You, Me and the Apocalypse
The end is nigh. For the Slough bunker gang, the comet will hit in a mere eight hours, and for those of us hooked on their journey, we’ve only got one more episode left. It’s all about to get very complicated, so let’s quickly review how these characters are intertwined.
Sutton is the matriarch of the family. Years ago, she faked her own death and they were scattered to the winds. Her twins, Rhonda and Scotty, now live in the U.S., along with their husbands, Rajesh and Gaines, and Rhonda’s son Spike. Sutton’s son, Jude, became a Catholic priest (and then married Celine and renounced the priesthood), but not before impregnating a woman named Mary, who gave birth to twins, Jamie and Ariel. (I guess twins run in the family.) Mary raised Ariel on a commune, where he met and later ran away with Hawkwind. Meanwhile, Jamie was raised his adoptive mother, Paula. He eventually married a woman named Layla, who is actually just Hawkwind being used in one of Ariel’s cruel games. Hawkwind also neglected to tell Jamie that she was pregnant with a daughter, Frankie.
Got it? Cool.
The world may believe that Operation Saviour has successfully diverted the comet’s path, but Gaines and Scotty know the truth. They drive the president to Mount Genesis, where, as the real plan states, he and a group of female scientists will repopulate the human race. But once inside the bunker, Gaines shoots him, point blank. Later, Gaines and Scotty meet with the women and explain that humanity rests on their shoulders; Gaines says he shot the president because he didn’t want him leading the new world, and he plans to commit suicide with Scotty later that night.
Sitting in a car staring at nature, Gaines releases a video in which he explains that Operation Saviour was a lie and the president is dead. He and Scotty go home to spend their last few hours getting drunk and having sex, but find Spike, Rajesh, and Sutton’s creepy assistant, Larsson, waiting for them. Rhonda has been put on death row by a military tribunal and they need Gaines to bust her out — Sutton is gathering all of her children for the bunker, and though Scotty knows he doesn’t want to live with the things he’s had to do, Gaines isn’t so sure anymore.
(Sidenote: I’d lost track of the fact that Rhonda has spent the entire show protecting Spike’s identity until this episode, when it occurred to me that she would literally rather face the death penalty than let her son get in trouble. Rhonda’s the best. I’m sorry I ever said her story line was the least-interesting one.)
With Scotty in tow, Gaines intimidates his way into the military base where Rhonda is being held. What they don’t know is that a regretful Leanne, whose husband turned her in for aiding and abetting a terrorist, has joined her. Rhonda won’t leave without Leanne, and her hesitation arouses the suspicion of a guard, who shoots Scotty in the stomach.
Meanwhile, Jamie, Hawkwind, and Frankie are celebrating the start of their lives together when Jamie gets a call — his father has died. At the Vatican, the cardinals are trying to convince Celine that Jude killed himself, but Celine knows better. She heads off to stay with Jamie, who invites her in as part of the family. Paula, Dave, Jamie, and Celine go to the funeral, where they run into Sutton, who mistakes Jamie for Ariel. (Despite it being a funeral scene, I got at least one good laugh — while watching Celine say good-bye to Jude, Dave muses, “So she’s your stepmum? I don’t have any mums, and you’ve had, what, 12 in the last month?”)
When Sutton gets back home, she finds Ariel waiting for her. Because the world is no longer ending, Ariel threatens to tell everyone that she isn’t dead, unless she pays him off every month. He also tells her that it was Jamie she ran into earlier. Shortly afterward, the end of the world is announced to be imminent after all, and Sutton orders Larsson to bring all of her children to the bunker.
Upon learning the apocalyptic news, Paula, Celine, and Dave decide to get ridiculously drunk while Jamie runs back to his wife and daughter. Jamie is stopped by Sutton, who tells him about the bunker. She sends an associate along with him to collect Hawkwind and Frankie, but Ariel hits them with a truck, kidnaps Jamie, and assumes his brother’s identity while imprisoning him in his own bank vault. I know I’ve said this before, but watching Mathew Baynton morph from character to character is absolutely unsettling, especially since it seems like Ariel is about to take Jamie’s place in the bunker and effectively kidnap Hawkwind and Frankie.
Paula and Dave arrive at the bank and inform Ariel (as Jamie) that they’re getting married, and Ariel, who has been studying Jamie his whole life, reacts with appropriate horror. (You know what? I’m happy for them.) Ariel then goes back to Hawkwind and Frankie, promising them space in the bunker.
As if this weren’t all huge enough, a very drunk Celine is straight-up visited by God in a bar bathroom. God, who turns out to be an adorable grandmotherly woman in a pink suit, informs Celine that she has always been part of her grand design, which Celine takes to mean that she needs to become a nun again.
So there it is: All the pieces are in motion for the final moments of Earth as we know it. I was really impressed with “Calm Before the Storm” — given how much plot it has to set up, it still carefully manages to juggle the emotional states of each character. There’s only one episode left and so many unanswered questions still remain — not the least of which is: Will NBC somehow find a way to extend the show’s run? — but I have the utmost confidence that this satisfying series will come to a fittingly satisfying close.