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Childhood's End - Night Two: The Deceivers - Review: "Paradise On Earth?"

Childhood's End Miniseries Episode Guide
1.01 - Night One - Overlords - Review
1.02 - Night Two - The Deceivers - Review
1.03 - Night Three - The Children - Review Coming Soon

Reviewer's Note: Apologies for the delay in getting this review up! I'll have coverage of Night Three up tomorrow, so remember to stay tuned for that. Thanks!

Night Two: The Deceivers
Directed by Nick Hurran & Written by Matthew Graham

The second night of Childhood's End followed on from the first's cliffhanger, which handled the shocking revelation of Karellen as being a demonic figure very well indeed, capturing the shocked reactions of humans around the world when they witnessed what they were dealing with. It was a great way to set up Overlords even if we knew thanks to the teaser at the start of the first episode that things would go wrong for humanity, with only Milo left at the end. The question remained though, how do we get to that point? The Deceivers did a solid job at providing a nice way for us to get there. The episode itself mainly focused on building a utopia for Earth and its people, in an interesting way indeed, with minimal bloodshed.

This episode improved on the pacing problems that Overlords suffered from, now no longer relying on information dumps and instead allowing audiences to witness a proper story that the show was developing further. The look of Karellen’s form was instantly eye-catching and continued to have its presence felt throughout The Deceivers, and played a role in altering people's perceptions over the course of the episode. However what made things more surprising was that a possible paradise and utopia was actually accepted by the majority of the population of Earth, with people gradually falling in line as a new age for humanity was seemingly ushered in. The episode itself picks up four years after the introduction of Karellen and explores characters who have changed overtime - few mini-series with such a short episode count can afford to pull off time-jumps correctly, but this one seems to do, as we find ourselves looking at older versions of the characters who we met on Night One. Billionaire Rupert Boyce (Julian McMahon) thanks to an alliance with Karellen, has kept the Boyce Institute despite the near total demise of both Religion and Science. It's as Karellen that Dance really shines and continues to be a stellar addition to the series, making the Overlord a physically imposing and intimidating figure that leaves an impact with the audience. It's safe to say that he's by far the best character in the mini-series, whilst the others around him are hit and miss, some are solid, but there are a few that don't quite work out as well as they should, which is always a risk when a series tries to tackle as many characters as this one does.

For the humans, Milo the astrophysicist whose life was saved by the Overlords is one of the stronger characters as he takes centre stage over the course of The Deceivers, a welcome change from having Ricky's character in the spotlight, who I wasn't too keen on. Milo feels more grounded, and Osy Ikhile handles the character well. However, Ricky is still present in the background of the episode, and plays a heavy role at the conclusion of Night Two as we learn that he has become sick thanks to a curse from the Overlords, and also finds out that Karellen has made him unable to have children. This makes for an interesting decision when Ricky tries to save Karellen anyway after he's attacked by Peretta, who hasn't been converted by Karellen's promises and remains insistent that she has not lost her faith. How her character progressed over the course of the episode is an interesting one that doesn't always work out as effectively as it should have done, with her story feeling somewhat muddled and isn't really anything that we haven't seen before, her character fitting into a stereotypical role fairly easily.

Meanwhile Amy Greggson (Hayley Magnus) becomes pregnant which attracts Karellen's attention as the storyline brings the Greggsons into play for a major part of the episode. We their son Tom is displaying less than normal behaviour, with the reveal that both Tom and Amy having been affected by the aliens coming after their increased role making for an effective underlying mystery as Tom's father Jake tries to figure out what is happening. This is where we are introduced to Peretta, who connects the Greggsons with Ricky's wife Ellie. This is left out of the way of the main issues of the plot and it's not clear what Peretta's role in the show will be until the end of the episode, and the climatic, tense moments of the series allow for a well constructed viewing experience and again, a mostly satisfying last few minutes of the episode.

However, there were a few problems that Childhood's End still suffers from. Despite some improvements with the ensemble it still feels disjointed as not every character works, but there is still plenty of promising scenes progressing throughout the episode. It asks a lot of questions as it further develops the mystery, with no doubt interesting revelations planned for Night Three. As of writing this review I haven't actually watched the conclusion yet, so I don't necessarily know how everything's going to wrap up especially as I still haven't read the book. But at the same time I'm interested to here what everyone thought of Night Two, so it would be great if you could leave your comments and reactions below. I know it's my fault for not putting the review up sooner but I would appreciate it if any of you who have seen Night Three could wait until tomorrow's review of the finale before posting your thoughts there as there will be people reading the comments of this review who haven't seen the concluding chapter.

Overall Episode Verdict: B
+Charles Dance as Karellen.
+Milo's character arc.
-Doesn't do much to make us care about the uninteresting characters.
-A few supblots feel muddled.

About the Author - Milo MJ
Milo is an Arsenal FC supporter and loves TV shows like Battlestar Galactica, Justified, The 100, The Americans and Person of Interest. He reviews Black Sails, Childhoods End, Hell on Wheels, The Knick, Manhattan, Murder in the First, Narcos and Veep for Spoiler TV as well as books, films and games for his own blog The Fictional Hangout and contributes to comic reviews on a weekly basis for All-Comic.
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