The Fades Episode 5 Review

THE FADES: Wednesday 19th October, BBC3, 10pm

It’s the one where:

• Paul is all better and coma-free.
• The school comes under attack by the newly flesh fades, led by John/Polus.
• Paul discovers a cool new power.
• Natalie is eviscerated.
• Everybody legs it out of town.
• Mac gets kidnapped by Neil.
• Sarah is reborn.

After last week’s breathtakingly tense episode, where we saw John/Polus (as I’m going to be referring to him a lot, let’s call him J-Po for brevity’s sake) snacking his way through the town’s citizens like middle class white couples chomping churros at a street food market in East London, Sarah begin her transition from fade to rebirth and watching Paul die, seemingly betray the Angelics and then experience a last minute resurrection just before he ascended (in one of the most spectacular moth and butterfly-based scenes I’ve seen on TV all year) you would think The Fades would allow the viewer to take a moment and process this battery of plotlines. If this was an American supernatural drama, we would have a nice filler episode right about now, perhaps a throw-away story where the local swim team turn into big monster fish men or something. Fortunately we live in the ruthless, unflinching (and budget restricted) TV landscape of the UK and episode 5 keeps up the frenetic pace and doesn’t miss a beat when ramping up the already considerable threat.

A fully healed Paul is now out of hospital and while his miraculous recovery is only briefly touched upon (I suppose questioning why her son’s insides had become a lepidopterist’s wet dream was the last thing on Paul’s mum’s mind) during a particularly touching and funny dinner scene which has more fanboy sci-fi references than you can shake a sonic screwdriver at, the subject isn’t dwelled upon and the focus soon turns to the increasing number of general populace suddenly going missing in their normal suburban town.

This week the malevolent threat is finally brought out into the open and the rest of the episode plays out like a ‘siege on the high school’ conceit utilised by the likes of Buffy (except with zombie ghosts instead of vampires and no dodgy giant CGI snake in sight). Everyone gets in on the action, with history teacher Mark, his ex-shag from the first episode whose name I forget, Jay and two Angelics kidnapped and beaten about the head a bit, Anna getting handy with a fire extinguisher, Paul’s powers coming into fruition (finally) and Mac getting to touch a pair of breasts (of a living person thankfully).

The latest instalment maintains the suspense that has been building throughout the season and there is always the sense that no character is safe from death or a creepy cocoon rebirth. The answers are starting to unfold and plotlines are starting to be tied up (like what is the point of Mark) and moral dilemmas are raised, such as J-Po confronting Paul in the final scene and quite rightly pointing out that he gives people the chance of a second life, whereas Paul can take that life away. It’s a convincing argument that understandably shakes Paul’s moral stance, unless he thinks closely about the fact J-Po mutilates and eats live human flesh. And the creepiest moment of the entire episode? Sarah’s extremely visceral rebirth in the bath tub. Brilliant but yucky.

A few questions still remain unanswered as we hurtle towards the season finale: Are the tremors a portent for the coming apocalypse? How exactly will J-Po bring about the end of all things? Did Paul manage to avert his prophecy dream where his friends and family die? What is the full extent of his powers? Will Sarah be on the side of good or evil and will Neil stop her if it’s the latter?

Until next time: nanu nanu.