You knew it wasn’t going to stay a secret very long, but the swiftness with which Yavalla and her parasitic kinj were found out in episode 304 of The Outpost was both impressive and gratifying – and witnessed by no fewer than three people. Can you say allies in a righteous cause? I can, and I think that with Wren, Talon, Garret and Janzo now fully aware that Yavalla may not be in control of things, the battle lines have been drawn. Not between armies, but between free humans and Blackbloods, and a hive-minded Kinj that has an entirely different definition of “Paradise.”
This episode, titled “The Key to Paradise,” felt like it was one of those turning point types of episodes, an early season 3 destination that we had to get to before charting some new courses to sail as the season moves along. From a personal standpoint, I loved this episode. I really enjoy a show that makes me think, makes me speculate, makes me try to piece together a puzzle that seems to have plenty of interesting arcs and angles.
Yeah, episode 304 felt like a turning point kind of episode, like the previous 3 episodes were a nice staging ground for what’s really going to come down the road next. And the questions that need answering! Man, I’ve got so many, but then again, I’m sure you do, too.
But first, I must offer some heartfelt ‘condolences’ to Mr. Zed. You know, I have really enjoyed the way Reece Ritchie has played this character and while I loathed his constant manipulation attempts (as well as semi-whining) towards Talon in season 2, he seems a bit different as season 3 has unfolded. However, in this episode, we see the first real crack in his loyalty to Yavalla. Let’s be honest, Zed is a “true believer” in the Yavalla narrative. Whatever else he has said or done, it has been clear that he fully believe Yavalla and the prophecy, as well as a paradise on another plane. In the words of Gandalf…”His mind is bent on it.” There’s a passion about him regarding these things that I have enjoyed watching develop.
But in one quick arc of his story near the end of the episode, much of that belief was shattered – hard. First, Yavalla (or is it the Kinj?) informs him that the “paradise” she’d spoken of didn’t exist, but that a paradise on this plane was what was now the goal. Full stop, that’s not what Zed signed up for. You could see that rattled him a bit. But then, moments later, he’s slapped in the face by Wren, Talon and Garret – with a helping scientific hand from Janzo – that this Kinj issue is all about mind control and hive mentality.
In short, we are seeing the rudimentary beginnings of a borg-like cult developing. Paradise doesn’t sound much like paradise at this point. And as he comes to realize that these people – friends and adversaries alike – have seen and experienced this separately, he’s faced with the cold hard reality of the situation – Yavalla is a false promise. It’s a paradise that seems to include docile servility, one that isn’t what he envisioned. Ritchie does a tremendous job of giving off that “crushed spirit” vibe with body language. I thought it great work by an actor I’ve really come to enjoy.
Yes, I give him crap on Twitter about Zed’s badness, but we know he’s about to make a decision on where his loyalties lie. The decision, in our minds, should be an easy one. But a true believer often lets go of their dreams slowly and haltingly, seeking to explain away the contradictions because they want to believe so badly in the dream they’ve given themselves to. We’ll see where Zed ends up when the decision-making is done. I admit, in that moment at the Night Shade, I felt bad for Zed. Truly bad for him.
So Yavalla has begun the process of spreading the Kinj. Or rather, I think this Kinj is kind of separate entity that has a life of its own. As I said, a parasite that is able to replicate itself and spread. It got Gwynn. Gwynn got Sammy, then sent him out like a disciple to infect others. An interesting aspect of that is something that Garret spied when he was coming up out of the sewers – Sammy seemed to be having a detox moment until he was able to pass another Kinj to someone else. Perhaps there’s a weakness of some kind with these Kinj? Perhaps they have a certain shelf-life where they need to replicate regularly or start to struggle to keep control of their hosts?
I’m just spit-balling here, but Sammy’s sweaty, scratchy, agitated look in the alley was kind of interesting to me. What do you think? Is there something more to these Kinj’s than simply their parasitic mind-melding nature? And if so, can that be used to defeat them? As I said, questions upon questions that lead to curiosity and plenty of enjoyment. Love this show for that very reason.
So Garret pops up again, joining Talon in some Blackblood killing as his secret hiding place was discovered via Talon, via Gwynn, via Yavalla’s mind-control. Look, I’ve seen enough of these types of shows to know that when the eyes go milky white, nothing good is going to come of it. As we see, Yavalla’s look allows her to not only communicate with her drones, but also put words into their mouths. It’s insidious as heck, but it’s quite impressive. This Kinj in Yavalla is a problem. Fortunately, we also now know that if you have a Kinj, the Yavalla Kinj cannot infect you. Another fun little tidbit that would, I’d think, play into the larger picture of defeating this (these?) thing.
For the record, I really, really like the Talon-Janzo-Wren-Garret and soon-to-be Zed squad. My gut feeling is that, once Zed joins the team, this will be a formidable group that, if it can reach Tobin before Gwynn infects him, could very well turn the tide of things within The Outpost. But getting to Tobin, that will be interesting. Also, good to see Jake Stormoen again. I admit that an episode without Garret seemed kind of strange. Stormoen’s portrayal of this character has been a highlight from the jump, so it’s good to see him again, wielding a sword and generally looking Errol Flynn-ish. How good is that?
Tobin had an interesting episode, didn’t he. Back in his realm, he’s reunited with not only Aunt Gertie, but also a love of his youthful life, Falista. Played strongly and artfully by Georgia May Foote, Falista not only wants Tobin back, but has the leverage to make it happen. It would be easy to dislike this character for using that leverage to eventually trap Tobin, but I think she genuinely cares for him and may offer us a surprise or two about her character down the road.
For now, Tobin needed an army, she had one and wouldn’t give it to him unless he married her. Weighing his options, Tobin did a very knightly thing – deciding that a living Gwynn, even if she hated him for marrying another, was a price worth paying. And with that. Tobin and Falista were wed, the army was his and he showed up at the gates of The Outpost ready to throw down with Yavalla and the Blackbloods. Fortunately, before blades got bloodied, Gwynn ran out, robes flowing in the warm realm wind, and in her best I’m-under-someone-else’s-control-but-isn’t-life rosey lilting voice, calmed the battle ready passion of Tobin.
Now, the race is on to see if Tobin gets Kinj-infected and joins that ‘dark’ side or our heroes can get to him before that happens and turn the tide of things. As an aside, I continue to be delighted with the expanded role that Tobin and Munt have enjoyed of late. Munt continues to offer child-like wisdom that works, while Tobin repeatedly demonstrates increased maturity. Of course, it’s hard not to ignore the fact that Gertrusha seemed to map out this whole Tobin-Falista gambit.
Glynis Barber has not gotten a ton of screen time in her multiple appearances on The Outpost, but this is another character I really enjoy. Smart, intuitive, a big-board kind of mentality – she’s terrific even as she’s manipulating. I hope we see more of Gertrusha moving forward. She’s The Mistress but with a little more culture and style. And very formidable. I think Falista is going to be formidable as well. She seems to have a toughness and determination that is hard to quash.
As I’ve said before, one of the really redeeming things about The Outpost is that it keeps rolling in characters that are interesting and have some level of depth to them. Even those we’ve lost have been interesting. I instantly find myself wanting to know more backstory with these new characters (and even the older ones). What makes them tick, I wonder. Judging by the comments and conversations I see on Twitter and Instagram, that feeling of wanting answers is a common one among The Outpost fans. This show makes the fandom very intrigued about the characters it has created. I can’t think of a better compliment to a show.
Well, shall we talk about it? You know, the ultimate ‘Wrenzo’ moment?
Okay, in what was a shockingly quick development, Wren and Janzo, in the interest of scientific discovery, got down and naughty in the lab. That’s right, out of nowhere, a few comments and questions, a little flirtiness, and some suggestive innuendo led Janzo and Wren into the magical palace of passion. Judging by Janzo’s unsteady legged afterglow, the experiment was a success and the Blackblood-human physical interaction is, indeed, successfully possible (though Garret and Talon already proved that point).
I have to admit, I didn’t see that coming. I saw them as a fun couple, reveling in their shared nerdiness and awkward personal styles, but I did not think in any way, shape or form, Janzo and Wren would consummate their relationship…er, scientific study…in episode 304. When I interviewed Izuka Hoyle (Wren) a day ago, one of the things she said she liked about playing Wren was her directness, her straight-forward mentality. Well, we saw that on display in this situation as she got it in her head that “scientific study” was in order and, while Janzo was a little slow on the uptake (Come on, Anand Desai-Barochia), it didn’t take long for the lab to turn into pleasure town. So, with that now dialed in, should be interesting to see how these two react. Does Janzo go all jiggly with amorous pretentions?
Does Wren, mission accomplished, kind of put him in the friend zone as she returns to her scientific pursuits? Should be interesting to see how these very distinct personalities play out in the aftermath of their connection. Should be fun, right?
As a whole, “The Key to Paradise” was, I thought, a really interesting and entertaining episode. I can’t emphasize enough how much I think The Outpost has grown in its two-plus seasons. From writing to acting to the overall vibe of the shows, there’s been this continuing upward trend that has started to really catch on with fans – even fans who aren’t die-hard action-adventure creatures. This episode, I felt, opened some doors to some interesting storytelling moving forward. But first, the Kinj issue needs to be dealt with and I look forward to what Garret, Talon, Janzo, Wren and (soon-to-be ally?) Zed cook up to figure it all out.
My other question that I keep pondering is that Talon is starting to give me this “chosen one” vibe. There’s more to her and her Kinj than meets the eye, I think we all suspect, so I’m very intrigued with what her powers and abilities might be when they are fully manifested. I don’t know, that’s just my take on Talon as a character. I keep coming back to a special and important quality that she possesses that she hasn’t discovered yet. We shall see.
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