Some good decisions, mostly to reinvest thoughtfully in references to season one (even as the tone has markedly changed for season two) pay off this week. One of those was hiring Djimon Hounsou, who showcases a solo tour de force for most of the episode, with a few poignant pas de deux with cameo guests. The show has finally realized it has two thousand years to play with, a lot of time in which nearly anything could have happened. We see some of those things this week in pointed flashbacks, and while it may be all we see (with only three episodes left) it also suggests stories yet untold.
Starting in 2014, when they built their cryogenic facility in the mountains, Christopher James Mitchum was tasked with being the caretaker for the chosen few (some willing, some kidnapped) through the ages. Luckily there were no earthquakes or natural disasters threatening their rocky retreat, for how would one man have coped with those? No, all the disasters he witnessed were clearly man-made, as he watched society fall. In twenty year intervals. For 2000 years until 4014.
That’s basically 100 days awake, little more than a season, but as radio broadcasts move from increasingly desperate to silent, he’s coping with apocalypse and tragedy all alone. The concept is ridiculous yet kind of profound, more sci-fi than fantasy for once, and Hounsou is the actor to experience doubt, to long for delayed connections, to venture out into a changed world in intervals and be shocked by what he finds. Jeff Thomas gives us a lot of information visually, showing Mitchum’s careful actions rather than having him narrate or tell us, and providing acting partners at crucial moments so we get dialogue instead. It works really well.
The fatal flaw here, expressed by Dr. Yedlin in the lab, is that Pilcher’s vision worked better in his mind than in reality. Mitchum woke everyone as scheduled, but the Abbies were not supposed to have survived the millennia. And yet they did, and Pilcher decided to occupy their territory forcefully rather than even attempt communication, or go back to sleep for another few centuries. He awoke to conflict, and it’s been conflict ever since. With Mitchum as the ever wary witness, poised somewhere between Cassandra and Tiresias as far as any heed he receives.
The other story this week is less poignant, but more violent. While Theo desperately tries to communicate with Margaret in the lab (and makes headway, as she clearly understands and does in fact make a request, not that anyone notices), Adam, Jason and Kerry involve themselves to destructive effect. Kerry is the only one using any sort of logic, as Adam acts on fear and Jason repeats his heinous act from season one, executing those he sees as problematic, this time the three male Abbies Margaret was striving to protect.
Yedlin takes his gun and keeps it, but only Kerry can talk him down from his maniacal sense of entitlement as the chosen leader. Margaret already made clear that Theo (given fierce logic and conviction by Jason Patric) is her choice of leader.
Maybe it’s just, what happens to Megan, though how sad to see Hope Davis go, as she was the acting powerhouse that justified so many tragic mistakes so far this season. Her true believer zeal blinded her to so much she doesn’t even see the obvious attack coming, or even really feel it when it happens. But there’s little doubt she deserved her fate.