The show's skill at aligning individual plot points and the overall story of Harry's journey continues to narrow as it builds to a satisfying season finale.
- 👽 Judah Prehn continues to be an absolute scene-stealer as Max, simultaneously reluctant to help Harry and concerned in delightfully childlike ways.
- 👽 Elizabeth Bowen is another major asset for the show, not just as Sherriff Thompson's deputy but a sharp rejoinder to smalltown-character cliches.
- 👽 The dynamic between David and Lisa as they hunt for Harry seems to hold future importance but it's been slightly tedious so far.
This post contains spoilers for Resident Alien.
Check out our last review here.
From One Billion Years Ago to two weeks ago, Resident Alien starts with a history lesson that only Harry Vanderspiegle (Alan Tudyk) can provide: “the universe is finite, and smells slightly like burnt caramel corn.” But after last week’s cliffhanger — Harry lured to the site of his ship, which is being monitored by government agents — Isabelle (Elvy) inadvertently rescues him after she follows him there to confront him about drugging her. Their argument fools David (Alex Barima) and Lisa (Mandell Maughan), but Harry arrives home afterward as Isabelle is leaving. He says he wants her to stay because she can cook “the little chickens” for him, but it seems possible that he’s actually grown fond of her, or at least will miss her absence.
The next day, Asta (Sara Tomko) asks Dr. Ethan (Michael Cassidy) about Harry’s diagnosis for Max Hawthorne (Judah Prehn), observing that “terrorphobia” doesn’t sound like a legitimate affliction. Ethan isn’t much help. Meanwhile, Sherriff Thompson (Corey Reynolds) and Deputy Sherriff Liv Baker (Elizabeth Bowen) gather information about Jay (Kaylayla Raine), after Asta conspicuously excluded her from a list of suspects who might have stolen the late doctor’s prescription pad. Asta deflects when Sherriff Thompson tries to inquire further, and makes off before they ask anything that might lead to her divulging the truth that Jay is her daughter.
Realizing that the authorities may not only have his ship, but also his doomsday device, Harry “self-medicates” to work though his frustrations with a bottle of booze and some pills. He passes out, dreaming that his human alter ego, though decomposing and dead, is somehow less of a failure than he is. Across town, Mayor Hawthorne (Levi Fiehler) and his wife Kate prepare to send Max off to the special school that Harry suggested, so he contacts Harry to see what can be done, but Harry is consumed by his depression over having to pretend to be human. After learning he’s overqualified for a job at the bowling alley, Harry consoles himself with a few hours of Galaga, before Asta and D’Arcy (Alice Wetterlund) decide to raise his spirits with a little pot. While the three of them satisfy their munchies at a local noodle house, Harry spots an octopus — or what looks like an octopus — in a fish tank, realizing that it’s actually another member of his species who arrived, well, before he did (hence the One Billion Years Ago flashback).
After a brief conversation between the two rekindling Harry’s motivation to complete his mission, he goes to Max’s house to find out how the boy seems to always know what he’s up to, including how he knows there are alien parts in the back of his truck. Realizing Max’s one-in-a-thousand abnormality that lets him see Harry’s true identity could help uncover the whereabouts of his ship, Harry recants his diagnosis of Max to Ben and Kate, which is simultaneously a relief and an outrage after the strain it exerted on the Hawthornes. Harry, Asta and D’Arcy’s smoke session similarly clarifies some things to Asta, and she tells the police that it’s her ex-husband Jimmy (Ben Cotton) who stole the prescription pad and not Jay. Sherriff Thompson is ready to convict him not only for the pad but for murdering the late doctor, but Liv, beginning to develop more confidence about her own abilities (or perhaps recognizing Sherriff Thompson’s comparative lack of them), suggests that the two crimes are not linked, and they roll to the school to apprehend “the pharmacist.” Liv prevails again when their suspect takes off running, but her lifelong knowledge of the school lets her get ahead of him.
Despite Lisa’s impatience, David takes his time studying Harry’s ship, eventually (correctly) hypothesizing that he’s on Earth in order to destroy it. Ben and Kate continue to work through the fallout of Harry’s misdiagnosis, but Ben oversteps when Kate asks him to challenge her a bit. Sherriff Thompson oversteps himself chastising Liv, prompting her to quit, very loudly and publicly. After Max helps Harry find the last piece of his doomsday device, Harry ventures out to a glacier to recover it, but not before Max tells Asta and D’Arcy about his plans. While Harry’s ship mysteriously activates in the hangar where David and Lisa are studying it, Harry, Asta and D’Arcy prove to be too heavy, making the ice collapse beneath them.
With only two more episodes to go, Resident Alien continues to pick up steam, prompting an interesting quandary among viewers: do they want him to succeed, or fail? Obviously destroying the Earth would be a bad thing; but what would it mean if Harry fails, much less gets exposed by the government? Showrunner Chris Sheridan has done a great job keeping the reins tight on the storytelling, enabling a lot of secondary storylines to evolve without sacrificing the momentum of Harry’s mission. But he has also managed to make us sympathize with Harry and his goals, even if we aren’t sure we want him to prevail.
Todd Gilchrist is a Los Angeles-based film critic and entertainment journalist with more than 20 years’ experience for dozens of print and online outlets, including Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Entertainment Weekly and Fangoria. An obsessive soundtrack collector, sneaker aficionado and member of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, Todd currently lives in Silverlake, California with his amazing wife Julie, two cats Beatrix and Biscuit, and several thousand books, vinyl records and Blu-rays.
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