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Resident Alien cast on making contact with the tender humanity in Patience, Colorado
SYFY's Resident Alien centers around an extraterrestrial trying to wipe out all sentinent life on Earth, but that's only a small part of the new series.
The real crux of the show (created for television by Family Guy's Chris Sheridan) is about how we bring out the humanity in one another — how we can peel back the layers to reveal the tender, soft bits of kindness and understanding just below the surface. As a species, we are incredibly flawed; our penchant for cruelty and suffering is great. But the pendulum also swings in the opposite direction, which is something that Harry Vanderspeigle (Alan Tudyk) needs to learn. What better place to start his journey of human understanding than in Patience? It's a small Colorado town populated by simple folks trying to overcome their flaws in order to lead better lives.
**SPOILER WARNING! The following contains major spoilers for Resident Alien Episode 5!**
In this week's episode, Asta's (Sara Tomko) decision to give up her baby all those years ago comes to a head when Jay (Kaylayla Raine) learns the truth of her parentage. It's a wonderfully profound bit of character development that cements Asta as the perfect counterpoint to the emotionless and apathetic Harry.
"There’s some serious layering of denial and grief and not wanting to really give up her child all mixed into this layered cake," Tomko explains to SYFY WIRE about the big reveal. "When you finally find that out in the show, I think it comes as no surprise because Asta and Jay are so similar — in the way that they eat, the way that they talk, the way that they have an attitude. It’s not too much of a surprise, but it’s also really intriguing to find out that Asta’s doing the same thing she wishes that men in her life would never have done to her, which is lie. She’s lying to this young girl and claiming to be her friend, and that is really messy and complicated and F’ed up if you think about it."
The actress was also excited to explore Asta through the character's Native American upbringing. Tomko herself has Native heritage, but isn't enrolled in one specific tribe.
"I don’t fit just one box, I’m a mix of many things and that’s how Asta is too," she says. "She’s adopted by her father, Dan, in the show, and he is a part of the Native community. She is surrounded by this joyful, wonderful, beautiful, pulsing Native community and yet, still she feels lost and like she doesn’t really know who she is. She feels abandoned and isolated and I think it’s a really wonderful way to show the relatability of being surrounded by chosen family and still, you feel like you don’t quite fit in."
As a result, that helps Asta empathize with a loner like Harry, who "is truly isolated; he is this weird, quirky guy that she just kind of gets," Tomko adds. "Because she’s like, ‘That’s how I feel.’ It’s almost like a mirror reflection ... Asta doesn’t want to admit it because she doesn’t like him at first. She’s so weirded out by him, but it’s like he’s showing her who she really is on the inside and that’s scary because it’s so truthful."
She concludes: "It’s such an honor to be able to be a symbol of ‘Other’ as a human being who can’t just fit one box or write down one thing that I am. I have a very eclectic style and sense of who I am, and Asta’s the same way. I think that that is gonna be really relatable to a lot of people out there who feel the same way that Harry and Asta do."
And Ms. Twelvetrees isn't the only person in town with some serious emotional baggage. D’Arcy (Alice Wetterlund), the carefree bartender of The 59, has a surprisingly tragic backstory. She was once an Olympic skiier until an unforeseen accident cut her athletic career painfully short. It helps to explain why D’Arcy is constantly throwing back shots of alcohol as if they were cups of water. Her quirky demeanor isn't quirky for quirky's sake — it's a psychological barrier that protects her from the fact that she couldn't escape Patience.
"It feels like the town itself kind of breeds this story," Wetterlund explains. "It’s not like Telluride, people get stuck in this ski town. It’s kind of a second-rate ski town and you don’t really have a great life if you end up there. Even the mayor doesn’t really know what he’s doing, he’s like a poor, sad excuse for a Pete Buttigieg. D’Arcy’s character’s backstory was really written as a collaborative effort with Chris and I because we knew she was a powerhouse from the get-go."
Early on in the creative process, Sheridan had written D’Arcy as "bubbly" and "very soft," the actress reveals. "When I came in, he really wanted this character to be closer to what I brought, which is like a really hard edge, punk rock, take no prisoners [type of] person. We knew that she needed to have fallen from grace and we decided to just go with the backdrop the ski town provided and say she literally fell from grace off of that damn mountain."
Last, but most certainly not least, we come to Sheriff Mike Thompson (Corey Reynolds). Like everyone else in town, he's got some emotional issues (most likely stemming from his gruff father) that manifest themselves as bravado, swagger, and condescension. Poor Deputy Liv. The real mystery, though, is whether Sheriff Thompson actually wants people to call him by the monicker of "Big Black."
"This is always such an interesting question," Reynolds says when we ask if the sheriff is just messing around. "I think there probably is a desire on his behalf to be addressed as ‘Big Black.’ I think for him, though, it has to do with seeing himself as almost like [Darth] Vader. If you’ve noticed, every other deputy’s in brown. I think there’s the racial component that kind of is the double entendre, but ultimately, I think he sees himself as this all-powerful, ominous figure, and as the baddest motherf***** in any room that he’s in. But he has a hard time getting other folks to buy into it."
"I love the thought that you might do it to me just to mess with me because it makes me uncomfortable," Levi Fiehler (Mayor Ben Hawthorne) adds during the joint Zoom interview.
The first four episodes of Resident Alien are currently free to watch at SYFY.com, on the SYFY app, or on VOD. (Episode 1 is available until Feb. 26; Episodes 2 & 3 until Mar. 5; and Episode 4 until Mar. 19). For SYFY WIRE's recaps of the first five installments, click below:
- Recap: Resident Alien proves every small town needs an extraterrestrial invasion
- Recap: Resident Alien shows us why kids are the literal best at handling alien invasions
- Recap: Resident Alien reveals aliens' Achilles' heel is... feelings?
- Recap: Resident Alien's women are straight-up running this show in Episode 4
- Recap: Like an aggressive therapist, Resident Alien forces characters to reckon with their pasts