The Fades 1.05 ReviewA tv review article by: Kelvin Green, Paul Brian McCoy
Paul came back to life for a reason, but he's just not sure what that reason might be. Meanwhile, more Fades are being reborn and nothing can stop them. As they infiltrate the town, Paul's home life and Angelic life are put on a collision course.
The Fades aired Wednesday nights at 9:00PM on BBC Three and now airs Saturdays at 9:00 on BBC America.
Kelvin Green: I watched the latest episode of The Fades a day or so after it was broadcast, and I may have been affected by the buzz surrounding it, as I wasn't as impressed as everyone else seemed to be. I liked it well enough, but it wasn't a patch on the episode before.
I may have been spoiled by the hype.
Paul Brian McCoy: No, I don't think so. It was a step back from the excellent Fourth episode, shifting it into full-on Buffy Mode.
Kelvin: Except Buffy never shot lasers out of her hands!
Paul: True. But if she could have, she would have.
Kelvin: I'm sure she would.
There were a lot of bits about the episode I did like, however.
Paul: Yeah, the laser bit was my least favorite part, although that was mainly because of the effects. I like the concept to a degree. I do wish it wasn't a range weapon though.
Kelvin: Yes, the moment when Paul (Iain De Caestecker) put his hand through a Fade and killed it was effective; the hadoken less so.
Although I did appreciate Paul's reluctance to go into full fireball-chucking mode. He has the power, but he wants to find a better way.
Paul: Neil (Johnny Harris) shouting "Kill them all!" was a bit troubling.
Kelvin: Yes, I get what they're going for there, but I wonder if it's too much too soon. Unless they're trying to suggest that Neil has snapped and gone mad, but I don't think they're doing that.
Paul: Well, I think the events of the past couple of episodes have pushed him pretty far. As soon as he okayed the torture he was off the reservation.
Kelvin: True, they've established that he's gone to an extreme, but running around a school with a machine gun shouting "Kill them all!" is a bit beyond that even.
Paul: It worked for me. Especially given how desperate he is.
Kelvin: Also, I know they're busy, but the police really have nothing to say to Paul and Neil about the incident?
Paul: Yeah, that was a bit odd.
Kelvin: It was just a little tiny bit too much for me, although as I say, I get what they're going for.
I did like how the Fades put their nest right under the school though. And then took advantage of the crisis centre.
Paul: Yes. Nicely done.
And they're churning out Fades as fast as possible, aren't they? There's very little turnaround time now that they've figured out how to get it done.
Kelvin: Yes, it's gone a bit production line, a bit industrial. I wonder if that's a deliberate nod to something. I may be overthinking it.
Paul: Mac (Daniel Kaluuya) referenced The Matrix in the intro, but it seemed more like Lord of the Rings to me, with the way Saruman started cranking out the Uruk-hai.
Kelvin: I was thinking that myself. Tolkien was playing with industrialisation metaphors there, so perhaps that's the connection I'm making.
The threat under the school also reminded me of a great series called Dark Season, from a pre-Doctor Who Russel T Davies and starring a pre-everything Kate Winslet.
Paul: I've heard of that, but not seen it.
Kelvin: It's quite good, from a period when kids' drama could be quite edgy and scary.
I just realised that the sex, violence and swearing aside, The Fades is not too different from those old TV shows. And I'm reminded that, as a BBC Three show, The Fades is aimed at an audience not too much older than those older programmes.
I'm not sure if there's a point there.
Paul: There is. And Misfits, over on E4 (which returns this week!) is also aimed at the same sort of audience, so there's a definite correlation there to edgy youth programming.
About the only thing to compare it to over here, though seems to be the first couple of seasons of Buffy. That I can think of, anyway.
We didn't even have something strange and cool like Tripods, unless you count Land of the Lost, and you probably shouldn't (although that first season was amazing!).
Kelvin: Oh! I loved Tripods.
Paul: Dr. Girlfriend and I only just watched it a few years ago. And that was because I searched it out.
Kelvin: That new Noah Wyle show, Falling Skies, seemed to be Tripods-lite to me, from the premise.
Paul: There was a bit of that, but ruined by ham-handed moralism and a "save the children" obsession.
Paul: Apparently the US can't have any mainstream science fiction adventure without throwing kids into it. Poorly written and acted kids, at that.
Or maybe that's just the Spielberg influence.
Kelvin: It's almost as if they don't know who they're aiming it at. "Let's put some kids in there, just in case."
Paul: Gotta cover all the bases and make it unpalatable to the broadest possible audience.
The Walking Dead is pretty good at abusing the kids without any overt sentiment, though.
Kelvin: Yes, that's true.
Paul: But back to The Fades...
This whole episode felt much more like a Season Finale than a penultimate episode.
Kelvin: Yes it did a bit. To the extent that I wonder what exactly they're going to put in the final episode.
Kelvin: It seems as if they've either left themselves too little or too much to do.
Paul: We've got so many little cliffhangers I can't imagine how they plan to focus for the final episode.
I'm excited, though, and want to see it.
Kelvin: It's going to be frantic, for sure.
Paul: And I'll be glad to not have to wait a year for it.
Kelvin: Oh yes. It would be an excruciating wait.
I like how Mac has been put in the damsel-in-distress role after Paul's already rescued his girlfriend, Jay (Sophie Wu). I also liked how Mac read the situation perfectly, a benefit of his movie education, I'm sure.
I think he figured out what Neil was doing almost before Neil did!
Paul: I think there was a part of him that was kind of glad to play that role, to be honest.
Paul: Well, now he's not forced to evacuate with his father. He's at the center of the action, and while he's in danger, he'll be there with Paul when everything comes to a head.
Or at least, he probably sees it that way.
Kelvin: Yes, that's what I was thinking too. This way he gets to be at the centre of it all. Touching back to his plea to Paul in an earlier episode to not be left behind.
Paul: And it may provide him with a way to make up for "killing" him earlier. Sure, he's in the trunk, but he gets to look out for Paul this way.
Kelvin: I also liked the little moment he shared with Paul's sister, Anna (Lily Loveless). A little bit of thawing, that didn't come out of the blue because he's been chipping away at her all series.
Paul: Yeah, that was a nice bit.
Kelvin: I warmed to her a lot more this episode, perhaps due to her response to her zombie boyfriend: no screaming hysterics, just disgust and disappointment.
Paul: That was pretty well done. I agree, she's a little more than just the bitchy sister now.
I'm finally intrigued about Mark (Tom Ellis) and Sarah's (Natalie Dormer) storyline now that she's full-on Returned. That can't end well.
Kelvin: Indeed not, although I wonder what they're going to be able to achieve and resolve in one episode.
Paul: The fifteen year-old boy inside of me doesn't care so long as he can keep replaying that birthing scene.
Kelvin: Ha! I'm a little disappointed that Mark's plot seems to have diverged from the main story again, just after it finally intersected. Instead of getting involved in what's going on, he goes and mopes in his kitchen until Sarah turns up. Argh.
One would assume something happens that brings them back into the A plot, but it's more time-wasting if you ask me.
Paul: I'm afraid it may be, but surely there's something in the works? This has been a pretty well put-together piece of work and I'd imagine that Thorne has a plan for them.
Kelvin: Yes, well Mark knows what Sarah is now, and knows what they do, so as you say it can't end well.
Paul: Though, indirectly tying in to that point, I'm a bit confused by just what the End Game of the Fades is supposed to be.
Kelvin: Yes, I think it may be significant that Paul changed his vision of the future.
Paul: True. So if he can change that, then maybe the apocalypse can be averted. Although, I'm getting a real Hellmouth feel about the town.
Kelvin: Indeed, but as you say, what do the Fades want?
An ash-strewn wasteland doesn't seem to be what they're after. But then there doesn't seem to be much of a plan beyond "eat everyone", or maybe "convert everyone" as it seems to be now.
Which seem to be incompatible goals.
Paul: Right. Incompatible Goals. I wonder if that's what brings on the ashy wasteland. Or if that's an Angelic response.
I can't believe that the ash land is what the Fades want. Their whole purpose is to regain life.
Kelvin: Yes, Neil's nuclear option. If Fades turn to ash when destroyed, and Paul destroys them all in some Johnny Storm nova blast fashion, that would make a bit of a mess.
Paul: Hmmm. Could be.
Kelvin: I have to say, I did connect the two the first time we saw a Fade burning. They seem to want us to think that the apocalypse is caused by the Fades, but I suspect the twist is that it's Paul's doing.
Although that doesn't explain the weird volcano thing.
Paul: They really must get a Second Season.
Kelvin: Yes, there's so much still to explore!
Like that throwaway comment about Paul burning out the ascension point.
Maybe that's what the weird volcano thing is, a new ascension point.
Who knows? There's so much to cover in just one episode.
Paul: It would make a weird kind of sense, I suppose.
Kelvin: Yes, one would think this would be given more importance given the lack of ascension is what caused the Fade problem in the first place.
Paul: I can't see any way that one more episode can bring all of this stuff home.
Kelvin: So if no one can ascend, even if they are "chosen" then that means more Fades, and so on. Yes, far too much for an hour.
Paul: Hopefully it won't be like Being Human where creepy afterlife stuff is hinted at, briefly mentioned in the beginning, and then never heard from again as they move on to other stories.
Kelvin: I agree, although as you mentioned earlier, the writing is generally quite tight on em>The Fades, so it may not be a worry worth having.
Paul: I hope. Unless there's no Second Season.
Paul: I need an announcement, man! I NEED IT!
Kelvin: It seems that the BBC are not saying anything.
Although it's getting a lot of positive buzz.
Paul: I KNOW! I've yet to read anything negative. It's like Misfits in that regard.
Kelvin: Ah, after a quick online search, I see that Thorne has a three year plan in store for the show, so there will be unresolved bits.
Paul: Thank goodness! At least there's that.
Are you listening, BBC? We want more.
Kelvin: Although the flipside is a cliffhanger ending and NO NEW SERIES.
I will not be pleased if that happens.
Paul: I agree.
So this episode was another solid one for me, with the only thing really holding me back is anxiety about how they're going to wrap the season.
It doesn't seem structured to quite hit all of those dangling plot points.
Kelvin: I felt that they let their foot off a bit in this episode, but it was still strong so it's for me too, although I too worry about how much space and time they've left themselves for the final hour.
Paul: The more I think about it though, the more I like the daring of it, anyway. We get the big cliffhanger ending and then what is essentially an epilogue to set up things to come.
Kelvin: Yes, fingers crossed. A wobbly third episode aside, I have faith in this writer.
Kelvin Green erupted fully formed from the grey shapeless mass of Ubbo Sathla in the dark days before humans walked the earth. He grew up on Judge Dredd, Transformers, Indiana Jones #12, the Avengers and Spider-Man, and thinks comics don't get much better than FLCL, Nextwave and Rocket Raccoon. Kelvin lives among garbage and seagulls and doesn't hate Marvel nearly as much as you all think he does.
Paul Brian McCoy is the writer of Mondo Marvel and a regular contributor to Shot for Shot. His first novel,The Unraveling: Damaged Inc. Book One is on sale now for Kindle US, Kindle UK, and Nook, or can be sampled and/or purchased at Smashwords. He is unnaturally preoccupied with zombie films, Asian cult cinema, and sci-fi television. He can also be found babbling on Twitter at @PBMcCoy and blogging occasionally at Infernal Desire Machines.