The ungrateful dead(opens in new tab)
Writer: Jack Thorne
Director: Tom Shankland
The One Where: Paul’s coma looks terminal, giving him a chance to experience life as a Fade, while Polus tests the limitations of his new physical form.
Verdict: Plot-holing, that beloved activity of so many TV fans, was beginning to get a bit too easy with The Fades . It had us all worried; on the surface, everything had been working well – the last few weeks have been nothing if not entertaining – but man, have we needed answers. Thankfully, four weeks in, The Fades delivered.
The re-birth of chief Fade bad-boy Polus into a flesh and blood human-shaped thing, coupled with Paul’s visit to Fadeland, gave us exactly what we’ve been waiting for: crucial explanations as to what the hell has been going on. So what about these revelations? First and foremost, the Fades haven’t been around forever, with Polus speculating that the sheer number of fatalities resulting from the Second World War somehow ‘broke the ladder’ and stopped some of the dead ascending. Personally, I’m a big fan of this as an explanation. It just works – for all we know, the unnatural early deaths of so many millions could well have broken the cosmic escalator to wherever we’re supposed to go next. It’s as if the great order of things became so disgusted that it decided to punish humanity and keep a few of us behind.
That wasn’t all we discovered from the newly corporeal big bad. The looming question thus far has of course been a matter of touch. If Fades can’t touch humans, then how does eating them give them the power to touch if they can’t tuck in to a juicy bit of man-flesh in the first place? Well, good old Pollus had an answer for that as well, delivered to us via a bloodthirsty flashback involving suicide, bloodletting and depression.
Aside from the practicalities of life as a Fade (the inability to open doors, the continual rotting, the use of matter-topped bullets against them), the motivations behind Polus’s hatred of the Angelics was also hammered home. Joe Dempsie stepped into centre stage this week and was all class, whether wandering around the place puking up black gunge looking for all the world like he had a particularly bad Glastonbury or putting the fear of God into Neil.
It wasn’t all about Polus though, oh no; Paul got a taste of life as a Fade, remaining remarkably calm in the face of it, but then it never really felt like he wasn’t going to come back to life at the last minute. The soul-graft ceremony was pleasingly woods witchy, but the really emotional parts of the episode came much earlier. Daniel Kaluuya continues to impress as Mac, his eyes constantly on the brink of crying. His desperate plea towards Paul’s mum not to turn the life support off somehow hit home much more than any of Paul’s family’s reactions to the ailing Angelic’s situation, and if your heart didn’t break when Paul’s mum turned on him then you might well be a Fade yourself. Incidentally, Paul’s ma didn’t exactly hang around once the doctors told her she could switch the life support ofdid she?
Aside from all the terribly sad hospital-based drama, the action really stepped up a notch this week. Polus’s invasion of the Angelic’s bunker had the look of one of those terrifyingly visceral videogames, and it’s no wonder that Neil has been pretty much paralysed by fear now that his friends are gone. Paul’s visions of the apocalypse look increasingly accurate, and based on this week it’s hard to see how the Angelics are going to take them down, with or without Paul.
Geek off: The geek reference dial was turned all the way down this week, but Mac still managed to sneak a couple in. Picking up from the Death Star flaw speech a couple of weeks ago, it was great to see his eyes light up with hope as he told Anna: "I found some really clever wizards! I found the exhaust port!"
Polus: “Do you understand what I just learned? I’m immortal… this is better than I thought.”