The Fades 1.03 ReviewA tv review article by: Kelvin Green, Paul Brian McCoy
As Paul's powers manifest themselves, his friendship with Mac and relationship with Jay are pushed to breaking point. Meanwhile, a host of new Angelics arrive in town just as the Fades' plans evolve in a chilling new direction.
The Fades aired Wednesday nights at 9:00PM on BBC Three and now airs Saturdays at 9:00 on BBC America.
Kelvin: So, is The Fades still grabbing you? I have to admit, this week seemed a bit fillerish.
Paul: Episode Three was weaker than any so far. It had some very good bits, but it seemed strung together with a bunch of stuff that we saw coming or hoped they'd avoid. Along with some new stuff that I wasn't that impressed with.
Kelvin: Yes, we had the teacher being falsely accused, as predicted, but then we had the main villain -- still unnamed on screen, I think -- going into a cocoon and coming out all pretty, which made him at least half as interesting as before.
It seemed to lack focus.
Paul: At least half as interesting.
Kelvin: Yes, I'm not sure where they're going with that, but it doesn't strike me as an interesting direction. That said, it worked when they did it in Neon Genesis Evangelion.
Paul: I was hoping for something different. Something less well-worn. Less Supernatural.
Kelvin: Yes, I was expecting him to come out looking like Paul, but oh well.
Paul: Well, when Paul (Iain De Caestecker) saw him in his vision of the apocalypse, I thought he was Nega-Paul for a second or two.
Kelvin: Me too! So I expected to see him pop out of the cocoon, but no.
Paul: Yeah, the transformation from monster to pretty boy is extremely disheartening. I don't get that. Especially given how the other Fades look like they did when they died, just worn out.
Kelvin: Yes, and it was a little frustrating that there's no explanation of how and why the whole cocoon thing happened.
Paul: True. Hopefully we'll get something eventually.
I hate saying that over and over.
Kelvin: It was frustrating mainly because I'm not sure there will be answers. I get the feeling it's just been put out there, like the whole eating flesh thing. Which was put front and centre this week in the recap, but with no explanation of how they can eat to become tangible if they're intangible in the first place.
I shouldn't get annoyed by things like that, I really shouldn't.
Paul: That's exactly the sort of thing we should get annoyed by. Unless there's an explanation.
But so far, we're not getting anything, and in a six-episode series there's not a lot of time for that sort of stuff. Maybe with the torturing of Natalie (Jenn Murray), some answers will be on the way.
Kelvin: Yes, perhaps. The torture is at least an interesting move for the series.
Paul: Of course it comes with the inclusion of a bunch of new characters with no names or distinctions beyond broad strokes.
Kelvin: Yes. They were hinted at before, but the sudden introduction was a bit jarring.
Paul: Poorly handled is how I'd put it.
Kelvin: Yes, choppy in the extreme.
Paul: Although I was glad to see that Neil (Johnny Harris) survived. However unlikely it really was.
Kelvin: Yes, that was a good way to display one of Paul's powers and keep one of the more likeable characters.
Paul: I just had a problem with how long it took to actually bring Paul around. There's no explanation for why the Fades let Neil live, and until we get one, it seems like it's just a plot device to show Paul's powers to the other Angelics.
For some reason.
He should have been dead, unless he was intentionally left alive.
Kelvin: Yes, the plot mechanics are being laid bare here and there, and that didn't seem to be the case earlier on.
Paul: Hell, they should have been eating him when Ghost Helen (Daniela Nardini) found him.
Kelvin: Yes, it was a bit odd, and I can't tell what's lazy writing and what's foreshadowing any more.
Paul: I suppose it parallels the capture and torture of Natalie, but if that was the intent, it's kind of pointless beyond a generic "we're as bad as them" sort of theme, so far as we can tell.
There are better ways of bringing that point up.
Kelvin: Yes, I agree entirely. It feels a bit like we're falling out of love with this programme.
On the other hand, I really enjoyed the interactions between Paul and Tealeaf (Daniel Kaluuya) this episode.
Paul: That was strong.
Kelvin: Their relationship really works well.
Paul: Extremely well. The whole forgotten birthday was really well played, as was the Cyrano angle as Mac gets Paul laid.
Kelvin: Yes, and even though it's been done before, it felt fresh.
Paul: Which reminds me...So the angel wings were real? And just seemed to happen for no reason? What the hell?
Kelvin: Yes, and Paul can fly, but only offscreen, and neither Jay nor Mac think it's worth mentioning. Not a single "how did you climb up here so fast?"
Paul: Wasn't sure what to make of that.
Kelvin: Nor a "don't jump, you'll hurt yourself"
Kids today. They think they're immortal.
Kelvin: Ha! If only they had someone say that!
Paul: And sealing his sister's mouth shut! WTF?
Kelvin: Yep, that's just fine, apparently. Although I did like his mum's "do you want me to chase after you?"
Paul: That did make me laugh.
Kelvin: She's a good character too. I like her parenting style, desperate -- almost incompetent -- but well-meaning.
Paul: Yes. I wonder if they're going to make a plot point out of the fact that Paul has a twin.
Kelvin: I wonder. I suspect that Evil Pretty Boy will be making a move on Paul's sister at some point. It seems inevitable.
Paul: You don't just write a story about a Chosen One with a twin and not use that somehow.
Kelvin: Yes indeed. Did you read Fray, the Buffy spinoff?
Paul: Yeah. That was good stuff.
Kelvin: Yes, a good use of twins in that, I thought.
We're three episodes into The Fades and Paul's twin hasn't been much of a factor yet, so I'd hope they have something in store for her. As you say, the concept is ripe with potential.
Paul: What did you think of Neil serving as "translator" for Sarah (Natalie Dormer) and Mark (Tom Ellis)?
Kelvin: To be honest, I thought it was a bit rubbish. We've seen it all before, and this scene didn't add anything to it.
Paul: Oh I agree. I was just curious what you thought.
Kelvin: Johnny Harris is very good as Neil, but he couldn't make that scene work.
Paul: Seems Thorne is having trouble really breaking out of the clichés of the genre. Of course, with his history, it's no wonder the strongest parts are the teens hanging out and dealing with family and emotional issues.
Kelvin: Yes indeed. Recycling the old stand-bys can work if you can add something fresh to them, but that's not happening here.
In all honesty, I'd be quite happy watching a series about Paul and Mac surviving their last couple of years at school, without the supernatural stuff, although you'd have to find a way to work Neil in somehow.
Paul: That could be interesting.
Kelvin: Yes, the actors and writing could carry that. It's the selling point of teen horror the writing seems to be struggling with.
Paul: When your selling point is your weak link, something has to happen to pull it all together. I'm not sure if The Fades will be able to right itself. I was really not enjoying a lot of this episode, with bits of pleasantness here and there, but then we had that ending.
Kelvin: Yes, the ending worked well, but then it was entirely mundane, and that's what the series is doing well.
Paul: Hopefully that's the sort of trigger event that can force the overall story into focus.
Kelvin: Yes, I'm hoping that this episode was just a one-off, and we'll be back to business next time, as it really did seem like a drop in quality.
Paul: With any luck it was just a clumsy way of arranging the pieces for the run at the conclusion. I mean, when you've got someone who has prophetic dreams - even while awake now - what happens when he goes into a coma? What does he see?
And while it was extremely sloppy, we have a crew of Angelics on the scene now. Something has to come of that, right?
Kelvin: Yes, I suspect Paul crosses over and gets some answers to what's going on. And perhaps we'll get some answers to our questions.
Alas, I suspect the other Angelics are there to be eaten.
Paul: Hell, at least that's something.
Kelvin: True, better than sitting about in an abandoned building telling each other how much they hate each other.
Paul: I just hope we don't spend too much time sidetracked with Mark's arrest. It seems so peripheral.
Kelvin: Yes, predictable and pointless.
Paul: Especially with Neil all healed up now, there's no need to possibly make Mark Paul's new father-figure.
I miss the milky eye, too.
Kelvin: Yes, he's missing something, isn't he? I liked the dead eye.
Paul: My impulse is to go with a low score this week, but even with all the sloppiness, the good parts were really good. I think I'm dropping down to this time out.
Kelvin: I'm with you there. Even if the plotting was bad, and some of the new ideas look a bit wobbly, there's something really good in the way the characters' relationships -- particularly Paul and Mac -- are written, and that's enough to keep me watching. for me too.
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.