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MCM BUZZ – Movies, TV, Comics, Gaming, Anime, Cosplay News & Reviews » The Aliens S01E01 “Pilot” REVIEW
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The Aliens S01E01 “Pilot” REVIEW

The Aliens  S01E01 “Pilot” REVIEW

The Aliens main

stars 4

Airing in the UK on E4 on Tuesdays at 9pm
Writer:
Fintan Ryan
Director:
Jonathan van Tulleken

Essential Plot Points:

  • 40 years ago, aliens crash-landed in the UK and have been living amongst us ever since… sort of. These aliens, despite looking and behaving almost exactly like humans, have been forced to live behind a giant wall in a ghetto named Troy.
  • Lewis, a member of the Wall’s border control and our main protagonist, is leading a school visit at the checkpoint. It’s made clear from the get-go that aliens are second-class citizens, from the derogatory term “mork” that’s casually thrown around to the 8pm curfew and bright yellow ID tags the aliens have to wear around their wrists. Sure, they can work on the human side of the wall, but border control make sure they stand out doing it.
  • There’s a vital difference between aliens and human: the aliens’ hair can be smoked by humans as a drug, and it’s a substance often smuggled in and out of Troy. Lewis warns the kids to avoid this “Fur” at all costs, unless they want to become braindead in five years. It turns out that Lewis’s sister Holly and her boyfriend Ivan are Fur users, even smoking it in front of their child, so perhaps that speech is coming from somewhere personal as well as being a moral and legal matter. 
  • Meanwhile, behind the wall in Troy, two aliens calling themselves the “Silence Crew” (who nobody actually seems to have heard of…) blag their way into a Fur House to steal a huge batch of Fur to sell off.
  • In his spare time, Lewis talks online to a camgirl who calls herself “Lilyhot”. She’s pretending to be a French human, but we know that she’s one of the aliens from the so-called Silence Crew. It doesn’t take Lewis long to find out either; when Lilyhot and her accomplice Christophe pass through border control, Lewis recognises her. The two aliens escape into the human side with their stash of Fur as soon as they realise they’ve been found out, and outsmart Lewis at every turn. As a last ditch attempt, he uses a sound grenade called a “dog whistle”, which should only affect aliens, but incapacitates Lewis as well.

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  • A DNA test confirms the worst for Lewis – he was affected by the dog whistle because he has alien blood in him.
  • Turns out Ivan and Holly have been selling Fur on the side – and Ivan’s been mugged of £3,000 he owes the aliens who provide for them. Holly convinces Lewis to stage a fake raid to scare the aliens off when they come to collect, but it backfires horribly, and the aliens kidnap Holly… who was actually the mugger in the first place. Go figure.
  • With help from Dominic, a friendly alien who works as a cleaner at border patrol, (and who seems to have a pretty hefty crush on Lewis), Lewis is able to get into Troy to get the money Holly stole to Lilyhot. The search leads them to a club, where Lewis is drugged and nearly mugged before Lilyhot appears to take what’s hers… but doesn’t show up with Holly as per their bargain. Lewis fears the worst.
  • Turns out Lilyhot’s apartment is, conveniently, right next to Dominic’s! He and Lewis hatch a plan to get in and save Holly, but that goes about as well as the raid did. The Silence Crew take Holly, Lewis and Dominic out to an abandoned area of Troy to murder them, but before they can do it, another crew turns up and shoots the Silence Crew, sans Lilyhot, to death. Turns out she was double-crossing the Silence Crew the whole time, and now she wants Lewis to work for her.

 

Review:

The Aliens is the new offering from Fintan Ryan, and isn’t the first time he’s delved into the world of telefantasy; he also wrote episodes of the wonderful In the Flesh, which dealt with the plight of “cured” zombies living in amongst humans and the stigma they faced in doing so. The Aliens takes the concept of paranormal segregation and discrimination even further, putting the titular aliens in a world where they’re treated as second-class citizens by humans, forced to live behind a giant wall in a run-down ghetto (District 9, anyone?). It’s quite chilling to see, considering that right now in 2016, A certain American presidential candidate is advocating building a giant wall on the country’s border not dissimilar to the one in The Aliens. This might be sci-fi but Ryan has created a world that feels scarily possible.

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Over the course of the first episode we’re introduced to three very different main characters, all of whom come out of the pilot as well-rounded, interesting characters. First off there’s Lewis Garvey, who seems to have it pretty well defined in his head that “aliens = bad”. He has no qualms throwing around the derogatory term “morks” and takes pride in his job at the Wall’s border control where he helps ID and tag the aliens. But then, in a society where kids are indoctrinated into thinking that aliens are the scum of the Earth, it’s hardly surprising that Lewis would think like that. In fact, his job at border control is likely something he sees as doing for the good of his fellow humans, perhaps even something heroic. His heart is in the right place, as we see through his dedication to keeping his sister safe and to his job; it’s just clouded by what society has told him his whole life. It’s a huge kick in the face from karma, then, when Lewis finds out that he’s actually half-alien.

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The two other main characters, Dominic and Lilyhot, are both aliens, but complete polar opposites to one another, showing us that “aliens” isn’t a catch-all term for personality as well as species. Dominic is as friendly as you can get, with a bright and optimistic outlook on life, despite working at border control where he’s treated about as well as you might expect. Even when Lewis violently tries to dismiss any idea of the friendship he and Dominic might have from Dominic’s mind, Dominic just, “can’t stay angry at that face!” In Lewis’s defence, there are quite a few moments when Dominic’s attachment to Lewis borders a little on the stalker-y side, which seems to be down to Dominic’s huge crush on Lewis (even if he refuses to admit it). Maybe it can be put down to not entirely understanding human interaction? But either way, he’s a lovable character with a giant heart, who only wants the best for Lewis.

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Lilyhot (is that her real name?) on the other hand is quietly calculating and aloof, always ahead of the game by at least a few steps. She hardly says a word for most of the episode, preferring instead to watch and strike at the right time. She’s also incredibly manipulative; across this first episode alone she manages to fool Lewis, the Fur House and the whole Silence Crew. It’s a shame, then, to see that she apparently makes a living being an online camgirl – “degrading” doesn’t seem to be much her style. It seems to be a “do what you gotta do” situation. It’s not clear yet what exactly her agenda is, but whatever it is, she appears more than capable of fending for herself and getting what she wants in the process.

With a combination of great direction, script, acting and music choices, this first episode of Aliens is a fun watch that borders on the psychedelic at times; Lewis tripping out on a powerball in an alien club is a stand-out. In fact, Michael Socha as Lewis is a highlight, bringing real heart to his character, and he shines in moments like the. “Congratulations, you’ve won a car!” scene in Troy. But what we want to know more about is the alien’s backstory. Is there a reason that they look and behave exactly like we do? How long did it take for the segregation to get this bad? Is the hair the only real distinction between us and them? There’s a lot to find out, and it seems like it’s gonna be a great ride.

The Good:

  • The acting across the board is pretty stellar, with Michael Socha leading the way. It helps that they’ve got a great script to work with, of course!
  • There are some great music cues. The intro music, “Alive And Amplified” by The Mooney Suzuki and “Ich Will” by Rammstein stand out in particular.
  • Although there’s definitely social commentary woven into the story, it’s not trying to bash you round the head with it, but instead is enough to make you think without being overwhelmed.

 

The Bad:

  • It did seem just a little convenient that Lilyhot turned out to be the “person” Lewis had been talking to online, and that her apartment was literally opposite from Dominic’s.
  • Although a lovable character, Dominic’s stalker-ish tendencies were uncomfortable to watch at times – particularly since it seems that he’s going to be the LGBT representative in this series. 

 

And The Random:

  • As part of the advertisement campaign for Aliens, Channel 4 “interrupted” TV programmes, YouTube videos and radio programmes with a broadcast from “The Alien League”. 

  • Michael Socha is probably best known for his role as werewolf Tom in Being Human and as Harvey in This is England. He was also in Once Upon A Time and Once Upon A Time in Wonderland as Will Scarlet.
  • Clerkenwell Films, who also produced Misfits, is behind The Aliens. Similarly, The Aliens directors Jonathan van Tulleken and Laurence Gough also worked on Misfits.

Review by Jessica Anson


 

 

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