Last week’s engaging episode gave me reason to hope Outcasts had found its groove, but we’re back in the doldrums with “Episode Six,” a waste of time on nearly every level. When a show is already running on fumes after a half-dozen installments, it’s hard to mourn its premature demise.

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It’s always frustrating when the plot is largely dependent on the characters behaving stupidly, which proves to be the case this time around. Jack and the XPs, working in secret with Julius Berger, have set out on a clandestine mission to assassination Rudi, the leader of the ACs. Something goes horribly awry, and by the time the XPs get back to Forthaven, three of them are missing. One turns up badly wounded: Josie Hunter, a mother of three whose reunion with her children doesn’t go exactly as planned. They sense there’s something wrong with her, and sure enough, when another of the missing XPs turns up and accuses her of attacking the squad, Josie is arrested and tossed in a cell.

Elsewhere in Forthaven, the umpteenth ripoff from the Cuse/Lindelof playbook is in effect, as the last woman on the planet who has managed to get knocked up is set to deliver her child. Complications ensue, causing a familiar moral dilemma to arise: Should Stella and her team opt for surgery to save the baby, even if it means the mother’s life will be at great risk? After all, there may never be another child born on Carpathia, which would be a shame unless you’re one of the many commenters who thinks this bunch can’t die off fast enough.  After much hand-wringing and the usual useless counsel from Julius, Stella opts for the surgery.  Both mother and child pull through, but the daddy, who was part of the XP assassination team, dies. Ah, the circle of life.

As anyone who has seen a science fiction program before figures out long before anyone in Forthaven does, the Josie they have found is not the real deal,but rather some sort of evil duplicate. Since Jack is required to be stone cold stupid in every possible situation, he can’t begin to fathom this, so he’s almost responsible for the real Josie’s death even after her children have identified her as the genuine article. This is the kind of thing that really irks me about this show; there’s no room for subtlety or shades of gray. Jack is just a fucking idiot, he will always be a fucking idiot, so there’s no reason to care what he does or says in any given situation.

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Meanwhile, Julius continues to twirl his invisible villain mustache as he and Tate play out the latest boring iteration of their hopelessly trite conflict.  Last week’s episode left us with an enticing cliffhanger in which Julius contacts a mystery ship somewhere out in space, but rather than build on it, this episode basically repeats the same scene with minimal changes and expects us to still be excited about it. I’m sorry, but that’s just lazy and annoying.

Equally annoying is the group decision to pretend that the second, evil Josie is just a hallucination. Seriously, that’s the plan? How is that a good idea? How does that prepare you against a potential threat?  At this point, I’m pretty much hoping for terrible things to happen to all these people, because they don’t deserve any better.

Stray observations:

  • Another look at the genius of Jack: Telling Josie, “You done good not to reveal the true nature of the operation” while walking two feet in front of the president. Yeah, that’s the kind of stealth cunning you look for in your military leaders.
  • And just because I feel like harping on this point, when Jack asks one of Josie’s kids how he knows which one is his real mother, the response is, “I just do, stupid.” See, even this little boy knows Jack is a complete moron.

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