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Kyle XY season two episode reviews

Kyle XY, Matt Dallas, Jaimie Alexander, April Matson, Jean-Luc Bilodeau, Chris Olivero, Kirsten Prout, Bruce Thomas, Marguerite MacIntyre, Magda Apanowicz

Season 2, Episode 1. "The Prophet" Low production values and writing that can sometimes be too on-the-nose for my liking cannot take away from the fact that Kyle XY is an exceptional series. It manages to walk the line between sci-fi action-adventure and heartwarming family-drama with an almost complete success rate. This particular outing (the best so far in the series) has two stories to tell. First of all, Kyle finally learns his history. All of it. Who he is, where he came from and why has has the powers that he has. As superhero origins go, it's a pretty cool one. Meanwhile, the other story follows life with the Tragers: the family that adopted Kyle during the first season. They are having a hard time learning to live without him (particularly the mom). It's not often you meet a show that is equal parts cool and heartfelt. Best scene? Although the final scene was wonderful (the reunion between Kyle and his 'family') I think the highlight of the episode - for me - was when he explained to Tom Foss that he wanted to go back to the Tragers because... he loved them. Simple. Powerful.

Season 2, Episode 2. "The Homecoming" Hot on the heels of it's best ever episode, the show raises the bar and delivers - once again - it's best ever episode. And unlike the season premier, which was marred by low production values when it needed new sets and pyrotechnics, this is a flawless episode. Largely because it is story-driven and character-driven, as opposed to event-driven.

Having spent a season riding on the mystery of "Who Is Kyle XY?" the show doesn't miss a beat when it side-steps into a whole new world of tension and conflict. I've seldom seen a show re-invent itself so well (House? Veronica Mars? Prison Break?). Kyle's web of lies - in an earnest attempt to put his life back together - has generated a whole new set of problems. The best scenes are the ones with Declan, and the best cast member is Marguerite MacIntyre.

Season 2, Episode 3. "The List is Life" One of the cleverest genre shows I have ever seen. At this stage there are many, many plotlines in play. Some of them are hardcore sci-fi and some of them are pure family drama / soap opera. Some shows with multiple plots are schizophrenic in the way they handle them. Desperate Housewives (which I used to watch) and Friends (which I watched from start to finish, and hope to watch again when I finish Seinfeld) were two of the worst offenders. You felt, sometimes, like you were watching two different shows spliced together. Sometimes on Friends the plots moved at different speeds so what was happening to one character took place over the run of a few hours and what was happening to someone else took days to play out. Yet it was all edited together in a random (annoying) manner.

Kyle XY plays it's plots off one another. When Kyle wants to rush off to talk to the girl he has a crush on, the guy trying to teach him how to use his superpowers has a fit and they have a major fight. The show is full of moments like that. Nothing happens in isolation and they whole show has a richer feel, as a consequence. And it never ceases to amaze me how they can merge sci-fi superheroics with teen soap and make it work.

And what plotlines are currently in play? (1) Kyle has to try and maintain his web of lies so he can continue living with his adopted family. (2) The friendship between Kyle and Declan has been destroyed by Kyle's secrets. (3) Kyle and Tom are fighting over Kyle's special abilities. (3) Kyle loves Amanda, but (4) her boyfriend is cheating on her. (5) Declan dumps Lori. (6) Nicole still hasn't recovered from losing Kyle, and has lost her passion and drive for life. (7) Jessi has been programmed to assimilate into Kyle's life, but (8) she may be faking. (9) Emily seems troubled by elements of her mission, as given by Ballentine. (10) Josh meets a cute girl. And (11) Nicole sees evidence of Kyle's superpowers and decides to (12) keep his secret, rather than tell. Finally, (13) Amanda finds out that she has been cheated on, but (14) is angry at Kyle for keeping the secret.

It's all delivered using a top-notch, thoughtful, narration and the show is fantastic.

Season 2, Episode 4. "Balancing Act" Slightly disappointing, because it rethreads some of the stuff we've already seen covered: namely the family not being sure that Kyle will want to stay with them. I mean, he's been back for two episodes. Move on! Much better is the Declan storyarc, as he tails Kyle to his training sessions with Tom Foss.

Season 2, Episode 5. "Come to Your Senses" I like Tom Foss but having an episode without him (and the training scenes that go with him) makes the whole show seem fresher than it has been in weeks. For once, the while storyline revolved around Kyle's crush on Amanda (the girl next door) and there's even a case-of-the-week for Kyle to solve. Lori is a great character and she's makes a great partner for Kyle as they go after a burglar who has been striking in the area. The story is told with several wonderful touches, including Kyle sending a note to the guy at the very end. Awesome.

Season 2, Episode 6. "Does Kyle Dream of Electric Fish" A mixed bag. A lot of this episode is devoted to Josh and his awkward romance with Andy. She's a kooky girl. And the actress totally fails to pull it off. It doesn't work. And it's painful to watch. (If you want to see this kind of role done right check out the girl on The Crow, she's awesome.) It's a pity that this plot drags the episode down so much, because the stuff that happens to Kyle is fantastic. He finds new powers (he can "walk around" in his own memories) and gets a message from his creator/father. This leads to the story's stunning final revelation and a warning to Kyle not to trust one of his closest allies. Awesome twist.

Season 2, Episode 7. "Free To Be You and Me" is more like a teen-soap than any other episode has been. But, you know what, all that honest-to-goodness teenage-love is good for the soul. Kyle and Amanda spend a heck of a long time gazing lovingly into one another's eyes in this episode and, I swear, it left me with a big ol' grin on my face. It's just so darn sweet.

This was also the episode where Kyle learned to dance and that was great, too. Equal parts sweet and funny. Plus, after seven episodes of teasing us, the show brought two ongoing plots to conclusion: Kyle met Jessi for the first time, and Kyle finally started telling Declan the truth. Their reconciliation was a great scene. I love the way Declan bypassed all the nonsense and jumped right to showing Kyle the threatening photos he'd received.

Season 2, Episode 8. "What's the Frequency, Kyle?" Kyle XY is one of the best written shows on TV, and it also has one of the best casts. Bruce Thomas is normally overlooked by the scripts on this show, but he really gets a chance to shine in this one, when Stephen's father goes into a coma and dies leaving lots of things unsaid between the two men. It's a very human story and (although the show uses Kyle's powers to offer some solace) I applaud the show for telling a sad story where nothing much gets resolved. Stories like this are closer to real life and have much more impact than implausible death-bed reconciliations.

Jaimie Alexander does her best work so far in this episode as Jessi starts to come to terms with her actions. Specifically: her attack on Lori in the previous episode. Jessi is in major turmoil for most of this episode and Alexander is pitch perfect. The ending of this plotline was also quite sad. What exactly is going to happen to Jessi? Are they going to wipe her mind? Which, effectively, kills the girl who has been on the show this season? I hope not. I hope she kicks ass, breaks free and starts to deal with her mistakes.

Finally, none of this would work if Matt Dallas wasn't so frakkin' great in the central role. He brings such an innocence and wonder to the role of Kyle, and his voice-over narrations set the whole ponderous tone for the show. I love the type of stories this show is able to tell. Small family-driven tales wrapped up in a sci-fi envelope. And the show tells then without creating false tension. When Kyle starts to receive messages from the dying man, Stephen doesn't resist them. A lesser show might have created "conflict" by setting it up so that Kyle had to win Stephen over or something. Thus wasting our time with something we've seen many times before. Instead, the show concentrates on the wonder of what Kyle can do. And it's all rather cool. And makes for great stories.

Season 2, Episode 9. "Ghost In The Machine" It starts off with one of the worst ideas ever used in the series, but it quickly develops into one of the very episodes this show has offered. Lori decides that she wants to do something reckless and visit the site of a recent murder. Huh? What the frak is that about? The writers are - I think - so embarrassed by this lame idea that it happens off-screen and we first learn of it when we hear Declan and Kyle talking about it. Of course, this (nutty) quest brings all of the main characters into the woods and back to the place where Jessi committed the murder. Which, of course, is also beside Zzyzx.

Very lazy writing, guys.

Once that nonsense is out of the way, the episode that follows is one of the very best: Kyle 'time travels' back into some 'memories' he didn't know he had acquired, we get a further clue on the whole 'should Kyle trust Foss' mystery and we see that Jessi has been reprogrammed by Madacorp and is no much more focused on Kyle. Pity. I like her.

The scenes with Kyle walking around in the past are very cool, the confrontations with Foss are great, but the revelation as to the identity of the real Bad Guy is something that was predictable at the very start of the season.

Never mind. Great episode.

Season 2, Episode 10. "House of Cards" Kyle brings Declan onto 'the team' and - together with Tom Foss - they plan a heist: To get Kyle's ring back. Everything that has been set up in earlier episodes is starting to pay off and the show is getting even more satisfying to watch. It's also great fun to see Foss and Declan on-camera together. Kyle does some cool stuff in this episode and (of course) his 'secret life' causes him to cancel a date with his new girlfriend. The show takes these clichéd situations and bends them to suit the characters. So the episode ends not with a fight but with a sweet kiss. This is why the show "works for me" (to quote Rick Hunter). Amanda is nice. And the script doesn't make her behave mean to Kyle to create false drama. Instead the drama comes from Kyle's innocent with these situations. We are nervous for him and therefore engaged in what is happening between him and Amanda. Her reaction to him makes for great character writing, too.

It's a great show. I don't watch Smallville (I saw the pilot and hated it) but I presume Kyle XY is a kinder, nicer version of Smallville.

Anyway, Smallville was a rip-off of the far superior Roswell. But I digress...

Season 2, Episode 11. "Hands on a Hybrid" Bit of a mixed bag, this one. I have no interest in the Andy-has-cancer storyline or where they are taking it. And the stuff with Hillary uncovering vital plot information in her cameraman's raw footage was genuinely awful. Simplistic and silly. Or to call a spade a spade: it was really bad. However, this was also the episode where Kyle read Jessi's mind and deduced that she was just like him. All of those scenes (and the scenes with Tom Foss being mind-probed) were very good.

Season 2, Episode 12. "Lockdown" A bottle show, of sorts, where everything happens in the house where the family lives. Kyle has a long dream sequence where his mind manifests two people and he discusses with them the problems that he is facing. For the first time in the history of the show the scenes with Andi were not totally awful and I could bear to watch them. I'm not even remotely interested in her, or her cancer story. I wish the character was dropped from the show, to be honest.

The parents have a bad fight but, by the end of the episode, have opted to tell each other some things they know about Kyle. A good step forward. For them, and for the show.

The final scene (Kyle meets Jessi in the woods) is very good. Can't wait to see what happens next.

Season 2, Episode 13. "Leap of Faith" Flawless episode. Kyle and Jessi team up and go searching in the woods. Their bond is strong now. They are basically brother and sister, right, so why don't they come out and say it? Bugs me.

Kyle phones Amanda to get her help at a key moment. She's having a hard time dealing with the while Jessi situation but the bottom line is: she trusts Kyle and agrees to help. Good character writing. I'm more interested in this type of storytelling. Having Amanda storm out when she thinks something might be happening between Kyle and Jessi is a bit too fake for my liking. This is more credible drama.

The stuff in the woods was good, but so was the stuff back at the Trager House. The family (kept in the dark for all of Season Two) start to put the clues together and ask questions about Kyle and his nature. These are some of the best scenes the show has ever delivered and so is the scene between Declan and Tom Foss (Kyle's Guardian Angels).

Season 2, Episode 14. "To C.I.R., With Love" How exactly did Jessi survive that fall? They never tell us. She just did. So... Accept it. Hmm.

It's a good episode. The Treger's now know everything about Kyle and set out to help him. Resulting in the (apparent) ending of several story arcs. Plus the start of some new ones. The show evolves wisely. Phase 1: Nobody knew where Kyle came from. Phase 2: Kyle knew but kept it a secret from his family. Phase 3: Everybody knows. Logical progression. I like it.

Season 2, Episode 15. "The Future's So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades" A total winner. Recent episodes may have changed the status quo of the series, and brought some ongoing storylines to an ending, but this is a much better episode. In fact, this is one of the very best episodes the show has thus far delivered.

The a-plot is a tale you can't tell on any other show: Jessi is using her super-powers to gain attention, and it is putting Kyle's secret in jeopardy. And it's not just a great story, the writers manage to infuse it with depth and meaning. Jessi and Kyle have this great conversation about human nature and the lure of celebrity. It's wonderful. Well written. And superbly performed (especially by Matt Dallas. Someone give that man an Emmy!).

Now that the whole family knows about Kyle we get lots of cool scenes of them trying to figure out ways to protect him and keep his secret. I love that stuff. It's an example of the show avoiding false conflict and writing the characters really well. They do this, too, with Amanda and her relationship with Kyle. There have been several moments where it could have gone wrong and the could have written Amanda as having a fight with Kyle over something that had happened, that she didn't understand. Instead, they write Amanda really well. And now they are doing it with the family. Where each one is shown to be on Kyle's side and willing/wanting to protect him at all costs.

Hillary and Andy (two character that normally irritate me and lead to embarrassing scenes) are good in this episode, too. For once, Hillary's excesses are toned down somewhat and she seems like she could (almost) be a real person. Josh opting to become a doctor, so he could cure Andy's cancer, was well handled.

It's a great show. But it's about time the writers/producers figured out how to use the character of Tom Foss. Nicholas Lea is underused. The character vanishes when the story has no need of him. It would be more interesting to keep him around. He's so at-odds with the world that Kyle lives in, it would be a weekly joy to watch him try to adjust.

Season 2, Episode 16. "Great Expectations" For the second week in a row, the show delivers a flawless and wonderful episode. As much as I love the dark sci-fi conspiracy stuff, I feel that the show is at it's best when Kyle deals with real world stuff. Small stuff. Lots of shows have done the whole conspiracy bit, but few have managed the real world stuff quite so well. Case in point: Kyle thinks his girlfriend might be about to break up with him, and he can't even get to talk to her to find out what's on her mind.

I love the fact that Lori and Josh pitch in to help and it's really cool to see Kyle having to use his powers to do something as mundane as talk to the girl who lives next door.

Jessi is really well written in this episode. I feel for her: the outsider, trying to fit in and forever a victim of her past. She does the wrong thing at the end of this story, but I understand why she did it.

Season 2, Episode 17. "Grounded" For the third week in a row, the show delivers a flawless and wonderful episode. At the end of episode 16 Amanda arrived at Kyle's window and asked to hide out and spend the night (while she figured out how to confront her mother). This episode picks up seconds later as Kyle and Amanda prepare the sleeping arrangements. It's a great opening: funny and sweet and romantic. With a strong undercurrent of teenage sexual tension. Next day, with Amanda still hiding in the house, a social worker descends on the Tragers to ascertain if Kyle is living in a suitable environment. And while Kyle is trying to hide Amanda from everyone, Lori is trying to hide a room full of beer! There's a lot of running around, all very funny, and some nice character work on all of the regulars. Josh, in particular, gets a great scene telling his older sister that it's about time she cut Declan a break. Hear, hear! Well said, Josh!

Kyle gives a great speech about what family means to him and there's a nice twist at the end.

Jessi has, in these last few episodes, taken huge leaps towards becoming one of my favourite characters on the show. She's like a lost puppy. Eager and needy... and likely to cause damage if left watched... She has evolved into the perfect baddie for this show. She can cause, trouble, yes but there is the potential for eventual redemption.

Season 2, Episode 18. "Between the Rack and a Hard Place" Another bottle show. The series does a lot of these: stories confined to one location (one standing set) and it always does them well.

It's Sunday at the place where Josh works, and Amanda has just gotten a job there. Naturally, Kyle stops by to see Amanda and so does everyone else. Good solid character work drives the episode. Jessi, in particular, is being really well handled by the writers. Everyone is pushing her away. We can understand why, but Jessi can't.

Where is it all leading?

Season 2, Episode 19. "First Cut Is the Deepest" Jessi XX is one of the best characters on television right now, and Kyle XY is one of television's best superheroes. This episode sends both of them to a college to research Jessi's mother and it's cracking character study. The two super-powered individuals are wonderfully contrasted: Jessi pushing to win at all costs, Kyle motivated by genuine concern for her well-being.

The final moments, where Kyle hugged Andy, sent shivers down my spine and brought tears to my eyes. Amazing TV.

Season 2, Episode 20. "Primary Colors" Another superb episode finds Kyle's powers going out of whack, at a time when everyone needs him.

The show cleverly finds ways for everyone to need Kyle at the same time and gets mileage from his guilt when he lets them down. It's a real mystery, too, trying to figure out what is causing the problem. I suspected that it might be the record he was playing, but I was also wondering whether it could be the cancer-curing hug from last week. Just like the script wanted me to.

It's a clever show, and it has more heart than anything else on TV.

Season 2, Episode 21. "Grey Matters" Another flawless episode in a run of quality episodes that simply amazes me. Kyle XY is - quite simply - the highlight of my TV week right now and has been for the last two months. Every episode delivers a strong story with great character development for all of the characters. There is nothing flashy or action-packed about anything that is happening but it is every bit as entertaining as Prison Break or Sarah Connor Chronicles.

Amazing.

This time out Jessi is once again at the centre of everything. But in a subtle way. She steals the test paper from an upcoming exam and posts it online. Unfortunately Kyle is the number one suspect and Josh (who didn't cheat) is in trouble because he did better than usual in the exam.

Everything that is happening to Kyle, Jessi and Josh is in this episode is skillfully written so that it is part of their ongoing development as characters. All three have changed a lot this season. All three have grown.

Meanwhile, everything that happens to the other regulars is somehow tied to Jessi or tied to the idea of breaking/bending the rules (cheating). It's clever. It seems like every body has to think about and weight up the consequences of going outside the rules.

Season 2, Episode 22. "Hello…" The prom gets closer and Sarah and Jessi prepare to meet.

"She Could Be You" by Shawn Hlookoff is used in almost every episode and I never tire of it. It's a wonderful, fitting piece of music and it pretty much always brings a tear to my eye.

Ally Sheedy seems like an odd choice to play Jessi's mother but - it must be said - she brings a great... snarkiness to the role. She comes off as cold and lacking in emotion. So... the perfect mother for the dysfunctional Jessi!

Season 2, Episode 23. "I've Had the Time of My Life" Everyone is excited about the Prom for different reasons, and Jessi prepares to leave town.

Another wonderful episode. The ten episodes of Kyle XY shown in 2008 were just about perfect in every way. Each one had solid character development and drama, great dilemmas for Kyle to resolve and a truly wonderful character in Jessi. Her departure (if this is indeed her last episode) makes a show a lot less interesting in my eyes.

Lori finally makes her decision about Declan and, while I am sorry to see the story end this way, I am glad that the writers seem ready to move on from this story and give Declan more to do than mope over Lori (preferably something in Kyle's storylines).

Josh is the character who has changed most in the run of the series and it shows in all his exchanges in this episode. I've even grown to like his girlfriend. It took a while, but I got there.

Kyle and Nicole always have some of the best scenes on the show. The characters really seem to share a specal bond and her talk with him (before he heads out to the Prom) highlights all that is great about these characters on-screen talks. Marguerite MacIntyre always impresses me in these scenes.

The best scenes, however, are the Jessi scenes. Every one of them is a treat. This is where she prepares to leave. So we get to see in conversation with Amanda, then with Lori and - finally - Kyle. Jaimie Alexander is terrific in all these scenes, and the rooftop goodbye with Matt Dallas will bring a tear to the eye.

Then there is the Kyle-Amanda romance. Their final dance at the Prom is magical and romantic and - totally - didn't prepare me for the shock cliff-hanger...

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

thank u 4 the episodes

I was searching 4 them long time ago

Anne Wyckoff said...

The show is still around, and I watched it streaming over the past few weeks-April 2013.

Some very good writing about Kyle, but the way they make certain that everything bad that could possibly happen happens to Jessie--that gets old. Then, Lori and the other teens hate her for reacting to it? Also, a family show that has teenage girls talking as though they were seasoned hookers "open for business" is too much. Also too much: playing the "cancer card" to make the daughter of "two everyday lesbians" sympathetic. Some of us viewers have suffered because of real cancer, and find it very heavy-handed. Nevertheless, the way the wrote Kyle had it's magic--mostly because he was so much deeper than the others around him, and brought the best out of people. They don't need to add people like Hillary, the "fabulous slut," to make this kind of show interesting. All that stuff actually diminished this series.

Ignoring Friday Night Lights renders the Emmy's meaningless.

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