The following paragraphs contain spoilers for Resident Alien.
Resident Alienis in its finest form is when it depicts how different Harry, an alien living in disguise on Earth, is from the humans around him but how much he, although he himself, has in common with them. Over the course of the series, weveveveveveved him explore many aspects of himself, from love and affection to anger and fear.
The murder of a stranger-a man sent to kill Harry because of some shady practices that resulted in the death of doctor Sam Hodges-has brought the concept of death to life for the alien, as well as several other Patience residents. From Asta, who kills a man to save Harrys life, to DArcy, who helps her friends hide his body, to Harry himself, who is forced to confront his own mortality in a very direct and uncomfortable manner following his execution, the back
The Ghost of Bobby Smallwood is particularly interesting because it does not alter any of the seasons major arcs. Sure, we now know the baby alien is masquerading as a dead child who went missing in Patience decades earlier and the local police department has officially teamed up with their Jessup counterparts to investigate the murder of the man who shot Harry. But everything else in this hour is an internal and emotional one.
This isn't exactly a new development for a series that has always used Harry's exploration of certain human traits or weaknesses as a mirror for the various problems that are also facing many of his neighbors. (This is one of the reasons why Resident Alien is so successful.)
DArcy removes her fences from Kate and makes a conscious decision to stop self-sabotaging her growing connection with Elliot, staying the night at his house. Sheriff Mike opens up to Kate about his own firsthand experience with the dangers of putting your emotions under the rug for too long (taking Mikes admittedly poor advice about potential husband murder at home)
Ben tries again, this time recreating how they first met, and not giving up. His unconventional approach of the two of them talking over the phone, the way they used to when they first met, helps break down some of the barriers between them and draws the couple closer together than weve ever seen on the program.
That, as the kids say these days, is progress.
Resident Alien does not use this moment to stoke an unnecessary wedge between her and Harry (or keep her in the dark about the things she has forgotten for more than half the episode), instead attempting to understand his decision in the context of his own near-death experience. The result is a surprising honest heart-to-heart conversation between the two about death, loss, and pain, where Asta not only explains how allowing ourselves to fully experience the scope of our experiences is what makes us stronger (and better)
Grief and pain are essential elements of what it means to be alive, and part of that journey is the realization that our time here is limited. But it also entails the realization that life is meant to be lived. For an episode that also includes jokes about deep-frying pie, this moment for Harrys is remarkably grounded, but every emotional outburst weve witnessed for the better part of two seasons now, feels completely earned.
Resident Alien takes a different tack and shows us a Harry confronting death head-on, with all the complicated emotions that it implies. One of his patients, a terminally-ill guy named Gerald, has requested that Harry administer pain medication. What he really wants is for him to undergo supervised euthanasia.
Harry finally admits that he is afraid of death before offering his patient a final act of kindness and an ease of the suffering (both bodily and otherwise) that his life had become. After all, it's hard to think of any other current genre series on the air that regularly deals with such morally heavy topics in a deft manner, certainly not any that are marketed as awkward alien comedy at all.
This episode is awash with quiet, often unexpected courage, as almost every character is asked to confront something that scares them, whether that means finally opening up to another person or being present for their final breath in the hopes of revealing someone different or better on the other side of it. Which is, in its own way, the finest human metaphor I can think of.
On SyFy., new episodes of Resident Alienpremiere are released Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET.