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The Passage - Double Episode - Review - 'A Tale of Two Seasons'



The double episode finale of The Passage season 1 felt like two entirely different shows or seasons, which would have worked if separated by a break between seasons, but as two episodes side by side, well, the results were far from perfect. If anything, what we saw was a lesson that sometimes adapting a book page to page does not always work for the small screen, some liberties need to be taken, but we will get to that later.

We start with the first hour, which would have made the perfect ending to a near perfect debut season. As expected, following the escape of the virals in the last episode, the finale began with a tense action-packed first half.

The episode did a great job in ramping up the suspension. The sound of the virals pounding on the door as everyone scrambled to get Sykes out was tense as hell, and then the moment of silence as viewers, along with Brad and co., wondered what's next before we hear them crawling up above in the ventilation. This whole scene felt like Alien but with a herd of blood-sucking vampires instead.

Kudos to the makeup department as these vamps were genuinely scary, or ugly as Brad amusingly pointed out when trapped in cell 4B. That scene, by the way, included a masterful shot of all the vamps just standing there looking at Sykes and Brad. Loved it.

What was so great about this episode and the ensuing chaos was the unpredictableness. Really, the only person that had plot armour was Amy and maybe Brad, but we really didn't know if Richards, Sykes, Lear, Lila, and Guilder (though who really cares about him), would survive or not, and that only helped ramp up the tension, especially after Lila got bit by Carter.

Speaking of character deaths, I think many would have put Sykes most likely to die as she had the least development and lo and behold. However, her matter of factness death was questionable. Sykes' exit was not much of an emotional sendoff, but since she wasn't that well developed, to begin with, I don't think it really mattered.

As far as the just released virals are concerned, I was surprised at how savage Carter was as a vampire. We are led to believe that he would be more sympathetic considering how innocent he was as a human being and how much he opposed Fanning, yet throughout the finale, he was no different than the rest of the virals.

Carter giving in to the vampirism made Babcock that much more likeable in her ability to fight the animal in her and for her refusal to kill innocent life. It seemed the events of the last episode when Richards called her a monster really resonated with Babcock, and we saw that in her interaction with Sykes. It wasn't long ago when Babcock declared she could not wait to taste Sykes, but after Richards rejects vampire Babcock last week, we now see her having second thoughts when given that very opportunity.

Babcock's chemistry with Richards has been one of the best pairings of this series, and that scene when she offered to save Richards was very affecting. This has been a relationship unique to the show, in the book Babcock was an insane male vampire, and I think Richards was a bit scientist who got killed, so kudos to the writers and actors involved for making their relationship work so well.

The episode also saw the return of Lacey Antoine back into the fold who instead of naturally accompanying her friends to safety, she randomly became a vampire hunting saviour running head first to the scene of the crime with a look of a personal vendetta on her face. It all came completely out of left field and would have felt more natural and still badass if she met Brad, Lila and Amy in the forest, kicked some vampire butt to save them, and then back to the car. However, this storyline was done so she could eventually bump into Jonas to create the most random pairing on the show.

In the book, Lacy's inclusion made more sense. She had a bigger role to play as Amy's first guardian before Brad came along, and when she arrived at the compound after the virals broke out she stuck to her mission of protecting Amy before getting bit by Carter (a storyline given to Lila), forcing her to stay behind and cuddle up with Jonas as he saved her with the serum.

Anywho, the first hour would end with the just aforementioned Lacey Antoine and Jonas, Richards and Babcock, and Brad, Amy, and Lila all going their separate ways as the virals began their path of destruction. It is worth noting also, the vision of the future that Amy unconsciously made Fanning see, that was an intriguing tease!

Hour 2

The second hour started 30 days after the viral escaped, and as mentioned at the beginning of the article, this last half felt like an entirely different show, or season, which just felt completely off, not to mention rushed.

One of my favourite shows on TV right now is The Expanse. To begin the series, they took one and a half seasons to adapt book 1, taking some liberties along the way to make the adaptation TV-friendly, and the formula worked wonders. This is something The Passage could have benefitted from. The second hour could have easily been stretched out to the first half of a second season.

There were three different storylines going on that needed time to marinate, and because of the short one-hour length, each storyline felt rushed and therefore it was difficult to get emotionally invested.

I would have liked to see Brad and Amy and Lila finally living an idyllic life together in contrast to the world crumbling around them, instead of just a taste of it. This would have given Lila leaving them so much more impact - pulling her away right when we had just got settled down with the trio. On top of it all, Brad getting bit by Bob the vampire and Amy having to save him just did not click emotionally as it should have considering the chemistry between them and this is due to everything being so rushed. It did not help that they had Amy kill those two innocent people, which was completely jarring and offputting.

Moreover, I would have liked to see the chemistry built between the odd and potentially entertaining pairing of Jonas and Lacey. Their scenes together were just so darn random.

Lastly, we get to see Richards and Babcock finally together. It is bittersweet but yet so, so heartbreaking due to them being separated by the context of their situation - this especially needed time! Every one of their scenes resonated with such heartache throughout the series, but in the second hour as understandable as their conflict was, I did not feel what they were arguing about at all, even though I wanted to.

On top of all of this, there was no atmosphere. The carnage created by the virals was not felt, everything was just kind of laid out without any buildup. And then to conclude, the story jumped 97 more years into the future. If this is where season 2 will take place, then will most of what we saw in the second hour be irrelevant? Or are we going to go back to the events of before the 97 years? Just too much time jumping in one episode.

Maybe the second season will help explain why they chose the formula they chose, but for now, as a stand-alone finale, this second hour did not work at all and it tarnished what was, up until this point, a near perfect season. I'm excited for Season 2 because The Passage has proven to be one of the best broadcast shows this season, but if the storytelling going forth takes its cue from that second hour, well, that will be cause for concern.

Rating:
First Hour: 9/10
Second Hour: 5/10
Overall: 7




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