'The Passage' Season 1: The backstories of death row prisoners-turned-virals raises the Fox show above its peers
No one is completely bad, because even someone as bad as Clark Richards (Vincent Piazza) thinks 'he is doing something right'
From the pilot episode to its latest, the genre-bending Fox series 'The Passage,' has been an emotional ride, and that's not something you expect out of a show said to be about blood-thirsty "vampires" set in a dystopian backdrop.
The first episode introduced us to Amy Bellafonte (Saniyya Sidney), who was orphaned overnight only to be kidnapped the next day by the government, who are running a secret facility carrying out inhumane experiments on a section of people such as prisoners on death sentences and now, an orphan child. In the pilot itself, a bad cop Brad Wolgast (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) has a change of heart and instead of taking Amy to the facility in Colorado, where he is dutifully supposed to, he sets on a mission to rescue and protect Amy.
He goes to any extreme to ensure she is okay, and we see a different side to this government agent who single-handedly killed five terrorists in Afghanistan, so we are told. Then the surface is scratched when it's revealed he lost his baby girl and his personal life imploded with his loving and caring wife Lila (Emmanuelle Chriqui). With Amy, things fall back into place, well almost.
The duo head to Wisconsin, where we meet Lacey Antoine (Kecia Lewis), who despite being a woman training Navy combats, including Wolgast, was a nun before. The ultimate capture of Amy and Wolgast leads us to the facility, Project NOAH, where we fathom is filled with deadly characters, both human and non-human, who want to do something evil.
The humans in the facility, all top-notch doctors and scientists, want to experiment and perhaps harm the child, whereas the blood-sucking creatures, the humans want to omit calling "vampires," want to thrive on human blood and "change the world," in a way we don't understand yet. But we are well-versed in the inception of Project NOAH, and its purpose was actually to better the world.
Dr. Jonas Lear (Henry Ian Cusick) and Dr. Tim Fanning (Jamie McShane) were really good friends who ventured to find a virus that would cure all disease. The need for it sparked mainly because of Elizabeth (Jennifer Ferrin), Lear's wife, who Fanning secretly loves.
Elizabeth's diagnosis of Alzheimer's spurred the scientists to find the cure, but on that mission, Fanning was bitten by a vampire caged in a cave and he became patient Zero instead. Fanning's back unfurled through episodes and it is evident he wants to take revenge on Lear.
Rather surprisingly, two of the new "vampires," has the most heartbreaking back story. In the pilot, even before we met Amy, we were introduced to Anthony Carter (McKinley Belcher III), who was on a death row for killing a white woman. In the recent episode titled 'Whose Blood Is That?" we realize Carter is innocent and his girlfriend Rachel, took her own life.
He loved her so much, he never claimed his innocence. "Broke and black," he was made the scapegoat by his girlfriend's rich husband, who he, of course, did not know about until she told him the night before she killed herself. Living with that guilt throughout, Fanning manipulates Carter to become one of the "turned."
Prior to knowing Carter's story, we are shown Shauna Babcock (Brianne Howey), a young woman on death row for two homicides, that of her parents'. While you may think she's definitely evil (for who can kill their own parents?), her story breaks your heart. Sexually assaulted by her step dad since the age of 8, Shauna still kept strong and independent, aspiring to go to makeup school and saving money despite all odds.
The helplessness of her mother, even when all her savings were stolen by her abusive step-dad, triggered the fact that her mother knew about the sexual abuse all through the years and did nothing to "protect her." Shauna stabbed her mother and killed the abusive step father, giving away her life full of dreams.
'The Passage,' may be a vampire show of the sci-fi genre, but it has told us very human stories, beautifully aching. In a recent interview, executive-producer Jason Ensler explained, the sympathetic backstories, which veers away from the book of the same name on which it is based, allows the audience to relate to them.
"And it also supports the theme that nobody is good or bad, that people are living in the grey areas in their decision-making and in their lives. Sykes is struggling with the decision to bring in a child, as is Lear. They both have different points of view on the ethical dilemma, and at the same time, once you see Babcock's backstory, you're able to see her as a full human being. I always think that's more interesting storytelling than a two-dimensional bad guy. In the minds of every character, I think it's important to see their point of view. The best bad guys, you see that they're doing what they think is right," Ensler said.