Just when I thought RESIDENT ALIEN was running the risk of making the conventional move of softening Harry by having him warm up to humans (which wouldn’t be bad, just expected), episode three steadfastly maintains Harry’s rough edges. We are quickly (and humorously) reminded of all the bad things Harry has been up to – from killing the real doctor to take his place, to plotting to kill the mayor’s son, to working on his mission to destroy humanity. While Harry continues to try to fit in with the humans, he does so in the context of being bad. This is a much more interesting concept, as it establishes a push-pull – should we be rooting for or against him?
This episode centers around Harry’s attempts to find the body of the real Harry before the police do. This dark concept is mined for some of the most humorous lines to date both from Harry and the small town two person police force, both of whom shine in this episode. The introduction of a third member of law enforcement, an unlikely police dog named Cletus cracked me up for some reason (Cletus was one of the deputies in DUKES OF HAZZARD but that could be a coincidence).
As he has been throughout the show, Alan Tudyk is superb playing an alien struggling to fit into society as well as a new body. In this episode, Tudyk relies less on broad physical comedy and more on subtle facial tics and dialogue delivery. While Harry is contending with the body, his cold war against the mayor’s son continues. I’m hard on child actors, but Judah Prehn is doing some great work as Max.
This episode makes some interesting moves with its supporting characters, giving them some play outside of anything to do with Harry. Asta in particular is given an unrelated backstory that we learn through a night out with D’Arcy the bartender. I’m not sure where that is going or if it is necessary at this point, but Asta and D’Arcy are likable (D’Arcy steals every scene she is in) and the detour eventually sort of connects to the main storyline.
The writers seem to recognize that Harry’s juggling of his secrets can only go on so long without becoming tedious. Similarly, it is nearly impossible to drag out who killed the original town doctor for a whole season. To that end, a new plot line is introduced near the end of the episode that provides an opportunity to take the show in an exciting new direction. Thus far, the show continues to strike a great balance between dark comedy, mystery, and science fiction. Plus, this episode possibly features an alien in a cowboy hat.
The third episode of RESIDENT ALIEN is now available via SYFY’s On-Demand service. Check back soon for my thoughts on episode 4 which premieres today.
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