Only two episodes in and BBC One’s new sci-fi drama was in severe danger of being dubbed ‘Dourcasts’, but along comes the third instalment with some welcome warmth.
From the get-go, the planet that the humans have inhabited seems to have its own character; reacting against the intrusion of man. The storm (or “whiteouts” as they’re referred to) predicted early on is a ticking time bomb that will take lives and destroy on a level the population have not been witness to previously.
Fortunately, Tipper Malone (Michael Legge) is on hand to help out with the maths on calculating the wheres and whens of the devastation. These skills, however, are but a reminder for his painful past and his family; a past that haunts him continuously. Tipper’s journey, if such an overused word can be used, forms a strong part of the episode’s story and the denouement will have you in tears. He goes from the clichéd and irritating wisecracker to a sorrowful and pitiful character for whom the audience will feel great sympathy.
The oncoming storm gives the opportunity for a number of excellent CG scenes as Carpathia gears up to exact revenge. It would also seem that hallucinations are forming part of the planet’s plan, with more taking place in this episode. Is the planet judging her new occupants? Time will tell.
As expected, deaths do occur, resulting in bravery and emotion in equal measure. Cass, played by Daniel Mays (Ashes To Ashes), endures the massive whiteout to save an “enemy” (though, not really) and finds the favour returned, by another “enemy”. Mays brings a touch of depth to his macho exterior and, like most people on Carpathia, has an intriguing back story slowly being unravelled.
Another main trope of the story is the emergence of Julius Berger, held in suspicion by President Tate and his go-to girl Stella (who both, incidentally, manage to finally raise a smile or two in this episode). Berger continues to charm his way in with the couple and the populace with his handsomely evangelical slant, though it’s quite clear he has an agenda (even if it’s not so obvious what it is, yet).
The final shot of an alliance between two key characters is framed not unlike Darth Vader and the Emperor from the Star Wars saga – both very suspicious, but willing to keep the other close for safety.
Despite the introduction of yet more new characters, where one would have preferred more focus on the ones we already (but barely) know, Episode 3 of Outcasts has lifted its head above the morose. Whilst still keeping the drama very much at the forefront, the lives and liveliness of the characters are now beginning to shine through.
Airs at 9pm on Monday 14th February 2011 on BBC One.