Alice’s reveals her sad tale of love and lose to the Allen family before dropping a bombshell of a surprise.
Ever since Alice was freed from her underwater shackles and became the apparent season antagonist, it was only a matter of time before we got her story. I’d guessed that Alice’s history with Presidio (and, by extension, the Allen family) extended through the decades, perhaps even longer. While “Alice” does tell her story and is quite effective retuning the series narrative, it’s also laced with that first-draft feel that has followed October Faction throughout the season, arresting its potential to be something special.
The story picks up in 2001 in the warlock community of Harlow House where Alice and her kind have willfully separated themselves from the outside world. The whole set up reminded me of M Night Shyamalan’s The Village and similar that disappointment, “Alice” fumbles away a solid story with some curious choices — the voiceover used to connect the past with the present was unnecessary and sapped much of the tension away from the episode — and the same inability as other episodes with performances that failed to capture the emotional depth crucial to fully ensconcing me into the story. Despite, “Alice” does its best in reclassifying our view of who the villains of this tale truly are.
After saving a woman from getting hit by a truck, Alice is approached by Kate (Kate Ross, Alias Grace, Heartland). Everything about Kate’s happenstance of being there screamed that she was a plant and ‘Presidio agent’ was my first guess. Still, watching her ‘friendship’ with Alice develop while awaiting the inevitable double-cross, was still a heartbreaking turn as someone who has started to empathize more and more with a character I initially thought to be the unquestioned villain.
Maybe even more poignant is that Kate was none other than Edith Mooreland.
To befriend someone who is not a societal threat with the express goal to slaughter their people is such a vile act, and no amount of preaching on monsters being a danger to the world (when they are living in isolation and limiting contact with humanity) could justify it. But Edith’s betrayal is nothing compared to what seems to be the most heinous of acts, perpetrated by Fred and Dee no less; taking Alice’s children and raising the twins as their own.
Though “Alice” tries to keep Viv and Geoff’s heritage under wraps, never once suggesting Alice is pregnant with twins, her behavior over the last few episodes went beyond her wanting to care for Viv and Geoff just because they were warlocks. So, as much as it was a ‘shocking reveal’, it was also obvious. My lack of surprise doesn’t take away from the extreme tension it injects into the narrative. Now that they know the truth, what will Viv and Geoff (whose emotional reaction was a boon to the episode) do? As for Fred and Dee, I truly hope there truly is more to the story though considering Fred was the one that killed Alice’s husband, Omari (Andrew Moodie, Race, A Simple Favor), it’ll be a difficult task reframing the narrative in a way to make them look anything like the heroes the series originally set them up to be.
When discussing “Alice”, I’d be remiss if I didn’t speak on the reasoning behind the warlocks isolating themselves. When Moshe (this guy is everywhere now) tries recruiting them to the uprising they have planned, Omari and Alice both reject the idea but for very different reasons. Omari wishes for patience while Alice is more idealistic, believing that humans and monster can one day co-exist. Some of this is fostered by her bond with Kate but that hope is crushed as she watches all those she’s loved and cared for slaughtered like animals. It continues the throughline that Presidio, for all its talk about protecting humanity, has its own agenda—Samuel’s ulterior motives was in fact to recover the ashes of the warlocks—and that things aren’t always what they seem to be.
Though it lacks the emotional punch it should have carried, “Alice” is still effective in its purpose. It continues building facets of intrigue into the greater narrative while also peeling back the layers of what once looked to be black and white issues of humans = good, monsters = bad. I have always been a fan of this nuanced way of depicting conflict and, at least in that regard, October Faction has been a success. The series still disappoints in many areas but there’s no denying that there’s substance to build on and, should it get a second season, there’s a chance it could take a leap similar to Lost in Space, another Netflix original whose first season failed to realize its potential only for its second season to knock my expectations out of the park. But for now, we can only await the endgame and the inevitable confrontation between Presidio and Alice. Which side of the battle lines Fred and Dee fall to remains to be seen but they have a lot of work if they are even to have a chance at regaining any sort of trust back from the twins.