If People Of Earth has a problem, it’s probably that it’s trying to do too many things at once. The show has a large supporting cast, all of whom have their own origin stories, and it can’t help but take some time for the audience to understand where all the members of StarCrossed are coming from. As a result, the fifth episode of the series feels a bit like a sequel to the second episode. In that episode, we learned about Chelsea’s loveless marriage, while watching her strike up a friendship with Father Doug. Now, after going two episodes without seeing Doug, and barely seeing Chelsea, we finally see the evolution of that storyline.
When Doug’s conversation with Chelsea inspired him to continue to let StarCrossed hold their meetings in his church (despite being aware of their alien-related activities), one could have conceivably wondered if his intentions were entirely pure. In this episode, however, Doug empathizes with Chelsea, but appears to have no romantic interest in her. At the same time, viewers are made even more aware of Chelsea’s loneliness than they were before, as her husband’s disregard for her is made all-too-obvious. When Chelsea disrupts Doug’s bible study by being a bit too vocal about her reasons for identifying with the Virgin Mary, it’s hard not to empathize with her. The Bible has provided her with comfort, but she isn’t sure where to go from there, and despite all the best intentions, Doug is struggling to provide her with the answers she needs.
However, the main plot focuses on Ozzie and his hallucinations. We find out that the aliens are more or less capable of controlling his mind via a chip implanted in his , although their incompetence continues to hinder their efforts (apparently, Ozzie was supposed to think he ate a deer; instead he has one giving him advice). We watch Ozzie nearly learn the truth of his circumstances (much to Gerry’s delight), only for him to change his mind and believe that any alien-related activity that he imagined was probably just a result of him being high during his hospital stay.
The driving force behind “Unexplained” is loneliness and isolation. Every character suffers from some deep form of unsatisfaction. Chelsea is trapped in a terrible marriage, while Kelly ultimately breaks up with her boyfriend, who seems like a decent guy, but pronounces the word “Oregon” in a socially unacceptable fashion. The episode’s saddest moment comes when Don, who is on earth to neutralize Ozzie, but takes a job at a coffee shop to become closer to Kelly (whom he abducted). has a brief and unfruitful interaction with her. Because Don is unable to socialize with humans, Kelly just thinks he’s a creep, and when he makes her a drink, she flips him off, which is a gesture he doesn’t understand (it means “peace among worlds”). At this moment, we feel the emptiness of both characters. Seemingly everyone in StarCrossed has been left adrift since their experience, and as we learn about Don’s own loneliness, the same pain seems to have afflicted him as well.
At times, it feels like People Of Earth would be a better suited to an hour-long run time. The show is constantly telling multiple stories, and asking us to empathize with such a wide array of characters. There’s only so much the show can handle in a 21-minute episode, and while the show’s ambition is certainly admirable, it can’t help but feel like things are being stretched a bit too thin. Last week’s episode focused on Gina, but this week, she was barely seen at all. The same can be said for Richard, who has more or less been a background character after being the focus of the third episode. People Of Earth does a brilliant job of introducing us to its characters and making us care about them, but we’re already halfway through the season, and with so many questions left to answer, and only five episodes remaining, it feels more than fair to ask if this show has bitten off a little more than it can chew.
Still, there’s far more to like about this show than there is to complain about. Yet again, every character featured here is presented in a way that makes us understand and empathize with them. As we head into the second half of People Of Earth’s inaugural season, (let’s hope it gets renewed for a second), this show still has a lot of things to explain to us. When considering how many characters are in the main cast, and how many plot threads need to be resolved, one can’t help but think that this show’s ambition may prove to be its downfall. Still, it’s been brilliant so far, and it’ll be fascinating to see how they manage to tie things up.
-Seriously, don’t pronounce ”Oregon” like that. No one will want to be your friend.
-Maybe it’s a side effect of doing so much typing as part of my job, but for some reason, I found it really disturbing when Ozzie hallucinated that every letter on his keyboard was an “A.”
-I’d really like to see more of Yvonne. After her subplot with Gerry, she’s been more or less absent from the last two episodes.