Unlike network series that span 20+ episodes, limited series like ‘October Faction’ have a much smaller window to make up for dumpster fire episodes like “Open Your Eyes”. As if understanding the ground it needed to cover as the immediate follow-up, “Nadir” adeptly focuses on the most important parts of the story, driving the narrative forward with a rapid succession of action, exposition, and unexpected secrets.
Starting with, what is to this point, the most complete flashback, October Faction returns to the night where Seth Allen met his demise at the hands of Moshe (Dayo Ade, Workin’ Moms, StartUp), the same individual that led the now slaughtered monster squad against Alice. Introducing such a familiar face to Fred, the monster that killed his brother, despite the cliché, is a smart way to build immediate tension. The confrontation loses a bit of steam though, with MacKenzie and Ade failing to hit the right pitch of anger, pain, and resolve. It’s a shame because, in better hands, this scene would have been brilliant. Still, it’s adequate enough setting Fred’s difficulty teaming up with his brother’s killer. But where his kids are concerned, even that is a more than fair trade.
Unaware of their parents’ trials, Viv and Geoff awake to find Alice waiting for them. She tells the pair that they’re warlocks but before she can explain more, the two escape, only to fall into the hands of a Presidio special ops squad. They instinctively use their powers to get away once but are saved by Alice when the squad corners them for the second time. To prove that their parents knew about the twins’ heritage and actively suppressed it (the vitamins they harped on the kids to take), Alice helps the two connect with their powers.
Mirroring the change of a room when the light switch is flipped, Viv and Geoff undergo a palpable transformation. It’s as if the cares of the world and their teenage lives are briefly forgotten. But it’s when they face their parents, righteous anger roiling from their young shoulders, do we see the biggest change. They refuse Fred and Dee’s pleas to return to the fold, with Viv harboring an especially ill-favored look. Though I don’t believe they would attack their parents, there is a part of me that isn’t so sure. And that’s not even adding Alice’s truthful manipulations to the game.
Like the twins discovering their parents’ duplicity, “Nadir” is about seeing the truth beyond the pretty lies or façade erected to obfuscate reality. Maggie experiences this after making a deal with Edith Mooreland, coming face-to-face with her very much alive hubby Samuel. Fred is the most affected by this theme, not only in the shocking discovery that he and Dee have been working for a terrible organization that willfully tortures monsters for its own gain, but the much more personal truth that his brother Seth was a sadistic psychopath who looked at the monster hunting game as sport, a free-for-all to satiate his sickly desires.
After hearing Moshe’s story on how Seth tortured and killed his wife and little girl (if his narration is to be believed), Seth deserved exactly what he got. Moshe’s sad tale also highlights Viv’s proclamation two episodes back when she suggested that not all monsters would be terrible murder machines. Though it seemed naïve at first, it also should have been a no-brainer, considering that these monsters are intelligent and theoretically able to control some of their violent urges. But for Fred and Dee (particularly Fred), the perpetuation that monsters = bad by Presidio is fixed into their minds, in part due to the personal losses they suffered so early on. Like a cult targeting the young and impressionable, Fred and Dee were so conditioned that even as they grew older and wiser, they never thought to ask the question.
In two episodes, we’ve seen October Faction at its worst and best. I’ve always seen the intrigue and potential there for the taking; it’s just needed a deft hand to weave that into a capable and interesting narrative. “Nadir”, despite a bit rough around the edges and hampered by suboptimal performances that undercut the emotional impact of some scenes, does that. It’s methodical but never boring, effectively peeling back the narrative layers of the Presidio and its machinations, the seeming implosion of the Allen family, and the worrisome future for all involved. It also increases the chance that, despite all its stumbles, October Faction has a chance to go out on a high note. Something I didn’t expect a day earlier.