Stars: Liam Cunningham, Hermione Norris, Daniel Mays, Amy Manson, Ashley Walters, Eric Mabius, Langley Kirkwood, Michael Legge, Jeanne Kietzmann, Jessica Haines, Laura Greenwood, Rory Acton-Burnell
Writer: Ben Richards
Director:  Bharat Nalluri
Network: BBC America, airs Saturday nights
Original Telecast: June 25, 2011

“That’s all it’s ever been about – human life.” So says President Richard Tate (Liam Cunningham) as the second episode of OUTCASTS throws the already fragile Forthaven community for a loop when new survivors from a downed transport ship challenge the delicate balance of life on the planet Carpathia. A subtle but very real power play begins between Tate and Julius Berger (Eric Mabius), former VP of the Earth Evacuation Programme. Berger’s method of making it to the surface alive may have also cost the life of another survivor’s (Laura Greenwood) mother, and Stella (Hermione Norris) intends to get to the bottom of it all.

Meanwhile, the exiled Advanced Cultivars, genetically modified humans that may have been responsible for the lethal C-23 virus that cost the community its children – as well as Tate’s entire family – find a new bargaining chip in Lily (Jeanne Kietzmann), a transport survivor who just happens to be Stella’s daughter.

The first episode did a very nice job of introducing us to the basic set-up on this frontier world and the people that will propel the plot forward, but with this episode we get our first set of complications as tensions from the past threaten the long-term success of humanity’s last hope for peace. Ratcheting up the suspense also means introducing us to some magnetic new characters.

With Mabius’ Berger, we get a somewhat clichéd but still intriguing intellectual monster, a man with a clear desire for power over others, even to the extent that he might be a sexual predator besides just a faux religious leader. Tate and Berger’s first face-to-face meeting tells us everything we need to know about their relationship, with Berger’s smiling, easygoing attitude and casual discussion of a spiritual epiphany raising suspicions about his aspirations even as we see Tate lock down with stilted body language and clipped speech. A power struggle has begun that will rock this entire planet.

Langley Kirkwood’s Rudi is a refreshing variation on the standard “wronged rebel.” Although he engages in the usual bluster and blackmail, he comes across as a sensitive soul forced to act for the benefit of his people and perhaps even against his natural tendencies. Lily’s convenience as a bargaining chip is a bit too neat, but it does set up a dramatic situation between the exiled ACs and the Forthaven community that reaches a violent turning point by episode’s end.

The mysteries surrounding the ACs themselves, their apparent recent ability to procreate, and the continuing suspicion of alien life out there in the wilderness also advance methodically here. Did C-23 come from exposure to the ACs or is there something else out there threatening the humans? A creepy scene in which a child’s drawing of Tate’s family moves of its own accord on his desk suggests that perhaps there is a lurking presence beyond human senses. Are the ACs telepathic and telekinetic, or is an alien life form toying with Carpathia’s newest residents?

While Tate reels from that experience, he also confides in Stella that birth rates are dropping and the ACs’ reproductive abilities may be their only hope. But how can that bridge be rebuilt when he himself originally ordered their execution, only to be countermanded by the late Mitchell Hoban (Jamie Bamber), who let the ACs out of Forthaven to escape into the wild?

And while the grander sweep of the story moves forward, we learn a bit more about everyone and their new world, including the prevalence of drugs in Forthaven and the sad fact that no matter how far humanity may travel, it will inevitably bring all of its worst desires with it as well as its highest ideals. Fleur’s (Amy Manson) lament that this was supposed to be a better place only underscores how impossible it is for Mankind to reach for the stars while our fingers remained curled around a primal past.

From the struggle for power and equal rights embodied by the likes of Tate, Berger and Rudi, to the simpler resentment of an abandoned daughter for her mother, Forthaven may be doomed before it has even truly begun.

Next week the Forthaven survivors investigate the sand storms that threaten their community while Rudi shows his heroic side.


Click on link: AX’s Interview with OUTCASTS and MI-5 creator Ben Richards

Click on link: AX’s review of OUTCASTS – Episode 1

Click on link: AX’s review of OUTCASTS – Episode 3

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