An alien (Chiwetel Ejiofor) crash lands in the new Mexican desert on a mission: he must find a maverick scientist Justin Falls (Naomie Harris), the only person on Earth who can help save his planet. Together, the unlikely duo quickly learns that it is not just his world that needs to be saved.
Streaming on: Paramount +
Section set: 3 of 10
Although one of the more unlikely choices for the finishing touch, a 21st century update of Nicolas Roeg’s cult classic The man who fell to the ground (in itself an update of Walter Tevis’ 1963 novel) actually makes a lot of sense. The story of an alien crashing on Earth, on a mission to save their dying planet, is an allegory for immigration and the human experience that has only become more relevant over the years. And it is this modern resonance, as showrunners Alex Kurtzman (Star Trek: Discovery) and Jenny Lumet (Picard) pack in this stylish, exciting, sometimes unfocused ten-party.
Chiwetel Ejiofor is in fine shape here as Faraday, the titular alien who arrives on Earth naked, alone and hoping to save his species. A soulful Naomie Harris forms the show’s emotional core towards him as the ingenious scientist Justin Falls, whose work on cold fusion could still save Faraday’s (and her own) nature. The fascinating dynamic between the couple – one childish and gaping at earthly wonders and the other tired of her daily struggle to feed her daughter (Annelle Olaleye) and take care of her sick father (a gleaming Clarke Peters) – anchors the series through its turbulent opening.
The commitment to sensually evoke Faraday’s discombobulation through extreme close-ups and immersive sound design holds together the show’s otherwise different elements.
The show’s combination of Residents living hereFishing-out-of-the-water lies with more engaging efforts to create a modern analogy to the American immigrant experience lead to some sadly jarring tonal shifts. In honor of Kurtzman and Lumet, their commitment is to sensually evoke Faraday’s discombobulation through extreme close-ups and immersive sound designs that almost hold together the show’s two otherwise different elements.
The introduction of Thomas Newton (formerly David Bowie, here cleverly transformed as Bill Nighy) as Faraday’s mentor helps things to stick together, and connects this series concretely with its cinematic predecessor. Elsewhere, the presence of Jimmi Simpson’s picky CIA agent Spencer Clay and Sonya Cassidy and Rob Delaney’s warring Big-Tech siblings Edie and Hatch helps build more than enough mystery to make this one worth sticking to.
If you can get past its shaky start, this strangeness in space becomes an enjoyable exploration of humanity.