The Fades 1.06 ReviewA tv review article by: Kelvin Green, Paul Brian McCoy
A town left deserted. An Angelic on the edge of desperation. A Fade on the cusp of victory. And a reluctant 17 year old boy with visions of the apocalypse - it all comes down to this final showdown. People will die. Ash will fall. It is inevitable.
The Fades aired Wednesday nights at 9:00PM on BBC Three and now airs Saturdays at 9:00 on BBC America.
Kelvin Green: I think I want to start with what I didn't like about the finale of The Fades.
Paul Brian McCoy: Okay, let's hear it.
Kelvin: Well, Mark's plot went absolutely nowhere, as expected. Paul's Mum and Mac's Dad disappeared four-fifths of the way through, and Jay's sacrifice was rather meaningless since she had about six lines of script in the whole series.
Other than that, I thought it was great.
Paul: Ha! And goodnight, folks!
Kelvin: Shortest review ever.
Paul: I agree with every point, although I was a little shocked that Jay was killed. Well, by how she was killed, rather.
Kelvin: I sort of knew it was coming. They had to get Paul into action, and they'd be idiotic to kill off Mac. So it had to be Jay or Paul's mother. Still, those were the only elements that didn't work for me. Otherwise I thought it was an effective finale.
Paul: I have to admit, it was only in retrospect that I was a little bothered with Jay's sacrifice or with the parents dropping out of the picture. But Mark's plot just fizzled.
Kelvin: Yes, it really didn't have anything to do with anything. It seemed to be there only to get Sarah to do certain things, but they could have figured out a way to do those without Mark.
Paul: It's almost like his story was included to appeal to the "adults" watching in the same way we talked about last week with kids being added to broaden the appeal.
Kelvin: Interesting point. You could be right. He's the only sympathetic adult male in the show. Neil's mental, Mac's father is a bit of a caricature and everyone else is a child.
Or an undead murderer.
Paul: Something for the single dads to latch onto.
Kelvin: Or the single mums to ogle.
Paul: Regardless, his story was a dead-end. I was really expecting him to be brought into the fold before everything was said and done.
Kelvin: Yes, he just hovered at the edges in his own little story loops.
Paul: They should have saved those for some sort of online series of mini-episodes.
Kelvin: I'm not sure it was compelling enough for that, even. Better off dropping him entirely, I would have thought.
Paul: Yeah, you're right.
Kelvin: Given our discussions last time about how they'd end the series, what did you think of the way they did it?
Paul: I loved that it zigged when I thought it was going to zag. I wasn't expecting Paul to actually reopen ascension. Or for Neil's paranoid fears to actually be true.
Kelvin: Yes, I didn't expect Neil's doom-laden prophecies to be true, either. I thought it was desperate ill-informed superstition, but no.
Paul: When the skies started turning red, I just started giggling to myself a little.
Kelvin: I did too. I half expected Green Lantern to show up.
Paul: That's two weeks in a row I was literally on the edge of my seat during the final quarter of the show.
Kelvin: I must admit I was laughing like an idiot at certain parts, because they were so ballsy, like when Paul jumps off the balcony and then... WINGS! LASERS!
Kelvin: As we were saying the other week, it makes most genre TV shows look boring. Can you imagine Supernatural breaking out the Holy Lasers? It's almost anime-ish.
Paul: Not Holy Lasers, but Supernatural can go some crazy places. It hasn't really done that this season, so far, but...
Seasons 3-6 really worked the whole Apocalypse angle and got a lot of good stuff out of it.
Kelvin: I suppose it was a bad example. I've only seen a few episodes, but I was touching back to what we were saying a couple of weeks ago.
Paul: But The Fades is easily in the upper ranks of TV Horror Adventure after just these six episodes.
Kelvin: Yes, it's about the best way I could imagine ending a series. Deal with the big threat, but make it so that it leads into another one, but without the silliness of an arbitrary cliffhanger.
Paul: Exactly! It makes me wish the season was longer, so they could have drawn out the conflict a little.
I was afraid getting rid of all the Fades would lead to something kind of bland, or the introduction of another type of monster, or who knows what. But instead, we get a ratcheting up of the danger level. Or so it seems.
Kelvin: Yes, my thought is that Paul's actions have upset the celestial bureaucracy in some way and the villains next time will be angels of some sort.
Maybe not, but it's great that it's not going to be more of the same.
Paul: True Angelics.
Kelvin: Yes indeed. "You don't mess with Ascension."
Paul: Hopefully that means that Ascension wasn't just arbitrarily closed off. That there was a reason behind it that hopefully we'll delve into next season.
Kelvin: Although, is Neil dead? That wasn't clear to me.
Paul: I don't know. He was in bad shape.
Kelvin: He didn't Ascend, but both Sarah and John said he was dying.
Paul: Well, he wasn't dead as it ended, so there's hope for bringing him back.
Kelvin: Well, he was either alive or an un-Ascended Fade. Either way, Mr. Mental should be around next series.
If there is one.
Paul: STOP SAYING THAT!
Actually, there's a Facebook page devoted to bringing The Fades back for another season. Go here to show your support!
Kelvin: Oh good!
What a downbeat ending it'll be if it doesn't come back!
Kelvin: Apocalyptic red skies and a wounded hero bawling his eyes out.
Paul: Did I ever tell you about how the crappy comic shop I was going to when Preacher ended didn't hold the last issue for me because the guy who ran the shop didn't seem to know there was one more issue? So I thought Issue 65 was the end.
You know, the one where everybody dies and it's horrible and depressing?
Kelvin: Oh wow.
Paul: It wasn't until I got the trades that I discovered there was another issue that resolved things much better.
Kelvin: Well, that was a pleasant surprise, I suppose!
Paul: I was surprised, to say the least. I thought that had been the worst, most nihilistic ending I'd ever read.
Kelvin: So were you going around talking about the depressing ending, and all your friends were looking at you oddly and wondering what was wrong with you?
Paul: Not too much. I was out of state in grad school and didn't know anybody else who read comics. It was before discovering Comics Bulletin.
I was alone in the wilderness.
Kelvin: "Jeez, what's so depressing about the hero getting the girl and riding off into the sunset? Weirdo."
Oddly enough, I have the last issue, even though I collected the series in trade. Maybe I have your last issue.
Paul: Once I found out about it, I tracked down a copy.
Just to satisfy that completionist urge.
Kelvin: I can't imagine what it would be like to just stop there, with everyone dead. Crikey. Your comic shop guy was a git.
Paul: Yes, he was. He was out of business when I went back for exams a year later.
Still, if The Fades does end here, at least Mac got a bit of a happy ending.
Paul: Yes, before the end of the world.
Poor Paul though.
A second season is going to be a bit odd, now that I think about it. No setting up normalcy or dealing with school or drama. We should jump right into Red Skies and Apocalypse.
Kelvin: Yes, it's a brave move. I like it though. I appreciate the willingness to throw everything out and start afresh.
Paul: I love it! I wish more shows had the willingness to take risks like that.
Kelvin: It makes me excited for the second series, because I don't know what to expect.
Paul: There's nothing quite as tedious as waiting around for things to kick off as the new season starts, when you know that it has to. Like the flatmates in Being Human acting like things are maybe going to be normal this year.
There's a sense of movement, of change. Even if Paul, Anna and Mac decide to do nothing, they'll be doing it in a weird post-apocalyptic landscape, and that's interesting in itself.
Paul: Yes! Brilliant!
Kelvin: I don't recall the last series I saw where they changed everything like they have done here.
Paul: Battlestar Galactica tried it with the jump forward in time, but it was really a way of providing a breather before restarting the traditional chase again.
Kelvin: Yes, and Being Human went through the motions with the end of each series, only to bring it all back within the safe circle again.
Paul: Babylon 5 built up the story from season to season nicely. Does that count?
Kelvin: Oh that's a good example. I forget B5.
Paul: But that also had an ongoing plan.
Kelvin: I suppose you had an element of it in Doctor Who when they grounded the Third Doctor and changed the format of the show, but even that's not quite the same thing.
Paul: True, true. Farscape played around with it, but things usually got back to normal before too long. They were mostly traditional cliffhanger endings, I guess.
Kelvin: The difference here is that instead of going "I wonder what's going to happen to X or Y?" I'm instead thinking "I wonder what's going to happen?" which is far more exciting.
Paul: I agree.
Kelvin: It's a more open question, and I hope the writing will be up to it.
Paul: Usually a cliffhanger is just plot oriented. This seems to change the basic nature of the show.
Kelvin: Yes, that's what I'm fumbling around for.
Paul: Supernatural commented on that when the Apocalypse happened and nobody could really tell. Things were just as bad as they always were, with just a slight ramping up of the disasters and death.
Kelvin: That doesn't seem very effective an approach.
Paul: It was clever and budget conscious. Plus it worked well thematically. They aren't shy about making metatextual comments about their own show.
Kelvin: Oh okay, I really need to give that show another chance, but it's never grabbed me.
Paul: The first season is hard to get through. Once the boys start getting sent to hell and returning, things really begin to get more textured.
Kelvin: I've seen bits and pieces of it here and there, but nothing that's made me want to come back and watch the next episode. It may be something I have to start from the beginning.
So, anything else about The Fades finale you want to discuss?
Kelvin: What did you think of John in the end? He seemed to lack bite as an antagonist as the story came to a close, but I think that's what they were going for.
Paul: He really didn't end up being much of a threat did he? Sure, he ate people and couldn't be killed, but he didn't seem to do much.
If Paul hadn't been intent on NOT killing him, he wouldn't have been much of a challenge at all.
Kelvin: Yes, but I think that was deliberate. They went to some lengths to show him as becoming obsolete, with his followers wanting to break away and Sarah brushing him off almost as a non-entity.
I don't know if it was effective, but it was certainly interesting.
Paul: It was interesting, yes. But I'm afraid it made him more forgettable than anything. Neil seemed to be the real Big Bad here.
Kelvin: Yes, it's something that I'll keep an eye on in a repeat viewing.
I could have done with some more reaction from John over his power and importance slipping away, but that would have meant less Mark moaning about his life. Couldn't have that, could we?
Still, I think they got the point across.
Paul: Got to think of that broader audience! Get them watching!
Kelvin: Ha! Stubbly teachers! Everyone loves them!
Paul: I can almost hear someone saying "It needs a broader appeal. How about a sexy teacher?"
Kelvin: Ye gods yes. Mark and his plotline get one bullet.
Paul: "But I've got plans for making John more threatening and complex..."
"Sod that. Think of the single parents who have to watch this with their kids! Throw them a bone!"
Kelvin: That's probably not far from the truth.
Paul: "Okay, dammit. But he's going to be on the periphery and his story won't amount to anything. That'll show 'em!"
Kelvin: And who suffers? We do!
Paul: Made for bathroom and snack breaks, anyway. Or, it will on repeat viewings, since I was still holding out hope that it would add up to something.
Kelvin: I sort of hope Mark does turn up in the next series, as I'll miss talking about how useless he is. Perhaps we should talk about him anyway, even if he's not in it.
Paul: Make up his adventures on the road during the Apocalypse? At least he found love. That wouldn't try to murder him while they made whoopie.
Kelvin: I was so expecting her to have been turned.
Paul: That would have been perfect! "I'm glad you decided to come with me." Then she eats his face!
It had an inevitability to it that alas was not to be. They clearly have plans for Mark. Or wanted to give him a happy ending.
Paul: I just don't know what to make of that now that it's all over.
Wow. This review has rambled all over the place, hasn't it?
Kelvin: A little bit, but we had lots to talk about. It was a good ending.
Paul: It was a very good ending. And hopes are high for whatever's to come.
Kelvin: Indeed. I can't wait for the second series, which is a bit of a problem, as there's likely to be quite a wait!
Paul: Yeah. That's something I've been trying not to think about.
Kelvin: This is the downside of the shorter series length. The longer wait between series.
Paul: The first season is supposed to air on BBC America in January, so maybe they'll be getting started around then? Fingers crossed.
Kelvin: Yes, it's done well here, so perhaps they're waiting to see what the US reception will be. I hope the Americans like it as much as I did.
Paul: I don't see how they can't. Luther's been successful over here, too. And Misfits. The Fades should be an easy sell.
Kelvin: It deserves to do well. So how do you score this final -- for now -- episode?
Paul: I have to go with . There were flaws, but the good more than made up for them. And the boldness of the ending helped make this something special.
Kelvin: I agree. for me too, for the same reasons. Such a bold and ballsy way to end a series.
Paul: Whether there's a second season or not.
Kelvin: Don't you start!
Paul: See what you've done!
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.