This is where we really get a feel for whether or not this is a successful adaptation of Arthur C. Clarke’s classic novel, Childhood’s End. Whereas the first episode captured the feel and explored the thematic issues of the novel, this second episode goes off-book and I’m not really sure why, especially when the novel had a perfect three part structure that should have formed the backbone of the miniseries. A minor character from the first episode, Peretta (Yael Stone), returns here, four years after Karellen (Charles Dance) revealed himself to the world. Unlike the novel, we don’t really see any other members of his race and for all we know, he’s the only giant devil monster on the giant ships hovering above the Earth. Of course that’s not the case in the novel, and perhaps here it’s just a shortage of funds that keeps them from introducing other characters from the Overlords’ race. On the other hand, it’s more likely a way of shorthanding the story and compressing the hundred years that pass in the novel to the 15 or so that have passed in the series. I can’t help but feel that this is a problem with the miniseries. The novel allowed for the passage of time to smooth over the transitions between stories, whereas here, we’re forced to follow the same characters over a limited number of years. Although we do get a new set of characters this week, they would have benefited from having more time devoted to establishing just who they are and why they’re important. Doctor Doom himself, Julian McMahon, suddenly appears in this episode as a character who seems important, but we’re never really given any reason why he’s important – other than he’s been providing live animals to the Overlords for the creation of an interstellar zoo. Which, of course, creates two contrasting possibilities for the final chapter: either it’s a Noah’s Ark (as is mentioned by characters in passing during this episode), or maybe the Overlords are evil and we’re going to end up in their zoo. Both of these interpretations are contrary to the source material. The opening of the first episode, with Milo in the wreckage of Earth, claiming to be the last man, suggests that these are both feints and the finale will stay true to the novel. So essentially what we have here is a second episode that, due to the perceived requirements of the TV miniseries, has begun to spin its wheels exploring side plots that have nothing to do with the characters or narrative of the novel. Pretty much every narrative thread in this episode is original (or at least swerves from the source material in fundamental ways) and serves to distract from the purposes and themes of the novel. While it’s sweet that Karellen makes Mike (Mike Vogel) sterile to save him the pain of being a parent in whatever mystery is to come (readers of the novel know exactly what he’s talking about), it’s contrary to Karellen’s character and really just serves to provide a distracting emotional side-story that doesn’t go anywhere anyway. And the arrival of Peretta and the absurd plot point of killing Karellen with a shotgun – which forces Mike to sacrifice the SPECIAL CURE FOR HIS CANCER, SPECIFICALLY DEVELOPED TO SAVE HIM, SO HE CAN INJECT KARELLEN AND MAGICALLY SAVE HIM FROM THE SHOTGUN BLAST – is just fucking stupid. It’s a narrative cul de sac that ends the only way it really can, with a pointless suicide meant to emotionally echo an earlier plot point introduced for no reason other than to help justify the inclusion of this one. It’s a serpent eating its own tail of meaningless time-filler. At least the subplot of the Greggsons and their creepy-ass children has some relation to the source material, but fracturing the original storyline to introduce them here is awkward and forced; especially given that rather than actually explore the dreams that Tom (Lachlan Roland-Kenn) is having, we instead just use it as a way of implying that maybe the Overlords are evil and come from a real Hell. Sigh. There really isn’t any reason to alter the original timeline, except to make sure that we have the same characters in every episode – because modern audiences aren’t sophisticated enough to follow a story that spans a couple of generations, right? Again, the structure of the novel makes all this easy. Yeah we follow different characters for the most part, but those characters each get their own arcs and while Clarke isn’t a master with developing characters, he did give everybody sufficient backgrounds and relationships to help move the themes of the story along. Essentially this entire episode is devoted to plot points that are either entirely original or take the source material and twist it so far beyond recognition that they serve as polite nods to Clarke’s novel and don’t have any sort of logical reason for inclusion except as fan service. For example, the entire scene where Amy Greggson (Hayley Magnus) accesses the sci-fi ouija board has no direct relation to the novel except to demonstrate that the writers here feel the novel needed some ridiculous updating that is no less absurd than the paranormal subplot of the source. And ooh! Did you see the glowing eyes on that baby? Scary, huh? That big devil guy must be evil! Essentially, Childhood’s End is a dumbed down but very accessible interpretation of the novel so far, with this second installment being far inferior to the premiere. With any luck, the third chapter will bring us back around to the philosophy and intention of the novel without wimping out and undermining the point of the whole endeavor. Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.