More than any show out there, ‘The Fades’ is about life and death. Fades, those remaining spirits that are not able to ascend to the afterlife versus the humanity that they hate. This episode has an interesting angle as Paul, the protagonist and the wraith now a man, are on opposite sides of the fence.
A disoriented Paul walks through the hospital, trying to get anyone to talk to him but they walk past ignoring him. It’s not long before he discovers why; he’s a fade, a fact proven when he peers through a door and sees his family at the side of his comatose body.
For his part, Wraith Man, stumbles through the woods, is getting used to his new form. The new body is a welcome treat as he takes in all the new sensations denied in his physical spirit form. When a man comes up to offer assistance, Wraith man shows his brutality, killing the man with a stone before taking his clothes and, judging by the bits of blood at the corners of his mouth, eating him.
Jumping back to the hospital, Paul’s friends and family await word from the doctor. A nervous Mac babbles about nothing to the silent irritation of Jay, Anna, and the Mom. Seeing everyone in pain, Paul reaches out to his mother only to be shocked away. When the doctor appears, he gives the family dreaded news: there’s no hoping now as Paul is brain dead. Getting this stunning news, Mac calls Neil who, along with the other Angelics, is taking Natalie into a bunker for questioning. “There’s been an accident,” Mac tells the Angelic.
Detective Armstrong questions Mark about Sarah’s death as the former Angelic watches helplessly. Mark is tormented by his inability to see/touch her coupled with the accusation of being her murderer. When Sarah tries to offer Mark comfort, she is hit with the same shock that greeted Paul earlier.
A gruff Neil comes to the hospital and speaks to Mac. He sees Paul, confirming what we already knew. There’s an edge to Neil, one that hadn’t been there in the previous episodes. Mac blames himself for Paul’s condition and though Paul asks Neil to put Mac at ease, the Angelic refuses. He mentions choices and consequences before leaving a wretched Mac and confused Paul behind. It doesn’t help that, later, Paul’s mom blames Mac as well.
Wraith man continues his bodily adjustment but has a new focus—searching for Paul. The latter follows Neil to the bunker where they have Natalie trussed up for questioning. Neil’s hard edge is on full display, as if he’s overcompensating for Helen’s earlier doubts on his strength. He ruthlessly tortures Natalie, a prospect that disgusts Paul. Phil and Alice aren’t far behind.
Back at the hospital, Wraith man runs into Mac. Though distraught, Mac still has the sense to get out of dodge. Though he’s closer to adjusting, Wraith man is still having trouble speaking. When another patron visits the facilities on Mac’s departure, Wraith man satisfies his hunger pang. Soon after Paul, returning to the hospital, sees Wraith man. Remembering him from the apocalyptic dream, Paul follows him onto the rooftop. In one of the more important scenes from the young season, Wraith man shares his origins with Paul. Killed by a mortar in WWII, Wraith man never ascended. As his body rotted, he had to watch his wife remarry an abusive man until years later, fed up, she killed herself. He could have faded away or embraced the pain of her death. He chose pain and, when blood from her slit wrists touched his faded body, it gave him life.
He also tells Paul why the fades hate so much. They’d gone to the Angelics for help, asked them to open up ascension but the Angelics refused. “They herded us like cattle,” he rages, “They became our prison guards.” He asks for Paul’s help in finding Natalie, someone who’s become important to him. Paul is confused with just what to believe but, coupled with Neil’s harsh treatment of the helpless fade, Paul agrees on the condition that Wraith man kills no one.
Inside the bunker, the Angelics watch as Natalie begins the same cocoon process as Wraith man; she is on her way to becoming flesh. Overpowering Higgie, Wraith man and Paul enter the bunker. Soon after, Wraith man brutally attacks Maddie, killing her before Neil and Higgie fill him with bullets. Their grief at Maddie’s death is short lived when a bullet-riddled Wraith man rises. They pump more bullets into him with little effect. Higgie gets attacked by Natalie and though Neil drags him to safety, he too dies. Scooping Natalie up, Wraith man realizes he’s immortal now. “You know, I really hope you don’t ascend,” he tells Paul, “you’ll be a very valuable member of my team.” Ashamed Paul can only try to apologize, but Neil wants nothing to do with him.
On the verge of losing his best friend, Mac goes to Paul’s room. There he runs into Phil and Alice. Mac casually mentions Anna as Paul’s twin, words that excite the two Angelics. They ask for Mac’s help as they now have a solution that may be able to save Paul.
Released by the police, Mark and Sarah sit on their bed and talk, though he can’t see her. Though he wants her back, he admits he is starting to hate her because he can’t see her, hear her, touch her. He asks her to leave. To go with the pain of being dismissed by her husband, Sarah realizes that her fade body has begun the deterioration process.
With nothing else to do, Paul goes to the mountain to prepare for ascension. A crushed Neil doubts himself even more now, though Sarah offers him tough love, but her support. In letting all this bad happen, he questions how he can ever be considered good. “You can’t give up, you have to fight.” Her words segue to her own decision. The only way to fight the fades, she believes, is to have someone on their side of the fence. She has to become flesh. Though it’s not something either Angelic wants, her logic make sense. Were they to see the cocooned army Wraith man has waiting at the hideaway he carries Natalie too, not only would they agree a bit more but they’d also be looking for a bit more backup.
Garnering the aid of Mac and Anna, Phil, Alice and the two teens come to Ascension point, ready to bring Paul back while, at the hospital, the doctor is ready to pull the plug. The final scene is one of rebirth, new life as Neil feeds Sarah the blood she needs to become flesh while, as Phil’s attempt to revive Paul is successful. Hundreds of butterflies come out of his mouth as he sits up, alive. “My son…my son is back.”
This was the best episode yet of ‘The Fades’. We finally get a bit more back story on why the fades are so bitter as well as the origins of Paul’s greatest enemy. So often, it is asked whether losing your principles to beat the bad guy makes you the bad guy in his or her place. While that may sometimes be the case, other times you have to make the difficult sacrifice of your own moral code to save those around you. It’s what Sarah deems to be necessary for them to be successful. Knowing what he now knows, will Paul follow that same premise or will he be the one who keeps the good guys on that path of righteousness and not toeing the lip of the abyss?
If you missed the previous episode, be sure to read our “The Fades: Episode 3′ recap.
- “They herded us like cattle. They became our prison guards.” (Wraith Man to Paul)
- “You’re a principled wanker who gets confused sometimes…you’re also one of the best man that I know.” (Sarah to an insecure Neil)
- “You can’t give up, you have to fight.” (Sarah to Neil)
- “My son…my son is back.” (Paul’s mom)