! WARNING: Spoilers throughout.
Well, Amazing Stories’ reboot first season has now concluded with its fifth episode, The Rift. It’s based on a comic of the same name that centers on a governmental agency that is responsible for tidying up “rifts” in the space-time continuum, so that they don’t have negative effects on our here and now.
I’d hoped that this would be a real whiz-bang of an episode; a season-ending tour-de-force that would have viewers clamoring for more (considering that the original season roll out was for 13 episodes, and then ten, and then six, there ought to be more product waiting in the pipeline), but I was sadly disappointed. If you want to save your stay-at-home time for more meaningful screen experiences, here’s this episode in a nutshell: “Meh”.
To expand on that a little bit more: if you’ve seen Steve Roger’s re-unification with Agent Carter in End Game, you’ve already seen this episode.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Today’s viewing was fraught with obstacles, and I’m not the only one dealing with them. Apple TV online is apparently not even displaying this fifth episode to many subscribers; I can’t get it to show on my Apple IPad and had to resort to the phone app.
(Glitches like this have apparently been all to common with the service; the app store for Apple won’t even show me the TV app for the IPad; many others have reported issues with signing on, getting the free trial (they get caught in some kind of sign-up loop) and, if you check the series on IMDB, it’s sparse on information relating to the episodes, as if no one at Apple could be bothered to provide the info. It’s almost as if they aren’t really devoting a lot of effort to promotion, and not just for this show, but for their entire service.)
But I digress, especially considering that we’ve no indication at all on whether this show is going to continue or simply drop off the radar.
Based on the few pages of the comic that I’ve seen, this episode follows very closely to the original, at least the opening; Maryann (Kerry Bishe – Argo, The Romanoffs) and Elijah (Duncan Joiner – Tales from the Loop, Puppy Dog Pals) are relocating, driving through the back roads of Ohio when a WWII fighter plane flies over them – too close for comfort – and crashes in a nearby creek. Maryann rescues the pilot (Austin Stowell – Fantasy Island, Catch-22) and calls 911.
The pilot is confused, talks about flying and fighting over Burma; police and EMTs arrive and everyone trots off to the hospital; Elijah seems to think there’s more to things going on that just a plane crash and an addled pilot and this is confirmed by the arrival of a government team, claiming to be from the NTSB, but clearly not.
Yada, yada, yada, the pilot really is from the 1940s, he’s come back to this place and time so that he can finally say the goodbye to his wife that went unsaid oh so many years ago; meanwhile, Elijah discovers that his stepmom is planning on leaving him with an aunt rather than the two of them moving to California; oh, seems they’ve lost his dad and her husband to the war in Afghanistan so there’s symmetry here and Elijah’s unfounded championing of the lost pilot is now explainable. He helps the pilot escape the hospital.
Seems the secret government types (how many secret directorates are there?) have to return everything through the rift, or everyone within a ten mile radius of the rift site will die the instant the rift closes.
Through various mostly ham-handed reveals we also learn the following: the pilot was killed trying to evade capture; Elijah has eaten the candy bar (not made in more than fifty years) the pilot gave him as proof of his story; Mom is actually Step-mom and (weepy weepy reprise of a scene from the remake of Day the Earth Stood still) can’t stand to look at Elijah because he reminds her too much of her dead husband-pilot; Elijah understands that everything going on is not mere, unbelievable coincidence but is meant to be for reasons (big effin surprise) and – Elijah has eaten the candy bar, which means that unless he can vomit it up or excrete it, not everything can go back through the rift so everyone, including step-mom, the actor from Saving Private Ryan and Elijah are going to die.
But no. In a not-so-surprising twist, our previously brain-addled but actually right about everything World War Two pilot explains to everyone – including the government experts who’ve been running around and dealing with rift repair for, apparently, several years, that the candy bar thing doesn’t matter. He’ll fly back through the rift and everything will be all right.
Which, again unsurprisingly, it is. And – yes, you guessed it, this experience tugged on Maryann’s heartstrings so hard that she has decided to take Elijah with her, the change in their relationship signaled by his sitting in the front passenger seat of their car, rather than tucked away like luggage in the rear seats – awwwwwwww.
Most bothersome moment? The plane successfully travels through the rift, taking the pilot back to a certain death, and the entire rift repair team engages in a round of applause. Yuck.
This was the first episode announced to be in filming and yet was the last episode to be aired. I’d thought that this was done perhaps for two reasons: either that post production was complicated and they needed the extra time and/or that it was the strongest of the episodes and therefore held for the grand finale.
Now I suspect that this story simply was just not working: it’s the most cliched of all of the episodes so far, has logical inconsistencies and an ending pulled out of the nether orifices of whomever wants to take responsibility.
Everything in this episode – from family rifts to time-travel reunifications for the sole purpose of saying goodbye – has been done before – and better in most cases.
The should have ended this season with episode three – Dynoman and the Volt – which is, now sadly, the strongest episode of this abbreviated first season.
And now we wait to see the fate of Amazing Stories 2020.
You can read my reviews of the other episodes from this series here: