It’s a team-building episode with some big-scale wackiness—big scale—and a little romance thrown in. Plus, Jes Macallan (who also directed) and Adam Tsekhman trying on wedding dresses. The episode doesn’t spend much time on any one set of characters—they’re either paired off or grouped together—and while it’d be nicer to have more time with, say, Tala Ashe and Nick Zano, it works. Especially since the main action revolves around a round of bowling.
Caity Lotz, Dominic Purcell, Olivia Swann, and Lisseth Chavez end up in an intergalactic bowling alley where they have to play the league champions (and possible New Gods) for the fate of the human race. Except everyone in the place appears human because alien bowling alley owner Alvin Sanders, who’s supposed to be adorable and is enough, just loves the bowling alleys of Earth and the aesthetic.
After fumbling around Sanders as a wise character for a while, he eventually gives Lotz a pep-talk, and it captures bowling well. The episode’s about minor problems with major consequences. Purcell’s mad at Chavez because she likes bowling and he doesn’t, while Swann’s a pissy tween (I really hope it’s intentional on her part because she’s great doing it) who’s never been bowling before. Lotz is a great bowler and isn’t sweating it.
On its own, it’s okay but not really enough. But with Ashe and Zano feeling the real-world repercussions of the game while on a romantic camping trip gone wrong, it gets there. Ditto Macallan and Teskhman’s dress subplot. The only lacking story is Matt Ryan and Shayan Sobhian; it’s all about Ryan doing evil magic drugs and lying to Sobhian, who’s happy to hang out with his sister’s boyfriend. If they’re played it straight, the awkward hangout, it’d have been fine. But Ryan on the evil magic juice—and only thinking of hiding it in his flask in the last fifteen minutes—it’s not great. Ryan’s not doing the bad thing well. Hopefully, he improves since it’s the only rising drama for the rest of the season; Lotz and crew were tracking down the last rogue alien, which is probably resolved thanks to the bowling thing too.
Zano and Ashe’s arc involves them trying to reconnect after their time apart—this version of Ashe, who gets the phenomenal nickname “Flannel Zari,” usually lives in a, well, kind of a genie bottle situation. It’s all going well until the next campsite over is glamping Chad and Becky (Gavin Langelo and Jenna Romanin, respectively), who provide comic relief and dramatic impetus. There’s some excellent acting from Ashe and better Zano than we’ve had all season. Though… as always, am I the only one who remembers Zano grew up immunocompromised? Did it get ret-conned away at some point, and I missed it?
Anyway. Good episode. Hopefully, the Ryan stuff works out, and Macallan’s directing debut is fine work.
Also great “Star Trek” joke.