Human children are a pestilence who “replicate like a virus,” Harry the alien (Alan Tudyk) deadpans in “Radio Harry,” S2E4 of Resident Alien. It’s not a very flattering vision, but if you’ve followed the series, you can probably guess it’s not the show’s last word on small humans or their reproduction.
The main plot here is Harry’s ongoing quest to build a radio to contact his planet and tell them not to destroy earth, since he doesn’t want his friend Asta (Sara Tomko) to die. But Sahar (Gracelyn Awad Rinke), one of those virus-like children, doesn’t believe that Harry is actually going to save the earth since he spent an entire season trying to blow it up. “I’m going to make a snowcone out of your gross dead eyes, they will have the worst snow cone flavor. Papaya!” She threatens him back worse, though, and then convinces Asta that she shouldn’t trust him either.
So Asta insists that she’s going to come with Harry while he constructs the space radio in the woods. He reluctantly agrees, and then lets slip that he’s just telling the aliens to not come back for 50 years. Asta will be dead at that point, and then the aliens can kill all the humans, saving all other life on the planet. (The aliens are environmental terrorists, it turns out.) Asta interrupts the broadcast, so the aliens will show up in just weeks, meaning Harry has to save the world some other way or Asta will die, which will make his cold alien heart sad.
The cold alien heart gets another workout when they return from the woods to the reservation, where one of Asta’s relatives is giving birth. Harry (who is supposed to be a doctor but isn’t but watched a lot of birthing videos on YouTube) helps out, and starts to understand why adults don’t consider children a virus. (It helps that earth births don’t involve poisonous sulfurous fluids.)
Honestly, Harry’s sudden conversion from disgust to enthusiasm re children seems a little too easy. The show manages to put a large dollop of bitter in the saccharine in its subplots, though. Asta, who gave up her own child when she was young, and has been trying to find a place in her grown daughter’s life, is distraught after participating in the birth. At the credits, we see her at the door of her abusive and clownish ex, Jimmy (Ben Cotton). Which seems like a colossally bad idea.
Meanwhile town bartender and helicopter pilot D’arcy (Alice Wetterlund) is having dinner with her parents. D’Arcy used to be a champion skier before she was sidelined with an injury; her parents are politely but firmly disappointed in her failure to pick herself up and pursue some other goal with the verve that she devoted to Olympic gold. Their barely concealed condescension reduces the usually defiant and confident D’Arcy almost to tears. After she stomps dramatically out of the restaurant, she ditches a date with an extremely eligible and sweet guy, partially out of spite at her parents (who keep trying to get her to settle down) and partially just because she’s so emotionally traumatized she can’t deal with it.
Harry’s newfound hope in childrenkind, then, is deftly balanced with a reminder that being a parent and being a child can both be miserable, painful experiences, defined as much by despair, bad choices, resentment, and casual cruelty as by love. The last episode’s sanitized feminist message looks glib in comparison.
There are a couple of other important subplots that don’t really fit in with the central theme. We finally visit in with Ethan Stone (Michael Cassidy), who was kidnapped by General McCallister (Linda Hamilton) and her military alien-hunting group last season. She thinks he’s the alien, not Harry, and is keeping him in a secure facility with other maybe-aliens. It looks like we’ll see more Linda Hamilton going forward, which is never a bad thing.
Kate Hawthorne (Meredith Garretson) tries to convince her husband Mayor Ben (Levi Fiehler) that he should try to end his feud with neighboring Jessup’s mayor. So they go to Jessup’s hipster restaurant and the evil mayor is a condescending jerk, leading Kate to disembowel him with his own bottle of mineral water. Not literally. But kind of literally. (Meredith Garretson is getting a lot more screen time this season, and it is pretty awesome.)
Finally, we learn a bit about Sheriff Mike (Corey Reynolds), who apparently lost a partner in DC before he moved out to Patience. And thanks to some misplaced dry-cleaning, Deputy Liv (Elizabeth Bowen) has started to figure out something is wrong with her memory. Though she doesn’t suspect that Harry is an alien who mind-wiped her because she thought he was a murderer, because that would be a weird thing to suspect just because you forgot about your dry-cleaning.
Finally, the cliff-hanger is that Harry’s semi reconstructed radio picks up a message from an alien in…New York? To be continued!
Season 2 continues to improve; each episode so far has been better than the last. It’s particularly nice to see the ensemble grow and pick up nuances like D’Arcy and Liv’s (completely winning) friendship. I’m definitely looking forward to next week’s installment.
This post was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.
Noah Berlatsky is a freelance writer based in Chicago. His book, Wonder Woman: Bondage and Feminism in the Marston/Peter Comics was published by Rutgers University Press. He thinks the Adam West Batman is the best Batman, darn it.