Judging from your comments over the past couple of weeks, it seems there’s not a lot of love for Outcasts here at ye olde TV Club. I admit, I’ve been a little taken aback by the level of vitriol directed at the show, but there’s an odd dynamic at work here, in that many of you have already seen the whole series, while I’m watching it week by week so as not to be influenced by what’s to come when writing about each episode.  I guess my philosophy is to give a serialized show like this the benefit of the doubt in the early set-up stage, allowing the creators time to develop their world, its conflicts and its characters, in hopes of a big payoff down the road.  It doesn’t happen that often, of course—the classic example is The Wire, the slow-building early episodes of which gave little indication that they were laying the groundwork for perhaps the greatest television drama of all time—but sometimes a little patience can be rewarded.

That said, I’m willing to admit that my patience was a bit frayed by the end of “Episode Three.” As this week’s hour begins, we find ourselves at the end of the white-out cycle that causes the sudden blinding dust storms that have plagued Forthaven. Fleur has slipped out of the compound with the now-healthy baby, in hopes of returning it to Rudi and perhaps extending an olive branch after the last disastrous meeting with the ACs.  Cass’s ex-girlfriend, Trix, is about to marry Leon, a technician who is part of a team sent to retrieve the Earth beacon from outside the compound. And the ever-mysterious Julius meets with Stella to pass on a report on the white-outs from a scientist who didn’t make it to Carpathia.

This report is indecipherable gibberish to anyone without advanced knowledge of mathematics, which means Stella needs Tipper to examine her data once again.  Tipper isn’t really up for this, and does everything he can to get out of it, from lobbing insults at Cass to having a breakdown over his sisters left behind on Earth.  Eventually he pulls himself together in time to figure out that the white-out cycle isn’t quite over yet, and a storm producing five times more electromagnetic energy than usual is on the way. This storm also produces eye-rolling developments on several fronts, as Trix first convinces Cass to wander into it in search of Leon, then bolts from the “stage three lockdown” herself in order to scream Leon’s name into the howling, whirling sand. Helpful, and not at all stupid!

Julius is another continued source of annoyance; when granted an opportunity to address the people during the lockdown, he defies Tate’s admonition to keep it “strictly secular,” yet minutes later Tate nonetheless goes along with appointing Julius to the General Council. We don’t even need to see the smirk on Julius’s face that closes the episode to know this is going to go badly for Tate, but whatever back-story exists between these two remains frustratingly vague (and I’m guessing I’ll be underwhelmed when it’s finally revealed). In any case, a lot of this feels like Battlestar Galactica all over again, with Julius Berger as a much duller Gaius Baltar.

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At this point, I’m more intrigued by Rudi than Julius as an antagonist.  He admits to Fleur that he’d planned to kill everyone except her during last week’s meeting, but he ends up rescuing Cass and Leon from the storm, letting them live once he hears Cass moaning Fleur’s name while unconscious. His motives may be as vague as Julius’s, but it makes sense that, as a clone, he’s still figuring things out. One of my favorite moments in the episode was his failure to recognize “You started it!” as a child’s ploy, because he knows nothing of children. I don’t know that we need a romantic quadrangle here (in addition to Rudi and Cass, Jack seems to have a thing for Fleur), but I’m interested to see where Rudi goes from here, particularly now that Tate has publicly admitted and apologized for his attempt to wipe out the ACs.  For the most part, though, this third episode felt like it was marking time…and given that there are only eight episodes, that can’t be a good thing.

Stray observations:

  • Oh, another thing happened: Julius helped broker a truce of sorts between Stella and Lily. But that sort of bored me, too.
  • Stella also supplied Tipper with a Terrence Malick-esque flashback of his sisters courtesy of the Deep Brain Visualization doohicky, which was another nice moment.
  • The show did pull one over on me, in that I was certain the guy getting married the next day would be the one to get crushed by the beacon tower when it collapsed. I mean, I though that was a TV rule, but no, it was just random other guy who got crushed.

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