They definitely saved the best for last. [Spoilers ahead!!]
After four intriguing episodes, the final two offerings of ‘The Fades’ have turned it on, leading to the inevitable confrontation between Paul, the Chosen Angelic and John, lead fade and primary antagonist. The fate of humanity is on the line and will Paul have enough juice and fortitude to prevent the apocalypse he’s envisioned since the beginning?
The recap reminds us how the ante has been upped. Kidnapped by an unstable Neil, Mac’s episode recap is done from the back of a trunk with the general humor all gone. Meanwhile, we get a glimpse of the deserted streets (the only thing missing would be a tumbleweed bouncing down the road). The fades are still there though, a prospect the good Doctor openly questions John about. The head fade’s response is logical; the only one that can truly hurt them is Paul. Better to find him and destroy him before they do anything else like move on. He doesn’t get it, so caught up on his hunger, but it’s the reason John’s the leader; he has a view of the bigger picture, or so it seems.
Paul has another waking vision; ash fills the air as a determined John pushes a shard of glass into the teen’s stomach. The time on Paul’s watch in the vision is 4:20, begging the question of who’s the stoner here? Alice draws Paul back to consciousness where he relates the dream to her. “I’ve seen it before, this world of ash,” he tells her. “Today is the end of everything. I’m going to die, maybe we all are.” She picks him up from his downtrodden attitude; they have six hours before his purported vision becomes a reality.
Though the streets are deserted, Paul’s house is not. Against his wishes, Anna, Jay and his mom have remained in town. His mom doesn’t want to leave her baby behind and Anna protests her mother’s decision. She has to get them out to safety before something worse happens. The worse stands outside where several fades watch the house, no doubt searching for any sign of Paul. Though her love and worry for her son is understandable, the mother’s naïveté of the situation can only cripple Paul as he fights both fades and the deranged Neil in his determination to fix Ascension.
Paul and Alice reach the primary hillside of Ascension. She takes his phone from him, stressing the importance of what they are trying to do. “You need to be pure, you need to be selfless, you need to be free from distraction.” When two fades show up, he fends them off without killing. His warning blast opens up a hole from which Ascension light pours. He looks at his hand, proof that he’s made for something more than killing. He focuses on opening the hole; crows fall from the sky in droves before the hole closes, taking the Ascension light with it.
Before she wakes up in Mark’s arms, Sarah has her own vision. It’s a confirmation of Paul’s as she watches John stab him, taking with it the hopes of a better world. Though she is an Angelic at heart, as a newly reborn fade, Sarah is fighting the hunger urges. She’s frightened of the changes within her and tries to distance herself from Mark before she does something to hurt him.
A desperate Neil scopes out John’s hideout with the garrulous Mac by his side. Paul’s matey provides a hilarious non-stop commentary that tries Neil’s patience. The Angelic, though remains focused. After John leaves his base of operations, Neil, still trying to contact Paul, head’s to the teen’s home where Jay lets him in. He sees an even grander opportunity, taking a picture of his new hostages before sending the image to Paul. He receives the picture and, after five failed attempts at opening Ascension, his attention focuses on his family, in the hands of his former mentor.
John, generally calm and collected, is enraged at his lackeys failure to kill Paul. He sends them all out with orders not to return until the Angelic is dead. But when he pulls Natalie’s necklace from his pocket, John’s true motives are shown. His rage lies not in obliteration if Ascension is revived but Natalie’s death at Paul’s hands. When Sarah enters, surprising John with a knife to his throat, she demands to know what she has become. He calmly relates the story of Sodom and Gomorrah to her, finishing off with eerily confident words. “Every nation has a bloody beginning. And now it’s time for a new nation, our nation.” He truly thinks of himself as a revolutionary, leading the charge of a new race. A ravenous Sarah listens though the hunger inside her continues to grow. She falls to the ground in convulsions, reliving her and Paul’s vision of the latter’s death.
Paul and Alice meet Neil in the deserted town square. He has a gun to Jay’s head, demanding Paul’s obedience. From the start he tells Paul that she’s expendable, and Paul needs to heed his warning before blood is spilled. Paul tries his best to talk Neil down but the Angelic is too far gone and, in an unexpected move, callously guns Jay down. Despite his desire to end the fades, Neil’s actions, killing an innocent, veers him far off the path of redemption and firmly into the territory of a bad guy. But he doesn’t care or doesn’t see this and the immediate results are his only concern and they work. Paul acquiesces for his Mom and sister’s sake, following Neil to the final confrontation with John.
Tucked away by Neil, Mac and Anna bond, though it’s more out of necessity than anything. Mac opens up to her about the connection between he and Paul; both young boys with fathers that ignored them but who they painted as superheroes. Anna is fascinated by this multi-layered boy in front of her and one can only wonder, especially as they become closer during their imprisonment, what may lie ahead for the two of them. Back at the house, Detective Armstrong finds Paul’s mom trussed up. She tells him that Neil has taken the kids and the two adults make their way out of the house.
Neil and Paul make their way through John’s layer when Sarah gets the drop on them. For a moment she appears to have turned, ready to end them. Alice attacks her, giving the two men a chance to escape and confront John, and takes a beat down from the former Angelic. They catch up with John and the two scenes are spliced together with Alice trying to reach a hopeless Sarah (which she does) while John, Paul, and Neil have their own wild west shootout.
An interesting twist during the confrontation is that while we know John is the villain, like a Sith his words are interspersed with the truth and, though manipulative, have value. It’s that value Paul sees when he aims his trigger palms at both John and Neil. He bookends Mac’s earlier story about their fathers to the two men. “I won’t be selfish,” he tells them, “Not like him[his father], not like either of you.” His growth from geeky unpopular to the world’s savior has been quite an amazing display of writing. During John’s villainous spiel, Paul connected the dots regarding the mall; it was the first Ascension point, the first to close and it’s there that he will be able to reopen Ascension. When Sarah tries to stop him from going by pointing out the inevitability of the vision coming to pass, his final words to her are simply “What’s the point of seeing the future if you can’t change it?”
When Alice checks on Neil, he confirms that John got away. She’s disgusted with the man before her though he tries to justify his action, but they are actions he cannot bring justification to and even his features communicate the hollowness of his own words.
Checking in on the others, Mark’s one night stand (can she really still be called that? There is some definite chemistry between the two) picks him up and they leave the town behind. Still searching for their children, Detective Armstrong and Paul’s mom come across Jay’s lifeless body. More distraught than ever, she cries, looking for answers to Paul and Anna’s location. As for Anna, she and Mac remain locked away though things are getting hairy for them as the fades, led by the good doctor, are outside trying to force their way in to no doubt kill the teens. Terrified of what will become of them, they continue the bonding their forced incarceration has afforded them. Mac confesses his love for Anna and provides her with the knowledge that she’s a little in love with him as well. Good old Mac, never losing his wit and penchant for the random, though one has to wonder if he’s just a little bit right in this case…
When Paul gets to the mall, it’s four o’clock; twenty minutes before the vision and his death. He gets to work on opening Ascension and after his first blast into the fountain where Sarah fell from the balcony, ash explodes from the hole and Paul’s first vision of John comes to fruition. He tries to talk sense into John, needing only one shot from higher ground to successfully open the portal but John shoots him. He continues to beat Paul as the teen climbs the stairs to the second level. It’s evident that John, after his comments of feeling such pain for seventy years, wants everyone else to feel what he did. Like any three-dimensional bad guy, his positive traits are overshadowed by a deep seated selfishness. As he readies to deliver the killing blow, Sarah intervenes, taking the knife in the belly. Her interference offers Paul the chance. He dives off the balcony and sprouts his wings. He blasts the whole with a concentrated effort and Ascension pours out. All the fades, including Sarah and John, are caught up in its glorious light, and are taken from this world by Ascension.
All is quiet when Anna and Mac approach a battered Paul. In his typical fashion, Mac tries his best to diffuse the tenseness with ill timed humor. Paul remains quiet until Anna asks him about Jay his cries are confirmation to Jay’s fate though it’s soon forgotten as once clear skies are painted with a sickly, yellowish glare and the accompanied rumble of thunder. All to himself now, Neil reiterates the warning he gave to Paul. “I told him. I told him you don’t f@$& with Ascension.”
‘The Fades’ has, from the beginning, been a show where no one is safe. This point was driven home by Neil’s slow descent into madness, culminating in his brutal slaying of Jay. Paul’s development into a man to make his own decisions was also a very well thought out and organic development. And while questions were answered, many still remain. Where do they go from here and are those clouds rolling in a sign that the true apocalypse wasn’t Paul failing, rather him being successful in re-opening Ascension? I guess we’ll have to wait for season two to find out.
If you missed the previous episode, be sure to read our ‘The Fades: Episode 5’ recap.
- “I’ve seen it before…this world of ash. It’s in my dream. Today…today is the end of everything. I’m gonna die. Maybe we all are.” (Paul to Alice)
- “I’m an Angelic Swiss army knife.” (Paul reiterating Mac’s comment on the usefulness of his powers)
- “Every nation has a bloody beginning. And now it’s time for a new nation, our nation.” (John to Sarah)
- “I won’t be selfish. Not like him, not like either of you.” (Paul to Neil & John)