This episode allays sophomore slump concerns, maybe completely.
While there are still leftover plot threads from last episode and season, the show seems to be going full ahead with sheriff Corey Reynolds and deputy Elizabeth Bowen investigating Alan Tudyk as a serial killer. There’s a very funny moment when they confront Sara Tomko about it; however, she knows the easy explanation is he’s a formerly genocidal alien visitor but can’t tell.
Reynolds and Bowen’s investigation is the B-plot, but the show plays it more like a comedy plotline, where they’ve got to pose as a married couple to find out details into Tudyk’s past. But Tudyk’s an entirely different “person” now; the revelations would surprise him just as much as anyone else, which sort of figures in.
The A plot is Tudyk building a bunker so he and Tomko can hide out when his alien species sends someone else to nuke Earth. Tudyk’s now got a regular roomie—Nathan Fillion voicing a rescued-from-the-kitchen octopus (Fillion’s outstanding)—and so there’s constant banter. Tudyk still gets some great narration, including a lengthy bit during a diner scene with kids Judah Prehn and Gracelyn Awad Rinke. Will it ever stop being funny when Tudyk’s alien is super-shitty to ten-year-olds? Possibly, but probably not. It remains absolutely hilarious, especially since Rinke keeps up with Tudyk’s malarky, and then they both can laugh when Prehn’s behind.
Tudyk’s got to use his Starman balls to build the bunker. Prehn’s stolen one, and it’s having odd effects, but that resolution’s not in this episode. It does create some good rancor between Tudyk and Prehn, which Rinke doesn’t understand because Prehn’s lying to her about stealing the space ball too. The balls appear to have the same rules as Starman: The Movie and maybe “The TV Show,” where Tudyk can use it once to do something seemingly magical, but really it’s alien technology. One he uses to build the bunker, the other he saves for something else. There are four total, so there are two left. “Resident Alien”’s not wasting its time moving through them either.
After an awkward interaction with Tudyk, Gary Farmer advises Tomko she needs to get Tudyk caring about more humans than just her. The A plot then turns into Tudyk trying to bond with the locals, including a poker game against Reynolds, mayor Levi Fiehler (whose absurdist kinky sex subplot with wife Meredith Garretson gets back-burnered, but they leave the flame on), and some other folks, including nurse Diana Bang. Bang’s been in the show since the pilot or soon after, usually giving Tomko crap at the medical clinic where they work, but now she’s loose amongst more cast, and she’s incredible.
Besides being around for Tudyk’s bunker-building plot (though she knows nothing about it), Tomko gets the C plot, which is just she and Alice Wetterlund being best friends and figuring out how to support one another. Even though Tomko can’t dump all the secrets on Wetterlund (only dad Farmer also knows Tudyk’s an alien, well, plus the kids), the scenes give Tomko a space to decompress from the rest of her adventures.
Sarah Beckett gets the script credit. It’s excellent; lots of good jokes for everyone and peculiar character moments for Tudyk. Robert Duncan McNeill’s directing again and doing well. There are still some very CGI-looking backdrops, but the show’s also got an extended mountain lake boating sequence, which widens the scope for a bit.
And the cliffhanger’s good.
“Resident Alien”’s fantastic as ever.