“It’s today. It’s the end of everything.”
Throughout its debut run, one thing The Fades has definitely not been scared of is incredibly high stakes. In this season finale, Paul was faced with a series of hellish distractions from his already impossible task of re-opening ascension and saving the world on his own terms: fallen Angelic Neil’s pain and desperation has turned him into John’s mirror image; Jay, Anna, Meg and the faithful Mac are all in mortal danger; and there are body parts in the streets since the Reborns have either run everyone else out of town or eaten them. End times, yes, fun times no.
Well, end in one sense anyway. A slight issue with the episode was that the story clearly wasn’t intended to finish there. Mark’s story suddenly went in a very odd direction, with his decision to leave town quite cheerfully with Dawn (I think?) entirely out of kilter with his earlier declaration to Sarah: did I miss the scene where they broke up again? Mac and Anna’s relationship suddenly kick-started, the juxtaposition of their scenes in the container cleverly done but detracting a bit from the power of the big bloody showdown at the shoping centre. The fate of the world was in the balance, you guys – and yes, so was Mac and Anna’s, but those scenes seemed slightly petty when compared with a bruised, battered and broken Paul relentlessy fighting, fighting, fighting; wings, blood and all.
But these things were all there because there’s surely meant to be more to these people’s stories than just this one season. It was originally planned as a trilogy, and I really hope BBC 3 makes that happen because, regardless of everything I’ve just said, this episode and this series have been amazing. Dark and downbeat, warm and witty, gruesome and supernatural but deeply, deeply human, The Fades has been something very special and if the finale could have been tighter (and it could), it doesn’t really matter because it was still all kinds of astounding.
As in every episode, there were no easy answers anywhere. The Angelics have been decimated. What Neil did has destroyed him, and maybe not him alone. Paul (“the Angelic Swiss Army Knife”) may have “saved” the world but he may just have condemned it to a different type of hell as well. And the ride to get to that last ominous shot of the furious sky was as heart-stoppingly frightening as it was superb. I watch a lot of fantasy tv, and The Fades has been up there with the very, very best of it. Bring it back. Soon.