Well, they got me. After last episode’s seemingly reductive, overly saccharine stumbles, I thought I’d figured out how “Resident Alien” was going to be closing out season two. I was wrong on most counts. The arc I was most hoping would get some resolution does—it’s something they’ve literally been putting off half the split season, so it’s long overdue. Given how recurring guest stars drifted in and out, I wonder how much Rona shooting affected things.
Everyone’s back for this episode, even if they’re just background. One scene promises a Jenna Lamia and Diana Bang friendship, which ought to get a whole episode to itself. Alan Tudyk’s also got a character development arc, which isn’t particularly easy because he’s playing an asshole alien who’s cagey in his narration about himself. Thanks to the script—credited to series creator Chris Sheridan–Tudyk can get past it long enough; it’s a powerful sequence given who’s inciting the revelation.
Without getting into the big spoilers for next season, how the episode “works” is where I was most wrong. I thought it’d be a reset point for the series, what with Tudyk rescuing his alien baby and “adopting” the almost thirty Paul Piaskowski. While those characters play into things, it’s not for reset purposes. It’s for ongoing narrative things; “Alien” doesn’t wind down to prepare for its next season; it revs the engine. Three to five revelations, double agents, double-double agents (maybe not), and unexpected alliances. The episode has to race through montages to get the setup done.
There’s great acting from Tudyk, Sara Tomko, and Corey Reynolds. Reynolds has more than a dozen four-star one-liners and blathering monologues. It’s so many they’re either doing it to distract, which isn’t impossible, or they just needed to use all the room’s great lines before the end of the season or something. Regardless, Reynolds is hilarious. He also gets a character development arc, supporting deputy Elizabeth Bowen, who should get a bigger one but doesn’t exactly. Bowen’s excellent, and so is Alice Wetterlund, but they both get a little less than it seems like they should.
Because the episode’s too packed with Tudyk’s full realization of the evil grey alien plan and the cosmic repercussions, not to mention the fate of planet Earth.
The episode’s also got a fun framing device, even though it raises some timeline questions.
While the episode ends on many an ominous note, it’s settled enough; waiting for next season isn’t going to be an antsy thing.
Also, last thing—Robert Duncan McNeill again directs. Last time I accused him of Capricorn. This time, there’s no Capricorn, and he does a fine job. Though distracting with Capricorn also might’ve been the point….