blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Resident Alien (2021) s02e01 – Old Friends

It’s been nine months since the first season finale of “Resident Alien” aired, and this episode picks up the following day. So, long enough I’ve forgotten who was doing what and where; other than Alan Tudyk finally free of Earth and his evil pursuers, headed into the stars, on his way home.

Only to discover kid nemesis turned pal Judah Prehn stowed away.

This season premiere starts with Prehn back home with mom Meredith Garretson and dad Levi Fiehler, who successfully defeated assassins last time and are now very into each other. Obnoxiously kinky on main, basically. Sara Tomko and Prehn have a great moment uncomfortably watching Garretson and Fiehler canoodle, with many other cast members getting similarly great moments throughout the episode.

Prehn knows where the spaceship crash-landed but not where Tudyk has ended up. The audience, however, knows he’s in the hospital somewhere (a nearby town, it turns out), and he’s got amnesia. But only of his cover story; he’s more than happy to tell everyone he’s an alien come to Earth to decimate the population.

The main action is getting Tudyk back home and back to normal—it’s a bumpy road to recovery, including a diversion into pretending he’s Jerry Orbach’s Lennie Briscoe character from “Law & Order Prime,” which is hilarious. There are several subplots, including Tomko and best friend Alice Wetterlund checking in after Wetterlund found out town teen Kaylayla Raine is Tomko’s kid. It’s season finale resolve material held over for the next season premiere, but it’s what happens when you’ve got big cliffhangers.

But the biggest subplot is sheriff Corey Reynolds’s investigation into Tudyk; he and deputy Elizabeth Bowen don’t think he’s an alien monster, of course, just a serial killer.

Lots of great acting. Tudyk gets numerous showcases thanks to amnesia, then Tomko and Reynolds both get subtle and profound arcs. The stuff with Garretson and Fiehler’s hilarious. Also really funny—as always—is Gracelyn Awad Rinke as Prehn’s friend. Rinke’s actually superfluous, but she’s so delightful it doesn’t matter. Kind of like how Gary Farmer seems a tad extra—very, very welcome, but he’s mostly around for the one-liners, even when he and Tudyk have a nice bonding moment.

“Resident Alien” doesn’t seem to be suffering any sophomore slump—there’s a little more CGI composite shots than before, presumably because of COVID-19 restrictions—and the cast is strong as before. Especially Reynolds. Tudyk, of course, but it’s his show. Reynolds has always quietly walked off with “Alien,” but even more now, since he gets to share his scenes with Bowen instead of crowding her out (due to character hubris, not Reynolds’s performance).

The episode—script credit to series creator Chris Sheridan, directed by Robert Duncan McNeill—also makes sure to check in on the friendship between Tudyk and Tomko after the latest developments have settled, including her knowing he’s a genocidal alien invader.

Last thing—great cameo from Nathan Fillion. He only does a voice, but his timing opposite Tudyk’s so outstanding it’s an even better performance if they recorded asynchronously.

Season two’s off to a fine start.

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