Tuesday, February 22, 2022

REVIEW: 'Naomi' - Naomi Seeks Normalcy During a Camping Trip But Finds a New Mystery to Investigate in 'Shadow Ridge'

The CW's Naomi - Episode 1.05 "Shadow Ridge"

With Naomi still shaken by her terrifying encounter with the bounty hunter, Dee continues training her on controlling her thoughts and emotions and, therefore, her powers. As Naomi and Nathan rekindle their romance, the class sets off on an exciting week-long camping excursion.

"Shadow Ridge" was written by Jason Ganzel and directed by Stephanie Turner

Naomi is terrified. She remains haunted following her close encounter with the bounty hunter. She knows that if Dee hadn't shown up something terrible would have happened to her. She can't cope with the idea that he will always be there to protect her. He was in this particular instance. She hopes to gain stronger with her powers. And yet, the threats will keep on coming. The more she comes into her own the more dangerous the world seemingly becomes. She wants to know more. She trusts Dee to teach her. She trusts her friends to help her navigate this stress. She and her parents are finally honest with each other fully. The fear still continues. Naomi can't hide from it. She can't act as if it doesn't reside within her. That's not healthy. That's the point Dee is trying to make with his meditation lessons. It's all about acknowledging one's feelings and coping with them. Naomi's powers are triggered by her emotions. If she is at all unstable, then the world around her starts going crazy. That can put her friends and family in danger. She doesn't want that. However, she also wants the peace of being a normal teenager. She hopes to enjoy time away on a school camping trip. She can do so without having to investigate some alien mystery that may connect to her past. That's the precise distraction she needs. However, it too soon gets wrapped up in the need to explain a sickness that harms Anthony. It's a story not immediately connected to the overall concerns of the narrative. It's Naomi continuing to operate as she does best. It's out of character when she suggests that it's too dangerous to continue. It would be safer if they simply called the police once they returned home. The way she handles danger is different than her friend's though. Annabelle mentions that. Naomi doesn't want any of her friends to get hurt. However, she can make a difference in getting to the bottom of this mystery now. Sure, Anthony still involves himself in a way that hurts him even more. It's all done with the intention of proving Naomi has romantic feelings for him as well. It's also convenient that he doesn't ultimately remember her using her powers in order to stop the alien mining this dangerous resource. That ensures the status quo remains. Annabelle knows the truth while Nathan and Anthony are in the dark.

Of course, Nathan still requires more from Naomi. She reignited their relationship because it provided comfort when she needed it. And now, she's realizing that she only wants to enjoy the good times. The fears of what could happen are terrifying. She never wanted to lose the happy moments. That's what it was like when they previously dated. She didn't want anything to disturb what was overall perfect. It was her acting out of fear. He is incredibly trusting and loving. He genuinely supports her. He lets her stand out as an individual. He knows when she needs a push and when she deserves to be the fearless leader that she is. He provides comfort and stability. That's as simple as this dynamic needs to be right now. Sure, it can become incredibly melodramatic once others make their moves on Naomi. Right now, she has made a choice. One that is respected by her friends. It never takes away from her ability to help Anthony. It delays having an honest conversation with Nathan. That too is notable. That's just as serious for a teenager. These emotions are scary. She can't hide from them. She is learning how to address them. That doesn't immediately fix everything. In fact, plenty of danger awaits her back in Port Oswego. The bounty hunter is injured but still determined to return with his target. Dee and Zumbado have to team up to protect their interests in this community and with Naomi. They can exploit those personal motivations even though the show continues to talk around their shared history. It's not really informed by what has already been seen onscreen. Meanwhile, Greg and Jennifer are worried the military's activities in the area will expose Naomi as an alien. They will do anything to avoid that potentially fatal fate. They know the military views all aliens as threats. That danger is out there. They are eager to find the evidence that proves their theories. Greg and Jennifer are armed with the truth. That nuance isn't what the government is willing to hear. And so, they lie and steal evidence. That will likely create its own host of issues they will have to deal with. The fallout will be great. It's all in service to Naomi. Protecting her is what matters the most to so many of these characters. Sure, some need more personal agency as well. Attempts are certainly made here with the adult ensemble. However, that mostly just showcases how limited and small the storytelling ambitions can be.