DISCLAIMER: This recap of the Resident Alien pilot episode is laden with spoilers. More spoilers than the number of times Harry has watched Law & Order reruns to practice his English. You’ve been warned. Proceed at your own peril.
What’s better than Alan Tudyk? Why, Alan Tudyk masquerading as an alien, of course! I say that in jest, but as a long time fan of Tudyk’s, his role as Harry Vanderspeigle may be his best yet. Resident Alien debuted its pilot on Syfy. I tend to withhold harsh judgments from pilot episodes as a general rule. It usually takes a freshman series a few installments to find its footing. But I can say that Resident Alien has potential. Tudyk is sensational. The pilot has just the right amount of humor and heart. Not to mention, we got to see each supporting player established with their respective quirks right out of the gate. My hope is that the show doesn’t rely too heavily on Tudyk narrative and character-wise. Said supporting players will quickly fade into the background if it does.
Now, we open with a voiceover from Harry Vanderspeigle (Tudyk) himself. Harry is an alien that crash-landed on Earth four months ago in the quaint slice of Americana known as Patience, Colorado. We see him out on the lake fishing when Sheriff Mike Thompson (Corey Reynolds) and Deputy Liv Baker (Elizabeth Bowen) pull into his driveway. Apparently, the town doctor was murdered the night before. They need Harry’s expertise in examining the body. Prior to Harry reaching land, we see him in his true extraterrestrial form. However, the mere mortals before him see him as human.
Flashback time! Harry’s ship crashes on Earth. He never had any intention of touching down or mingling with the Earthlings. He wanders into a lone cabin in the middle of nowhere. Then, Harry murders the real Harry Vanderspeigle by tossing him over a ledge into the frozen lake below. He takes on the human form of the dearly departed Dr. Vanderspeigle. As the months go by, we see Harry learning everything there is to know about humanity so he can seamlessly fit in. He even watches reruns of Law & Order in an effort to learn English. Harry also spends time searching for the one item he lost amid the wreckage of his ship. It’s vital for his mission. You know, why he came to Earth in the first place.
Back in the present day, Harry tells us that he hasn’t set foot in town — ever. Sheriff Mike and Deputy Liv lead the charge. He meets the mayor, a frenzied young man named Ben Hawthorne (Levi Fiehler). Harry’s ushered into the doctor’s office wherein the deceased medical professional lie. However, he accidentally mistakes a sleeping nurse called Asta Twelvetrees (Sara Tomko) for the corpse. Harry gets down to business. He eagerly examines the dead doctor for clues — signs of struggle and the like. Harry equates his current job to something you’d watch on Law & Order. He even hums the theme song. I think I’m in love.
Next, Harry quickly surmises that the doctor killed himself. He takes his leave. Mike and co. all think Harry’s a mite on the creepy side. Ben finds Harry outside and asks him to perform an autopsy on the body. After Ben departs, we see a young boy walking with his mother. Said boy spots Harry and lets out a bloodcurdling scream. He sees Harry’s true alien form. Some people are “gifted” with this ability, but it’s rare. However, it’s less rare than the number of pizza joints in town.
Later, Harry administers the autopsy with Asta as his assistant. He’s not too keen on the help, but he gets used to it. Harry continuously makes strange remarks that perplex Asta and yet she still asks him out for drinks after the autopsy is complete. She likes her men strange and … strange. Harry declines the offer, as he has very pressing “stuff” to do. Asta leaves for the bar and keeps the invitation open. Harry proceeds to extract the brain from the dead doctor’s skull so he can play with it. Normal stuff. Unfortunately, the corpse’s wife walks in and isn’t aware that her husband passed away. As Harry has his brain in his hands. Awkward.
Then, Harry takes Asta up on her offer and joins her at the bar. Her friend D’arcy (Alice Wetterlund) is the bartender. D’arcy also seems intrigued by Harry. It’s those alien pheromones. They both ply Harry with copious amounts of whiskey. It’s the first time he’s ever experienced intoxication. Harry lights up the dance floor and wows the pub crowd with his smooth moves. Like ex-lax! We see how endearing and charming this small town is, although Harry is still bewildered by it all.
Next, Asta and Harry leave the bar. Asta asks him to pick her up tomorrow so she has a ride to her ex-husband’s home. She has to gather her things. After they part ways, Harry moseys on over to the young boy’s house. The one who recognized him as a nefarious out-of-this-world creature. Harry sneaks inside the boy’s room. We hear the boy scream. Harry claims he won’t hurt the child, but he will kill him. Can’t leave a paper trail, am I right?
Suddenly, his parents barge into his room. We see Ben, the mayor, is his father. Ben and his wife scoop up the child and take him to their room for the night. Harry is under the bed. He flips the boy off with one massive alien finger. It’s more humorous than intimidating.
Later, Mike and Liv are on what looks like a stakeout. Liv wants to jam out to some tunes, but Mike isn’t about that life. Instead, he provides the music. Liv joins in with accompanying hums. However, Harry’s arrival outside the doctor’s office interrupts this impromptu concert. Mike accuses Harry of stealing the doctor’s body. Harry shows the sheriff that he merely buried the corpse in a pile of icy snow outside the building. It was easier than chopping him up and stowing him away in the freezer.
Then, Harry takes Asta to her ex-husband’s house. She has her stuff packed when the homeowner arrives on the scene. He’s instantly wary and jealous of Harry, assuming that the latter is Asta’s new boy toy. Asta urges Harry to leave so she can talk things out with her ex-lover. We see Harry drive away.
Something draws him back to Asta. He’s not supposed to care about humans. The mission! But he turns around anyway. Harry peers inside the house to find Asta’s brute of an ex-husband physically assaulting her. She’s on the ground. Harry reaches through the wall and pulls the ex-turd bodily out onto the porch. He proceeds to choke the man. Asta rushes outside and persuades Harry to stop squeezing the life out of her ex. Harry acquiesces. The pair depart, but not before Asta gives her ex-husband a vigorous kick to the side.
Next, the duo is standing on a cliffside overlooking a stunning forest. Asta is digging her bare feet into the snow. She explains that she married her ex when she was 16 years old. Asta became pregnant at that age as well, but she gave up her child for adoption. Then, four months ago, she decided to leave him. Of course, we know that’s when Harry crash-landed on Earth. Asta reveals that she understands Harry. “It feels alien to be human sometimes,” she confesses. If only she knew she was saying that to an actual alien. Bonding time is fun!
Later, the following day, we see the town is holding a funeral for the dearly departed doctor. Ben informs Harry that the latter has officially taken his place as the resident … wait for it … doctor. Oh, and he’s now Ben’s de facto therapist. Yay! While the priest is delivering an eloquent burial speech, Harry is struck with an idea. He marches over to the casket, opens it and sniffs the corpse. Asta pulls him away. That’s when Harry reveals that he knows how the doctor died. He couldn’t breathe, so he attempted to give himself a tracheotomy. However, he didn’t complete the procedure in time. Why couldn’t he breathe? Because someone poisoned him. Boom! Harry Law & Order-ed that so hard!
Next, we see a flashback of Asta definitively leaving her ex. She spots Harry’s ship flashing across the sky. Harry tells us in a voiceover that his mission was to wipe out all of humanity. Decimate the planet. As he’s searching through the snow for remnants of his ship, he uncovers a piece of the puzzle that says, “Full Extinction Event” in an alien language.
Then, Harry waltzes into what’s now his office. Asta helps him put on his white coat. He already has a patient waiting for him. It’s the young boy from earlier a.k.a. Ben’s son. The boy screams yet again. “This is bullsh*t,” Harry says.
Overall, the pilot for Resident Alien is a good time. Obviously, Tudyk steals the show. His mannerisms and the nuances he imbues into Harry Vanderspeigle are pure perfection. There were a few times when I laughed out loud, which doesn’t happen often for me when I watch TV. I also dig Reynolds’ Sheriff Mike and his work dynamic with Deputy Liv. I hope the show continues to play with that. It’s a comedy gold mine. Harry’s burgeoning friendship with Asta is sweet and, despite his extraterrestrial behavior, his impulse to help her out is touching. I have a feeling that Harry’s objective to exterminate all Earthlings will take a backseat over the course of the season. He may even grow to like humans.
Do you think Harry will eventually abandon his mission to destroy Earth? How will Harry handle the situation with Ben’s son? Will Patience, Colorado ever get another pizza place? Join me next week as I recap Resident Alien, here on Geek Girl Authority.
Resident Alien airs Wednesdays at 10 pm on your Syfy affiliate.
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