The Whispers: Traveller in the Dark (recap and review)

Lily Rabe as Claire Bennigan
This week’s episode of The Whispers was a gut-wrenching, white-knuckle ride. The fact that a dying Drill finally possessed one of the children and that the choice came down to Minx, Henry, and the president’s daughter Cassandra was not surprising. Kudos to the writers for some great mis-direction and for making this one so uncomfortable to watch that there should have been a warning at the start: “Box of Tissues Required.”

Minx, right up till the latter part of the episode, still came across as the very grown-up little girl who feels like the right pick for the alien entity to occupy. Take her dialogue with Claire:

Claire: “I want to help you Minx.”
Minx: “‘Cause you don’t like me.”
Claire: “No, that is… that’s not true.”
Minx: “You want me to be guilty.”
Claire: “No.”
Minx: ” You want me to be Drill. Cause then you get everything…Don’t you?”

Later, of course, it turns out that this eerily, and rather nasty, adult-like kid was being just that, a kid. One who lost her mother and who is talking to the woman who tore her family apart, but a child nonetheless. A child who is afraid and truly believes what she is saying. This becomes more apparent afterward.

Claire attempts to back up her belief that Minx is Drill. She asks Henry, who tells her that he agrees. Bennigan goes back to Silas who almost hysterically professes it was Minx who killed Benavidez in the lab. Claire tells Frommer, and Wes, that despite wishing it were otherwise, Minx is the child possessed by the entity.

Sean decides to talk to Getz and tell the reporter everything. His goal is to get Henry back. Wes goes to see his daughter and again, the feeling is that the girl is “acting” like a child. When her father tries to get evidence that she is not Drill, Minx gets angry. “You’re my dad. You’re supposed to believe me.” Her tone is angry and betrayed, not hurt, which leads us to believe that she is Drill.

Wes leaves the room and punches the wall, full of rage and frustration. After, Minx asks Henry to help her, once more we are convinced of her “guilt” when her tone to the boy becomes mean and threatening. “Aren’t you my friend, Henry?”

Frommer tells the president that Minx is Drill. It is revealed that the device that Sean Bennigan was testing, the thing that drew Drill to him initially, is what Frommer will use to kill Minx and Drill. Wes and Claire are removed from the facility where they have Minx and they watch the device being delivered that will kill his daughter.

Getz acts on the information that Sean gives him. This prompts the president to schedule a live press event where he intends to tell the public everything. He also orders the other children to be released. Bennigan’s plan has worked; he has Henry back.

Claire and Wes go to the press site to speak to the president and Sean, along with Russell, learn who Orion is, it is Cassandra, the president’s daughter. The children have been released, Minx is being wheeled down to be executed (strapped into a hospital gurney) and Cassandra joins her father at the press conference.

*Sidenote* It has to be said that mixed emotions were the result of Minx reciting “Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star.” Part disdain at the obvious ploy to tug at the viewers heartstrings and more than enough tears to prove that this schmaltzy scene worked perfectly.

Claire rushes to stop the live broadcast and Wes goes to save his daughter. Cassandra gives her father a pep talk. Bennigan realizes that Drill wants to use the press event to phone home. Frommer proves that he is not quite the cold hearted individual he seemed. The man steps in to throw the switch and his expression says that if this action damns him so be it, he is willing to accept the consequences to save the world.

*Sidenote* Kudos to David Andrews and the writers for making his character more than just a man who suffers from hubris and an incredible amount of nastiness. In this episode, Frommer became a hero; someone who was willing to do the unthinkable to save his fellow man, even if it hurt to do so. More importantly, the man reacted almost instantaneously when he learns Minx is not Drill and stopping the countdown. Great stuff.

Minx is saved and we know that this child will never be the same again. Drill delivers his message via Cassandra and then chillingly tells Bennigan, “Don’t worry Claire, I’m not going anywhere.”

This was edge of the seat viewing. Minx’s delivery back into childhood, all tears, snot and whimpers, was exhausting. The viewer was, most likely, in the same state as Wes Lawrence’s daughter by the time that device was turned off. (Mad props to Kylie Rogers as Minx in this episode, she killed it.) Barry Sloane shares honors with Andrews and Rogers, he made Wes’ pain so real that we did not mind the shameless manipulation by the writers of the episode.

It has to be said that Kayden Magnuson as Cassandra finally came into her own. This is the performers first time onscreen and her delivery of that last line (where she is now Drill) was brilliantly disturbing.

The season finale of The Whispers airs August 31 on ABC, this last episode has a lot to live up to.

The Whispers: Traveller in the Dark (Preview)

Lily Rabe as Claire Bennigan in Traveller in the Dark
This week’s episode of The Whispers Homesick sets up the events for the penultimate episode of season one perfectly. Traveller in the Dark pushes the series at breakneck speed (while using slo-mo to the most suspenseful extent possible) towards its conclusion. After a season that has continually delivered in terms of drama and mystery The Whispers gives us an episode that could well induce a stress attack.

In the show thus far, there have been two deaths of characters who were regulars, although Benavidez was not in the forefront too often, she was becoming a fuller character. “You know where I come from when people are rounded up by the government…” Wes interrupts Maria, “This isn’t like that.” The doctor came a long way from being kidnapped hostage of Sean Bennigan to naming her captor as the one person she trusted (Reporter Getz reveals this to Sean in Homesick, that he was to look Bennigan up if anything happened to Benavidez.). Sadly, like Lena, Maria was doomed to become a Drill casualty.

Last week’s episode started with Lena Lawrence’s wake and her death affected Wes deeply. (Who can forget that scream of anguish?) Now that Minx has been identified as the child that Drill has possessed, Lawrence is desperate to stop Frommer from executing the last remaining member of his family.

At the start of the episode Wes has a flashback to a younger, and less eerily adult like version of, Minx. She is frightened and she screams for her father. Wes comes rushing into her bedroom and calms his daughter. He recites the 1806 Jane Taylor poem Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star to the child and it becomes a mantra for Minx when she is afraid. The original poem’s lines contain this episode’s title.

Then the traveller in the dark
Thanks you for your tiny sparks;
He could not see which way to go,
If you did not twinkle so.

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star – Jane Taylor (1783-1824)

Of course the irony being that Drill is that traveller drawn to Earth’s tiny spark, rather obvious yes, but still a lovely touch. One could say it is almost “poetic.”

Sean decides to do things his way, Wes pleads with Claire to talk with Minx and see if she really is Drill. Frommer shows a side to his character that has been, till now, hidden and everything comes to a head in the penultimate episode of The Whispers.

Once again Barry Sloane and Lily Rabe take great huge chunks of scenes between their teeth and chew up the screen. The acting chops in this show are impressive from all the main players, as usual. The children also keep the pressure up on their adult counterparts.

Without giving anything away suffice to say that Kylie Rogers as Minx will alternatively unnerve and upset you.

Claire does not just talk to Wes Lawrence’s daughter, she also questions Henry about Minx being Drill and she takes Silas (Teo Briones) through his statement “step-by-step” on who he saw in the office killing Dr. Benavidez.

The clock ticks as the seemingly inevitable conclusion of the episode rushes to fruition. Along the way the viewer will feel tension, suspense, fear, and sadness. This is white knuckle television. Emotions will be torn and twisted. Most of all, the viewer will be on the edge of their seat watching to see who is going to win. Drill or the adults of this world.

At one point Wes punches the wall repeatedly while he cries in frustration and we are right there with him. Again, without giving anything away, “David Andrews – well played sir, well played.” Kudos to Martin Kummins as the president and the actress playing his daughter Kayden Magnuson will give you goosebumps and a little shiver in one scene.

This show, about alien controlled children, has been excellent in terms of casting. All the more so with the kids. The little performers, small only in terms of size, have managed to tug heartstrings and then completely freak out the viewer.

Congratulations to show creator Soo Hugh who knows just how disconcerting, disturbing and downright scary it is to see children acting wise beyond their years. Scarily adult expressions stare out of their eyes and they mouth grown up platitudes and truths that truly feel wrong. Hugh knows that kids that do not act like kids are damned scary, even if they are being controlled by an alien entity.

*Sidenote* Thanks to Soo Hugh and this brilliant show, I cried like a baby at least twice while watching this episode whilst in-between experiencing some heart stopping moments of pure suspense. Well done.

Add to that formula the kick of these same children suddenly becoming a child again and you have the main reason that this show works. It is not just a science fiction thriller with a heavy dollop of mystery and a touch of action, it is a study of how we see and react to kids.

Simply put, this show is brilliant.

Traveller in the Dark is going to be an emotional rollercoaster ride. (Shades of the season finale.) Be prepared to grit teeth, bite fingernails and forget to breathe while watching the build up to the end of the series. To paraphrase the tagline from the 2007 film There Will Be Blood: “Oh yes, there will be tears.”

Many.

The Whispers airs Tuesdays on ABC, watch this series and be moved.