This episode has six plotlines going. Or maybe five and a half, since kids Gracelyn Awad Rinke and Judah Prehn kick off the A-plot, which has Sara Tomko suspicious Alan Tudyk’s alien radio is actually a bomb. The first scene has Tudyk trying to bully the kids into returning his silver alien ball—he’s only got the one left—and Rinke is suddenly convinced he’s got ill-intent with his new device.
So the kids warn Tomko, who decides she and dad Gary Farmer will accompany Tudyk to the transmission site to make sure he’s not going to nuke the planet. The site is on the reservation, so they all visit Tomko and Farmer’s family first; they’re celebrating the return of relation Tommy Puco. It’s never clear how he’s related.
Puco’s hilarious. Since the episode’s got so much going on, he’s only got a couple big scenes. His first one is opposite Tudyk and having an inevitably awkward conversation about belonging. Tudyk prefers spending time among the Native family on the reservation, finding them less obnoxious (and callously destructive) than the white people in town. It softens his resolve to save the humans and has him considering maybe he does need to destroy all human life to save the planet, after all.
Farmer’s got some magnificent scenes on during the reservation visit too. Because it’s Farmer, give him a scene, and he’ll nail it.
Then there are a series of sometimes interconnected subplots, starting with deputy Elizabeth Bowen getting interested in sheriff Corey Reynolds’s love life. Bowen will be in Reynolds’s subplot, Alice Wetterlund’s family subplot, and have one of her own running throughout–a dress she thought she’d lost turned up at the dry cleaners, and she doesn’t remember bringing it in.
Wetterlund’s got a flirtation subplot with charming baseball opponent Justin Rain, but we also get to meet her parents—Barclay Hope and Lini Evans—when she goes to Hope’s birthday dinner. She brings Bowen along because Hope and Evans are so awful to Wetterlund. It’s a quick scene in a quick subplot, but it turns out to be the episode’s best scene; lots of good work from Wetterlund, though it resolves real quick since it’s not one of the main plot lines.
The most significant subplot is Linda Hamilton’s return and the revelation new town doctor Michael Cassidy is still alive. Hamilton’s holding him captive as an alien in her alien jail. Mandell Maughan’s back as her faithful subordinate. While it’s a developing C-plot in the episode, it feels like a bigger plot since it’s returning special guest star Hamilton (and Maughan’s first time back this season).
Similarly, Meredith Garretson and Levi Fiehler have a purely comedic subplot about Fiehler’s rivalry with the nearby town. Sturdy comic acting from Fiehler, and then Garretson gets to do all the big work when the time comes. It’s real funny.
And I just realized there’s a whole sixth plot, not a half one, because the “kids” plotline isn’t just Tudyk versus Rinke and Prehn; it’s also got to do with Tomko’s relationship (or lack thereof) with daughter Kaylayla Raine.
The episode ends with a cliffhanger out of the comic series, which is a big surprise since the show has only used a handful of plot points from the source material.
There’s some terrific acting from Tudyk and Tomko, who gets some great scenes together—including one where Tomko’s got to maintain against an increasingly absurd, but also serious, Tudyk.
Good, packed but never too full script, credited to first-timer Timmy Pico (who’s had story editor credit before), and direction from Shannon Kohli. Kohli’s one of “Alien”’s most reliably strong directors at this point.
The show remains rock solid.