Aliens are known for many things, like their deadpan deliveries, their hankering for sugar water, and their penchant for making grand entrances out of John Hurt's chest cavity. A deep and complicated emotional register, however, is not usually one of their signature characteristics.
That's probably just how they want it. Feelings are messy, irrational, unpredictable; they can get in the way of carrying out master plans and evil schemes. Above all else… they're super awkward to deal with.
So what happens when an alien life form catches a bad case of emotional intelligence, like Resident Alien's Harry is beginning to? Things go… not as planned.
**SPOILER WARNING! Spoilers ahead for Resident Alien Season 1, Episode 3, "Secrets."
The first hint that something's not quite right with Harry is he's overcome with the need to sleep, which is not really something you see aliens doing a lot of. That alone is alarming, but not only does Harry feel the need for sleep — he finds he's unable to. He's got insomnia, ruminating over all the things he needs to do, chief among them being to destroy humanity. He can't, as he says, find the "on/off" switch in his brain. Aside from sounding like a spokesperson for Ambien, Harry's starting to take on some real human attributes — namely stress. Who can't relate?
While out in the mountains excavating for his ship, Harry's nearly buried in snow after nearby avalanche control sets off a contained cascade, and he has to take cover. In a self-diagnosis that almost warrants his non-existent medical license, Harry describes his very real physical response to the close-call: "I just felt my rear iris pucker and my testicles tighten." That's fear! A bit of an overshare, but still fear. (Also... didn't know it was called an iris.)
To add to Harry's woes, a local fisherman reels in a severed foot, which, although no one knows it yet, belonged to the dead Vanderspeigle. A town meeting is convoked, and the displayed filleted appendage leads Sheriff Thompson to the (hasty, misguided) conclusion that a serial killer is on the prowl — much to the shock and terror of the people of Patience.
None more so than Harry, who blurts out in front of everyone, "I'm SO scared!" And if his physiological response is any indication, Harry's definitely got a bad case of textbook fight-or-flight: sweaty palms, elevated heartbeat, and even strange, almost pubescent vocal irregularities.
Just as interesting as how Harry's newfound emotions are manifesting is when they started manifesting. When Harry's ship first crashed four months ago, he was stranded in New Mexico for two weeks in his undisguised form. Loping over hills and dales like an extraterrestrial Adam, he was blissfully ignorant of his own nakedness. Only after he concealed his identity by taking refuge in Vanderspeigle's skin did the insecurities and anxieties begin to swell up.
That's not coincidental. As people, we know that when we hide our true selves, our thoughts and feelings, that's when the fear of being outed takes hold. As the fear grows, the deeper we suppress who we are and what we may have on our conscience. Like humans, Harry locks his secrets away deep within himself, where he hopes they'll be safe from prying eyes and genetically extraordinary wunderkinds.
Some secrets are just too big to be metaphorically stowed away in the safe places of the soul, and instead, need to be padlocked in a large meat freezer in your basement behind yet another padlocked door. You know how it is, right? No?
Well, at least that's what Harry does when he finds the frozen body of Dr. Vanderspeigle washed up on the lakeshore. He buries that body underneath some fallout shelter-level amount of frozen bison meat, where no one will ever find it...
Episode 4 of Resident Alien premieres on SYFY next Wednesday (Feb. 17) at 10 p.m. EST. Episodes 1-2 ("Pilot" & "Homesick") are currently free to stream on the official SYFY YouTube channel until Feb. 17, while Episode 3 ("Secrets") is free to watch at SYFY.com, on the SYFY app, or on VOD until Friday, March 5.