The Tomorrow People Mid-season Finale Review: To the Other Side

By Cory Barker

Dec 12, 2013

The Tomorrow People S01E09: "Death's Door"

When we last left The Tomorrow People, or at least reviewed of the show, it was humming along at a nice clip, smartly using flashbacks to tell efficient, even somewhat moving stories about the lead characters. The series' third and fourth  episodes, with their focus on Cara and John respectively, were particularly good in this regard. In the five episodes since, the show has focused quite a bit more on plot than character, diving headfirst into Stephen's search for his father Jack and the corresponding possible existence of limbo, a place that only extra special Tomorrow People (i.e. Stephen and Jack) can enter when they stop time. 

I have to say, that story hasn't held my interest much. It was always pretty clear that Jack wasn't gone forever, and even though the last few episodes tried to throw a monkey wrench into that obvious endpoint by showing us that Jedikiah actually ordered John to kill Jack, I still didn't buy it. Perhaps most problematic of all is that Stephen remains the show's weakest character of the lead trio. This happens quite a bit with lead characters who are so quickly painted as saviors, but Stephen's existence in the show is so plot-based. Clearly, he wants to find his dad and he'll do anything to accomplish that goal and yada yada, but what else do we know about him really, other than he's probably in love with Cara? The double agent story hasn't been especially interesting, partially because it's ridiculous at times ("Where's Jameson?" "I don't know.") and partially because the Tomorrow People are so often in contact with Jedikiah and Ultra anyway that it mostly makes everyone look a little stupid.

The last few episodes have really concentrated on the messed up crap that happened to John while he was at Ultra, particularly his messy relationship with Jedikiah. Really, John and Jedikiah are the two characters carrying the show because they're the ones it has heaped on the drama and tension onto. Not only through their screwed up interactions with one another but also their relationships with their "people". John "killing" Jack at Jedikiah's behest, only then to lead the Tomorrow People on a multi-year goose chase to find the man he murdered is kind of messed up, and almost entirely justifies all of Cara's "Why won't you let me in?" prodding throughout these first nine episodes. Jedikiah meanwhile regularly seems to eschew Ultra protocol and no more so than in his relationship with Morgan, a breakout. It's not really a problem that the supporting characters are more interesting than the lead. Like I said, that happens quite a bit. What has dragged The Tomorrow People down a little in the last few episodes—and don't get me wrong, the show is still very entertaining--is that the show has asked us to care just as much about Stephen's search for Jack as we should about John and Jedikiah, and that's just really hard for me to do. And "Death's Door" was especially focused on Stephen and limbo and as such, it wasn't the best episode to leave 2013 on. 

The clearest example of how Stephen and his laser-focus on finding his dad is hurting the show was the moment where John, pretty much wracked with guilt over what he did to Jack, admitted the truth to Stephen. Although John had little to lose at that point considering he was stuck in Ultra in-line for a surely nasty execution, the fact that he told Stephen was pretty big, particularly for a character that has trouble being honest about his dark and twisty past. And what does Stephen do? Get moderately upset about it for a few minutes, only to quickly move on because he knows that limbo is real, his dad is alive, etc. Of course that's almost certainly all true, as this episode's final moments proved, but John's honesty could have created a lot of tension between two characters who are already on uneasy ground--and it would have introduced even more skepticism into whether or not Jack was alive or dead. 

To make matters a bit worse, the episode spent a whole lot of time working to make Stephen's journey to the other side into limbo seem important. That's what the show should have done, but when the story leading up to scenes like the one where Stephen brings the Tomorrow People into his home to hang out with his family and Astrid is weak, that supposedly big, great moment is also weak, if not weaker. It's silly enough that the episode developed some flop sweat trying to convince us that Stephen could actually die, but to include a scene where he connects his two worlds as if it's something the audience has just been waiting for, is kind of manipulative. Free of context, that scene was fun enough, and I want to see more scenes of Astrid making eyes with John or chatting about Stephen with Cara. Unfortunately, context matters and within the framework of the story The Tomorrow People is currently telling, that rang false with me. 

And then, we didn't even get to see Stephen in limbo! This is the moment the show has been building to, the one that it has told us is the most important above all else, and all "Death's Door" gave us was 55 seconds of Cara, John, and Russell freaking out over the possibility that the plan didn't work and Stephen was, in fact, dead and then the quick reveal that he was alive and that they needed to find Jack's body. Clearly, not showing us what happened to Stephen in limbo is a strategy to get us to return in January, so it's not as if the show is planning on keeping things from us in the long haul. But I don't quite understand the logic of that cliffhanger. Why not at least give us another quickly glimpse in limbo with a close-up shot on Stephen smiling and saying "Dad?" Not hard, right?

There was still some stuff to enjoy in "Death's Door," mostly around the edges. John manning up and telling Cara the truth about his role in Jack's death was pretty important for their relationship going forward. The show keeps stopping and starting with the love triangle, and that's certainly fine by me, but I would like to see John and Cara make a go at an adult relationship before Stephen fully interrupts with his chosen one googly eyes. A random byproduct of their arguing at the end of the episode led to Russell also finding out the truth about John, which could be helpful and/or interesting in the next batch of episodes as well. And Jedikiah's unwillingness to kill Morgan, despite the Founder's directive, only further cemented him as one of the show's two most interesting characters. I loved that he figured out exactly how Stephen kept from injecting Cara with the de-powering serum and that he let Stephen off the hook because they're both in forbidden love situations. That Jed, what a softy.

My fear is that the next step in Stephen's crusade to find Jack will keep dominating the story, but at least now that we know limbo is accessible, perhaps more compelling stuff is around the corner. And even if that story does power The Tomorrow People throughout the early stages of 2014, I think the show has done a decent-enough job establishing John, Jedikiah, and to a lesser extent Cara, and I'm still dedicated to seeing this through, at least until the end of Season 1. 


– One of my pet peeves about this show was on full display in this episode: So much random telepathic conversation. Cara decides, seemingly on a whim, when she wants to move her mouth and when she wants to use her abilities. And it's not even like she says secret stuff in telepath channels and non-secret stuff aloud. It's random!

– I like The Founder well enough. He's creepy.

– The Tomorrow People HQ has gotten emptier as the season has progressed. Some died, sure, and they went out of their way this week to explain that they moved some people due to possible danger, but... it's probably a budgetary thing. I can't wait until Ultra wipes out another 20 red shirts so the show can really just have the four main characters hanging out in the subway station. 

– R.I.P. to Doctor Crick. I'm not familiar with the original series, so I'd like to hear what you longtime fans thought of how the show used Nicholas Young. I'm guessing they'll keep doing stuff like that, which is fun.

– Every time the show cuts back to Stephen at home, I probably shouldn't immediately think, "Oh yeah, this." Do a better job with it, or let it go. 

What'd you guys think of the fall finale, and the last few episodes in general?

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  • crazedtvhead91 Dec 18, 2013

    I thought Stephen would go HAM on on John when he found out he killed his dad. The first thought that came to my mind was "Not the face!"

  • prekmurka Dec 14, 2013

    Altough the show has a room to improve i enjoyed watching it. I just hope that Cara and Stephen will finally come togheter and that the little "fling" that they had wasn't it. Beacuse they have such a great chemistry togheter, you can feel it, and the writters will not insist with the John and Cara story....there is no chemistry at all!!

  • MarlboroMagpi Dec 13, 2013

    I will like to know what happened to Irene. She was suppose to go on the adventure with the trio and then we did not even see her at all here? Why did they not used her at all? I rather see her and Astrid form a love triangle with Stephen rather than Stephen being the 3rd wheel to John and Cara.

    The series does have many plot holes especially those stories relating to their powers.

    The founder and Jedekiah are smart people, I think they do know Stephen is a double agent. They are still keeping him around because they want to use him to find his father. They need him to find the limbo because he is the chosen one (however stupid the chosen one seems to sound). That part of them not discovering him as a double agent, I feel is NOT a plot hole. It is part of a greater plan.

    So far I have enjoyed all 9 episodes of it despite many obvious plot holes. I do hope that after the break, they would made the show better.

  • Copioli Dec 15, 2013

    I agree about the Founder and Jedik knowing that Stephen is helping the TP.
    I really don't like Stephen, I wish Cara and John continue together. Is possible, I think, now than John can be honest.
    I suspect Irene is a double agent too.

  • tnetennba Dec 13, 2013

    I'm watching this show because I'll watch almost anything with superpowers, and I find it somewhat enjoyable. But it's really, really stupid at times.

    How about a few weeks ago when Jedekiah slapped a bracelet full of technology on Stephen's wrist, and he immediately went to the secret hideout to show the others? No one even considered the possibility that it contained a GPS device, or an audio recording device.

    All this stuff about dad, "the chosen one", the refuge and limbo seems much dumber than that, but I haven't been paying enough attention to know exactly what's going on. I have a few questions for those of you who have:

    1. Why do they think Stephen is "the chosen one", and what does that even mean? (Yes, he could stop time, and that indicates that he's stronger than the rest of them, but what does that have to do with being "chosen", and what is the "chosen one" supposed to do?)
    2. Why do they think that there's a "refuge"?
    3. Why do they think that Stephen's dad can take them there?
    (There seems to be no evidence to suggest that the dad found such a place in his lifetime).

    A few more comments:

    Jedekiah doesn't seem to be an idiot. Anyone who isn't an idiot would have figured out that Stephen is a double agent almost immediately. The show should either have made it more plausible that Jedekiah believes him, or shown us clearly that he doesn't.

    It bugs me when people on TV shows aren't saying the obvious things. Someone should have asked the new girl how she can date a person who hates her race so much that he murders most people of that race that he comes across. Her relationship with Jedekiah makes as much sense as having the Asian guy date a woman who usually murders Asians when she sees them.

    The names "Ultra" and "tomorrow people" are pretty terrible. I don't mind that the show's name is "The tomorrow people", or that there's someone on the show who uses the term "tomorrow people" for these mutants, but it should be a term that the mutants are making fun of. They should react to it the way physicists react to the term "the God particle". And who would name any organization Ultra?

    It would be absolutely impossible to keep the existence of this new superior race a secret. Even if Ultra has kill squads in every major city in the country, and lots of mobile kill teams that move between small towns, they're still only covering 4.5% of the world's population.

    Stephen looks so much older than a high school student that it's not even funny. I hope that he will at least graduate from high school this season, so that we won't ever have to be reminded of that ever again.

  • Stelamon Dec 15, 2013

    Jedekiah made a comment very early (episode 2 or 3) about how he was either expecting it or counting on Stephen working with the others. It has been clear from the start that he knows that Stephen is a double agent. I think he either enjoys making Stephen uncomfortable or just letting them think Stephen is getting away with it. It would look more suspicious if Ultra never questioned Stephen, plus they don't want other Ultra operatives thinking they can't be caught if they tried something.

  • MarlboroMagpi Dec 13, 2013

    The founder and Jedekiah are smart people, I think they do know Stephen is a double agent. They are still keeping him around because they want to use him to find his father. They need him to find the limbo because he is the chosen one (however stupid the chosen one seems to sound). That part of them not discovering him as a double agent, I feel is NOT a plot hole. It is part of a greater plan.

  • Whedonrules Dec 13, 2013

    It took me a while but I finally realized that Laura Slade Wiggins now just Laura Slade formerly 'Karen' on "Shameless" is the actress playing the cute hacker 'Irene'. (Definitely not playing 'Karen' this time around which may be why I haven't noticed her.) This show is getting better because they are writing good supporting parts. Carly Pope - nice job putting her in the cast. (An original WB network actress!) I don't think Robbie Amell is doing a bad job, I just don't think his part is written very well. Its like they found these great character actors to inhabit the world around him and they just keep writing for all the characters, because they have cast this show pretty damn well and they forget about 'Stephen'. I mean how could they not know that Aaron Yoo was going to be someone really easy to write for and he steals every scene/epsiode 'Russell' appears in? Peyton List and Luke Mitchell as Cara and John have to have just been so much better than they could have expected. Peyton List has such a varied resume but seems to have found a good part here. I've never enjoyed her as much as on this show. (It must be nice not having an old man playing your husband.) How cool would it have been if they had just cast Xander Berkley as 'Jack'? This network has some experience with Xander 'Percy' Berkley. Yes it would have been a little meta casting Sara Clarke's actual husband but that would have been cool. I'm liking this show and had thought it might be an easy one to just give up on -- too many superhero shows -- but dare I say it, this is much much better than 'S.H.I.E.L.D' because the viewers like these characters and care about what happens to them - still not a single character on 'SHIELD' that I would care about if the show killed them off - not one.

    1st seasons should be a marathon not a sprint - when they dead sprint sometimes the whole thing falls apart and never continues to get better in the second season. The staffs start believing their own press and forget about what they did to earn the accolades they received - cough 'Lost'....cough 'Homeland'... Keep following 'Arrow's example and establish your characters and correct narrative problems as the season progresses. This show can get better and I trust it will. There is hope in this one.

  • MarlboroMagpi Dec 13, 2013

    Yes ! I did state in the comments section of the episode when Laura Slade Wiggins showed up. I been a big fan of her since watching her on Shameless. She is hot and can act too.

  • h4ck3r2013 Dec 13, 2013

    I was gonna buy the idea of limbo until I found out their body doesn't go with them, it doesn't seem logically possible.

    I don't understand why the series keeps acting like kara is the only telepath in it. They all just depend on her for telepathy like they forget they can also. Sure, she might be the best but that doesn't make the rest useless.

    didn't see stephen's bro in this episode, he's cute and fun (no homo)

    lastly, I am not buying this refuge thing. Are we just supposed to believe that there is a place where they will be safe from humans? Like a heaven? Or limbo? Or vegas? Makes no sense. But I will keep watching tho cos its scifi and I love scifi

  • tnetennba Dec 13, 2013

    Where did the idea that there's a refuge come from in the first place? Wasn't it just one of the lies John told the others?

  • mad-pac Dec 13, 2013

    OK, here's a SERIOUS comment. I think the show works, though I'm not quite sure for what specific reason. But it's been one of my favorite ones this season.

    I have a few observations:

    - It makes no sense for Stephen to be a high school student. Between his hours at Ultra and his time among the tomorrow people, I bet he has no time for school, much less for all the school work involved (homework, tests, plays, extracurricular activities). Neither can I see him showing growing pains and worried about teenager stuff. It would make much more sense to make him a college student on a break of his studies, working full time to help support his family. In spite of his silly mistakes as a double agent, Stephen is a physically and emotionally grown man.

    - What is Ultra exactly? I was under the impression it is a government agency dedicated for the hunt of criminal Tomorrow People. But it has a founder, and the government is never mentioned. Is it a private enterprise? An NGO? A foundation? A private company? How can it justify hunting Tomorrow People if they can't officially acknowledge Tomorrow People exist? What does the government have to say about it?

    - Where does Jedikiah fit in all that? He hunts Tomorrow People and strips them of their power with the help of other TP, but is loyal to the Founder a TP with his own (most certainly) evil agenda. Jedikiah is smart enough to notice that if the Founder has his way, neither TP nor humans will be safe. But I like the idea that the Founder is being introduced as the ultimate villain because then eventually Jedikiah may realize he and John's group can in fact become allies against the Founder. But Jedikiah's motivations have always seemed a bit hazy to me.

    - I agree with the review that the show would do better with just the core Tomorrow People, but I wish that would include Laura Wiggins's character. A group always needs a nerd and she's so cute.

    - Astrid seemed so determined to find out what Stephen was hiding, until she did find out and... all her determination was deflected and she became a background character.

    - If I were Stephen I would've given John a psychic punch or something when finding out he killed my father. It would feel good, and that would make the Founder and Jedikiah trust him better. But instead all of Stephen's anger subsided quickly.

    - And I haven't even started to think how exactly Stephen the savior is going to save everybody and where his father-in-Limbo fits in all that.

  • MarlboroMagpi Dec 13, 2013

    Yes ! I did state in the comments section of the episode when Laura Slade Wiggins showed up. I been a big fan of her since watching her on Shameless. She is hot and can act too. I was excited that she might join the trio especially last week when she said she is going on an adventure with them. Then I was disappointed she did not appear at all during this episode?

  • mad-pac Dec 13, 2013

    Oh, and I didn't recognize Nicholas Young. her has changed a lot! No wonder, it's been 40 years! I wonder if they'll also bring back Elizabeth Adare and Peter Vaughan-Clarke, the 1973 Stephen. I'll keep an eye on that.

  • azazzlenic Dec 13, 2013

    I thought the founder was Stephen's father for a long time...

  • TriniMysTic Dec 13, 2013

    "I want to see more scenes of Astrid making eyes with John"

    Yep, I am so here for this <3

    Thanks to Like Lightning From Heaven for the gifset.

  • crazedtvhead91 Dec 18, 2013

    can't blame the girl though. I would be getting me an eyefull too.

  • LiseLotteDive Dec 12, 2013

    Im done watching the ENDLESS fighting. If this is the evolution then dear lord, we are over as a species, more so than usual. Boring and tiresome and lacking the ever soooo important bit of humor.

  • LiseLotteDive Dec 12, 2013

    Its just way too pretentious.

  • h4ck3r2013 Dec 13, 2013

    Lol. How can a new species survive when they cannot kill?

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