Path of Lies is the thirty-seventh episode of War of the Worlds, the series. In it, the aliens use their medical tech to buy influence with Mr. Samuals, a frail business and publishing magnate. At the same time, reporter Mark Trainer has twigged to their existence and becomes their prey. The team attempts to keep him safe and unravel the web (or path) of lies, but sadly for them the aliens keep their foothold and the reporter has to go on the run.
The Good: Unsurprisingly, the alien interaction remains a high point. Mana admits to a 'slight miscalculation' in a syrum to keep Mr. Samuals young and healthy, prompting a terrific understated reaction from Malzor. Later, she chastises him for allowing Samuals to gain the upper hand during negotiations. (I also liked that Samuals first instinct upon figuring out what the aliens were was to cut off contact. Finally, someone sensible.)
I always like a solid win for the aliens, and this episode certainly counts. The negatives are destroyed, Trainer goes into hiding with his boss and girlfriend dead, and the aliens solidify their influence in the business and political realm. Oddly, the alien tasked to eliminate Trainer is namechecked, 'Salo.' That seems familiar; have we heard it before? (Sultan of Sarcasm, I'm looking at you.)
I enjoy the aliases. Mr. Malcom is back, and now Ardix (Huzza for his return) is calling himself Dr. Adelson. Kincaid trots out "John Wolf" again, though now Harrison is "Harry Porter." Little touches like that are fun.
Solid action this episode, with a few good firefights sprinkled in. Though, I wonder why the aliens are using conventional weapons and not their Brussels sprout cannons. Naturally, this means we see more of the battle wagon I love so much.
The aliens are leaning on Samuals for, among other things, use of a telecommunication satellite. We never see what this is all about, and I like that. Malzor must have some schemes that go off in the background, without a ton of drama. Maybe this is one of them.
The Bad: The episode suffers from having a few too many characters. The reporter plot and the Samuals plot are connected, but not as strongly as they could be. Each one features a small cast of supporting characters, and then there are our main heroes and villains to juggle. Trainer and Samuals wind up the stars, with everyone else relegated to a secondary role. I think this one could have been streamlined quite a bit in the outline phase. Trainer and his girlfriend and editor and publisher, Samuals and his traitorous butler, it's all a bit much.
A frequent sin of this show, coincidence, is as bad as ever. The only reason our heroes get involved is because Trainer walks into Plato's, the gang's favorite strip joint. I've decided that I like that the gang hangs out here. Maybe I'm just prurient, I dunno.
The dystopian future seems more ill-defined than usual this time out. When Trainer shows his editor the photos, he replies "maybe it's just a military robot or security cyborg that got loose." Excuse me? We've had no hint of ANYTHING like this before. Also, The Midtown Herald is called the last surviving newspaper in the state. That's not as much of a stretch, but it's still a big leap from the journalistic misadventures of Cash McCullough in My Soul to Keep.
Speaking of the McCulloughs, Suzanne has nothing to do in this episode. I mean, nothing. And it's been a while since we've seen Debi, though that changes next week.
The Ugly: Just an alien corpse, though it winds up on film and becomes the focus of the episode.
This is one of the weaker season two offerings. Despite the well executed action, it failed to hold my interest. The alien goal was much less threatening than usual, just keeping their own existence secret, so the stakes felt low. That wouldn't have been so bad if we cared more about the characters, but the proliferation of them meant that that was difficult. It's a fairly typical plot, perhaps a dash more pessimistic than usual, but the execution could have been much stronger. War of the Worlds: The Final Season, is available for purchase on DVD.
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