of innocents climbs for Rachel and Ben, the more despicable Monroe needs to be. But Monroe can’t actually be that evil, because these doting, loving, sacrificial parents welcomed him into their home. But while they receive justification for the horrible things they did, he remains a faceless, pastless villain whose crimes keep racking up with no end in sight. That, my friends, is a slippery slope to vanilla and suckage. The show ultimately becomes just another sci-fi drama you’ve seen before with no fresh meat to whet the appetite. There’s still a few more episodes before the break. Hopefully the writers can get this back on track before it’s too late.