Plot: Tom Mason (Noah Wyle) sets his intricate plan of escape into motion. Ben (Connor Jessup) and Maggie (Sarah Carter) react to Lexi’s (Scarlett Byrne) late night meetings. Matt (Maxim Knight) runs into complications as he tries to keep his own little rebellion in order. Anne (Moon Bloodgood) is forced to take a break.
Well that was fast. In my review of last week’s episode, I pointed out that this season was already moving at a relatively quick pace. It’s almost as if the writers don’t believe they have enough time to tell their disparate stories so they’re rushing through as much as possible. There really is no better example of this than “Exodus.” After only three episodes, this season has progressed passed milestones that any other show likely wouldn’t have hit until about the mid-season or so. Before we even got a chance to get fully acclimated to our new surroundings, the writers have completely moved on to other material. This was done at an admittedly jarring speed that, despite being a decent episode, took some creative liberties.
Let’s start off with the main man Tom. This season opened up with him stuck within an Espheni concentration camp. As of last night, all of the imprisoned humans are now completely free. This means that, following a four month time jump, Tom successfully figured how this camp was constructed, what he could do to escape, and exactly who he needed to do the job within three episodes. While it’s obvious that he has been working on this plan for quite some time, these past three episodes were full of convenient scenarios that just happened to give him exactly what he wanted. He met Dingaan (Treva Etienne) and got a Faraday suit, successfully infiltrated an Espheni ship to get their information, and was able to rile up the entire populace as Ghost. Considering how this all happened now, it leads me to believe the past four months were devoid of anything exciting. Yet with a man of action like Tom, how’s that even possible?
Which brings me to my biggest complaint of Tom’s story: it all seemed too easy. If the Espheni are so intent on keeping humans within these electrified pens, why is it that Tom can successfully bust out with only one casualty? It honestly never even felt like the humans were in any danger to begin with. This was especially prevalent in Pope (Colin Cunningham) climbing the fence to get to the tether. Not only was his involvement unbelievably contrived (of course the “untrustworthy asshole” is the unlikely hero), Weaver (Will Patton), Tector (Ryan Robbins), and Dingaan standing there cheering him on proved there were no immediate threats. Okay, he got attacked by a flying skitter, but that happened once. And when Pope dropped the backpack, the one that contained an important explosive, Weaver responded with the equivalent of an “Ahhh maaaaaan.” These actors could at least try to convey some sense of urgency like the story clearly intended. Constantly yelling “Hurry!” doesn’t do the trick. At least Hal (Drew Roy) and Tom were completely invested, but even the former was literally slowed down by old people.
The same can be said about Anne’s story. After a solid two episodes of her marching to Lexi like a bloodthirsty mother bear, “Exodus” had Anne collapse from exhaustion. You can view this in one of two ways. The first is that it’s an effort for the show to convey exactly how blinded by rage she really is. Last week’s episode had one of her comrade’s collapse from dehydration because she is running them to the ground. Clearly Anne, who has naturally been working the hardest, isn’t impervious to human limitations. Her collapse on the trail proved that she is so intent on finding her daughter, she willingly forwent food and water. It was a nice bit of insight and realism in a show that doesn’t always have it.
However, you can also look at it from a much more negative angle, and I believe both are true: the writers ran out of material and just wanted Anne to find Lexi already. While Anne regained her energy, she had this crazy dream with Karen (Jessy Schram) monitoring Anne’s umbilical cord-like connection to an Overlord. To put it lightly, it was an incredibly disturbing way for the show to present what happened to Lexi while she was still in utero. Then Anne wakes up and suddenly knows where Lexi is because of the dream. That’s right everyone! The writers played the “dream card” to move the story along. This is the epitome of having defined start and end points but not a firm grasp on what lies between. It really felt like such a cop out.
Ben’s story was a notable improvement this week, specifically on how Maggie is represented. Seeing as Ben witnessed Lexi talking to an Overlord, you can bet things aren’t okay in his mind. He knows he needs to take action and find answers but completely lacks the knowledge on how to do that. Maggie instead takes the revelation as a betrayal and prefers to go in guns blazing. Is this a stupid idea? Absolutely, especially since Lexi is superhuman. It is however exactly what a person like Maggie would do. She was always a brash and aggressive character which made her subservience in the past two episodes completely unbelievable and unwelcome. There also weren’t any forced romantic undertones between her and Ben last night too. I don’t know how long “normal Maggie” will last but I do plan to enjoy it while I can.
I guess you can say that Matt’s story is the only one that has progressed in a completely believable manner by this point. I have been a fan of his story of a youth rebellion since the premiere and currently the writers actually know what to do with it. Last night had one of his closest allies act irrationally by stealing wire cutters. That’s naturally a punishable offense and Matt expectantly takes the fall. In one quick moment, this young leader learned what it meant to both lose control of his people and to be in charge. Plus, the Volm now officially know Matt is in that camp so you can bet Tom will head there next. While I’d prefer to keep Matt on his own solo journey for a bit longer, at least his story growth feels natural.
It was a given that the main cast was all going to come back together at some point, but I honestly didn’t expect it to be so soon. I was really looking forward to watching each character try to solve their own problems without the usual help. Now that Anne has reunited with Lexi, Ben, and Maggie, and the Volm know exactly where Matt is, it almost feels like a big reunion is on the immediate horizon. And we’re only three episodes in! Hopefully the show will hit the breaks in the coming episodes for us to get used to our character’s individual situations. If not, it’ll be difficult to get too invested in events that are quickly abandoned for something else.
Luke Kalamar is Pop-Break.com’s television editor and every Saturday afternoon you can read his retro video game column, Remembering the Classics. He covers Game of Thrones, Saturday Night Live and The Walking Dead (amongst others) every week. As for as his career and literary standing goes — take the best parts of Spider-man, Captain America and Luke Skywalker and you will fully understand his origin story.