The Fades showed much promise when it debuted last month. Like all good sci-fis (or whatever this new BBC3 show wants to label itself) there were more questions than answers initially, but after two hours, the mystery was on the brink of becoming plain old confusion. So the third episode was just the game-changer we needed. What a difference another two hours has made..
Exposition isn’t usually something in short supply on TV these days, yet timing is everything. Last week’s episode ended with Paul getting hit by a truck and the angelic killer gaining a new body ala Arnie in Terminator 2. Yet rather than letting up, this new tempo was maintained as we delved into this living ghoul’s backstory. After tracking down a brain-dead Paul’s fade (genuinely moving bedside scenes by the way) and remembering how to talk without sounding like someone on the verge of a whitey, he made some strongly-worded accusations..
During his intriguing origins tale, in which he explained how he died during the Second World War at the age of 22, he accused the angelics of failing to help the fades stranded on Earth and abandoning them to their pain. “I was trapped for 60 years in a body that continued to age and rot,” he says. “Not nice.” You can say that again mate! So we begin to see why these spirits who failed to ascend tend to get ‘shitty’ with the rest of us.
Admittedly it’s hard to take these allegations at face value after he tears apart the Angelic’s HQ, but maybe Neil and his crew aren’t the good guys after all? They’re certainly not winning any PR battles with their own little Abu Ghraib torture bolt-hole. They say that the truth is the first casualty of war.
There was also another little interesting idea mixed in with Paul’s rooftop tete-a-tete for those listening carefully (or in my case watching twice). Before breaking into the lamentable story of his wife, the angelic killer introduced the idea that the fade phenomenon may have actually started during the war. “With so many of us dying the ladder got broken..” he mused. Should we add yet another entry to Hitler’s epic list of crimes against humanity? Everything’s his fault if you really think about it anyway.
Following an excellent second act, this episode delivered another crashing finale. You almost expected Neil’s mate to start quoting Yoda when he heard about Paul’s twin sister.. (“That boy was our last hope” – “No, there is another”) ..but what they actually wanted to do was use Anna to bring Paul back to life at the moment of his ascension, with a little help from a mirror. As such the gasping climax was something to behold.
But it was Neil who got all the best lines this week, most of them spoken in exasperation and at volume. “Superman is dead!!” he tells his colleagues after they discover that Paul is in a coma. “Am I a good man?!” he asks Sarah after his prisoner is rescued. The answer of course is yes. As long as you’re not watching This Is England..