Though it begins on the lighter side of things, this week’s episode of ‘The Fades’ ends in a truly somber, cliffhanger note. Littered in between the diametrically opposing bookends is a story that is truly beginning to pick up as we learn a bit more about the “he” mentioned in the first episode, Paul begins to feel a bit more comfortable with his powers and his relationship with Jay hops onto the fast track.
It begins with the aforementioned couple sitting on his bed playing a strip game of ‘paper-scissors-stone’ (that’s rock-paper-scissors to us U.S. folk). Not long into the affair, it becomes obvious that it’s good old fashioned teenager imagination and Paul’s really in his bed doing a bit of wanking off under the covers. He’s truly into the fantasy and when he reaches the mountain top of pleasure, something quite unexpected occurs; he sprouts wings. I guess fantasies of Jay are Paul’s own version of Red Bull.
After his initial investigation of said wings, Paul makes a trip to his psychologist, thanking him for his help. “I’m cured,” he says before walking out to the shrink’s displeasure. He meets up with Jay and admits to the slight side effect of his ejaculatory expenditures though she obviously doesn’t believe him.
On the other side of the equation, Helen and Neil talk inside his car. His wounds are more serious than she believed and he’s in need of medical attention though Neil’s primary concern still lies with Paul’s importance in things. She tells him that she will be ascending soon and he needs to contact the other Angelics though he’s reluctant to do so. This scene is an almost passing the torch with Helen preparing Neil for his new role as a leader in the Angelics. It’s a difficult prospect for the warrior who is not yet ready for that particular mantle and says as much later in the show. In a way, his journey seems to fly parallel to Paul’s own. Thrust into a position you do not want and have no idea how to prepare when so many people are depending on you.
Branching out from the primary story focus, we see Mac and his Dad, Detective Armstrong at home. In his new role, Mac’s father doesn’t seem to make too much time for his son and doesn’t even wish Mac a happy birthday, a prospect that understandably disappoints the younger Armstrong. During the scene, his father is lambasted by his boss to find a suspect in the murders, a pressure that will play out quite a bit more in the episode as it has to do with Mark, Sarah’s estranged husband, who brings the detective a photo of Sarah and Neil, who he believes is responsible for his wife’s death.
Speaking of Neil, he and Helen make their way back to the orphanage with Natalie following them like a lost puppy. During their jaunt through the bowels of the orphanage, Neil runs into Sarah. Still tethered to this world, she wants Neil to help her communicate with Mark, something he won’t do despite Sarah reminding Neil how the three of them used to be friends. Obviously disappointed at his refusal, Sarah’s parting shot is to tell Neil he never understood love. When Helen enters the room, she supports his decision though the conflict plays out across the battered Angelic’s face.
As a reminder that all things aren’t of the supernatural variety, Jay and Paul have a date talking about the mundane. Thinking they’re far from anyone, they end up making out only to be caught in the act by Anna, Paul’s sister, and her boyfriend. When she begins to bash their current union, Paul’s frustration gets the better of him and he accidentally sews her mouth shut. Everyone is stunned at his actions, including Paul, who has no idea what he just did. In quite the random and poorly cut next scene, Paul is at home, trying to apologize to his sister for what he did. She’s freaked and pissed; though whether it’s more from what he did to her or the fact he’s with Jay is up for debate. Trying to get away from things when his mom is brought into the sibling debate, Paul has a waking vision that nearly causes him to seize. Different from all the others, a man in shadows approaches Paul through the chaos, but he snaps out of the dream before he can identify with the man.
With his supernatural and normal life both scrambled eggs, Paul goes to his best friend for help. Still depressed at the lack of birthday wishes, Mac refuses, a reaction lost on Paul. Engulfed in his thoughts, Paul walks through the city with ghost Natalie trailing after him. As an aside, there is no doubt an important aspect to her trailing the Angelics though we have yet to discern just what it is. As it stands, her follow-the-leader routine is getting to be a bit annoying.
A quick jaunt back to the normal world, Anna talks with her mom about Paul and it’s surprising how her own insecurities rise up during the conversation. When Paul comes home he goes straight to his room, still miffed about what’s going on and what celebration his mother asks him about. When he realizes he forgot about Mac’s birthday, the telekinetic part of his powers are briefly activated when he holds a rubber band ball in mid air. Feeling bad for his failure at being a proper friend, he surprises Mac the next day with a ‘Happy Birthday’ written in Mac’s yard. He asks for Mac’s forgiveness, admitting that he’s still having trouble balancing his two separate lives, something not helped by his own self-centeredness. It’s not often the hero admits to such a flaw and I think it only highlights the fact that Paul is not a super hero; he’s a regular kid thrust into a position he has no clue how to navigate.
It’s further complicated when Paul has another vision and starts to seize. It lasts long enough for him to see the face of the mystery man. When he approaches Paul, he examines his foil before remarking, “So…it’s inevitable.” Paul awakens immediately and, needing answers, he goes to the orphanage where Neil and a half dozen Angelics he called are at the ready. Helen informs the group on the dangers that abound as the fades gained the abilities to effect the physical. When Neil collapses, Paul heals the older man’s injuries, even his eye. Helen and the others are impressed with the former admitting that he can do things she could not.
Paul and Neil go out on their own and Paul informs his mentor of the apocalyptic dreams and the new mystery man who’s shown up in the visions. Neil wants Paul to move in with him and the other Angelics but Paul refuses because he still has his other life. Neil becomes upset as Paul doesn’t seem to understand the gravity of the situation and how much danger their lives are in. For her part, Helen plans with the other Angelics. They need to capture a weaker fade to see just what their enemy is capable of; an accord with the fade and Angelics is mentioned but Helen dismisses it, stating the fades broke it first.
Later that night, Neil goes to Mark’s house, acquiescing to Sarah’s request. He acts as the interpreter for her, bringing Mark into the world of the supernatural and reminding him that Sarah still loves him. Grateful for his help, when she asks him what made him change his mind, he replies “I almost died this afternoon. Reminded me I have some things to put right.”
Speaking of putting things right, Paul enlists Mac to help him mend things with Jay. Another necessary moment of levity, Mac is a regular Cyrano de Bergerac, instructing Paul on the words of love to use to get Paul back in Jay’s good graces. For one who has no success with the fairer sex, Mac knows the right words to use and their venture is successful. So much so that, later in the episode, the couple ultimately consummate their relationship with a nervous Paul warning her not to freak if he sprouts wings.
Prior to their intimacy, Paul sees our favorite puppy dog fade, Natalie outside her window. He leaves Jay and chases Natalie into a trap where two Angelics capture her. They bring her to the orphanage to get some answers. Prior to their arrival, Helen and Neil talk about his decisions and the future. He feels better now for helping Sarah while Helen continues preparing him for his new role as leader. She pulls no punches, admitting her doubts in his ability to see things through. She weaves her lesson in with the story of Eden; it wasn’t the knowledge Adam and Eve gained, but the doubt that got to them. They could no longer see what was before them though the garden was still there. Neil talks about how Sarah thinks it’s all pointless, their preparation as the apocalypse will come regardless of what they do. When he asks if she doubts him, she confirms that she does. “I don’t doubt your stamina, Neil. I do doubt your strength.” Her challenge is clear; Neil must overcome his own doubts and find the strength inside of him if he’s to take the mantle of leader.
In the normal world, Mark converses with Sarah, still in shock that she’s so close to him but he cannot touch, see or hear her. His shock becomes quite a bit more when Detective Armstrong, bending to the pressures of coming up with a suspect from his superiors, tags Mark on suspicion of murder as he has a connection with all four victims.
Sitting on a bench in front of the ice cream store best friends Paul and Mac talk about Paul’s graduation into manhood. Paul gives Mac a key to his house, informing Mac he can use it anytime. It’s a touching moment between the two and highlights the bond they share. Joking around like they always do, Paul aimlessly wanders into the street only to get blindsided by a truck. As he fights for his life, Helen begins her ascension with Neil watching. “I’m not ready,” he cries as she begins to disappear. Though he may not be ready, he has to become so and that has been Helen’s lesson to him the entire episode.
This week’s ‘The Fades’ was about transformation in a sense. Taking things that come to you and finding a way to deal with them. Whether it’s Paul balancing his two worlds, Mark coming to terms with Sarah’s new aspect of life, or Neil accepting his role as leader, everyone has to deal with unexpected complications. Life doesn’t wait for you, you have to attack it and even when you’re not ready for it, you have to make due. It’s an interesting concept that is further expressed through the gradual transformation of the wraith responsible for killing Sarah and Helen. Throughout this episode, it has been going through its own transformation. Though at first glance, the creature looked as if it was dying, but like the caterpillar, it was cocooning. And like said caterpillar it replaces its ugly shell with a prettier exterior; that of a man. A man that looks strikingly similar to the one from Paul’s vision. Is this the “he” that has been mentioned, the one that will bring forth the apocalypse? Though we will have to wait for answers, I don’t think there’s any doubt this is the guy the fades have been waiting for to lead them. If so, with Paul nearly dead and Neil doubting his own self as leader, the good guys are not in a position of power.
If they want to survive longer than Helen and Sarah, they better get there. Soon.
If you missed the previous episode be sure to read our ‘The Fades: Episode 2’ recap.
- “I grow wings when I ejaculate” (Paul to Jay)
- “It’s not the absence of doubt; it’s the conquering of it” (Helen to Neil)
- “So, this is inevitable.” (‘Him’ to Paul)