Review Scorecard: The Whispers 'Meltdown'

Tuesday, 23 June 2015 - 9:55AM
The Whispers
Tuesday, 23 June 2015 - 9:55AM
Review Scorecard: The Whispers 'Meltdown'
< >
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

"Your mom is pretty. Not as pretty as mine, but..." +2
Henry finding Minx in his living room was suitably jarring, not to mention creepy, and this line just made her presence seem even more ominous.

The kids are lonely and neglected +5
"Lately she's more interested in where my dad is than where I am" was probably the best line of the episode. The premise is much more interesting, and makes much more sense, if Drill targets children who are all but ignored by their parents. Wes, Lena, and Claire are all portrayed as well-meaning, but the show doesn't pretend that they're great parents. Claire and Wes are both focused on work, while Lena is too devastated by her husband's portrayal to be emotionally present for her daughter. Realistically, this would leave children vulnerable to outside influence, and it just adds poignancy to the proceedings in general.

Paul McGillion! +1
The Whispers gets brownie points for letting my Stargate: Atlantis freak flag fly. This show is much better at casting talented actors than writing lines that live up to their talents.

Claire puts Rollins in his place +2
Rollins is the worst (more on that later), so I was cheering Claire on when she told him off. For all his self-righteous posturing, he wouldn't even have a job if Claire and Wes hadn't had their affair, so yes, "a simple 'thank you' will suffice."

Lily Rabe +5
I know I say this every week, but Lily Rabe is killing it. Sometimes it hits me that one of Claire's lines is completely melodramatic, and would seem so in the hands of a less capable actor. But Rabe consistently resists the temptation to overact, which makes the entire show around her seem a little less ludicrous. We knew, for example, that Henry wasn't really going to die in that reactor, but when she said "I won't let him die alone," she really made the audience feel it.

Wes tries to touch Claire +3
It's a subtle moment, especially for this show, but at one point Wes asks Claire if she's okay and tries to touch her stomach, while she flinches a little to prevent him from actually touching her. The show doesn't zoom in on it, it just happens, and it makes perfect sense. It's far too familiar for two people who had an affair, but you can easily see how Wes would justify it to himself as an "innocent" touch. Claire isn't quite as deluded, so she would flinch away from him. It was an effective way to develop both characters and establish the physical chemistry between them.

Minx gives Grandma a "fright" +1
Don't feel bad, Grandma, Minx has that effect on a lot of people.

A little girl points Henry in the right direction +2
Loved this moment. Drill is everywhere!

Teasing the revelation of Drill +2
I wasn't invested in the hijinks at the plant, but when Sean said Drill was "there," it was much more suspenseful. Hopefully next episode, which seems to reveal Drill in all his glory, will see a marked improvement in the mythology of this show.

+23 points

The Bad

Minx dictates for Drill -2
The nursery rhyme-esque clues were suitably creepy, but it would have been much more effective if the conversation between Minx and Drill hadn't been so in-your-face. Just as I said after the second episode, actually hearing the "whispers" makes them much more familiar, and therefore much less creepy and effective.

Rollins needs to be killed off now -3
Rollins is the worst. He has no redeeming qualities that I can see, and he constantly slut-shames Claire. When he said, "It wouldn't be the first time, would it?" referring to Claire "sharing everything" with Wes, all I could think was that he needed a swift punch in the face. He was absolutely in the right when he insisted on flooding the reactor, but the character is so annoying and self-aggrandizing that I almost found myself on Wes's side.

"Son of a bitch." -1
I literally laughed out loud when Wes delivered that line. It wasn't really Barry Sloane's fault; it's such a ridiculous cop cliche that any actor would have trouble delivering it with a straight face. But while Lily Rabe is an expert at elevating stupid lines so they sound a little less stupid, Sloane isn't really up to that challenge.

The "yellow dancer" -2
Drill taking the form of a giant yellow balloon was ridiculous. It reminded me of the scene in Angel in which Wesley invokes a god that takes the form of a Happy Burger, but at least that show had a winking sense of humor. The Whispers is completely mirthless, or I should say, only ever unintentionally funny.

The wild goose chase -10
At one point Claire puts forth the theory that everything that happens at the plant is a "wild goose chase," and I tend to agree. I know I should be afraid when a plant with massive amounts of radiation is malfunctioning, but I couldn't seem to care.

Mini-Stockholm syndrome -3
The doctor's line, "You don't seem like someone who would take orders without knowing who they're from" made zero sense. She knows nothing about him except that he's a seemingly insane amnesiac who abducted her.

"I don't know what makes you crazier, hearing voices in the light or giving a Colombian her gun back." -3
Seems mildly racist.

Wes tries to emote -5
Sloane's delivery is just not working for this show. Especially when he's talking to Claire on the phone about her missing son, there's no sense of urgency, no panic, just a blank slate. And when he has intense scenes with Claire, his "moony in love" face is not that different from his "hey, it's Tuesday" face. 

The Hazmat guys are not very strict -2
At first, they're holding Claire back when she's desperate to be with her son, presumably because it's really, really important. Then, they just randomly let her go after Henry speaks so she can have a dramatic moment. That sounds about right.

"Grown-ups don't really know what's going on, even when they think they do." -1
This was a great line the first time Minx said it, and then she said it twice. Quit while you're ahead, writers.

-33 points

Final score: -10 points

The eerie credit sequence filled with nostalgic images of childhood gives insight into what this show should be: a family drama with a horror/sci-fi bent that more closely emulated Ray Bradbury's Zero Hour. But unfortunately, they seem to be going the sci-fi conspiracy thriller route, complete with an evil government and a much more tangible villain than we were expecting. Next week, Drill will finally be revealed, and the nature of this revelation will likely determine the direction the show is heading in the future. So we'll give it one more episode, if only because the countdown in the promo reminds us of the source material, but The Whispers is officially on probation.

Science Fiction
Sci-Fi TV Shows
The Whispers