So wait… Stephen is supposed to be the hero of this show, right? He certainly seems like one on paper: he’s hunky, he’s ostensibly a sympathetic outsider, he seems to be passionate about the cause here. And yet, if you really keep an eye on the scoreboard, Stephen is kind of a dick: the one unifying component of all his actions is a myopically contrarian attitude toward authority, buoyed by a complete inability to consider the greater good. I like this show, but I do not like Stephen.
We begin tonight seven years in the past, where Russell is living one of the more stereotypical upbringings available to Asian TV characters: he’s auditioning for some sort of music conservatory while his angry non-English-speaking father glowers offstage, unimpressed. Russel breaks with orthodoxy, however, in that he plays the piano with his mind.
In the present, Russell learns that his estranged father has passed away, motivating him to go back to the funeral for closure. While making contact with one’s old life usually isn’t allowed, nobody ever follows the rules on this show; John volunteers to accompany him as they jump across country.
Stephen, meanwhile, defies poor John by ignoring a base lockdown to pursue a runaway teenage supergirl named Piper. He convinces Cara to accompany him, and they find Piper in a neighborhood bar. The first big “ooooh” moment of the evening comes when the Ultra agents show up to get her, and quick-thinking Stephen decides to blend in by smooching Cara. Nice, buddy.
Speaking of smooth, Russell entertains himself by putting the moves on townies while making his way back home. John does his best to bail the guy out, but winds up punching an officer of the peace in their ensuing brawl. They wind up arrested, at which point John asserts that Russell is afraid to go home, which, given his complex relationship with his dad is fair: while he was always tough, his dad was always willing to sacrifice for him.
When Cara and Stephen can be bothered to finally stop flirting–Cara talks up the intensity of intimacy with a fellow Tomorrow Person–they catch up with Piper and bring her back to base. There they discover that Piper is actually the sister of Ultra agent Darcy. Stephen arranges for the two to secretly meet, because dumb risks are his stock and trade.
Sure enough, Darcy has arranged for Piper to go through the torturous power-removal procedure. She’s apparently not entirely committed to the life-changing decision, however, as she instantly changes her mind when the Ultra troops arrive. And sure enough again, she pays for it with her life. So thanks for lining that up, Steve.
When Russell finally arrives at his father’s funeral, his mother requests that he play the piano one last time. It’s a very sweet resolution to his story, and stands in stark contrast to the wrap-up for Cara and Stephen: she tells him that he’s the best person she’s ever met right before taking off her clothes and jumping his bones.
Yeah, allow me to disagree: I don’t know if the writers have noticed, but Stephen is pretty much awful. While a little bit of renegade charm is all well and good, he seems compulsively unable to follow one order, and people are dying because of it. Throw cuckolding poor John into the mix, and this guy is responsible for no small amount of heartbreak tonight. Where Cara apparently sees humanity, I see boundless arrogance and malignant narcissism. The surrounding world of The Tomorrow People remains engaging, but at this point I can’t say I’m really rooting for this kid.
The Tomorrow People airs Wednesdays at 9pm on the CW.
(Image courtesy of the CW)