Although the Overlords came with a promise of an idyllic, peaceful society, the seeds of doubt, unrest, and frustration have been sown on Earth.
But even as the second episode propels the plot of Childhood’s End forward, the most fascinating aspect of “The Deceivers” might be this middle section’s structure. Both in what it reflects on from “The Overlords” and what it adds to the mythos, Childhood’s End is at its best when it gives weight to the tensions building on Earth — and whenever Charles Dance is on screen.
Dance continues to shine, or intimidate, depending on your view of the character, as Karellen. His imposing figure is on full display now that he’s revealed himself to the world, and Dance lends the role its needed gravitas that saves the only non-human character from standing out like a silly oddity. He’s equal parts menacing in his visage and welcoming in his tone while always presenting just enough of an enigma to occlude his true nature.
The humans surrounding him are more of a mixed bag, though. Ricky takes a backseat as Osy Ikhile’s Milo takes a more proactive role in this episode, which also introduces Julian McMahon’s Dr. Boyce and Yael Stone’s Peretta Jones to the series.
McMahon’s Dr. Boyce is one of the more interesting human wrinkles added to the show’s patchwork of characters. He’s steadfast in his belief in keeping friends close and his possible alien enemies closer, appealing to the Overlords’ collective will while remaining skeptical of their true purpose. But while he gives into their demands, Milo keeps a step back in his attempts to understand the Overlords. Milo is obviously a central figure to the story as a whole, but what exactly his discoveries by the will mean, if anything, remains one of the more tantalizing mysteries of the episode’s conclusion.
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The Greggsons also become a major factor, as their son starts to exhibit odd behavior, which Peretta monitors as a therapist while Amy Greggson (Hayley Magnus) becomes pregnant, much to Karellen’s interest. Peretta’s journey, dealing with the Greggson’s son and her burgeoning relationship with Ricky’s fiancée, offers a look at how destructive a utopia with so many unknowns can be to the psyche of its citizens. She’s also the lens through which the show most tackles the religious response to these events, whether in her visit to a church or in the view of the devoted few camping out by Ricky’s farm for more contact with the Overlords.
The character’s evolution feels worn out by the end of the episode, whereas plenty more can be done with Milo and Dr. Boyce, but her development leads to a key moment in the viewers’ understanding of the series.
Ricky, who has become sick over the course of “The Deceivers,” is offered a cure from Karellen, who he also discovers purposely made him sterile. But when Peretta appears to kill Karellen, sick of his deception and what his race is doing, Ricky decides to save Karellen over himself. His strength fully regained, Karellen strikes his most intimidating pose, declaring that his life or death will not change what is to come. He was attempting to save Ricky from the anguish of the future by making him sterile, but for now, that future includes one brand-new face, in the form of newborn Jennifer Greggson.
What did you think of “The Deceivers?” Was Karellen’s increased presence fun to watch, or did it lessen some of the mystery? And what did you think of the new characters who were introduced, as well as how Ricky and other more familiar characters fared?