Fred and Dee’s trip to New York on Presidio business becomes the perfect time for Geoff (and an unwilling Viv) to throw a house party that where the teens’ powers continue to manifest while also attracting an uninvited guest.
For the third straight episode, October Faction opens with a blast from Fred and Dee’s past. This time, their backstory is germane to the plot in a way none of the other flashbacks have been. In 1995, Dee takes an injury in the field that wrecks her chance at ever having children. Even in the face of her breakdown, my first thoughts were of Viv and Geoff. If Dee was unable to conceive, where did these two unique pearls of life come from? Though we don’t get answers to that question, Viv and Geoff’s time in the spotlight is the best that “Soirees of Future Past” has to offer.
Like any rambunctious teenager when their parents leave town (in the movies, that is), Geoff sees it as the perfect opportunity to gain a bit of clout with his peers. Already feeling the outcast, Viv vehemently opposes the idea, not wanting to feel like a stranger in her own home. She’s understandably pissed when Geoff makes an executive decision, inviting the entire school to the mansion for drinks and debauchery. The more the party goes on though, the more it becomes apparent that Geoff is using this to forget about his ghostly encounter with Steve. This effort backfires when Steve still appears and, whether intentionally or not, pushes the experience of the accident that killed him into Geoff’s head on multiple occasions.
As important as Steve is to showing Geoff’s abilities, “Soirees of Future Past” goes much further than that, showing more of what Geoff is underneath the fast talking and dismissive smirks. He shows compassion when he convinces a depressed Phillip — who blames himself for Steve’s death — from taking a life-ending leap from the mansion roof. It’s the first time we see that, underneath the façade, Geoff may actually be a decent human being, an idea that not even his time with Viv has really shown. He connects with Phillip on a very human level and his message about life being messy and that, while they may seem to know it all, at 17, they’re all babes in the world, bound to screw things up, is surprisingly insightful for someone his age, never mind his self-involved nature. It’s a touching exchange and finally makes use of Gabriel Darku’s talents.
Not quite as in need of deconstruction as her brother, Viv wanders through the party feeling out of place in her own home. She’s ticked at Cathy for blabbing to Madison but, after a few red Solo cups of liquid courage, dares to make a move on the school’s resident playboy, Rob. But like Geoff, Viv still isn’t aware of her powers though, when she gets a premonition about Rob’s intentions (not long after seeing Cathy’s suffering by way of a fiery inferno), she tries listening to it only for Rob to ignore her pleas.
The same mysterious Kano-looking figure tracking her at the end of the last episode saves Viv from something much worse than being pushed to the ground. Who he is and what he wants may have something to do with Alice who also shows up at the party (using her powers to remain undetected). She eventually steals an urn with the same symbol from Seth’s room etched on it, an act that triggers the alarm and blows Fred and Dee’s ‘we’re in the insurance business’ cover, with Viv’s “Who are you really?” a resounding and impressive cliffhanger to end on.
Though there’s still an issue with October Faction’s narrative flow — there’s an unfortunate disconnect between events and how they relate to one another — “Soirees of Future Past” is the strongest episode yet. Not only does it show us more of Viv and Geoff’s powers, but it also continues stockpiling potential avenues to explore, from Edith’s offer to Fred to join the Council, the twins’ true origins, and Alice’s connection to the Allen family. I can’t emphasize how much “Soirees” was helped by minimizing the time spent exploring the unnecessary characters, like Madison and her Mean Girls team. We’re coming up on the halfway point now and the fact that the truth about Fred and Dee’s profession is out in the open is a necessary step for October Faction to move forward. Still not the best of shows but, if anything, “Soirees” shows the series can be an entertaining spectacle for a night in.