At the end of last week’s People Of Earth, it looked as though things were about to take quite a dark turn for Gina. Gerry and Yvonne figured out that she ran over a reptilian, while Jeff and Don were able to recognize the bumper sticker on her car. But while those things are likely to be explored an a future episode, “Past, Present And Future” gave us a chance to better understand a character who, for the first three episodes, we’ve had every reason to be suspicious of. As it turns out, like seemingly every other member of StarCrossed, she has a rather unfortunate story. In her case, however, she considers herself responsible for another person’s death.
We find out that before moving to Beacon, Gina was a psychiatrist, and judging by some scenes, a pretty good one. She had a natural knack for developing relationships with her patients, which finally explains why she exists as the unquestioned leader of the group. Unfortunately, her confident advice takes a dark turn when she encourages a man to go skydiving with his girlfriend, and he subsequently dies when the parachute doesn’t open. She blames herself for his death and falls into a deep depression, being unable to connect with her patients anymore. She’s so miserable that when he aliens give her their prerequisite line of “you are special,” she lets out a cold, defiant “bullshit.” This surprises the aliens, who apparently aren’t used to hearing humans swear (trust me guys, we do it a lot).
So far, this show has taken a strategy of taking a new character every week, and explaining how they came to be part of StarCrossed, as well as what their current life entails outside of the group. First it was Chelsea, then Richard, both of whom have deep marital problems. This week, we learn about Gina, and finally get to embrace her as a real person, and not just someone to be suspicious of (even if there is ample reason for that, too). The way the show gradually explains more and more about these people is enthralling, and gives us a reason to learn more each week.
While all of this is going on, Ozzie has to deal with his old boss (and reptilian), Jonathan, who buys the small town Beacon Gazette as part of a way to get closer to Ozzie, and neutralize the problem of Ozzie having recovered his memories. There’s an amusing disconnect between how Jonathan is able to portray himself is a confident media mogul, when in reality, he’s the biggest peon of all, routinely getting chewed out for letting Ozzie slip through his fingers, as well as being blamed for Kurt’s death. It makes you wonder if he might prefer the role he plays as a human to his actual reptilian existence.
When Jonathan buys the paper, Ozzie assumes that everyone at the Gazette will be against it, because it’s been in the same family for generations. Instead, everyone is thrilled, as Ozzie vastly underestimates the power of technology, and in particular, technology that actually works. This acts as some pretty sharp commentary about the dwindling local media in the face of the Buzzfeeds of the world. Sure, it’s sad that the paper is abandoning its old-school ideals, but can you blame the old guys for being so excited at seeing an iPad for the first time? It feels like there’s a lingering point being made about new media versus print media that hangs out in the background while the major plot developments are going on, and it’ll be interesting to see where the show goes with it.
The episode’s climax comes when we find out that Ozzie and Jonathan’s relationship goes all the way back to his childhood. A memory from last week, where a young Ozzie is playing with his train set is giving a new revelation: it wasn’t his father that Ozzie was playing with, it was Jonathan. Young Ozzie asks him if he’s man or an animal, to which he responds “I’d like to think I’m the best of both worlds,” before putting his human mask on. It’s a jarring moment; and it creates more questions about Jonathan’s feelings about Ozzie. At one point, Ozzie comments that it seems like Jonathan is in love with him, and really, we can’t help but wonder if Jonathan has motivations other than simply wanting to keep Ozzie from foiling the group’s plans. Could he be Ozzie’s father? Is there some other connection waiting to be established? This show continues to be great at giving us “wait, what?” moments in the last few minutes.
“Past, Present, And Future” sees one plot deal with traumatic experiences, while the other mostly tackles mystery, and both are done quite well. I’ve touched on this in past reviews, but at this point, it’s become quite clear that the original ad campaigns marketing this show as a comedy weren’t being wholly honest. Not because the show never contains any laughs, mind you, but because this show is about making you understand the pain of these characters, and making you wonder what happens next. In this episode, there were really only a handful of jokes, and even the eccentricity of the characters feels more normalized. Ultimately, People Of Earth is a sci-fi drama more than anything else, but what really matters is that it does a brilliant job of throwing the audience for loop after loop, while also giving ample reason to care about the characters those loops are happening to.
“It sounds like the wail of a dying animal.” - Jeff’s unflattering review of “Do That To Me One More Time”
When Ozzie is trying to get away from Jonathan, he runs into the funeral parlor where Kelly works. He explains that there’s a guy who wants to take him to lunch, and he’s tried to ditch him, but he won’t take the hint. Kelly replies “that happens every day if you’re a woman.”
“I’m your brother from another doe!”