Alien Nation #22: The Touch

Cathy tries to help a child abused by the Overseers.
SLAGS LIKE US: The Overseers are equated with Nazis, referenced even, with echoes of Hitler Youth, and how they tried to sustain the party after the war.

REVIEW: One character whose back story hadn't been explored with is Cathy, and we finally get to delve into her life before she moved into Matt's building. That alone would be have been the price of admission, but the episode does a whole lot more. Cathy - whose Tanctonese name is Gelana, first used in the pilot -  worked in the nursery on the slave ship, where she worked with kids between the time they were ripped from their parents until the sinister "Chooser" would send them along - all very young still - to their imposed duties. You'd think she wouldn't get attached to any of them under those circumstances, but that's a human perspective. As we discover, there's an empathic element to the Newcomers' physiology (explains the sympathetic pains we see in the Francisco family during the pregnancy as well). So when a child she had bonded with turns up, an untalkative escapee from a murderous cult, it drives her to kidnapping. Matt really does infect others with his maverick-ness, doesn't he?

There's a heaviness to The Touch, seeing as it's about child abuse, even if it's couched in the evolving villainy of the Overseers, but one that's affecting, not off-putting. We haven't seen the Overseers in a while, and find out more than we ever have before. In a race of tactile empaths, what kind of people become cruel and devoid of empathy? It would seem Overseers are trained, or rather programmed, from childhood to think they are the Chosen, and prevented from feeling the "touch of love" from others with metal bands covering their sensitive temples. The Overseers are still breeding these "monsters" in the Newcomer population, still hoping to be "rescued" from Earth one day. Horrifically, young Overseers are made to kill a loved one as a rite of passage. And here we thought it was just going to be another "weird cult" episode.

To help bring the theme home, George has a babysitting crisis and must bring Vessna and her spinning crib to work, and having failed to find a daycare for her (the automated one we see is a failed attempt at imagining 1996, thankfully), petitions the police department to get its own. To give the theme a HUMAN perspective, Matt is caught between three women, as we explore the notion of the unloved human child not knowing how to connect with his own kind. In the mix is a failed relationship with Zepeda, a platonic romance going nowhere with Cathy, and an affair based on lust and a common interest in junk food (wow, superficial) with social worker Lori. They share a Quickie (not what you think, but yeah, what you think too) and that's likely to be it. For Matt, love is difficult, which contrasts with the Newcomers' deep connection with the emotion. Perhaps it's a Newcomer who will have to teach him what he failed to in his formative years.

THE MOVIE LEGACY: Reagan again.

REWATCHABILITY: High - An important Cathy episode that also makes the Overseers even better, creepier villains than before, The Touch explores the Newcomers and humanity in a new way in the bargain.

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