Review Scorecard: The Whispers 'Collision'

Tuesday, 16 June 2015 - 10:06AM
The Whispers
Tuesday, 16 June 2015 - 10:06AM
Review Scorecard: The Whispers 'Collision'
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Welcome to our review scorecard, where we (semi-arbitrarily) assign points to the parts of an episode that we loved and hated, the parts that worked and the parts that definitely didn't. We'll weigh more significant aspects of the show with more points, either positive or negative, and tally all the points up at the end for a final score that will reflect the quality of the overall episode.

The Good

Lily Rabe +5
She may not have much to work with where her dialogue is concerned, but Lily Rabe is still killing it. Especially in the emotional scene with her mother, she sold the hell out of cheesy lines like "I have to find out what's happening" and "Sean was not a perfect husband, God knows I wasn't a perfect wife."

Minx's therapy session +3
I liked this scene, mostly for Minx's character development. When she says Drill is a good friend because "He doesn't keep secrets from me. He always tells me the truth," she's clearly expressing disappointment in her parents' dishonesty, both with her and each other. Although Drill isn't imaginary, this scene demonstrates the potential to use the "imaginary friend" conceit as a way to illustrate that these children are all lonely and abandoned in their own way, and would be the types of children who would need an imaginary friend.

That being said, the therapist himself was terrible. He was aggressively telling Minx how to think and feel, which is literally the opposite of what a therapist should do, especially with an impressionable and imaginative child as the patient. I would have said this is unrealistic and placed it in the con column, but many real therapists are, in fact, terrible, so it's sort of a wash.

Doctor Harper +1
Harper is adorable. That's all.

"Daddy always tries." +3
This line was sad and relatively subtle on its own, and it illustrated a marked improvement in Lena's characterization. This episode made her a character in her own right, one who is dealing with her husband's infidelity as best she can. She's human, and she's angry, but she manages to hide it from her child most of the time and handle Claire's reappearance with as much dignity as she can muster. It's refreshing to see an emotional reaction on this show that's not 100% predictable.

Drill turns on the radio +2
The strongest moments of this show always involve Drill, and often involve Minx. Some of Drill's manipulations of electric appliances have been cheesy so far, but I got chills when the radio started blasting "Play Nice." It would have been better if the words "Play Nice" hadn't been projected so obviously on the car's radio, but it was still an effective moment.

The tension between Wes and Claire +3
I'm getting a little annoyed with the show shoving Wes and Claire down our throats, as the writers clearly think these two are going to be the OTP (One True Pairing), but this episode at least did a better job of illustrating that they're drawn to each other. They speak to each other more naturally than they do with their spouses, and there's a great moment in Claire's living room in which she looks up and he's suddenly close to her. If they really do have chemistry, that's how it would work in real life; if they're forced to be in the same room together then they would just sort of find themselves getting close to each other.

"You're the woman who makes Mommy cry" +3
This scene could have been too maudlin, and it was a little on the dramatic side, but it was saved by Kylie Rogers's performance and Claire's reaction to Minx's knowledge of the affair. It would have been too easy for her to dismiss Minx, or condescend to her, or avoid the issue altogether, but instead she spoke to the little girl as if she were an adult, but without getting too personal or inappropriate. 

This scene was also poignant for Minx's insistence that Claire was "trying to confuse [her]." Between the terrible psychologist unprofessionally telling her that Drill isn't real, and then the woman who imposed on her parents' marriage telling her that he is, the adults are letting her down in this episode. And always, really. Moments like these demonstrate that this show could aspire to be about childhood, and what happens to children when the adults in their lives neglect and disappoint them. But in spite of scenes like these, it doesn't seem to have such lofty aspirations.

+20 points

The Bad

Claire's flashback of Sean -10
Lily Rabe and Milo Ventimiglia's acting elevated the material a little, but otherwise nothing worked about this scene. First, this is the first time we've been introduced to Claire and Sean's relationship, and it dives right into the stereotypical scene of a tense, nearly failed marriage. Just as with Lena and Wes, it's difficult to root for a couple if you've never seen them happy and have no idea what the foundation of their relationship is. A flashback would have been the perfect opportunity to establish that Claire and Sean loved each other at one point.

And then the dialogue itself was painfully explicit with the couple's problems. They laid all the subtext out for the audience like we're imbeciles, from Claire blaming Sean for Henry's accident to Sean's utterly typical and melodramatic reaction to Claire's infidelity:

"When did it get so hard to talk to you?"
"I don't know, Claire, why don't you ask your conscience?"
"Why did you do it, Claire?"
"Answer me one question. Do you love him?"

*Eye roll*

Sean's kidnapping storyline -10
Why is this relevant? Why is it happening? Why is the doctor involved? I just can't bring myself to care yet. 

"We don't always get to choose who our husbands become." -2
No one talks like that to a perfect stranger!

The conspiracy fitting together so neatly -10
Just as I wrote last week, the show is strongest when it's a horror movie about imaginary friends and evil children and weakest when it's a sci-fi conspiracy. This episode demonstrated that The Whispers has the potential to get tangled in its own web, as the conspiracy is far too neat and borders on ridiculous. Claire just happens to be assigned to this case, and her son is involved. We just happens to be in charge of the investigation of Sean's disappearance, and Sean is involved. The doctor who treats Harper's mother is somehow involved. 

This wouldn't be so terrible, as there may be an explanation for why this conspiracy is focused on a group of people that are interconnected, Lost-style. (Although, remember how well that turned out?) But the connections are incredibly obvious, and the writers are falling prey to the trope of making their characters act unrealistically stupid to drag out the mystery.

It's one thing for Wes not to make the connection between this conspiracy and his daughter's imaginary friend, since lots of kids have imaginary friends, no matter what that stupid doctor says. But then his daughter tries to access classified DOD files, and Claire tells him that there's a mysterious man who's telling children to access classified information. He still doesn't make the connection, not until Claire reveals that the imaginary friend's name is Drill, just like his daughter's friend. He's not the brightest bulb.

The ending -5
The weirdly abrupt ending was far too silly, and sapped away everything that was originally creepy about Drill. Harper asks Drill to wake up her mother. Drill wakes up her mother. Henry asks Drill to find his father. The end. This would have been interesting if it had been directly juxtaposed with Drill killing the psychologist, but without that contrast this ending just seemed random.

-37 points

Total: -17 points

I'm getting harder on this show with every episode, both because it's moving away from the creepy initial premise and because it's rapidly running out its grace period. The cast is great, and there are flashes of promise here and there, but the plot is going off the rails and the dialogue is truly terrible. I'll stick with it for now, since it's entertaining and Barry Sloane insists that it gets better in the fifth episode, but I will definitely re-evaluate if it doesn't.
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The Whispers