Season one of October Faction comes to a disappointing end as the Allen family is irrevocably changed, and unlikely alliances are formed to combat the greater threat of Presidio.
The reveal of Samuel Allen resurrecting his son using the warlock circle foreshadowed Alice’s plan at the Gate Night festival. Using those same magics, she revives those slaughtered during the Harlow House assault into the bodies of the festival-goers. Though the desire to bring back her murdered kin is understandable, it’s wrong. As Omari tells her, she’s interfering with the natural order of life and death, and more to the point, forcefully subjugating the bodies of innocents.
In her desire for revenge and recompense, Alice is blind to the fact that she’s doing the same thing she hates Presidio for doing; enforcing their will on those who don’t deserve it. But she doesn’t have time to consider her husband’s words before he is again taken from her, this time by Edith Mooreland and the overwhelming force of Presidio.
Whether it’s more on the production value or sloppy direction, there isn’t much about the Presidio threat that puts me in mind of an ultra-powerful covert agency. Similarly, Edith’s recruitment speech to Viv after Presidio captures the entire town, suggesting that Presidio wants to understand monsters not destroy, is farcical. It’s unfortunate that such a major part of October Faction has, in so many ways, been the biggest disappointment. However, “The October Faction” is rife with missteps that cancel out some of the better instances of moral quandaries that have kept the series from falling into the pit of lost potential.
With so much going on, it’s easy to get lost in the quick cuts and half-formulated ideas that leave so many questions to be answered. Though not completely off the hook, a flashback to the Harlow House raid offers a clearer picture on why Fred and Dee took the actions they did and hid the twins from Presidio’s radar. In a shocking twist, Fred is killed by Edith though, based on his conversation in limbo with Omari, should a second season arise, it’s questionable whether he’ll stay dead. Like Dee, Fred’s overloaded with the weight of long-ignored guilt for his part in the massacre. Whereas it arrests his ability to move on, it galvanizes Dee into action and she makes an alliance of sinful but loving mothers with Alice, which effectively cuts the head from the Presidio dragon — Edith Mooreland — and effectively installing Maggie as the new head of the organization. The Alice/Dee escape and team-up was one of the better parts of the finale. Both women hold an unconquerable motherly love for Viv and Geoff but have also committed heinous acts for which absolution will not be quickly achieved.
Like their mothers, Viv and Geoff have their own breakthroughs, first by accepting their heritage (Geoff gives an acceptable explanation on why they so quickly followed Alice’s call) and finding happiness with the special people in their lives: for Viv it’s her friend Cathy while Geoff and Phillip firmly establish themselves as a couple. Unfortunately, where these two arcs come together nicely, it seems as if a large portion of the finale—15 minutes or so—was left on the cutting room floor. After Edith’s off-screen death at the hands of Alice, there comes a disjointed jump in time (maybe a week or two) that awkwardly tries setting the stage for where our characters are now. After cutting down Presidio agents without compunction, Gina and Moshe seem pretty chummy (she’s taking the whole monsters exist thing in stride) and are continue their alliance to track Alice down for the calamity she caused the town. In a show that requires a certain suspension of disbelief, the idea that Gina’s actions would go untouched or that she’d so easily accept the monster equation falls flat with me. The same can be said for Maggie’s promotion to operational lead of Presidio. I’m not a fan of using “lazy” when describing story points but these reek of a lack of creativity, a harried writing staff, or a bit of both. Combining this with the Seth resurrection angle makes for a sloppy finale that unfortunately lays waste to the captivating momentum of the last few episodes.
Finales are fickle beasts; sometimes acting as an emphatic capstone or a dirt-pile roadblock that arrests the anticipation of future stories. “The October Faction” has a bit of both. Though the Alice storyline didn’t live up to its potential, there were some very strong emotional notes to her arc, as well as unexplained details that just beg for exploration. I’m more than satisfied with the Allen family arc; both Viv and Geoff have finally found their places while Fred (though currently deceased) and Dee finally owned up to their mistakes.
As mentioned above, there was little in the way of satisfaction with the Presidio storyline (save for Edith’s ‘retirement’). If October Faction is greenlit for a second season, they need to clean up the biggest mistake regarding the show’s antagonist; Presidio must come across as intimidating and effective, and not thrown to the side just because the person in charge dies. Organizations like these are less a dragon and more of a hydra and Edith’s death would be nothing more than a temporary inconvenience to its greater mission.
In all, “The October Faction” was an extremely flawed and disappointing end that, while whiffing on several key narrative lines, adequately ended the Allen family’s story…at least for Chapter One.
Being the Supernatural fan that I am, catching wind of October Faction left me hopeful of a more mature vehicle than the Winchesters’ CW constraints. I know very little of the source material but based on the premise — a family working for a secret government organization to fight monsters — I didn’t need to. Like VWars or the aforementioned Supernatural, the potential was there for October Faction to be a fascinating ride. While it didn’t reach the level of Supernatural, at least it didn’t fall to the depths of VWars (ugh).
Middling as it was, the disappointment was that all the pieces were in place for it to be special. Rarely does a show flip our understanding of its protagonists like the series did with Fred and Dee. They went from two people fighting the good fight to those who’d partake in a community massacre. With Viv and Geoff’s discovery of their parents’ bloody past running parallel to the viewers, this could have been an outstanding arc that should have been nurtured more than it was. Instead, the first half of the series spent way too much time entertaining the tepid high school angle.
I’ve mentioned the lack of substance to Presidio, an organization that should have exuded power and fearsomeness. It was effective in the series but only because of the writing. Nothing we were given showed this group (or Samuel Allen or Edith Mooreland) as formidable. It’s more disappointing considering the things revealed about Presidio’s research (which was cast aside rather quickly). As sheriff of Barington, Gina Fernandez had a similarly forgettable arc. It’s almost as if her true story (one on the road with Moshe hunting Alice) will be told in a possible Season Two.
And then there were the flashbacks which, aside for the horrible continuity, were hit and miss with their effectiveness and importance to the story. The use of ‘current’ flashbacks, where a character experienced something only for it to replay as he or she relayed the story, were wholly unnecessary and seemed more like a crutch to make up for uninspired writing. The acting was also an uneven affair with Tamara Taylor the only actor that maintained a consistent level of excellence, though Maxim Roy as Alice was more than serviceable (in fact, I would have liked a bit more of her story). Most had trouble with certain emotional beats (funnily enough, Gabriel Darku and Aurora Burghart excelled in these scenes) and others were just bad.
In all, as disappointments go, October Faction was truly on the cusp of being a good affair. Perhaps not Witcher or Umbrella Academy good, but on par with Lost in Space. Yet, as disappointed as I am, the series offered just enough equity in the name and potential future that I hope Netflix brings it back for a season two.
October Faction – Season 1
6 out of 10