Last night's midseason finale of Tomorrow People contained a slew of great scenes in which the characters seemed to be coming to life and becoming living, breathing people. Tough choices were made. Relationships shifted. And meanwhile, the plot... was sort of plonking.
Most of this recap is just going to be me listing all of the relationships that seem to be clicking on this show. But first, let's dispose of the actual plot, both of this episode and of the series generally.
The overarching storyline of Tomorrow People is still about looking for Roger Price, Stephen Jameson's father and the Tomorrow People's ex-leader. There's a wrinkle, in that the new T.P. leader, John, shot Roger fatally right before defecting to the T.P. But now it appears that Roger made the leap to "Limbo," a special dimension between life and death, in his dying moments — and Stephen has glimpsed him there.
So now Stephen is determined to reach his father in Limbo, even as everyone else deals with the revelation that John shot Roger. First he tries to stop time while teleporting, which I guess is different from teleporting while time is stopped, and that doesn't work. Then he rents a copy of Joel Schumacher's classic movie Flatliners, and realizes that he needs to be braindead for this to work.
We'll avoid the obvious joke here.
So a lot of the episode is about Stephen figuring out that he needs to have a near-death experience, and preparing for it, and saying a possible goodbye to the people in his life, and then going through with it. Along the way, Professor Crick (played by the original John from the 1970s Tomorrow People) dispenses one last bit of exposition before being gunned down, in one of the cheesiest scenes ever filmed.
In other storylines, John is a prisoner of Ultra at the start of the episode, where his secret is revealed. To get him out, the Tomorrow People have to kidnap Jedikiah's secret mutant girlfriend Morgan. And Jedikiah has to figure out how to keep Morgan safe — first by delivering her back to the Tomorrow People who just kidnapped her, and then by faking her death.
So yeah... the whole "near-death experience to find the mutant leader" plot seems a bit underwhelming. The mutant-hunting organization Ultra continues to seem flat-footed and a bit feeble. You would think a show about super-mutants would go a bit crazier with the plotlines.
In fact, one wonders if Tomorrow People couldn't take a few leaves from shows like The Vampire Diaries, and just start going bonkers with the non-stop plot twists, instead of rationing them at the rate of one every couple episodes. Either that, or really reach for realism, and try to craft a plot that doesn't strain credulity. But right now, the show is — wait for it — in Limbo, trapped between being totally bonkers, and being quasi-realistic. Pick a side, guys.
The good news? The characters are mostly working.
The relationships between Cara and John (and Cara and Stephen) still feel a bit shrug-worthy. But almost every other relationship on this show is starting to feel grounded and interesting.
In particular — Stephen's relationship with his mom is a major highlight of this episode. They get several scenes together, in which he pushes her for information and she holds back, and you can see how desperate she is for him not to turn out like his crazy dad. And then later, when Stephen pretends he didn't learn anything and even seems like he wants to be a normal kid and have friends over, the hope on her face is sort of heart-rending.
Also, thank goodness this episode has some Astrid in it. And she finally gets to meet the Tomorrow People! And Russell hits on her! And she calls John a troll but also kind of checks him out. (I am shipping Astrid/John so hard.) And she is a super good friend to Stephen, recognizing that he's scared even when he's trying to put on a good front.
Jedikiah also has some good stuff this time around. The criminally underused Mark Pellegrino (that should be his official title from here on out) shows how much he still thinks of John as his son, while he's helping John escape to save the life of his mutant girlfriend. And the moment when Jedikiah realizes he can't keep Morgan secret from the Founder, the bearded supermutant Sith Lord, is pretty intense. It's also to Pellegrino's credit that you sort of buy for a moment that Jedikiah might have killed Morgan because he couldn't keep her hidden.
Also, Stephen is a bit more sympathetic this time around — he absorbs the revelation that John shot his dad, but doesn't let go of his conviction that his dad is alive and out there. The whole "I'm the chosen one" thing is kind of crap, but his faith isn't. And the scene where he asks Cara, as his last wish, to forgive John is super nice.
Oh, and the Founder is getting a bit more impressive than he was in his first somewhat anticlimactic appearance — more force-choking, please. Maybe some force-lightning, too. (If your telekinesis is good enough, I bet you can control electromagnetic fields. Right?)
So the plots on The Tomorrow People are still a little bit wobbly, to say the least. But at least the characters and relationships are feeling a lot more solid. That's probably better than the other way around.