Charlie finds his way home.


Title: “The Shortening of the Way”

First broadcast July 23, 2005.

Cast

Jeffrey Pierce as Charlie Jade
Michael Filipowich as 01 Boxer
Rolanda Marais as Blues Paddock
Tyrone Benskin as Karl Lubinsky
Marie-Julie Rivest as Jasmine/Paula
Patricia McKenzie as Reena
David Dennis as Sew Sew Tukkars
Danny Keogh as Julius Galt
Michelle Burgess as Essa Rompkin
Anneke Weidemann as Jody.

Plot:

A desperate Vexcor executive provides critical information to Sew Sew Tukkars, but acting on it may jeopardize his relationship with Jasmine. Reena goes to 01 Boxer for help, while Blues Paddock joins forces with Karl Lubinsky.

The dominant plot involves Charlie Jade, of course. While running from a genetically-modified assassin, Jade finds help from a surprising source.

High Points:

A lot of people have died in this club. I called a service. The next clean-up is free.
–01 Boxer

1. The interplay between Charlie and Jody proves charming, without destroying the tension that hangs over the entire episode. I initially worried about how they would handle Jade’s inevitable discovery that he can travel, and the use of the Tribal culture whose magic might really work cliché didn’t help. They handled that well, however, and made the show’s major breakthrough in another, more effective manner.

2. Verse: unknown. We finally learn that other universes exist beyond the three in which this show is set.

Low Point:

It’s a terribly small point—but really, shouldn’t at least some of these characters be wearing hats in the desert?

The Scores:

Originality: 5/6.

Effects: 5/6.

Story: 6/6. This episode reveals many things, and shows us that (apparently) Malachi’s triumph last week did not last long. It could work as the finale to the season, but other episodes are scheduled.

Acting: 5/6. Young Anneke Weidemann’s performance as Jody is extraordinary. The hunter felt a bit wooden; otherwise, this episode would have received a 6/6.

Emotional Response: 5/6 This episode featured the usual suspense (thought they risk diminishing that if no one significant ever dies), and some dramatically satisfying moments.

Production: 6/6.

Overall: 5/6.

In total, “The Shortening of the Way” receives 37/42

Additional Comments

Jade has thus far avoided the endless fannish in-jokes that characterize some genre media, and which can either work or be annoying, depending on how they’re handled. This episode features, in non-distracting and even useful ways (imagine: an allusion that contributes to overall effect, instead of functioning as an Easter Egg for fanboys), to Star Trek, Buffy1 (01 Boxer), The Wizard of Oz (Charlie), and superheroes (Jody and Charlie). The first two largely add to 01’s quirkiness—-can they make this character any more bizarre?—- while the second connects to a key development in this episode. Jody’s assessment of Charlie as someone who fights “supervillains” acknowledges that, yes, a show with a genetically-modified assassin and at least three people with a specific superpower bears some kinship to the comic book.

This season features at least four more episodes: Next: “Spin,” “Bedtime Story,” “Flesh,” and “Ouroboros.” In addition, a special recap/clip episode, “Can of Worms,” will air on Space July 28.

1. The Buffy… reference is debatable, but I suspect it’s deliberate, given that 01 blatantly quotes from Star Trek in the same dialogue.

The Timeshredder’s reviews may be found here.