The Fades

Paul - Iain De Caestecker

Mac - Daniel Kaluuya

Neil - Johnny Harris

Jay - Sophie Wu

Mark - Tom Ellis

Anna - Lily Loveless

Sarah - Natalie Dormer

Helen - Daniela Nardini

Ghost Whisperer

Episode 1

Paul has nightmares. They are so bad that they make him wet the bed, which is embarrassing for a 17 year old. They're dreams of an apocalyptic landscape and following a trip with him mate Mac to an abandoned shopping mall, they are a bit more real because there he encounters a nosferatu creature that eats human flesh, a teasing ghost and a man who seems to know all about both called Neil.

THE FADES is a horror story that doesn't hide away from the blood and gore, but doesn't choose to revel in it either, setting up a slow-burning atmospheric landscape inhabited by weary, beaten heroes, vampiric creatures and ghosts that are just lost. There's no difference between good and evil for these ghosts. Some go, some stay. It's random.

The opening sequence throws Paul, a likeable but dorky main character, in at the deep end and only later gets around to explaining the background. This opening sequence is striking, but when the story switches to the local high school and Paul's real life it grinds to a halt. Part of the problem here is Mac, Paul's best friend and a very, very annoying one who is far too geeky to be believable.

There is a wince-inducing eye-scraping scene and plenty to think about, but somehow the whole is less than the sum of its parts and doesn't hold the attention like it should, mainly as a result of the teenage angst side of things.


Episode 2

Neil explains to Paul that he is going to be important in the war to come and that he should abandon his current life, friends and family in order to focus on that. Since he's getting close to Jay, that's something of a problem for him. Neil realises that the Fades are feeding on humans in order to become corporeal once again.

More of the background to the story is made clear and the relationships between the various characters are starting to come into focus, which makes it curious that this is less affecting than it should be. There are child murders, an engaging central love romance, familial angst and a dorky best friend who is still nothing more than annoying, but none of it is really catching fire.

There's a real sense of melancholia about the story as Sarah watches sadly as her husband makes out with another woman and Paul tries to decide whether he can abandon his life. The most effective sequence, though, is when Neil is attacked at the same time that Paul is leaving him a phone message to say that he can help, but on his own terms.

That Neil walks into what is obviously a trap doesn't ring true and the school stuff about dances and committees and stuff doesn't work either, feeling forced in the deliberate nature of its geekiness.

That said, there are some effective moments, some of the humour works and the discovery of the arm in the woods is horrifying, but crucially none of it is scary..


Episode 3

Paul's secrets are out. His sister now knows about his relationship with Jay and they both know about his magical powers. What they don't know is that he can sprout wings at the wrong moment. Whilst Paul's life is coming together, the main fade is transforming into something and more fighters flock to Neil's cause.

The show has really picked up in this episode, all of the facets coming together in a balance that has been missing to date. It helps that Mac isn't such an annoying friend for a change, that there is an acceleration in the plotline and Paul is becoming an altogether more likeable geek.

In terms of wince factor there's a self-stitching scene that covers the job, but this is about the characters and uses its special effects sparingly, but wisely.

On top of that, there is an excellent cliffhanger ending.


Episode 4

Paul is now a fade after being killed by a truck. His body is kept alive by machines. When the reanimated fade comes to him for help in saving the girl that Neil plans to torture bad decisions are made.

The main plot arc is completely on hold as the situation surrouding Paul's death is dealt with. On the one hand there is the suffering of the family, which is played absolutely for real and on the other there is the fantasy, which is as bloody as ever (though most of the blood is off-screen).

Paul being fooled to the dark side could have been utterly unbelievable, but the show manages to play it well enough for it to work, just.

We now wait to see where the show takes us next.


Episode 5

With so many people going missing, the school is turned into a crisis management centre, but the reborn fades are also using it as a factory to produce more of their kind. Paul, Mac and the others get trapped in the school and Paul learns more about his powers, but doesn't like what it means.

Basically a seige story, this episode is stripped down and gets to the action and suspense and plays with it very well, being more focussed and more exciting as a result. The show is now fully in its stride and getting more confident all the time.

This, of course, is the penultimate episode, but it isn't bothered with setting up the big finale, just telling its story and making the most of it.






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