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‘Resident Alien’ 1.02 Review: Homesick

As Harry begins to learn the ropes as a doctor, he also starts to discover some of the emotions that drive his patients.

In 'Homesick,' Harry Vanderspiegle (Alan Tudyk), an alien disguised as a human doctor, squares off against Max Hawthorne (Judah Prehn), a boy who's the only person that can see his real form.
(Image: © Syfy)

Our Verdict

Picking up from the pilot, the series hits the ground running with its funny, thoughtful perspective on human feelings from an outsider's point of view.

For

  • 👽 As Max, Judah Prehn is fast becoming a brilliant adversary against Harry, since they both seem to have the same maturity level.
  • 👽 Introducing smalltown rivalries like those between D'Arcy (Alice Wetterlund) and Judy (Jenna Lamia) gives the town, and the ensemble, an appealing dimensionality.

Against

  • 👽 Mayor Hawthorne continues to be the weakest link among the characters.

This post contains spoilers for Resident Alien.
Check out our last review here.

At the end of the Resident Alien pilot, audiences learn two important details after Harry (Alan Tudyk), its alien in human clothing, is forced to engage with locals in nearby Patience, Colorado after the death of their beloved town doctor: Harry’s not exploring Earth to study it, but destroy it; and poison closed up the doctor’s throat, leading to his self-administered (and failed) tracheotomy. But if Harry’s CSI-addled alien brain is curious about the perpetrator (clun-clun!), at the beginning of episode 2, “Homesick,” he’s preoccupied by the responsibilities of becoming the town’s interim general practitioner. Meanwhile, a backpacker in the woods accidentally stumbles across — or more accurately, onto — his hidden spaceship, but like the rest of humankind (and Harry himself), he can’t see it. 

Harry does recover a piece of the device he’s looking for, a label that ominously announces “Full Extinction Event.” But the first patient on Harry’s first day is none other than Max (Judah Prehn), the one boy in a thousand who can see his alien form for what it is — and Harry immediately attempts to kill him. Narrowly escaping, Max, the neurotic son of Patience’s mayor Ben, joins his father in his office, where he promptly reports the news to no-nonsense Sherriff Mike Thompson (Corey Reynolds), who unsurprisingly does not believe that the town’s new doctor is a murderer, and worse, an alien from outer space. As Sherriff Thompson’s deputy, Liv Baker (Elizabeth Bowen), consoles the boy by attempting to draw a sketch of the extraterrestrial perpetrator, Harry turns his full attention — via a series of quick Google searches — to caring for his patients, utilizing his background as an alien scientist to master the treatments he must administer.

Still new at interacting with humans, Harry’s bedside manner leaves much to be desired. His day quickly gets worse when his nurse Asta’s (Sara Tomko) father Dan (Gary Farmer) reacts as if he can see his true form, and discovers that Max has posted flyers all over town with Deputy Sherriff Baker’s remarkably accurate sketch posted on them. A conversation with Asta about her past prompts Harry to feel homesick, although he can’t recognize that particular emotion, so he decides to drown his sorrows at local watering hole The 59, where bartender D’Arcy (Alice Wetterlund) jokingly offers him advice about how to make his murder of Max look like an accident to avoid suspicion. He simultaneously (and inadvertently) makes a date with D’Arcy to go bowling. But the next day while he’s fantasizing about the many violent ways that he can kill Max, Harry begins a new phase of his human career as Mayor Hawthorne’s psychologist, a skill that Ben knows his now-deceased human counterpart possessed before he moved to Patience. Their session becomes more valuable to Harry when Ben starts talking about his feelings of emptiness, a sensation Harry is beginning to recognize all too vividly although he doesn’t know why.

Before he and Ben and fully drill down into what’s going on with either of them, the late Dr. Hodges’ wife Abigail (Deborah Finkel) interrupts the session and starts loading up her husband’s possessions from his office — even though it’s still considered a crime scene, or at least Asta wants it to be. Harry later meets up with D’Arcy for their bowling date, where he encounters Sherriff Thompson and learns some important information about how soon the local snow may start melting, giving Harry an idea how to dispose of Max. We also learn a bit about the relationship between D’Arcy and Judy (Jenna Lamia), two Patience lifers who hilariously snipe at each other. The next morning, Harry seems to be finding his stride as the town doctor — his bracing honesty is welcome after his predecessor’s soft-pedaled truths — but is disappointed to discover that his ploy to kill Max didn’t succeed. He and Max square off as Harry administers stitches, continuing their sophomoric rivalry (even though it potentially has deadly stakes).

As Asta’s once-estranged father points out how upset she seems to be about the death of Dr. Hodges, she realizes what she seems to be holding onto, and starts to make peace, and more of a connection with Dan. Additionally, they perform a Native American ritual where he cuts some of her hair, and Dan encourages her to burn her scrubs in order to release Sam’s spirit from the Earth. Asta reflects not only on Sam’s absence, and Harry arrives at that moment, offering to play cards with her like she declined to do with Sam on the night that he died. Harry finally recognizes that what he’s feeling is loneliness — a sensation interrupted when he locates tellurium in the local mine, and leading him towards his doomsday device. But at the exact moment he becomes emboldened to complete his mission, a pair of humans on snowmobiles arrives at the site of the device, snapping a picture at the odd and unexplained image of that hiker from the beginning of the episode, now a frozen, rotted corpse floating above them in the air.

The pieces of Harry’s mission are now in motion, but so are the feelings in his human form. An emotional quandary seems inevitable for Harry, but the show’s wry humor continues to undercut too many sentimental payoffs even as it skillfully and compassionately looks at human emotions from the perspective of a main character who’s never experienced them before.