The two-hour premiere of Syfy’s three-night miniseries, Childhood’s End, was slow-moving, but by the final moments, I was fully onboard.
It hit all the alien invasion beats right away: massive spaceships hover above major cities throughout the world, bringing excitement, but mostly fear to governments and citizens. The alien “supervisor” for Earth, Kerellen (voiced by Charles Dance of Game of Thrones) appears before people using the avatar of a dead loved one. Through them, he explains that they are not here to conquer, but to enable. The world will continue to function as it always has, but now without injustice, pain, or suffering. He promises to usher in the Golden Age of Man.
But what’s the catch, right?
Newspaper mogul, Wainwright (Colm Meaney) certainly thinks there is one and it can’t be anything good. He leads the way in calling the alien visitors The Overlords, and is vocal in his belief that humanity should not accept anything from them and demand their departure.
Karellen chooses Ricky Stormgren (Mike Vogel), a midwestern farmer, as the messenger who will convey information from the aliens to the rest of the world. Karellen explains his choice by referencing Ricky’s trustworthiness and his ability to bring people together in the past.
Karrellen does have one request: They ask that humans allow the aliens to keep their physical forms hidden until they believe mankind is ready to accept them. It takes 15 years of the aliens delivering everything they promised – no more war, disease, or famine – before Karrellen reveals his true form.
As someone unfamiliar with the Arthur C. Clarke novel upon which the series is based, I had no idea what to expect, but I wasn’t disappointed, though I wasn’t interested in the personal drama: Ricky’s fiancee doesn’t trust Karellen and cites the fact that Karellen appears to Ricky as his dead lover in a replica of a hotel suite special to them as signs that they’re messing with Ricky’s emotions.
But the first night raised many great questions like, what becomes of science if these aliens can provide medical and technological advancements? How will their presence affect religion?
Hopefully, tonight’s second episode will dive into those aspects more and leave some of the personal turmoil in the background.
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