“Everything I thought was real isn’t…”
If telekinesis wasn’t enough for seven-year-old Dion Warren, how about adding a bit of teleportation into the mix? It’s not like that’ll put him in harm’s way, right?
Still at the cabin, the out of her depth and frazzled (who wouldn’t be!?) Nicole is doing her best to find a way for Dion to control his powers. Her efforts are middling at best, the difficulty of getting such a young, exuberant child to focus for an extended amount of time about as difficult as herding cats. It gets worse when Dion, after chasing a squirrel—a curious decision, considering most kids don’t chase animals with the tenacity of a frothing terrier—finds himself on a tree branch ten feet up in the air. It’s a small, intimate way to introduce his newest ability but also important as, in moments like this, when circumstances spark the well-known sense of terror, Ja’Siah Young is at his best. For some reason, his bouts of childlike glee come across as acting (though his cheesy test of a super hero costume may have been the most fun part of the episode). Hopefully, we’ll get to see a more authentic version of the young actor as the series goes on; it will undoubtedly help the emotional draw of the narrative.
Though “Fortress of Solitude” leans with Dion and Nicole’s continued efforts to pick themselves up by their bootstraps (Kat gets her an interview at the hospital and she bombs it, in part due to Dion’s antics) and wrap their minds around Dion’s new abilities, the narrative branches out a bit more regarding the season’s direction. Early on, Nicole finds Charlotte Tuck’s number, the woman Mark purportedly died saving, in her husband’s jacket pocket. She freaks out a bit, realizing they knew each another and that Mark was set to visit Charlotte in New Orleans. Though she never says it, her first thoughts are of an affair and she calls the woman, leaving a message that the mysterious Charlotte never returns. Even more curious is when Pat—who gets his own mini-arc that solidifies him as his own character—finds out that all traces of the woman disappeared the same day Mark ‘rescued’ her. Couple that with another mystery woman’s disappearance (Jill Noonan, who was staying at the cabin on the other side of the lake) and it’s no doubt that something sinister is slowly rising, perhaps the same danger ‘ghost’ Mark warned Nicole was on its way.
As far as continuing the story, “Fortress of Solitude” does an adequate job building on the premiere’s initial foundation. But as it does bring some very intriguing narrative aspects into play, it also has a tough time balancing its tone. There are moments that “Fortress” feels it would be more at home on Disney Kids than Netflix but, as soon as those moments play out, things shift to a more serious tenor. It’s only one episode but if these uneven tonal shifts continue, they will pull Raising Dion down with it. The show may be about a seven-year-old boy discovering his fantastical powers but the foreshadowing towards a much more sinister threat points to just how much better the show would be served if it was structured as (possibly) a more lighthearted version of 2014’s Believe, the network drama about a gifted young girl running from a shady organization wanting to control her. Raising Dion has all the potential to be something worthwhile, I just hope things slow down a bit and by episode 3, the production team settles into a single, coherent tone.