Greetings, Outcasters. As Todd warned you in his review of the series premiere last week, I’m here to take you the rest of the way through this (apparently one and only) season.  Before we get started with the imaginatively titled “Episode Two,” I should probably state for the record that I liked the first episode a bit more than Todd did. I thought it did a fairly elegant job of setting up a world and its conflicts in 60 minutes or less, although I do agree that it was more than a little Lost-esque in the way it withheld information from us.

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The Lost parallels are even more pronounced in the second episode, which introduces us to a group of outsiders (or “others,” if you will) with a mysterious agenda, a charismatic but inscrutable leader, and an apparent inability to reproduce. Fortunately, Outcasts proves to be a little more forthcoming than it at first appeared, as we learn later in the episode that these are the ACs, or “advanced cultivars.”  That’s fancy-talk for clones created to test the survivability of Carpathia outside of Forthaven—clones that were ordered to be destroyed when Tate and his science team suspected them of being responsible for the C-23 virus that killed Tate’s wife and kids, among others.

When one of the six emergency shuttles dispatched from the doomed transport ship crashes in the desert, it is the ACs, led by Rudi (Langley Kirkwood), who discover it first. And in one of those “there’s no such thing as a coincidence” developments beloved by the writers of this sort of show, the only survivor is Lily Isen, daughter of Forthaven’s head of security, Stella Isen. The ACs take her hostage, just like the Others would have done, and for similar reasons.  As it turns out, the clones can reproduce, but the one baby they have is sick; Rudi plans to hold onto Lily until the doctors of Forthaven can cure the child—and if they can’t, well, things won’t turn out well for Lily.

The other major plotline this week involves the character introduced at the very end of episode one: Julius Berger. Julius is presumably the villain here, although once again Outcasts is playing it close to the vest. What we do know is that Julius secured his seat aboard the escape shuttle at the expense of another passenger, Katherine Burroughs. Julius claims that Katherine gave up her seat to save him, but Katherine’s daughter Aisling tells Stella a different story, insisting that Julius brainwashed her mother. Tate, Stella, and Aisling all seem to mistrust Julius to varying degrees, but the back story isn’t spelled out this week. It seems Julius is some sort of cult leader who claims to have had a spiritual conversion during the flight from Earth, but the details remain vague. I don’t really mind the show taking a “man of mystery” approach this early in the run; I just wish a more compelling actor than Ugly Betty’s bland Eric Mabius had been chosen to play the role. The character is clearly meant to possess a mesmerizing charisma, but Mabius doesn’t come close to suggesting any such thing.

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For the most part, though, “Episode Two” advances the story on multiple fronts in engaging fashion, providing enough shades of gray to keep us guessing without devolving into an arbitrary collection of red herrings. Why is Tate intent on taking cell samples from the baby? Did Rudi really give a signal to attack, or did he have something else in mind? Must all TV characters named Jack turn out to be hotheaded assholes? But the question that will most likely hang heaviest over the remaining episodes is the one posed by Cass in reference to their new life on Carpathia: “What if we make all the same mistakes again?”

Stray observations:

  • Stella certainly looked thrilled to run into her one night stand Tipper again, didn’t she?
  • Does the movement of the handmade card on Tate’s desk suggest a supernatural origin of C-23? (That’s a rhetorical question. I’m sure some of you already know the answer.)
  • Todd mentioned this last week, but I’d just like to reiterate that these reviews are based on screeners of the uncut episodes as they aired on the BBC. Those of you who are watching for the first time on BBC America may find that I occasionally make reference to something you didn’t actually see, because it’s been cut to allow time for commercials. I gather, however, that most of you aren’t watching for the first time on BBC America, and have already seen the uncut episodes, so this may not be much of a problem.
  • “So it’s true that Jack prefers a big bloke up the rear, then.” Cheeky!

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