blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Resident Alien (2021) s01e07 – The Green Glow

Something seems off this episode. I tried to ignore it through the opening, which resolves the previous episode’s cliffhanger while also introducing another alien species to the show. The alien species introduction is solid, the cliffhanger resolution is not. In fact, by the time Elias Benavidez’s name shows up as the writer credit… well, it’s good Jennifer Phang’s directing. She can’t save it entirely, but I imagine it could’ve been a lot worse.

The episode manages not to give anyone particularly good material, with some of the cast getting far worse than others. Corey Reynolds, for example, not only doesn’t get to do any great comedic scenes but is additionally so static a character he becomes unlikable for the first time. Willfully cruel. Benavidez’s development on Elizabeth Bowen—deputy to Reynolds’s sheriff—also takes a nose dive. It’s like every plot point the episode needed to hit, it fumbles. Also Benavidez seems dedicated to failing Bechdel, pairing Sara Tomko and Alice Wetterlund for a series of nothing scenes where they talk about one dude or another, until they bring in a third woman to talk more about dudes. It’s a spin-out for Tomko as second lead, but given the episode also whiffs hard on new town doctor Michael Cassidy—he’s useless to have around the show seems to realize—nothing should come as a surprise.

Though the pairing of Judah Prehn and Tudyk—the titular Green Glow is something only Prehn can see emanating from Tudyk’s space ship materials—is delightful. Except it’s not Tudyk, it’s Keith Arbuthnot in the alien mask and presumably Tudyk doing a voice. But Prehn’s great. Even if his character’s a little bit too forgiving when Tudyk (or Arbuthnot) and Benavidez immediately flush some character development from previous episodes just to create three or four minutes of drama here.

The episode does really badly by the other characters who all happen to be women—Levi Fiehler gets to be a man’s man by being shitty to wife Meredith Garretson and the resolution to Elvy’s current arc as Tudyk’s wife should have her telling her agent to negotiate better. It’s rather disappointing.

The cliffhanger sets up what’s got to be the end run to the season (and potentially series) finale in a few episodes. The subplot with Linda Hamilton’s alien-hunting army general gets a lot of rapid, silly expository dump development—even though I don’t remember Hamilton actually having any lines, which would be a heck of a way to keep guest star costs down, nickel-and-diming SAG rules?

Or did something happen behind the scenes to result in such a big opening cop out?

Fingers crossed it’s just a bad script from Benavidez. Because otherwise, if the series is going to stall out so immediately and so badly… well, no second season is better than a garbage second season.

Three cheers for Phang though, especially her direction on the Prehn stuff.

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