Starting off with several good but not particularly action-packed shows, the penultimate episode of ‘The Fades’ picks up where last week left but added drama as the Wraith Man John’s plan comes together and Paul realizes that maybe, just maybe there is something special about him.
People are disappearing. Detective Armstrong and the rest of the police department are baffled and powerless to stop or discern answers to the strange goings-on. They, like everyone else, are unaware of John and his growing hoard of fades becoming flesh. The entire city is in a panic with no one safe from John’s grasp.
But there is hope. After his close call, Paul has returned to his family. As they adjust to his inexplicable recovery, Neil tends to Sarah as she undergoes the risky transformation from fade to flesh. Alice and Phil visit Neil, telling him of Paul’s miraculous recovery and are horrified at Sarah’s decision. There’s no doubting that Neil is in over his head, a fact he only solidifies later in the show. As it is, when Alice storms out to leave, the ground quakes and the three Angelics share the terrifying revelation that “he” is coming.
The two loveable dorks and best friends, in matching pjs no less, share a moment when Paul thanks Mac for staying there. He tells Mac, though it may be more to himself, that coming back like this must mean something; he must mean something in the grand scheme of things. The hero is slowly recognizing his worth, a worth already recognized by Jay, as she waits for him in his room. After dismissing Mac who promised to ignore their inevitable coupling, Jay confesses to Paul that “The doctor thinks you’re a freak.” She softens the blow though by claiming him as “my freak”.
On the Angelics front, Alice and Phil do their best in alerting the police of the danger. They tell everyone to leave or they’re going to die. When they are denied even a second of consideration they leave, only to be ambushed by Natalie and John’s giant construction worker enforcer. A sleeping Paul is awakened by Neil who’s justifiably angered by Paul helping John into their base camp. Paul shows his strength and naivety; condemning Neil for his tactics against Natalie while at the same time taking John’s word not to hurt Neil and the others. He tells Paul in no uncertain terms that the time’s coming for him to pick a side. “Make sure you pick the right side, kid.” During their conversation, Sarah marches towards her destiny of becoming flesh. Unfortunately, while Neil is out, she leaves the house, her ravenous hunger getting the best of her. She follows another fade to John’s location. She tries to fight the hunger and sustenance he provides, but she can’t. She feasts on live flesh for the first time and revels in it.
Paul has the same dream again, where he runs through the house and finds his family dead. He awakens, hoping against hope it is only a dream. Anna barges in, telling Paul they’re headed to the school. In the hysteria of the missing persons, the school has been established as a crisis center. Everyone is there, Paul and company, Mark and his one night stand, and Anna’s boyfriend Steve who is a newly risen fade. Mark and his former date are attacked by Dr. Tremlett and taken to the gym where several others, including Alice and Phil, are tied up awaiting their fate.
John is quite the planning architect. He has set his trap for the town; littering his army in with the others. Anna rages at Steve for not contacting her but Paul convinces them of Steve’s newest lease on life. He chases the group through the gym, catching up to them in the library. Anna’s strength is on display when she doesn’t cower, instead laying into Steve with a fire hydrant, giving them time to escape. Jay is not with them, however, as during Anna’s assault on Steve, John slipped in and took her, no doubt as bait for Paul. Back in the gym John questions the Angelics on what exactly he is dealing with in Paul; she can only tell the fade how special Paul is, an admission that doesn’t save Phil, who’s taken to the boiler room, a meal for the rising fades.
Sarah is starting to change and she confesses to Neil her fear of losing herself. She’s ashamed of feeding and something in her believes no matter her allegiance, her actions could dictate her becoming something she doesn’t want to become. Her reasons for accepting the change, she admits, is mostly because of Mark’s rejection of her. She is thankful for Neil who always sees the best in her. He loves her and using his love, Sarah convinces Neil to get to the school and prevent the slaughter taking place.
Back at the gym, Paul and his companions are able to free the others. When Dr. Tremlett shows up, Paul confronts him. The maturation of his character is on display when he tells the good doc that he’s still afraid but no longer does he fear things like John or Tremlett. This admission encompasses Paul becoming at peace with his destiny. Tremlett is overpowered by the others, allowing Paul to continue his search for Jay. He finds her in the boiler room but before they can get away, they are surrounded by John and his army. The army moves in but Neil arrives in time, spraying bullets as a distraction. Paul and Jay try to escape but Jay is grabbed. Just as Steve is about to deliver the killing blow, Paul shoves his hand through Steve’s gut. Everyone looks on, stunned, and when Steve explodes in a shower of light, John and Natalie hightail it out, afraid of Paul’s burgeoning power.
Unable to tell John from the others, Paul and the others scour the main room. People scream and cower at Neil’s brandished Uzi and his insane command to Paul to start shooting everyone. Jay spots John and Paul takes aim with his newly realized power. A bright beam of light crackles from his palm, headed for John. Before it reaches its target though, Natalie jumps in front of it, saving her love. John watches helplessly before finishing his escape. Alone in Neil’s bathroom, Sarah completes her transformation.
The camera pans around the shocked faces outside of the school in the aftermath of the terror. Detective Armstrong, Mac’s father, addresses the crowd, suggesting they leave town. They can’t stop whatever it is coming and the alternative to leaving isn’t quite as appealing. Mac bids everyone adieu, even being cordial to Anna who, in a moment of civility offers him three seconds of boob feel-age; it’s a moment of bonding for Mac and his best friend’s sister, and shows that Anna, while harsh and unyielding, has spirit and heart.
Neil accosts Paul, telling him what he has to do but Paul doesn’t listen. He’s found himself now, knows what he’s capable of and, more importantly, what’s right. Whereas Neil is ‘win at all costs’, Paul is determined to find a better way, and that better way doesn’t include torture and seeing the fades as nothing more than enemies. “Ascension is broken,” Paul says, “I’m going to fix it.”
Mark sits quietly at home when Sarah comes to visit. The longing on her absence is etched across both their faces. He invites her in, two lovers reunited through death.
Mac and his father scramble to leave but Mac is taken by Neil. Showing his detachment from his role as a good guy, Neil will use Mac as a bargaining chip to control Paul. He’s truly forgotten what it means to be an Angelic and Helen’s earlier fears of Neil not having the strength to be a leader is never more on display as it is now from his current actions.
As they are readying for evacuation, Paul and his mother have a heart to heart. Overjoyed at him being alive, she is also worried. When she tells him she’s not sure to be afraid for him or of him, Paul vows to make her proud. Going about his preparations, Paul knocks a jar from the counter, catching it before it shatters. It triggers the memory of his dreams. He tears through the house, relieved to find his family all in one piece though something is not right. He runs outside, stopping only feet away from John. In a seminal moment, hero and villain square off. John is devastated at losing Natalie and promises retribution. More than that, he tries to make himself out to be the good guy; he kills people only to resurrect them while Paul kills permanently. Though a part of him fears John’s words, the stronger part of Paul knows what he’s doing is the right thing. He calls out to a retreating John, offering to help him but John’s bitter mind hears nothing.
After so much doubt and running from what was before him, Paul has finally accepted his post as the Chosen One. Though he may not know how, his words and actions are those of a leader. His kind heart and introspective nature are going to shape him into the kind of leader both sides need. He may kill fades when necessary but his ultimate goal, unlike the Angelics before him, is to help the fades. Where will this all lead? John promised he would find a way to hurt Paul; the powerful fade’s anger and grief may do just that but at what cost to himself and his army? We can only wait for next week’s season finale.
If you missed the previous episode, be sure to read our ‘Fades: Episode 4’ recap.
- “The doctor thinks you’re a freak…you’re my freak though” (Jay to Paul)
- “What we did, we did for the good of everyone.” (Neil to Paul)
- “I’m still afraid. I’m afraid of letting my friends down. I’m afraid of not being good enough. I’m afraid of not doing the right thing. But you…I’m bored of being afraid of things like you.” (Paul to Dr. Tremlett)
- “[Superman} uses his power for good. That’s all you need to do.” (Mac to Paul)
- “I don’t know whether to be scared for you…or scared of you.” (Paul’s mom to Paul)