“We’re coming to the end here and the only way you make it out alive is with me.”
Just when it looked like the promising start of The Passage was being wasted with a formulaic narrative these last few weeks, the lead-in to the next week’s two-hour season finale has sparked hope that, despite some hiccups, the first season of The Passage will not, in fact, end with a whimper.
For the first half of the season, Clark Richards came across as the typical antagonist. Ignoring common sense and his own instincts, his character offered nothing of interest that separated him from the droves and droves of similar characters that have littered the small screen for decades. The moments shown with Shauna Babcock seemed like an anomaly…and then he began to evolve. We were given more snippets of his relationship with Shauna and slowly (oh so slowly) Richards started to realize that the warning signs he ignored in the interests of duty demanded his attention. As his transformation continued, he was replaced by the mustache-twirling Guilder, a character even more bland the Richards’ initial story arc. Over the last few weeks, Richards has become one of the better characters as more and more of his past with Shauna has been revealed. There’s no denying the connection they share, or the fact that their chemistry is much more powerful than what he shares with Sykes. It’s that chemistry that, for a short time, makes us wonder that if he’ll take up Babcock’s offer to side with her and the other virals as the countdown towards the end comes. Despite fighting her allure all this time, Richards admits that there is something between them…or there was before she became the monstrous Babcock. His rejection of her offer firmly solidifies him on the side of the protagonists in a virtually hopeless fight against the architect of the coming downfall; Tim Fanning.
Much like Richards introductory arc, Tim Fanning really didn’t bring much to the table. Yes, he represented the end of life as we know it but there was nothing very scary or captivating about his on-screen performance. And then this week came and Jamie McShane hit another gear. Whether it was the chemistry with Saniyya Sidney’s Amy that sparked it or not, but everything that had been missing from Fanning over these six weeks or so was present in “You Are Not That Girl Anymore”. The terrifying aspect of his character was strong in the subtlest of ways. His conversations with Amy were spectacular. Never raising his voice, he came across as the well-meaning grandfather, offering a little girl the answers she so desperately craves. He was never overbearing or pressuring, instead, allowing Amy to make certain conclusions herself while nudging her towards the decision he needs her to make. His expert manipulations and gentle tones reminded me of Mark Pellegrino’s Lucifer from Supernatural: you know he’s the evil mastermind bent on the destruction of the world but it’s hard not to be charmed by his words and then you find yourself thinking—‘maybe he’s not so bad after all’. And though he may have been blasé in the past, in just a few scenes, the truly terrifying aspects of Fanning’s character has been expertly revealed.
It was a major surprise to me that two of the least impressive characters throughout this first season were the two standouts to this week’s episode. And though we see just how powerful the virals have become in their influence of others—particularly Grey and Guilder—Richards and Fanning make “You Are Not That Girl Anymore” the most complete episode yet. And leaving us with that horrid ending—the virals being released from their cages—that leads up to next week’s finale has been a massive spark to what can be a powerful finale that can hopefully propel The Passage into a second season and the aftermath of it all. Because, as much as we want our white hats to win the day, there’s only one way this can end.
The Road Less Traveled
- I can’t say enough about Jamie McShane in this episode. Sure, it’s been a long time coming and his previous screen time as Fanning has been middling at best, but his performance in this episode more than made up for what his character lacked this season. It may also be a telling thing that, save for Richards’ connection with Babcock, the most interesting character moments seem to find Amy at the center. Whether it’s her relationship with Wolgast, friendship with Carter, and now her conversation with Fanning, she’s always there. That says a lot about newcomer Saniyya Sidney’s talent. But McShane’s subtle manipulation of her was spectacular (and nearly worked). His gentle and measured tone, never trying to dominate her came off as a classic Lucifer. He was that voice in her ear nudging her towards that dark path, all the while making Amy think it was not just the best choice, but the only choice. Yes, Amy eventually finds the strength to turn away from the path he set her on (thanks to the memories of her mother and Wolgast) but that doesn’t take away from Mr. McShane’s masterful performance. Well done, sir. Well done.
- While we’ve seen the virals powers of persuasion with those that have been around them for an extended period of time, there has been nothing like Martinez—or viral number two’s—influencing Guilder to set security up in a way that will allow the virals to escape. If their psychic powers are that strong, there really is no hope for humanity.
- It looks as if Lacey’s will be arriving at Telluride shortly. I would say it’s just in time but, by the time she gets there, the end she sensed will be well on its way to spreading. What part she has to play remains to be seen.