There’s a bunch of great stuff in this episode but the big win is how it’s able to stare down mawkishness for the ending, song-accompanied “what have we learned” montage. Sarah Beckett’s teleplay finds the best sincerity is from the unlikeliest source—in this case Alan Tudyk’s genocidal alien—and even though the sequence starts in the danger zone thanks to the music, it ends up being fantastic.
Because this episode does whole bunch. It introduces a new, previously unknown character–Tudyk’s wife. The human Tudyk’s wife. The dead human Tudyk, killed by alien Tudyk who then assumed his form’s wife.
It opens in a flashback so we can see the meet cute between wife-to-be Elvy and Tudyk. It’s the longest we’ve seen the human Tudyk, who’s in an art gallery after his latest divorce, talking to his society pals about his latest forensic pathology successful; Elvy’s the waitress who catches his eye, though she’s got surprises of her own. They hit it off and five years later… now she’s soon-to-be the latest divorced wife.
Except Tudyk the alien has no idea what she’s talking about and skips out on her to resolve the other cliffhanger from last episode, involving kids Judah Prehn and Gracelyn Awad Rinke sneaking into his house to find evidence he’s an alien. It’s going to take a while, but the episode’s going to settle some of the series’s outstanding plot threads. Not resolve them but get them ready for the next developments. There are seriously like five obvious plot lines running here, maybe six. Beckett’s juggling of them is very impressive; even for the show, which always juggles them well.
No spoilers but the episode addresses and soft resolves… Tudyk and Prehn’s adversarial relationship (with some great acting along the way from Meredith Garretson as Prehn’s very worried mom), Sara Tomko hiding daughter Kaylayla Raine’s identity from everyone (including dickhead ex and baby daddy Ben Cotton, back for the first time since the first episode), the toxicology report on the dead town doctor who kicked off the whole show (which involves sheriff Corey Reynolds’s unrevealed backstory, involving dad Alvin Sanders, but also ties in Tudyk and Raine), and then Tudyk’s very pressing issue of Elvy wanting to reconcile the marriage and move into the cabin with him.
Plus Alice Wetterlund gets a character development subplot. So basically the episodes got an A plot, two B plots, and two C plots, while developing some series plots too. Like Tudyk’s concern for Tomko. The show never gives them too much time together, but there’s always this perfect check-in and this episode it’s even more perfect because it involves Tudyk menacing abusive ex Cotton.
But wait, Gary Farmer’s around too.
It’s all so good. There’s a little iffiness about using Sanders being a shitty dad explaining and excusing Reynolds but we’ll see. I assume they’ll make it work. They make the Elvy thing work in a single episode and they’ve done a fine recovery on Wetterlund too so “Resident Alien” can handle it.
Great performances from Tudyk and Tomko, but everyone’s good. Awad Rinke’s got a big part as peacemaker for Prehn and Tudyk and she’s awesome. Excellent directing from Jay Chandrasekhar.
I’m not sure this episode is better than the last one, but it’s close enough; “Resident Alien” is already exceptional and is still on the rise.
It’s also where I’m starting to get really anxious having to worry about a renewal.