Welcome back to Resident Alien, the only TV show with a master's degree in marriage and family counseling! Not really, but it does feel like it, sometimes. The way Resident Alien brings its characters into direct confrontation with their unresolved business gives Maury Povitch a run for his money.
The small, remote town of Patience, Colorado, serves as a kind of deceptive crucible, luring people in with the promise of a blissful life. Then — WHAM! — it hits them with a lifetime of guilt in the span of a cold open.
Let's get a closer look, shall we?
**Spoilers ahead for Resident Alien Season 1, Episode 5, "Love Language."**
Take the Vanderspeigles. You read that right: Vanderspeigles plural. No, Harry (Alan Tudyk) hasn't suddenly spawned new alien offspring. He's got a wife, and by "he," we mean real/dead Harry, and by "wife," we mean his sort-of-ex-wife, Isabelle (Elvy Yost).
In "Love Language," Isabelle surprised the alien doppelgänger at the cabin with still-unsigned divorce papers in hand. Turns out, human Harry was so fed up after five-ish years of marriage and his medical practice struggles that he fled to Patience to escape. Others should be so lucky to have his woes.
Harry's inexplicable behavior left Isabelle confused and heartbroken, and she lets him know — very loudly, many times. Granted, alien Harry isn't responsible for whatever emotional damage human Harry wrought, but you know the old saying: If you can't carry someone else's baggage, don't inhabit their meat suit. Alien Harry's got to clean up the mess his predecessor left.
Sheriff Mike Thompson (Corey Reynolds) also has thorny family drama that needs working through, but his is less marital and more just overbearing-daddy issues.
It turns out Thompson relocated from D.C. to accept the sheriff's position in Patience, and he brought his chronically ill father with him. We only get a glimpse of their relationship while they're having breakfast at Joe's diner, but "dysfunctional" is an understatement.
Mr. Thompson resents Mike for moving them so far away; he refuses his help; he even berates him for not having solved Sam Hodges' murder already, adding, "Looks like Sam chose the wrong town to die in." Sheriff Tompson might not be Cuddle Buddy of the Year, but still, that's a low blow.
Is it any wonder why Sheriff Thompson goes alpha male on every living thing (and bucket) in his jurisdiction? Why he was practically dancing when he thought there was a serial killer in Patience? He's grasping at any opportunity to prove himself and make his father proud. No wonder he's got some issues.
"Issues" also happens to aptly describe Asta's relationship with Jay (Kaylayla Raine). Episode 5 reveals that Asta (Sara Tomko) hired the daughter she gave up for adoption 16 years ago as an intern at the clinic so she could keep an eye on her. Think helicopter parenting, if that helicopter were also blaring out messages like "I'm not a helicopter, I'm a balloon."
It was only a matter of time before Jay ended up finding out the truth, which she does while reorganizing a box of Sam Hodges' personal files. One file reveals Asta gave birth to a child on Jay's exact birthday. In a town small enough to know everyone's birthday, rising sign, and social security number, Jay quickly puts two and two together. She has a few harsh (but justified) words for her birth mother, quits, and storms out of the clinic. This one's going to take some time.
For all the conflict Resident Alien jams its characters into, it also gives them room for reconciliation and healing. Alien Harry and Isabelle actually manage to rekindle their relationship (the one they never actually had). Sheriff Thompson gets that happy, it's-a-murder feeling when Deputy Baker tells him Sam Hodges' toxicology report concludes he was poisoned. And Jay, slowly if not 100 percent surely, shows great maturity and bravery by pulling up a chair at the diner her birth grandfather Dan (Gary Farmer) owns to order the Family Special.
Patience may be pretty tough on its people, but it's a loving kind of tough. Tough love, even.
New episodes of Resident Alien premiere on Wednesdays on SYFY at 10 p.m. ET.