Forget about Frodo and Saruman or Harry and Voldemort: Resident Alien's Max Hawthorne-Harry Vanderspeigle rivalry is the intergenerational, interspecies, David-and-Goliath story of our times.
We learned last week in Resident Alien's first episode that Max has the uncommon, inborn ability to see Harry in his true alien form — making him Harry's archnemesis. And though by almost every measure this match-up would seem to favor the alien, Harry's right to be scared of Max: This kid, more so than anyone else in Patience, has got Harry's number. And he's got it good.
**SPOILER WARNING! Spoilers ahead for Resident Alien Season 1, Episode 2, "Homesick."
With the mounting evidence of the existence of extraterrestrials out there (and living among them), you'd think more adults in Patience would at least entertain the idea. But no. Just Max. That puts a lot of pressure on a kid, to have to defend both his sanity and the human race from a genocidal invader. Not to mention he's probably got homework, too.
Is he daunted? Not in the least. On the contrary, all these denialists only embolden Max to make his case that much more vehemently, and go on shouting "Alien!" in defiance of the unbelievers.
It's likely all that shouting gave Max a sore throat, for which he's brought into the clinic for an appointment with Dr. Vanderspeigle. Alone with his foe, Harry violates every word of the Hippocratic oath when he tries to cut off Max's head with a bonesaw before the spry child makes a narrow escape out the window.
Max's resolve only strengthens, even after yet another attempt on his life, even as his parents dismiss him, and Sheriff Thompson threatens him with jail time for "lying to a police officer" about made-up aliens. The only person around with any compassion for Max's predicament seems to be Deputy Sheriff Liv Baker (Elizabeth Bowen), who helps sketch the alien from Max's description, and paste flyers with the likeness all around town. Max is taking his case to the streets.
After Harry sees his alien visage spread across town, he phones Max at home, first pretending (with sort of a castrato falsetto) to be a school chum, then a postal worker who swears he saw the alien skip town. Suspicious, Max tests the "postman" by asking him a simple, USPS-related question: What's the price of a stamp? Harry fails the test (it's not $100, FYI), proving that Max is indeed a force to be reckoned with.
So Harry tries less subtle methods. In the dead of night, he finds Max's bike and cuts the brakes. The next day, expecting to find the boy's name in the obituaries, Harry is flabbergasted to see Max arrive at the clinic with merely some cuts. When Harry lets slip he knows it was the faulty brakes that caused the minor accident, Max — like a tiny, cigarless Peter Falk — has already solved the mystery, again outwitting the "superior" lifeform.
Before suturing Max's wound, Harry makes kinder-Columbo a deal: if he promises not to squeal, he'll get some Novocaine before the doctor goes in with stitches. A child of principles, Max refuses the offer, and pulls through surgery with hardly a wince!
Max, time and again, proves himself a worthy, well-matched adversary for Harry, one that won't go down without a fight (and hasn't really lost one yet, either). But where does this tenacity in one so young come from? Deputy Liv thinks that, whereas everyone else in Patience has a "mental shield" blinding them to Harry's identity, Max's vision is crystal clear.
Maybe so. Maybe Max's "genetic predisposition" is really just that childlike innocence that lets him see things as they really are, without being clouded by prejudice or social pressure. That trait, combined with a precocious self-confidence and unwavering determination for the truth make Max quite possibly our best hope for resisting this, or any other, alien attack.
We can only hope his courage doesn't run out anytime soon.
New episodes of Resident Alien will premiere on SYFY every Wednesday. If you have a cable subscription, you can check out the first four episodes via On Demand, OneApp, Apple TV, and Roku. Starting Wednesday, Feb. 3, the first two installments will be free to stream on the official SYFY YouTube channel.