The Fades 1.04 Review

A tv review article by: Kelvin Green, Paul Brian McCoy

Up is down and black is white as Paul's family and friends struggle to cope in the aftermath of his accident. Meanwhile, the Angelics are torn apart by moral compromises and a strange new man with deadly intentions moves relentlessly through town.

The Fades aired Wednesday nights at 9:00PM on BBC Three and now airs Saturdays at 9:00 on BBC America.

Paul: Well, after last week's stumble I have to say, Episode 4 of The Fades won me back in a big way. I'm even good with pretty boy villain after this one.

Kelvin: I have to agree. They pulled it back with this episode, and while I'm still a little disappointed that they abandoned the original design for the villain, they've added enough in to make him more interesting than before. There was a lot going on this episode, and some questions answered too -- although not the big paradoxical one about the Fades eating flesh.

Paul: I think they did an effective job of that, actually. We knew that touching people hurt them, with Paul running through Natalie and exploding her in a burst of sparks and all. With this episode they expanded on that, with the pain of the contact actually causing a bit of damage. And the results of that damage, over torturous time, allow for the beginnings of physical contact.

I liked it.

Kelvin: Yes, it's an explanation of sorts, a fuzzy one, but that might be the best we get. I'll let it go, but there's a hole there still for me.

I did find it interesting that World War II seems to have created the Fades. I suspected something similar when we met the older Fade in the earlier episode, but I thought it might be linked to atomic explosions.

Paul: That's the sort of link I would have made.

Kelvin: I seem to recall something about nuclear weapons causing supernatural interference somewhere else; maybe The Invisibles now that I think of it.

Paul: I can't remember. I'm about due my semi-annual Invisibles revisit.

Kelvin: I think Oppenheimer's tests set everything off as I recall, but it's been a while.

Paul: I would have tried to tie the end of ascension to WWI, actually, now that I think of it. But we'll see if there's an actual causality to it or if it's more arbitrary than that.

Kelvin: I got the feeling that it was due to the vast number of deaths at that time; the pipes got clogged, as it were. The servers became overloaded. So yes, WWI would have made sense.

Paul: That's what I'm thinking too. Or more particularly, it could have something to do with the nature of the deaths. Where WWI was battlefield specific, but with WWII you've got the mass murder angle.

Yeah, that probably makes more sense in the context of the story.

Kelvin: Yes, the First World War would seem to be a more obvious choice, so one would assume that they have something specific to WWII in mind. You've got the Holocaust, you've got nuclear weapons; lots of new, specific ways to die.

Paul: I think one of the things I liked the most about this episode was how believable each side's stories are. I really don't know who to trust or what's true anymore.

Kelvin: Yes, it was interesting to see that The Villain has got a legitimate grievance. It doesn't make him any less of an evil-doer, but he has a good point, and it may be that he was forced onto his path.

Paul: Unless he's lying. But it seemed very plausible.

Kelvin: Yes, he could be lying, but it's a plausible one, which is a sign of the good writing, I think; the Angelics have been shown to be flawed, so we can easily believe his story.

Paul: That's part of why I was able to buy his story about the origin of his flesh-eating.

Kelvin: It's interesting because if a more friendly, less militant Fade had made the discovery, or the Angelics hadn't been bastards about it, the whole conflict may not have arisen in the first place.

If, as you say, he was telling the truth.

Paul: I think there's a lot of truth in the story, just not the whole truth. Joe Dempsie's performance was very effective at selling it. I was especially taken with the slow development of his bodily control, which I assume was helped along by the continued killing.

Kelvin: Yes, he did a very good job of conveying that slow return to physical life. I also liked how he changed his clothes with each kill.

I'm reminded of that bit in The Terminator where the soulless machine stops for just a second to arrange its hair in the mirror. A little bit of vanity in the midst of the implacable evil.

Paul: After looking him up online, I'm more interested in seeing how he portrays this character. I didn't know he was in This is England '86 and Game of Thrones (as the bastard son of King Robert).

Kelvin: Oh, I vaguely recognised him; it must have been from Game of Thrones.

Yes, the character is more interesting now, so I can deal with the loss of his more overtly evil appearance. Although we did see it in flashback this week. His ultimatum to Paul lacked weight, I thought.

I'm probably overthinking things again.

Paul: That flashback did a lot of good for me, better establishing the rules of the Fades. Well, that and Sarah losing patches of hair and her fingernails. Much more effective than the old Fade we saw earlier. For someone who was supposed to be the oldest Fade around, he didn't look too bad.

Kelvin: Yes. Although some of the rules are a bit fuzzy. Why can't Paul just jump off the roof?

Paul: That was my question! He's dead! The fall won't kill him.

Kelvin: If they can't open doors, then that implies that hitting the ground wouldn't hurt.

Paul: Of course, if you think that out far enough, you have to wonder if "hitting" the ground at speed might not send them tumbling through the earth.

Kelvin: Yes indeed. It's probably best to ignore such questions, but given the Fades' interaction with the physical world is so key to the series, it's a little annoying.

Paul: Or maybe John's threat was just a bluff? Who knows?

Kelvin: Yes, it may have been. Paul has been shown to be not the sharpest knife in the drawer, and he had just died, so was a bit distraught. So maybe he wasn't thinking straight. That'll do.

Paul: He did then proceed to take a known murderer into the lair of his friends/allies on a promise.

Kelvin: Yes, definitely not the sharpest.

Paul: Agreed.

Kelvin: I was pleased to see that Mark's arrest was swept away this episode; I was dreading them dragging that one out.

Paul: Thank goodness!

Kelvin: Although I'm not sure why they bothered with it in the first place.
Mark remains the weak link in the show. He seems to exist to prompt Sarah to do things, but the writers could arrive at the same point without him, I think.

Paul: Hopefully it's in there to drive home how lost the police are in this situation. Maybe that desperation will play into the finale somehow. And it certainly does prompt Sarah to do things!

Kelvin: As she says this episode, she was already considering taking flesh beforehand, so they didn't need Mark crying on his bed like a teenager.

Paul: I think she was probably lying about that. Rationalizing her motivations away.

Kelvin: Yes, you may be right. Still, they could have done away with Mark and had that connection be someone within the Angelics. Same destination, less boring route.

I'm pleased that they're bringing Sarah back into the main plot; I like Natalie Dormer, and I was worried that she might have been a (relatively) big name cameo for the first episode and that would be it.

Paul: True enough. I loved the gruesomeness of her determination. Although I did wonder where the Fades of the other Angelics were.

Kelvin: Yes, another good question! Perhaps there's a delay in their appearance. Maybe.

Paul: Seems likely. We haven't seen anyone pop up next to their dead body yet, so that stands to reason.

Kelvin: Paul appeared quickly, but he's a special case.

Paul: There was Neil's whole, "I was wondering when you'd show up" to Helen's Fade.

Kelvin: Yes, it's been established. I hope the Angelic Fades do turn up next week though, as I'm sure they'd have something to say about Neil and Sarah's plan.

Paul: Seems like they might jump at the chance to come back as immortal Angelics. I certainly would.

Kelvin: Neil would brush them off, I'm sure. I liked how dismissive Neil was of Paul's Fade; he'd immediately moved on. He's a likeable character, but he's cold.

Paul: But this weaponizes them.

Kelvin: Yes indeed. It ups the stakes in an interesting way. And if resurrected Fades are immortal, a clash between them is exactly the kind of thing which could leave the world in ruins, as seen in Paul's visions.

Paul: Oh shit. That's a helluva point.

Kelvin: It potentially puts the series into apocalyptic superhero territory. Miracleman-style.

Paul: I hadn't thought about that. Very nice.

A question I have about the resolution of this episode: Did Paul's resurrection have anything to do with the piece of his twin's soul that was snatched, or is it like the Angelics said, and they had nothing to do with it? Did he bring himself back to life?

Kelvin: I think it's the latter.

Paul: That's what I was thinking, but then it makes the whole twin sister point kind of moot.

Kelvin: I think their plan failed, but it kicked something in him.

Paul: I'm hoping for more development there.

Kelvin: Yes, I was thinking that they may have sacrificed her to save him, tying back into her earlier comment about her mum choosing Paul over her.

Paul: I was worried about that.

Kelvin: And also tying into how cold the Angelics can be, although these two are the nice ones.

Paul: Ha!

I'm hoping this creates some sort of connection between the twins, especially given how prominent Anna is in the promotion. Surely she's more important than the just being the bitchy sister. With a newly dead boyfriend.

Kelvin: Yes, now she's seen what's going on, there has to be a change in her role. I'm keen to see what their mum thinks about it all too!

Paul: The hospital scenes really brought out the best performances of the series so far. Every single actor brought their A-Game to this one, particularly Daniel Kaluuya. I might just start calling him Mac instead of Tealeaf.

Kelvin: Yes, lots and lots going on in this episode. Plenty of action and drama, and questions answered, but the thing I'm taking away from it is Daniel Kaluuya's performance. I think he stole the show.

He remained true to the character, but showed us a whole new side to Mac. He's not only the funny one; he seems to be the heart of the show. It was heartbreaking to see Paul's mum turn on him in the hospital.

Paul: That it was.

Kelvin: If he doesn't get some kind of award for his acting, then there's no justice. I'm also very, very nervous, as I suspect they're going to kill him off because he's the heart of the show.

Paul: He deserves something better than a role in the new Johnny English film, that's for sure.

Kelvin: Ye gods, yes.

I thought it interesting that they carried it into the recap bit at the beginning. These little snippets I'd taken to be out of continuity, as it were, because Mac was talking about things he couldn't know, as a viewer rather than a character, but here he was clearly distraught by Paul's accident.

Paul: I love the recaps. Especially the "nanu nanu" endings. That's clever.

Kelvin: Yes, I can't imagine that anyone in the intended audience has any idea what that's about. The last time they showed Mork and Mindy here must have been at least ten years ago, I'm also wondering if the DVDs he talks about tie in to the episode in some thematic way. Why The Wizard of Oz this time?

Paul: I hadn't thought about it. Surely some sort of "no place like home" reference?

Kelvin: That's what I'm thinking. I'll pay closer attention next time.

Paul: Although in this episode both he and Anna end up over the rainbow along with Paul.

Kelvin: True, true.

So yeah, it all came together very well, and more than made up for the previous episode's weaknesses. And to be fair, developed one of the previous episode's few strengths, that being the relationship between Mac and Paul.

Paul: Yeah, this was definitely the best episode yet. I can't decide whether or not to go all in with 5 bullets or hedge my bets with 4.5.

Aw, what the hell. I'll go 5 stars. There was nothing I didn't like about this one.

Kelvin: I had some very minor issues with it, so I'll go with , but that's only because I'm picky and hard to please.

Paul: That's why we love you.

Kelvin: Ha! I also suspect there's better to come, and I look forward to seeing it!

Paul: I hope so! This has quickly become a must-see for any fans of the genre.

Kelvin: I agree. Now I'm saddened that there are only six episodes. I hope it comes back for a second series.

Paul: I don't see how it can't.

Kelvin: Unless the story has been written with a definite end -- there is an apocalypse on the way after all.

Paul: Given how tenuous the continued success of Being Human is, I'd say BBC Three would definitely want to keep this on the schedule, just in case.

Kelvin: Yes, it's definitely as strong as Being Human, and better at times, so it's a good backup. Particularly as the post-Twilight vampires and werewolves bubble is going to burst sometime.

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.

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