Friday, May 17, 2024

REVIEW: 'Sugar' - Sugar Uncovers the Extent of the Mission and a Devastating Betrayal from a Friend in 'Farewell'

AppleTV+'s Sugar - Episode 1.08 "Farewell"

A shocking realization points Sugar toward a discovery that changes everything.

"Farewell" was written by Donald Joh & Sam Catlin and directed by Fernando Meirelles

In the end, it's shocking how inconsequential and void of meaning so much of the narrative was. The majority of time was spent on Sugar. That resulted in the rest of the ensemble being thinly-designed constructs meant to keep the investigation going. When big reveals are eventually produced, they don't have a strong impact because it's hard for the viewer to feel an emotional connection. Sure, it was shocking when Sugar was revealed to be an alien. That was an answer to one central mystery. It allowed some characters to talk more openly about their mission. It provided new context to everything that came before. The show didn't suddenly change from the product it had already delivered at that point. It was still largely grounded in the search for Olivia. She was eventually found. The investigation was much more personal than Sugar realized. Every twist revealed some new betrayal. But again, the show didn't build up those relationships to ensure it stung when those realizations happened. Instead, it's just agonizing trying to get to the next big discovery in the hopes that will eventually make all of this worth it. Ultimately, it was a story in search of something better to say along the way.

Early on, people were concerned Olivia's case would be too personal for Sugar. It reminded him of what happened to his sister. Those were words spoken. However, the investment never came for the audience. It's not until the finale that Sugar shares that he doesn't know what happened to her. That's what inspired this career choice during his time on Earth. Something happened to Jen. He carries that burden everywhere he goes. It's agonizing. It keeps him up at night. Yet the show also let all of those physical ailments fall away as well. They became irrelevant to the plot. Sure, it's dangerous to leave Sugar essentially alone on Earth. He doesn't have access to treat his body should he be injured in a serious way again. However, he must stay because he finally has a lead on Jen's whereabouts. He needs those answers. That's the resolution he seeks. He misses his home. He wants to return one day. He also feels more like himself on Earth. He connects with humanity. It's made him more violent. It's also made him more willing to express himself.

Sugar shares his true identity with Melanie. He has never wanted to do that with a human before. It was something he could never do. Yet he does it under the belief he will be leaving soon. He will never return to Earth. The mission is over. All of that changes. Someone new being let in on the secret could be a compelling creative direction to pursue should the show continue. That would require the story to remain in Los Angeles. That isn't guaranteed given humans have begun hunting down the aliens. Miller is killed. It's all because the son of a U.S. Senator was arrested for being a serial killer. He was given freedom to operate for a long time. He didn't kill Olivia. She was rescued and returned to her family. She was an innocent victim. Her body was meant to be experimented on by the twisted depravity of humanity. Those actions had to be monitored. That's the explanation given for everything the aliens do. They are tasked to observe and report back. It's all to ensure their species doesn't make the same mistakes. They have to learn and be better. Humanity is appealing to some. Not everyone takes up the offer to return home. They are abandoned. It's all in pursuit of a righteous cause. But it's still the suggestion of a plot detached from so much that came before.

Henry was Sugar's best friend. When Sugar needed medical treatment, Henry provided it. When Sugar demanded answers to Olivia's location, Henry shared the truth. He presented as an ally. Sugar couldn't let go of the lingering feeling that he missed something. The Siegel family is largely just appreciative he rescued Olivia. Of course, it's absurd that time is spent questioning if Jonathan is her father or grandfather. That doesn't matter at all. Similarly, it's insane that Margit still believes Sugar has some sinister ulterior motive. The secrets buried within this family just weren't interesting or compelling. They offered no depth whatsoever. They were nothing more than fascinations Sugar noticed. He commented on them. He gets invested in their lives. They hold no bearing on what Sugar needs to do. It's more consequential when Sugar talks to Olivia about her experience. He needs to know the identity of the second man in the basement. In reality, Henry was involved with every depraved turn of this plot. This was the aspect of humanity he wanted to observe. He reported back on it. Ruby accepted those reports. She delivered them and protected the secrets. She's complicit. Sugar can no longer trust her. But again, she was ultimately nothing more than a resource who could provide information without any emotion involved. That's it.

But now, the plot swells with Sugar needing to stay on Earth to find his sister. He believes Henry is responsible for her disappearance. Henry teases that possibility as well. That was the sole clue left behind. He wanted Sugar to find it. He wants this pursuit. It's too tantalizing. It allows Henry to come out as precisely who he has always been. He's the master manipulator who ultimately encourages these dark impulses in humanity. Sugar has been violent on several occasions. That was a reality of his business. It's what he had to do to complete the job. It's not a reflection of his species. It's not the ideal he is meant to uphold. It's who he has become. The narrative overwhelmingly focuses on the ways in which people evolve based on the circumstances that surround them. It's not always for the better. Sugar and Henry have chosen different paths. That's out in the open now. Sugar has the ability to do something about it. It's also just a slog getting to that reveal. It's the show getting to the point of what it wants to be about after a season focusing on more trivial matters. That's just a frustrating way to tell a story. It offers no urgency or even satisfaction by the end. Instead, it's nothing more than a feeling that the inevitability of a conclusion was lackluster despite it being obvious earlier. That self-awareness can't allow the show to overcome its shortcomings though.