After all of the surprises contained in ‘Spyfall,’ I expected that ‘Orphan 55’ might be a bit slower. Instead, ‘Orphan 55’ is non-stop action, just at the price of a coherent plot-line. It gets the ideas it wants to introduce across, but the elements never come together to form a good story. The addition of too many new characters doesn’t help things along. Instead, we have a cast that never gets a chance to shine.
Too Many Characters
The only characters worth any viewer sympathies are Vilma (Julia Foster) and Benni (Col Farrell). They play an older, never married couple who have come to the ‘fakation’ world to pop the question. The odd choice is that once the ‘alien of the week’ (I’ll get to them in a moment) have kidnapped Benni, we never see him again. I understand that sometimes the imagination is scarier than anything on the screen. Still, the scenes where Vilma learns Benni’s fate are lacking impact. The abruptness of Kane’s (Laura Fraser) notification that she has killed what remained of him only underscores what is wrong with this episode. The viewer knows so little that there is just a vague acceptance of what has happened. There is no mourning someone’s loss.
Not Enough Impact
Kane, and her daughter Bella (Gia Ré), could have been a compelling side story. With Bella determined to destroy what Kane has been working to create, the potential is there. There are so many other stories needing telling in this episode, though, so we only get the vaguest sense of the conflict between them. Their sacrifice, in the end, has no more punch than the killing of Benni.
The alien-of-the-week in this episode is a bit strange as well. Inconsistent in behavior, logic, and even special effects, they seem incomplete at best. In one moment, they are killing machines and the next unable to take down a still target. The ‘revelation’ about the planet and the aliens comes a little too soon in the episode. The companions accept the information that they are on earth being stalked by mutated humans a little too quickly. All of this serves to underplay the point.
All of this is unfortunate because the main message of the episode is an important one. Make a choice – save or destroy the planet. It’s a message that ‘Doctor Who‘ has passed along before and likely will again. ‘Orphan 55’ though muddies the plot up enough though that the impact of the message is a bit lost.