Television & Film

Watching THE FADES is a Matter of Life and Death!

banner_recapTHE FADES
Season 1, episode 4: A matter of life and death

This review contains massive spoilers, including the images. You have been warned!

I’ve been in this same position several times and it really does feel just as awful as depicted.

We’re all born naked, after all.
Paul’s family and friends are grappling with the fact that he’s just been declared brain dead, while the Angelic-killing Fade Polus/John who has recently been reborn as a human has gone out looking for some new duds and a side of human munchies. John’s ravenous appetite creates a good amount of blood and death and throwing up, not always in that order. I don’t know why John has to throw up gunky bile every so often, but it is certainly a twist I did not see coming. Yet unexpected twists are the reason I like this show.

When the dead come to life and the living become Fades, who exactly is the enemy?
Everything Paul thought he knew up to now gets turned on its head once he “dies” and becomes a Fade himself. He meets John in person and learns the bad guy’s sad history from his own lips. The gospel according to John is that all the poor little Fades wanted to do was achieve ascension. When that became impossible and when the Angelics subsequently rebuffed them, they got a bit testy, that’s all.

Polus pre-rebirth. He got by with a little help from his wife.

“There was of course a dead bit. In between. I died for a bit. And now I live.”
But Big Bad John is just full of tricks. He quickly convinces a confused Paul to take him to the Angelics safe bunker in order to rescue his gal pal Fade Natalie. She’s is in the midst of re-birthing in the same chrysalis manner. Now that she can finally feel again, she’s finding it just as painful an experience as he did.

Not being able to intervene when your friends are being slaughtered really sucks.

“I’m immortal! This is better than I thought.”
All hell breaks loose, of course. Paul stands by helplessly as a firefight ensues and sees John getting riddled with bullets, yet the Big Bad does not die. Can he be even BE killed now? In a fascinating display of extremes, John savagely kills the Angelic guards in order to make his escape, and then tenderly carries away in his arms the newly rebirthed Natalie. They find refuge in a basement hideaway where several other Fade friends are seen in the chrysalis state. Is this a new army of immortals waiting to be reborn?

“I know who you are. You’re wizards, right?”
Who could blame a heartbroken Mac for going to look for his best friend’s ghost in his best friend’s old room? Bit of a surprise finding Team Two Angelic there, and even more of a surprise when they decide together that Paul’s twin sister may be the key to bringing him back from the dead.

“If you are there, I wish you weren’t.”
One subplot getting limited attention this week was the plight of incarcerated history teacher Mark. He’s finally cleared of his wife’s murder and released by the police. He’s now free to go home and continue talking to Sarah even though he can’t see or hear her, and she’s free to lurk and agonize over this implacable breakdown in communication. Plus, there’s the decaying flesh side effect. Ewww. This “dead” thing not being quite what it’s cracked up to be (no frozen-in-time ghosts in this universe, just slowly rotting shells of embittered humanity), she decides to depart and find her old cohort Neil. Sarah suggests a new battle strategy: she’ll start eating human flesh which will allow her to touch, and then infiltrate the bad guy Fades as a spy. Let the bloodletting begin!

You had to be there, I guess.

“I told you, I’m cursed.”
With the seconds ticking down to zero on Paul’s life support countdown clock, Team Two Angelic attempts to save him before he ascends by making use of a mirror and his sister Anna for the emergency soul transplant. It’s beginning to look as if Anna will finally move beyond her bitchy sibling role and step up to become a major part in this series. Of course, with only two episodes left, the writers don’t exactly have a lot of time to make that happen. I mean, it’s not as if they haven’t stuffed the first four episodes with an overabundance of plot, but some of the supposedly “major” characters do seem to have gotten short shrift until now.

When I come back I hope there are butterflies. Just not pouring out of my mouth.

But wait! Back in the hospital and against all odds, there’s suddenly a swarm of butterflies, heralding life’s return. What bizarre new dangers will this unexpected rebirth bring with it?

There is a wonderful melding of lighting, composition and music in this episode, which created some beautiful scenes, especially in the police station and the hospital. I continue to be amazed by the cinematography, and how much it adds dimension and depth to the series, almost as if it were another character. Keep it up, guys.

[Official Show Site at BBC America]    [Previous recap]

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