Resident Alien (2021) s01e09 – Welcome Aliens

It’s the penultimate episode of the first season and it’s got a couple big cliffhangers. Not funny ones either, very, very dramatic ones, which might not be easily resolved in a single episode… and they might also greatly affect the second season.

So while “Resident Alien” is out of the the two episodes ago rut—excellent direction from Shannon Kohli this time, plus a good script credited to first-timer on the show Nastaran Dibai—the show’s not assured. The season’s backloaded with a bunch of rush-to-resolve. Who knows, maybe not dealing with these threads made the first half of the season stronger. Though there seems to be an entirely different set of writers.

Anyway.

This episode has Alan Tudyk recovering from last episode’s fall, with Sara Tomko taking care of him, and discovering he needs another part to repair his device. Luckily sort of pal and former nemesis Judah Prehn (I’m not sure if Prehn’s really good or just really well directed; it doesn’t matter here but he’s so effective) tells him where he can get alien materials—a UFO convention. Gracelyn Awad Rinke tags along with Prehn, leading to another great showcase for her.

Hopefully they’ll someday do an episode just with Tudyk hanging out with kids Prehn and Rinke, who until last episode were the only ones to know his secret. They’re really funny together.

Tomko tags along to the UFO convention—Tudyk’s on painkillers and can’t drive himself—where Tudyk offers commentary on all the various alien abductor races and so on. Lots of smiles and some laughs. Special guest star Terry O’Quinn eventually shows up and it turns out he’s able to see through Tudyk’s human disguise.

Meanwhile back in town, Alice Wetterlund’s got an arc about resenting Tudyk and Tomko for shutting her out after last episode’s daredevil rescue, which leads to one of the big subplots. It’s okay, but pairing Wetterlund with one note (character or performance, it’s unclear) Jenna Lamia for most of the subplot (eighty-sixing a far more interesting subplot sidekick in Kaylayla Raine, who’s actually got emotional involvement in it too) is a mistake. So qualified okay. We’ll see.

It doesn’t matter so much because the show is able to fix the Elizabeth Bowen situation. She’s still on the outs with Corey Reynolds, who gets to do a bunch of character development this episode before they get around to the fix. The fix is phenomenal, leveraging Bowen and Reynolds’s ability a lot more than the writing. Some great acting from Reynolds throughout the episode.

Then there’s another subplot for evil army intelligence people Mandell Maughan and Alex Logan hoodwinking unsuspecting Meredith Garretson and Levi Fiehler. It’s an effective subplot—Maughan’s onto Tudyk through Prehn and therefor parents Garretson and Fiehler—but the show is really overemphasizing Fiehler the dipshit husband. Garretson’s mostly support for him, when it’s been far stronger the other way around.

It’s a good episode and maybe they’ll figure out how to land it next time. But it’s hard to believe they’re not going to shove a bunch off to next season. Some outstanding acting from Tomko too.

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