Tuesday, May 31, 2022

REVIEW: 'Tom Swift' - Tom Hopes His Inventions Can Unravel the Truth Of What Happened to His Father in '...And the Liftoff to Saturn'

The CW's Tom Swift - Episode 1.01 "...And the Liftoff to Saturn"

As a brilliant inventor with unlimited resources and unimaginable wealth, the devilishly charming Tom Swift is a man who many men would kill to be, or be with - a man with the world in the palm of his hand. That world gets shaken to its core after the shocking disappearance of his father, thrusting Tom into an adventure full of mysterious conspiracies and unexplained phenomena. On his whirlwind quest to unravel the truth, Tom finds himself fighting to stay one step ahead of an Illuminati-scale cabal hellbent on stopping him.

"...And the Liftoff to Saturn" was written by Melinda Hsu Taylor, Noga Landau & Cameron Johnson and directed by Anton Cropper

Tom Swift was introduced as a character in a second season episode of Nancy Drew. It was a solid debut as he essentially stepped into the mystical world of that particular show. Since then, Nancy Drew has aired another complete season. However, it won't be returning to The CW until 2023. That leaves this spinoff as a new venture to captivate that audience. And yet, this show approaches its storytelling in a different way. Yes, it showcases a world full of impossibilities. In this case, it's driven by technology and not supernatural feats. Tom Swift is billed as an incredible inventor. He has an all powerful artificial intelligence in his watch. He can completely reinvent the soap industry in an evening. His lifelong dream has been to send his father to Saturn. From a young age, he pledged to send him to space and deliver him safely back to Earth. That adventure has now begun. It was only meant to be a yearlong voyage. Instead, it's quickly plunged into horror and despair. It appears as if Barton's ship explodes six months into the journey. When the ship is meant to make contact from the distant planet, it only offers the crushing defeat of failure. In that moment, Tom faces the limits of his scientific exploration as well as the death of his father. Of course, he has a contentious relationship with Barton. Tom's father has certain expectations for what it means to be the CEO of a multi-billion dollar company. He sees Tom as too sensitive and weak. These adjectives are used as replacements for what he truly hates: Tom being gay. They are stand-ins for what bothers him instead of speaking frankly about it. Tom feels it in every single interaction. It places the burden on him to be excellent in so many regards. However, he refuses to compromise his identity in the process. It may all be a reaction to his father's hatred. And yet, Tom lives proudly and openly. He wants to lead his own way. That can often come across as being selfish. He certainly falls into that category from time to time. It can't be completely blamed on his immaturity and refusal to grow up. He is meant to accept a certain aspect of what's required of him. Instead, he wants to blow up the system entirely. He doesn't care about the world of the Black elite. Lorraine loves and supports him completely. And yet, his mother also wants him to change in order to be accepted in this society they all revere so much. Zenzie wants that for her best friend too. However, she leads mostly be calling him out for his bad behavior. She is always game for an adventure. Her agency simply must be a priority too. Tom can achieve nothing by himself. He has to accept that with dignity and grace. It's the only way he is going to topple the vast conspiracy hellbent on destroying his life's work.

Road Back is a nefarious group that wants to limit the evolution of technology within society at large. The Swift family have been prominent supporters of Congressman Nathan Eskol. His political career was launched because he had the backing and influence of this family. And now, he's in direct opposition to what this family has idolized for so long. It's puzzling as to why such deep partnerships could have formed between people with conflicting views. It also plays into the reality that politicians are inherently deceitful. They wield their influence to advance their own secret agendas. Every moment with them has to be seen with inherent suspicion. That extends to anyone in their orbit. The Swift family is protected to a certain extent. They are close with Eskol. However, they believe they hold the power and influence over him. The reverse may actually be true. Eskol has the resources to make Barton's spaceship explode at the most opportune moment. Of course, Barton has enough awareness to know the mission is in danger. He can escape the most immediate harm. He's still alive. Even after the family grieves this loss, Tom refuses to accept that he is powerless. He can still make a difference by solving this mystery. It first presents as him needing to know how responsible he was. If he failed his father in this way, then everything Barton ever said about him was right. He can't be trusted with anything this family has embodied for generations. Tom receives his answers. He has the ability to fight against this nefarious organization. In doing so, he still turns his back on the people who have always supported him. He doesn't care about their feelings. He runs away from his responsibilities when his mother needs him the most. He can openly declare his intentions to become CEO of the company on a permanent basis. He doesn't have to lead in the same way his father conditioned his chosen successor to be. Tom is capable of so much more. He has always wanted to embrace the flamboyancy of life. Everyone has noticed that. Some encourage and support it. Others condemn him for acting that way. He is a powerful figure at the center of the show. He still prioritizes his own needs. That may be an ongoing struggle. However, he has the capacity to show his appreciation for others. He still has to be careful with who he trusts. Rowan gets close solely to corrupt Barclay's system. Tom wants to believe he is running a tight operation. He is compromised in ways he can't imagine yet. That may prove the hypocrisy of those within Road Back. They are still a dangerous threat regardless of what they aspire to do with the power and influence they wield. That's at the heart of the show with Tom hoping to use his inventions for good even when most are made to serve his own personal narrative of fulfillment.