What do you do when you’re in over your head? That was theme for tonight’s episode of The Tomorrow People. “In Too Deep” showed just how much of a detriment Stephen’s inexperience is to him as he navigates his new duel life as a member of the Tomorrow People and Ultra-double agent.
In my review for the premiere, I expressed a hope that executive producer Greg Berlanti would avoid the “freak of the week” (or in this case, “break out of the week”) trope that’s all-too common when it comes to sci-fi series. I came into the this week expecting to really loathe it due to the fact that the trope was being used already, but I was pleasantly surprised at how writers Phil Klemmer and Jeff Rake balanced the stale practice by layering character development throughout the script. It’s important for viewers to develop relationships with the characters, and the only way to accomplish that is to give us a reason to love or hate them. This episode did that and more.
The central plot of “In Too Deep” involved the search for a new break-out, a teen named Kurt. He goes missing after Cara first tries to make contact with him, and puts himself on Ultra’s radar when he uses his powers to commit crimes. He forces people to rob banks and later upgrades to armored trucks. The episode begins with a Stephen chasing him on the roof, where he’s overpowered and faces sure death. The show then flashes back to three days earlier, spending the rest of the episode leading you up to the point in the first segment.
Stephen tasked with the duty of looking after his brother while his mother works extra shifts. In typical teen fashion, he’d rather blow of his responsibility to focus on his own drama. Later, during telepathic training drills at Ultra with his partner Vaughn, Stephen backs out completing the exercise when he realizes Vaughn could access his memories – possibly exposing his deception and revealing his continued contact with the Tomorrow People. He pays a visit his fellow super powered allies doesn’t receive the warmest reception. John and Cara give him the cold shoulder when he reaches out for help while trying to motivate them to fight back against their hunters. John resents Stephen’s arrogance and implication that his sacrifice is somehow greater than the others. Everyone in the group has made sacrifices and Stephen’s continued involvement with Ultra, against their wishes, will only put them in danger. “Getting inside your head is just the beginning. You haven’t even scratched the surface at what they can do,” warned John. “As long as you’re down here, the rest of us aren’t safe.” He’s right.
When Stephen naively believes Dr. Price only wants to strip the break-outs of their powers, he’s in for a rude awakening when a tact team is sent in to kill the teen. When he confronts Jed, his uncle reminds him that they are at war and the overall safety of humanity trumps everything else. Obviously that’s not something he signed up for and turns to the Tomorrow People for help. “When a break-out demonstrates anti-social behavior, they take more extreme measures,” said Cara during their meeting.
Stephen’s compassion for Kurt is admirable. He doesn’t want anything bad to happen to Kurt, isn’t going to let the inaction of the Tomorrow People keep that from happening. He later tries to connect with Kurt, explaining that he too has a family and knows what it’s like to worry for your mom. Unfortunately Ultra is also on Kurt’s tail and a chase ensues to catch up. Cara and John provide assistance after Stephen knocks out his partner, arriving just in time to safe Stephen (again).
Meanwhile back at Ultra HQ, Dr. Price isn’t pleased with the developments of the day and plans on making someone pay for the failure. When’s forced to content with a senior telepath during his debriefing. He mentally reaches out for help and Cara tells him to flood his mind with a powerful image to keep them from reading his mind. He taps into the emotions from the night his father left and manages to fend them off for the time being.
He passes his debriefing with flying colors – raising the suspicions of Dr. Price. The doctor is sure Stephen’s been in contact with the Tomorrow people and is confident when the time arises, he’ll lead Ultra right to them, resulting in their termination
As for Vaughn, he paid the ultimate price for failure. And though Jed tries to keep Stephen from finding out what actually happened, a simple phone call leads him to discovering the truth for himself.
Bad Guy? Maybe Not…
As a fan of serialized storytelling, I take special interest in the motivations of all the characters — even those perceived as bad. Mark Pellegrino’s Jedikiah is probably the most fascinating character on the series. Though Jed’s role in the story far is the “villain,” I’m beginning to wonder just how much of a bad guy he really is.
Pellegrino’s ability inject nuances into his performances calls into question whether Dr. Price is truly a villain or one of circumstance. The Tomorrow People’s super powered abilities pose great risk to the stability of the world. While they’re incapable of killing for the time being, the possibility that they could evolve to the point of doing so makes them a very credible threat. In his desire to control and contain, he’s become the very threat that he fears the Tomorrow People could pose. Am I the only one who sees similarities between Dr. Price and X-Men’s Magneto?
Showing Stephen struggle with learning to control his new powers was a great decision. As he said in his voiceover, sometimes they work perfectly – telekinetically cleaning his room; and sometimes they don’t – teleporting in the storage closet and into a bucket of water at school. His lack of control over his powers, as well as his greenness in the field would play a major role in the episode – not just in the hunt for the new break-out but in developing his character as well.
His involvement with Ultra and the Tomorrow People lands him in trouble with his mother when he neglects his responsibilities at home. His younger brother tried to cover for him, it’s clear how disappointed his mother is with him – especially when she learns he’s off his meds. Of course, Stephen can’t come clean with her but he does assure her he’ll pay another visit to his doctor. While hugging his mother, he accidentally reads her mind and accesses a painful memory from his father walking out on them.
While with Cara, he remembers his own memory from the night is father left, when his dad asked him to look out for the family. Stephen tells Cara that’s why it’s so important for him to find his father – he can’t let his last memory of him be that. “I’m gonna do what he asked me to do. I’m gonna take care of my family,” Stephen says. “I’m going to be a better brother; a better son and a better friend to both of our species. Because what I’ve realized is that I can’t turn my back on either of them. The only way I can do all of this is by pretending to be a good solider, by working for my uncle. Staying one step ahead of him. And that is what I’m going to do.”
The chemistry between John and Cara is electric. It’s so raw, it’s so passionate and full of sexual tension. The scene where they’re sparring, using their powers and essentially rolling around while arguing about Stephen was kind of erotic.
The Reluctant Leader
John seems comfortable in the role of the Tomorrow People’s defacto leader, but doesn’t take too kindly to having his authority challenged. In his mind, he believes he’s doing what’s right by trying to focus on survival instead of confrontation with Ultra. Though he’s stubborn, he’s demonstrated that he won’t let anything bad happen to one of his own, even when they defy him.
The CW certainly didn’t shortchange themselves by picking two physically fit men to lead their show. Robbie Amell and Luke Mitchell have abs that look like they were sculpted in an art museum.