EPISODE REVIEW: Outcasts: “Episode 3” (Episode 3)

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Today (Saturday) we resume our somewhat infrequent coverage of the already-cancelled BBC series “Outcasts.” For those of you late to the party, the show takes place in the not-too-distant future (40 or 50 years) on a planet with the unfortunate name of “Carpathia” that looks and feels a lot like South Africa, upon which the last remnants of humanity attempt to build a new life for themselves after having fled a war that wiped out earth. Also: there’s a bunch of angry clones in the hills looking for blood, but instead of behaving like rational homicidal maniacs, they get all emo and introspective at inopportune times. If this sounds like “Battlestar Galactica: Season 5” you’re not alone. This mess is horribly derivative, most obviously of BSG, but of a bunch of other things as well, and yet the whole turns out to be less than the sum of the parts. (I mean, come on, it’s not like it would be even remotely difficult to do a knockoff of BSG that was *better* than the RDM version, right? Sheesh! Talk about plot erosion and bad writing!)

PLAY BY PLAY

Trix, a pretty blonde doctor lady that we’ve never seen before and will never see again, is talking to Cass about her impending wedding. We find out that they were a couple, but that Cass is kind of a playa’ and her new beau only has eyes for her. She then goes to see her betrothed, who’s one of the majority of the residents of Forthaven who’s primary occupation appears to be walking around in the wilderness with an intense look on his face, as though he’s just dying to find a sizeable bush that he can take a crap behind. They talk, and then he goes stomping off. He’s not mad at her or anything, it’s just his job to stomp.

Julius, the scheming dishonest religious fanatic, token American, and possible child molester, contacts the boss cop lady, who’s name escapes me right now. He tells her of a scientist guy who had been doing research on the “Whiteout Cycles” on Carpathia (Something to do with the two moons) and had predictions about dangerous stuff. He died in the destruction of the transport, but his notes found their way into Julius’ hands. He gives them to the cop lady, and asks for a second chance.

Boss Cop Lady gives the notes to Tipper, the stoner guy that she hit on in Ep 1. He normally runs the local pirate radio station, “Radio Free Carpathia,” which mostly appears to play the Sex Pistols and The Clash. (Yawn). Cassius Cromwell is sent out to bring him in, and Tipper reluctantly agrees to work on the problem. Alas, he goes into a funk and goads Cass into attacking him by bringing up how the man gutted one of the clones like a trout last week. Cass feels bad about this (Because he’s English) and goes to the bathroom to calm down, and Tipper slips away He locks himself in his room, and while live on the radio he goes manic and starts smashing his records. Trix and Cass bust into his room - he’s one of her psych patients - and they decide to take him to the bar to calm him down. This works, and he explains that as per the notes, there’s a huge white out storm coming, which will be the worst one ever, and they’ll likely all die.

The authorities are informed, and President Tate makes an announcement. Meanwhile Trix’s beau and John Q. Deadmeat head off to do some vague thing with “The Earth Beacon,” which is conveniently nowhere near Forthaven. Even on this side of the Atlantic, you can hear the groaning and the eyes rolling, can’t you?

MEANWHILE, Fleur takes the baby out to the Angry Clones, and has a cordial conversation with Rudy, the leader of the Angry Clones. Since I can’t remember anyone’s names or group designations anyway, and I’m just making them up at random, I hereby decide that henceforth and forevermore the Angry Clones are to be known as “The Rude Boys.” So anyway, they talk and fill us in on backstory, and though Rudy makes it very clear he wants everyone else dead, he likes Fleur. The baby was his kid, by the way. He walks her back to near the town so she’ll be safe from the storm a-comin’. Once back in the town she talks to President Tate about his decision to kill the clones, and he explains. He decides to come clean about the whole thing.

Tate announces the storm is a’comin’, and then gives the mic to Julius, who promised to give strictly secular words of encouragement. Julius immediately breaks his promise, and gives a swishy new-agey speech about “The Universal Spirit.” No one calls him on this, oddly.

The storm hits while Engaged Guy and Deadmeat are out at the Plot Contrivance Transmitter, and a hunk of it falls on Deadmeat. Engaged Guy tries to save him, but ultimately can’t. Cass heads out, and tries to save Deadmeat, too, but can’t. He and Engaged Guy head back to town, but the storm knocks ‘em out in a badly filmed, poorly lit, and very difficult to follow sequence in which Cass appears to be railing away at Got, but might be railing on about the poor showing Manchester United made that year for all I can tell. Rudy shows up for no adequately explained reason, and saves their lives, also for no adequately explained reason. He drops them in a Plot Contrivance Shelter that’s inconveniently located in the middle of nowhere, accuses Cass of loving Fleur, and then leaves.

Cass brings Engaged Guy back to town and turns him over to Trix, who patches him up, and they get married in the infirmary.

Meanwhile, Boss Cop Lady and her daughter bond amidst the disaster, and it turns out that this planet full of shell-shocked post-apocalyptic agnostics evidently liked Julius’ prayer, so Tate gives him a seat on the council. Tate, meanwhile, decides to tell everyone about his decision to murder clones five years before. This is very poorly timed and ill-advised.

Julius looks out the window and says “I’ll help you build something magnificent here,” and smiles in a way that couldn’t be more telegraphically evil if he had a handlebar mustache to twirl, and then we’re done.

OBSERVATIONS

Why is Radio Free Carpathia an illegal operation? They don’t appear to have an official radio station, so what’s the deal? So he’s playing 80 year old songs, who cares? This is just another example of an illogical plot contrivance.

The whole “Plot Contrivance Transmitter” thing was pretty annoying, too. Why is it in BFE? What’s it for, since we were told in Ep 1 that there’d been no communications from Earth or any ships in 5 years? What exactly did they do to it? They said they were taking the mast down or something, but later on we’re told “They brought back the transmitter,” like it’s the size of a Nintendo DS or something. The whole thing is just there to pad out the plot, made worse by that whole thing being tied to two disposable characters who are introduced and exit in this episode. It’s tedium amongst the ’who cares.’

We get our first decent look at “The Core” this time out. I’d noted before that the control room appeared to be the same as what we saw on the space transport. I’d speculated that the core of the city would appear to be a landed spacecraft of some sort, and that does indeed appear to be the case.

The nature of the Whiteouts is never really explained, but I’m told it’s got something to do with the planet’s two moons, and, again, this doesn’t make much sense. The moon on earth doesn’t cause dust storms. Carpathia has two moons, however two times zero equals zero, ergo it’s unlikely they’d produce dust storms either. And where’s the dust coming from, anyway? It generally looks pretty nice and green here, so the dust must be imported from *somewhere,* but where? Again: Plot contrivance.

In fact the whole “Big storm a’comin’” thing is a plot contrivance since it’s introduced and resolved in this one episode. I don’t have a problem with that one. Unlike Tipper’s radio station and the Transmitter, it’s just basically a plot, and it functions, though it doesn’t make a lot of sense. Primarily it’s an excuse to get people who flat out wouldn’t trust Julius to trust him, and give him power, and secondarily it’s there to let us see Tipper emote some about the family he left behind.

Vinyl records? Honest and for true? Ok, admittedly I’ve got some deliberately low-tech stuff in my Redneck Universe stories, but come on! These are refugees on Carpathia, coming in refugee ships. This dude had a couple milk crates full of records. Now, I’ve never evacuated a planet before, but I’d imagine it’s only slightly better than a shirt-on-your-back-is-all-you’ve-got thing. “Well, we could take this small child, or one of his sisters, but Tipper’s generations-old music in an extinct format is far more important.”

Evidently they don’t have radar in Forthaven. Certainly they don’t have cars. Why is that? They don’t appear to be energy-starved. Electric cars should be doable. Assuming you don’t want to lug that stuff along because it might break down, why not bring a few horses? We saw in Ep 1 that they have the ability to grow stuff from cells in a reasonably short period of time - pigs and whatnot - so why not horses? Granted, that would be disastrous for the thriving “Stomping around looking for a bush to crap behind” industry, but these are the kinds of concessions one must make in order to survive.

Rudy and the Rude Boys were cloned as adults.

Little bits of backstory we find out this week:
1) San Francisco was destroyed by an earthquake prior to the war.
2) The American Navy was a major presence in the UK, probably during the war, though this isn’t entirely clear.

Who put Tate’s kid’s juice cup outside the front gate?

Just to be absolutely clear: Both Cass and Rudy love Fleur.

It’s implied, but not said, that Rudy’s wife died in childbirth.

Why is Forthaven such a dump? They’ve got a reasonably stable population, they’ve been there ten years, everyone is skilled and educated and mostly young, there haven’t been a lot of new refugees, and they appear to have little to do, so why haven’t they built themselves a nicer place to live? What, they don’t have brick-making technology?

Speaking of not having much to do, I’m pretty sure Tipper should be working at some kind of manual labor, right? At least working in a kitchen or something. Instead he’s just lazing about all day. Isn’t this kind of a marginal frontier society on the edge of failure? Isn’t that a kind of “Work or starve” situation?

Nobody wears hats in this show. Coming from a sunny place, that strikes me as odd. You spend a lot of time outdoors in the wilderness, and you really need a hat.

WILL CONSERVATIVES LIKE THIS EPISODE?

There’s not really much here to like or dislike, but I’m gonna guardedly say ‘no’ because the bad guy is American and using Religion to gain power. Also, Cass railing against God isn’t nice.

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