Monday, August 14, 2017

REVIEW: 'People of Earth' - A Night of Karaoke Sets the Stage for Ozzie's Escape in 'Always a Day Away'

TBS' People of Earth - Episode 2.04 "Always a Day Away"

Gina uses her birthday party to distract Agent Foster so that Ozzie can sneak out to meet Walsh. The Cube pressures Jeff to clean up the ship. Don wants to tell Kelly a secret. Father Doug and Chelsea find it's hard to get out of their previous commitments.

People of Earth has been teasing a big meeting between Jonathan Walsh and Ozzie where Ozzie will get all of his questions answered for awhile now. That was the big twist at the end of the first season. Ozzie discovered that he was taken by Walsh as a child and became a part of a group of people continually taken by aliens. That was a game-changing twist. But since then, the show has been using stalling techniques to keep from revealing too much information about what all of this means. Walsh has the information that Ozzie and the rest of the group desires. He is no longer working with the rest of the reptilians. He has gone rogue. He is now being hunted by his own people. His only allies have been Officer Glimmer and Nancy. His time laying low has also forced him to become addicted to fast food. That's been a great recurring joke throughout this season. And yet, the show has still just been playfully teasing this meeting between Walsh and Ozzie. It's important and going to happen sooner rather than later. It's just frustrating that it doesn't happen in "Always a Day Away." There's the tease that it is going to. Ozzie has a plan to ditch Agent Foster to meet up with Walsh. That's the entire premise of this episode. But the story is mostly about the escape and not the eventual meet up. It sets the stage for next week's episode to be important. But this one isn't as revealing as it had the potential to be.

Of course, it's still a ton of fun to see Ozzie enlist the help of the group in order to escape Agent Foster. She has forced her way into his life. She isn't leaving his side until she has Walsh in custody. It's a deal she made when he agreed to help her arrest Walsh in order to free Richard. That plan didn't work but Foster is still sticking to her convictions. She doesn't want to be in Beacon any longer than she needs to be. But right now, Ozzie is her only lead. So, she isn't letting him escape and do something behind her back. That's good for a couple of really solid jobs about her just being there with him as he goes about his day in Beacon. She has thoughts about everything that he is doing. The mundane suddenly becomes very funny because Foster is critical of Ozzie's life choices. She questions the practicality of buying Gina a birthday card when they know that she'll just throw it into the garbage before the night is over. Of course, there is significance to the birthday card as well. It's Ozzie's way of delivering a message to Gina without Foster being able to hear it. Sure, it's awkward when the group suggests Gina read the card aloud. But that doesn't get in the way of Ozzie's plan. His cover is still intact.

Ozzie is determined to escape Agent Foster because he's desperate for answers. And yet, the show has really brought her into the fold this season. She's become a significant character in the narrative. She has somewhat replaced Ozzie as the outsider to this community who is skeptical of anything relating to aliens. Now, Ozzie is the true believer trying to get people to take him seriously. And just like Ozzie, it seems clear that Foster's life has been touched by aliens as well. It's played as a surprising twist. Don once again returns to Earth in order to speak with Kelly. He needs to tell her the truth about who he really is. That leads to a very amusing moment where he keeps coming out to her and then erasing her memory because she reacts horribly. On one hand, it's satisfying because it's the truth being revealed to Kelly after she's been deceived for so long. She justifiably has the appropriate reaction to be deceived like this. But on the other hand, the show resets the dynamic immediately with the truth not being revealed at all. Instead, Don just says that he is marred. Kelly is still upset about that but able to process it in a way that she couldn't with the alien reveal. But bringing things back to Foster, she sees Don and immediately has a flash of memory of her as a baby seeing someone who looks like him. It's an ominous tease because it suggests that she has been abducted by aliens for years as well. And of course, she has no awareness of what's been going on all of this time.

Other than that this is an important spotlight episode for Agent Foster. She's been so focused on the job for the majority of the season. As such, it's fun to see her cut loose and just hang out with the other regular characters. Sure, it's all a setup so that Ozzie can escape and meet with Walsh. But it also just produces a fun episode where the characters go out for karaoke. They are all pushing for Foster to get drunk and get up on the stage to perform. She even secretly reveals that she is phenomenal at karaoke. But when she actually performs, the emotions shift from fun and lighthearted to a window into the troubled soul of another individual. Foster chose to perform "The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow" because it holds personal significance to her. She relates to the story of Annie because she too is an orphan. She knows all there is to know about orphans. She knows all the famous orphan stories and how they relate to her own situation. She's well-versed in the tale of orphans. But this moment is of her truly revealing herself to the characters and the audience. This is clearly a personal issue for her. She desperately wants to know more about her parents but keeps coming up empty in the search. It overwhelms her in the moment and makes everyone around her very uncomfortable. Afterwards, she lashes out at them for tricking her like this. It's a brutal moment that will lead to an even more tense dynamic in the future.

Meanwhile up on the alien ship, Eric has come up with a new plan to show just how incompetent Jeff is at his job. He has had a personal vendetta against him all season long for seemingly no reason. It's just made for a truly great story because Jeff can't handle all of these new changes. And now, the show is once again revealing just how powerful Eric truly is. He forces Jeff into discarding with his most personal item he has on the ship: Kurt's body. Jeff had to give up his mission to avenge Kurt's death because of the new management on the ship. He hasn't had the time to focus on it anymore. But he still clearly misses Kurt. At first, it seems like the kiss they share is enough to spark Kurt back to life. That's a fantastic visual because it plays as a fairytale moment where true love's kiss saves someone. Kurt comes back to Jeff. But it's also clear that Jeff loves Kurt much more than Kurt loves Jeff. They are still friends. Kurt is still traumatized by cars and wants to know how useless Don is at his job. But it's all a trap as well. It's more than likely that Eric is responsible for bringing Kurt back to life. He's done so in order to prove his point about Jeff not being a good employee. He literally stopped doing his job and is just sitting around talking with his old friend. He didn't follow orders to destroy everything in the storage room. And now, Jeff has a decision to make. Does he allow Kurt to re-enter this world and the questions everyone will obviously have? Or will he try to keep him a secret and risk being exposed and fired by Eric? It's a very precarious situation for him that is a lot of fun for the audience.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Always a Day Away" was written by Charla Lauriston and directed by Jennifer Celotta.
  • Is Eric too powerful? He's starting to become that way. He's been a fun addition to this new season. However, he's easily able to get into Gerry's mind to activate him when the time comes for it. Plus, he's now apparently able to bring aliens back from the dead. He could already tell when people are lying. It makes him an effective boss. But is he too powerful as a result? Especially since we don't know his true motivations?
  • Walsh is now hiding out in a cabin in the woods. It's a spot where he hopes the reptilian assassin won't find him before Ozzie arrives. Nancy has taken the first watch because she believes she doesn't need a man to protect her. But as the episode closes, she hears something in the woods. It could be either friend (Ozzie) or foe (the assassin).
  • Gerry and Yvonne packed Ozzie a bunch of items for his trip to see Walsh. So apparently, everyone knew that it was going to be an arduous journey for him out to the middle of nowhere. It's not an easy place to get to. However, Gerry and Yvonne doing this for their friend makes them seem very sweet. They are a very healthy couple - at least until Gerry is activated for the aliens.
  • Things aren't going well for Father Doug and Chelsea as they try to date the right way. The Bishop won't let Doug out of his vows for at least another six months while Chelsea's husband has returned home promising to be a much better husband to her after a near-death experience. Doug and Chelsea want to be with each other but it's growing more difficult.
  • Don has a Men in Black-device that erases people's memories of anything alien related. That's a fun reveal that is played over and over again to great effect. Don's later montage of him spiraling into despair over losing Kelly is pretty great too. Though him ending up at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting seems a little random.