The Fades 1.02 ReviewA tv review article by: Kelvin Green, Paul Brian McCoy
Neil goes underground to begin planning his fight back against the Fades and as Paul's terrifying visions continue, Neil takes him to see an ancient Fade, who foresees Paul's importance in the looming battle. Realising how high the stakes have become, Paul decides the upcoming school ball will be his big goodbye to his old life. Meanwhile, DC Armstrong continues to investigate the growing number of missing persons cases in the town, completely unaware that they are being slaughtered by the Fades.
The Fades aired Wednesday nights at 9:00PM on BBC Three and now airs Saturdays at 9:00 on BBC America.
Kelvin Green: Okay. I liked this episode more than the first, I think because the disappointment over the nature of the threat has subsided since last week. The episode seemed a bit tighter too, less haphazard than last time.
Paul Brian McCoy: Yeah. It's like the groundwork has been laid, so they can get moving with the actual story they want to tell.
And it doesn't hurt that the Fades have a hunger for human flesh. That's a nice change from your typical ghost story.
Kelvin: Yes, although that bit seemed a bit confused; they are able to interact with the physical world because they eat flesh, but how do they eat flesh if they can't interact with the physical world?
It's the T-Rex in the boat from Jurassic Park II all over again!
Paul: There was that and the comment that Neil (Johnny Harris) makes about the "ancient" Fade he takes Paul (Iain De Caestecker) to meet. Something about him continuing to age or something? That was odd. Or maybe I heard it wrong.
Kelvin: No, you heard it right.
Paul: Not sure what to make of that, really.
Kelvin: I would hope that the "rules" are just incomplete at this stage, and they're not just making them up as they go along.
Paul: That's my biggest fear. If you're introducing a new twist on an old concept, you really need to work out all the kinks in pre-production to make it work for the long haul. Or at least work out enough to get you through your first season, then build on that.
Kelvin: Yes indeed. I'm going to assume they know what they're doing for now.
You're right though. The Fades becoming more menacing added a lot to the episode.
Paul: This new menace is really the big mystery, so surely it's all in the cards.
Kelvin: It's good that it's not just the mysterious Boss Monster who has the ability and inclination to attack the living.
Paul: I assume we'll find out how that got started as we move along.
Kelvin: And I like how he corrupts otherwise innocent Fades by feeding them.
Paul: Although I suppose answers may be a little harder to come by now with what happened to Neil in the end there.
Kelvin: Yes, one would assume there's an origin story for the Boss Monster on the way, but if he turns out to be Paul's absent father, I'm giving up on the series there and then!
Aside from those little quibbles that will probably be explained as we go along, there was a LOT to like this week. Not only in the big plot developments, but in the smaller bits of character interaction, too.
Kelvin: Yes, I enjoyed the school stuff a bit more this week, as it seemed more integrated than last time, and Tealeaf stole the show a bit, I thought.
Paul: Agreed. Applying Star Wars logic to influence Paul's sister was a nice touch.
Kelvin: Yes, that was a very nice scene, and I liked the bit in the ice cream parlour too.
Paul: That was good.
Kelvin: I like Paul well enough, but Tealeaf has a lot of charisma.
I worry for his safety.
Paul: Not to mention an interesting family situation.
Kelvin: Yes, I was honestly quite surprised to discover his father's identity.
Paul: So was I. But it's a brilliant development from a writing standpoint, as it gives our main characters a closer connection with the hunt for the murderers of those two little gobshites.
Kelvin: Yes, it creates another link with the grown-ups' storyline, and about time too, as it doesn't seem as if the teacher's story is going to intersect any time soon.
And good use of "gobshite" there.
Paul: Which, I assume, will also pull them in with their History teacher as the series develops. And thanks!
Kelvin: I'm a bit wary of the teacher's storyline, to be honest. It looks like they're heading for a false accusation plot, and those are never very satisfying in serial form, as you're always just waiting for it to be resolved.
Paul: Yeah, I don't see it going anywhere else.
Kelvin: They might go with the unexpected and have him go down for the crime, but I don't think I've ever seen that. So we're probably going to go through him being arrested, going on the run, and so on, until he inevitably gets let off due to new evidence or some such.
I could be wrong, but I'm not looking forward to it.
Paul: It could get interesting, and work a little better, if we discover that Paul's dreams are actually visions and can't be changed.
Kelvin: Yes, it would create some interesting story possibilities. It would be quite nihilistic, but it's been a long time since there's been something of that sort. Edge of Darkness maybe?
Paul: If his dream of his dead family is something that has to come to pass, then i could see History Teacher playing a more integral part. Especially if we're talking about characters going on the run.
Kelvin: True, true.
Paul: Paul's determination to live a double life shouldn't work out well, given the narrative world Thorne has built up so far. This is bleak stuff.
Kelvin: Yes, I like how no one seems to be safe. This episode teases us with the deaths of Paul's friends and family -- although not Tealeaf! -- dismisses it as a vision, then seemingly bumps off his increasingly likeable mentor.
Although with an active afterlife, death is not that much of a hindrance, it seems.
Paul: I was a little put off by that, having grown to like Neil quite a bit over two episodes. But yeah, you're right. Being dead doesn't mean he won't still be around.
Kelvin: If he is indeed dead, now that Paul can seemingly heal the sick and resurrect the dead.
Paul: True that.
Kelvin: Which, presumably is what the Fades are after. A return to life.
Paul: Interesting. I didn't think of it like that.
I wonder if his healing power would reanimate them, or send them on to wherever the others ascend to.
Kelvin: Well, we know they want to return to the land of the living, but if Paul can literally return them to life, that might offer a nice neat compromise to the conflict between life and death, although this show seems too bleak to settle for a Matrix Revolutions type compromise.
Too cuddly by half.
Paul: Yeah, I'm just free-associating.
I'm not sure I'm all that interested in a horror high school series, so I'm hoping that we don't end up going that route. I kind of want bad things to happen. Even though it's nice to see Paul and Jay (Sophie Wu) get close.
Kelvin: Yes, I do worry that the Buffy influence might be a bit too strong. I'd love to see them follow through with the apocalypse.
Paul: I'm afraid we're seeing the construction of a new Buffy and her Scoobies set-up, with Paul, Mac, Jay and History Teacher fighting the supernatural from a base in the school.
They've even got Paul's twin sister to play the Cordelia part.
Kelvin: Yes, the talk of a double life in this episode does suggest that it's going to be easier and less bleak than perhaps either of us would like.
But that may just be the way they framed it, with references to Clark Kent and Peter Parker. Also, I loved the Alan Moore references!
Paul: That was great. You'd think there'd be a Morrison reference thrown in there, but oh well.
Kelvin: And quite right too; how dare anyone not know who Alan Moore is?!?
Paul: Dr. Girlfriend reacted the same way, with a "Really?"
Kelvin: Ha! Why the man doesn't have some sort of OBE or CBE yet, I don't know.
Paul: Given Thorne's other TV projects, I'm really hoping that the double life and Scoobies is all a bit of bait and switch. That he'll set it up to look like that's where we're heading and then pull the rug out from under us.
Kelvin: Yes, I hope so.
Paul: I like my TV Horror like I like my coffee. Black as black can get.
Kelvin: Although I do like how they're reflecting Paul's supernatural double life with Jay's social dichotomy; Buffy didn't really have that.
Paul: That's part of what gives me hope for the direction this will end up going.
Although, going back to the possible inevitability of Paul's dreams coming true, if they can save his family, that means they can avert the Apocalypse, so I can definitely see them going there. Keeping the high school elements intact, I mean.
But I'd kind of like a "'Salem's Lot" kind of series finale, to be honest, with a few characters hitting the road and living off-grid.
Kelvin: I'd like it if the world does end, and the second series -- if there is one -- goes all post-apocalyptic. Aside from Drifting Classroom it's an untapped sub-genre.
Paul: That would be awesome. But probably too expensive.
Walking Dead should be hitting some of that market this season.
Kelvin: Oh I don't know, they're doing the urban wasteland quite well as it is, with only the school and Paul's suburb looking in any way normal, so it wouldn't be much of a stretch.
Also, no one has superpowers in Walking Dead!
Paul: That's true.
Kelvin: Or wings, apparently.
Paul: The preview for this week looks interesting. I'm sure it's a dream, but I like what it's implying. Wednesday night can't get here fast enough!
This is a pretty good time to be a horror fan. Supernatural is back and hasn't missed a beat. Fringe is still freaky. The Fades is steadily impressive. And in the next few weeks we'll have The Walking Dead returning and the debut of American Horror Story on FX.
Kelvin: Yes, it seems to be heading into Vertigo territory, and I'm interested to see where it's going, although I'm always wary of angels in fiction, as it tends to imply the Judeo-Christian god. I'm not interested in that.
Maybe they'll just use the imagery.
Paul: Well, they are called the Angelics.
Kelvin: Yes, I'm hoping it's not literal; and if they are borrowing from The Invisibles, there's a good chance it's not.
Paul: I just realized that Neil mentioned how this whole "some souls don't ascend" thing started in the mid-Forties, which means something caused it.
Maybe Paul is the way of opening that up again.
Kelvin: Yes, 1946.
Paul: He's clearly special for some reason.
Kelvin: Yes, both sides want him for something. I hope the writers know what that something is, and aren't pulling a Lost!
Paul: They must have it worked out. The question just becomes how to parcel out that story.
Kelvin: Yes, and they seem to be pacing it well so far.
Paul: Do we linger in high school? Do we push up the End of Days? Do we save the world and move on to another threat?
Kelvin: I hope it's not the latter. Unless they have a really good idea for the second series.
Paul: At least with the BBC approach, we don't have to sit through 22 or 23 episodes to get our answers. Four more episodes and we'll know whether or not things are going to come together, and how.
Kelvin: Yes, that's one blessing of the shorter British TV series. I can't imagine how strung out it would be at a US length.
Paul: That's what kept me from being a Supernatural fan from the start. Too many meandering episodes that didn't really contribute to the overall story arc. But going back and watching the key episodes won me over.
Kelvin: It's what put me off Battlestar Galactica after that tight and focused opening miniseries and the short first series.
Paul: I can see that.
Kelvin: So yes, I'm enjoying the focus of The Fades, and I hope they hold it together for the whole run.
Paul: And how do you score this second episode?
Kelvin: I'm going to give it , as my niggles with the first episode have been forgotten.
Paul: I'm holding steady at , too. But I want more backstory and less high school shenanigans!
Kelvin: Yes, while it's a good Buffy pastiche, we want grim and gritty! Death and ash and bones!
Paul: And body parts hanging from trees!
Kelvin: Oh yes!
Paul: Ooh. Forgot to mention the return of Being Human US up there in that list of good TV horror. Although that's a few months away.
Kelvin: Hmm, no announcement on the original yet, although it tends to be later in the winter.
Paul: Was Bedlam any good? BBC America is showing it now, but I missed the first episode this week.
Kelvin: Oh gosh no.
Paul: That's what I was afraid of, reading the description.
Kelvin: You know that Canadian thing with the woman out of Stargate SG1 playing an English woman who hunts monsters?
Kelvin: That's better than Bedlam.
Paul: Oh dear.
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.