Astrid and Stephen are talking again, so they talk about the upcoming Homecoming celebration and decide to go together. Stephen even tags along with Astrid while she's dress shopping. She hounds him until he gives her honest feedback. She's still working my nerves.
Kurt, the bank robbing breakout, whom the SUPES were able to tame, is a little less tame than they'd hoped. He sneaks home to let his mother know he's not dead, and is caught by John, who comes down hard on him. Stephen reminds John it's difficult to separate from family, which angers John, but also manages to anger Kurt. He's all, "Why does Stephen get to live at home, and blah blee bloo?" John reminds him that Stephen is their man at Ultra, but the SUPES are growing restless.
Cara suggests they all go out for a night to blow off some steam. John refuses, saying it's too dangerous. Cara challenges him to a joust, and the winner will get to decide about the outing. Of course Cara wins, so now John's feeling undermined and humiliated. The whole outing turns out to be an ambush, set up by Ultra, thanks to intel they got from Kurt of all people, when he snuck off to say goodbye to his mother one last time. By episode's end, Cara uses some Ultra serum to de-SUPE Kurt. It's brutal.
In the Ultra storyline, Stephen disobeys Darcy while they're on a mission and he lets the breakout they're chasing get the better of him. Then the lights go on and it is revealed it was all just a training exercise. The thing is, it seems to me that Stephen knew it was a training exercise, so why would he disobey orders and reject protocol while he knows he's being judged and watched? After his failure, Jed gets a call from someone higher up at Ultra, who says someone even higher up wants to meet Stephen. Jed thinks it's too soon, but they insist he bring in Roger's boy. Stephen is panicked at the meeting, and while he thinks he successfully blocked the Big Voice (we never see Mr. Big) from reading his mind, he can't be certain.
When the SUPES party is ambushed, Stephen is there, but not among them. Jed grabs him right before he's supposed to go to Homecoming with Astrid, and drags him to watch the ambush. Stephen takes off when Ultra agents start firing at the SUPES -- at least I think that's what Jed thinks. Actually, Stephen teleports to the club basement and disables the power, which disables the D-chip that Ultra was using to neutralize the SUPES' powers, at the party. While Cara, John and an injured girl are escaping, they're confronted by an armed agent. John gets his gun and kills the guy, and Cara sees it all.
Cara's not the only woman who learns a secret. Astrid sees Jed grab Stephen, so she follows them, but then gets scared off by Darcy. Astrid is waiting in Stephen's room when he gets home. He's still covered in blood from helping the SUPES after the ambush. When Astrid demands to know what's going on, Stephen tries to put her off, but eventually, he takes her hand and teleports her to the spot where they first met.
How are you liking the series? It's not getting much traction in the show thread, so if you're watching, join us there. You'll certainly be able to keep up with the traffic. I'm enjoying it well enough, but only parts are grabbing me. I have to give credit where credit is due, though. The writers didn't drag out the revelation that John, unlike most SUPES, can kill, nor did they drag out Stephen keeping this secret from Astrid. Still, something's not quite gelling for me. Early on, I thought I'd keep watching, even if I wasn't covering the show. Now, I'm less sure of that. I'm still really wishing I'd asked for Sleepy Hollow instead.
I'll be back tomorrow with the full weecap. In the meantime, please grade the episode at the top of the page, and then come on over to the show thread where Lou Reed is still alive. Yes, that's how I closed last week's entries, too, but given this episode's title, it feels right to keep it.
We open at night. Stephen and Darcy teleport to an alley. They're hot on the trail of a rogue SUPE, who heads into a warehouse. When Stephen wants to charge ahead, Darcy stops him; they must wait for the Tac (tactical) Team. Stephen doesn't want their target to escape, so he disobeys a direct order and charges ahead. He's armed with what I believe is a stun gun, but is soon disarmed. Stephen finally grabs his target and is ready to deliver a stunning blow, when he realizes -- gasp -- it's a girl. He who hesitates is lost, Stephen. His opponent gets the upper hand, brings Stephen down to the floor and holds him in a headlock. Then all of a sudden, Uncle Jed is there calling "time" and flipping on the lights.
Oh, poor Stephen. He's going to be so embarrassed when he realizes he broke protocol during a simulated training exercise. Wait a minute. He doesn't appear surprised that this was just a drill. He doesn't look it. He doesn't sound it. And he doesn't say anything to indicate he ever thought this was a real mission. What the hell is wrong with this kid that he'd disobey a direct order, when he knows he's on a controlled training exercise in which he'll be observed and for which he'll be judged? Over in the show thread, TWoP member Imonrey offers that Stephen is a typical 17 year old, trying to prove himself. I'm not so generous. That was a dumbass thing to do, Stephen.
Anyhow, Uncle Jed and Darcy give Stephen what for about how many rules of engagement he broke, as well as his hesitation at the moment of contact. Stephen says, "She caught me off guard. I was expecting her to be... different." Darcy asks if he has a problem taking down a female. Stephen says, "No, of course not. I've just never had to punch one in the face."
The whole scene brings to mind one point where the character of Stephen suffers, because of his age, versus that of the man who portrays him: Robbie Amell. Stephen is supposed to be 17. Amell is about 25. Like Imonrey, I want empathize with Stephen's youth and inexperience. Since Stephen is 17, it makes sense that he's so rash, so wet behind the ears, and well…soft. He's a kid. Amell, although certainly not long in the tooth or anything, is a man, and what's more, he is manly. Now, I don't expect a decent 25 year old man would be any more comfortable punching a woman in the face. My problem: the reason I can't be as generous with Stephen as the character probably deserves, is that nothing about Amell reads like he's 17. I can't muster the same emotional response I would feel, were there an actual 17-year-old in the role.
Last season, Once Upon A Time had Jennifer Morrison play a 17 year old version of her character, Emma. I said it then (see the "Tallahassee" recaplet) and will say it now: after age 22 or so, most people cannot pass for 17. If this show gets future seasons, it might be worthwhile to jump ahead a few years in the timeline. Amell's character would certainly be better served. Given The Tomorrow People's downhill ratings trend (and the widening gap between it and lead-in Arrow), I'm likely wasting your time and mine, talking about future seasons. Sha la la la la la live for today.