You may have read my review of First Wave season one, and I am happy to report I am now done watching season two. The only sad thing is there are only twenty-two episodes left, and once season three is done, there is nothing new. Oh I will watch the series again, but there are so many times I find myself not believing the show was cancelled after three seasons. But that is not the purpose of this review. The purpose of this review is to celebrate the wonder that is First Wave.
If you are unfamiliar with the premise of the show, please read the following:
Framed for murder and on the run, a former thief struggles to expose the vanguard of an alien invasion with the help of a conspiracy theorist and newly discovered prophecies of Nostradamus.
Before I begin the official review, let me make a few general comments. I thought season one of the show was exceptional, but somehow, the story, acting, and characters were even better in this season. The content advisory still includes some profanity (I have to admit I hardly notice it as most of the time it is not overly prolific) and there are some bedroom scenes–some more intense than others. Additionally there is violence–sometimes somewhat graphic–but all these things were minor irritants at best if they even bothered me. The big difference is that the suspense increased dramatically. There were times aplenty that I remarked that “I didn’t know whether I was coming or going” as there was much confusion due to baffling “mind tricks.” And I has mentioned that season one was a cliffhanger. Oh my goodness, dear reader, the season one finale pales in comparison to the season two finale. Quite honestly, if I had watched this when it originally aired, I would have thrown a violent tantrum (oh yes I do get “worked up when watching television at times) following the final scenes of this finale. Thankfully, I know there is a season three.
As it was in season one, there are the three main characters again–Cade Foster (Sebastian Spence), Crazy Eddie (Rob LaBelle), and Joshua (Roger R. Cross). There were guest stars scattered throughout. In fact, one of the later episodes reminded me so much of Sebastian’s film Dress to Kill, and it even featured on of his co-stars from that later movie. There was not a bad episode in the bunch, but there were a few anomalies. This season features one entire episode where Cade and Eddie are not featured. At the time, I so wanted to tell Sebastian that he was wrong since he claimed to be in all 66 episodes (IMDB makes the same claim), but I somehow never got around to saying that. There is another episode where we learn the back story of Crazy Eddie, and it is a role reversal episode if there ever was one. And what happens to Joshua, well, I don’t want to spoil anything but just know some distressing things occur surrounding his character which I hope will be resolved in season three.
In this season, Joshua is again played by Roger R. Cross–brilliantly I might add. This is when his character is really developed, and from episode one of season two, it is completely transparent where Joshua’s allegiances lie (no spoilers from me). I absolutely adored the complex character of Joshua from the very moment that he was introduced in season one. Due to the extraordinary manner in which Roger portrays him, we are able to witness his character being pulled in two different directions. We see Joshua as the one who wants to do what is right, and his intelligence is only matched by his physical prowess. The episode which featured Joshua was a real treat to watch, and I’m glad that the audience was given some necessary details so we could understand him better–or at least try to. I was completely confounded sometimes to see how in the world Joshua was going to get out of his particular issues in many of the episodes, and towards the end of season two, a new character emerged.
The character of Cain (also played by Roger) comes into the picture towards the end of season two. I will not spoil anything for you, but just understand that he is the polar opposite of Joshua. Amazingly, Roger is able to transform himself into this alter ego character. He still looks like Joshua, but the way in which he conducts himself down to even his voice and mannerisms lets you know he is not. It was quite difficult to get used to his new character, but I am hopeful that one day, Joshua will return. I won’t tell you why, but there are extenuating circumstances. Roger gives a truly impressive performance regardless of what character he portrays.
Permit me to say that I absolutely fell in love with Crazy Eddie during this season! Okay, I loved him last season, but he was even better in this season. Rob and Sebastian have perfect on-screen chemistry. Eddie is a complex individual, and when he was the focus of one of the episodes, I was truly enthralled. But I knew from the first episode of season two that these two were going to continue to move the series forward. This show is immensely intense at times, and it is Eddie and Cade that provide the subtle humor when it is necessary. I have to admit at times I wondered if these two had any input into what their characters had to say. There were times that their interactions seemed somewhat unscripted, but perhaps that is just the true acting skill that they possess. Regardless, Rob plays the role of Eddie with such artistry and precision that I have to confess I often forgot he was acting. Eddie is the paranoid science geek, and sometimes he gets Cade into the worst possible scrapes. However, his character is also responsible for seeing that Cade remains safe and alive. Although his bumbling ways of behaving tend to provide the comic relief for the show, never underestimate how fiercely devoted his character is to Cade.
Episode seventeen from this season entitled “Rubicon” holds a very special place in my heart. It is an incredible episode–I was as confused as Cade was for most of the episode–but there is another reason.
Cedar Cove fans are going to see the immediate tie-in. At the top, Cliff and Grace are pictured from a romantic scene of Cedar Cove. The second of these pictures is from that episode of First Wave I mentioned. Teryl Rothery (who is now known for her role as Grace) guest starred in a pivotal role on this episode. Although she looked a bit different (the dark hair did kind of throw me at first), there was chemistry between those two even back then! I won’t spoil it for you at all, but she was fantastic and believable in her guest spot, and she completely baffled me in that role as well. It was certainly one of my favorite shows from this season.
Ah yes, and now to Cade Foster (AKA Sebastian Spence), my entire reason for writing the review (did that sound as pathetic as I think it did?). I raved about his character in my season one review. In fact, I mentioned being completely smitten with his character, and indeed I am. It would be extremely difficult for me to choose between Cade Foster and Cliff Harting, but since they are played by the same man, I guess I don’t have to choose.
In season two, Sebastian’s level of acting increased to levels that completely astounded me to the extreme. This season was intensely varied, and there was nothing this guy couldn’t do as Cade Foster. No matter what the writers chose for his character to do, he performed with grace, dignity, skill, and heart. I will confess that when I talk to his character on the screen (yes, I do talk to the screen when I watch television and movies–one of my many quirks, but only at home, I promise), I found myself sometimes struggling to differentiate between Sebastian Spence and Cade Foster. By the time season two ended, Sebastian had so much become his character on-screen, I found myself calling him equally Sebastian and Cade. I realize the role is just that–an acting role. Off the screen, I don’t believe I would ever make the mistake of calling him Cade. But on-screen, Sebastian played the role of Cade Foster so convincingly that he almost became the role. Indeed the sign of a true artistic genius.
As the season went on, the episodes only improved (hard to improve upon perfection, but it happened). The story lines were often quite unusual, and I sometimes found that my adrenalin was pumping so fast that it was all I could do to keep from “jumping out of my skin.” The writing of the show during this season even outclassed last season in its depth, variety, and unsettling/eerie nature. There were some episodes that dealt with occult elements, but every time I felt that things were handled in such a way that I was not compromising my Christian beliefs by watching it. The finale of the season even brought Biblical elements into the story–quite clever how that all unraveled.
Which brings me to one of my choice moments of the season. If you do a careful study of the works of Sebastian, you will notice how intense and serious his characters typically are (except in A Bug and a Bag of Weed). In fact, it is quite a chore to find pictures of him genuinely smiling–one of my twitter friends and I have seen the vast majority of his photos in existence. In every work of his I have seen, he displays the entire kaleidoscope of emotions. Notwithstanding, his characters typically lean towards the serious side.
The character of Cade Foster is acutely intense and serious, and rightfully so. After all, the end of the world is coming, and aliens are hounding him at every turn. In this particular episode, however, due to alien experiments (the recurring theme in most episodes), Sebastian and his guest co-star gave a performance I never expected. Quite seriously, they had to perform an entire scene that had to be done in fits of laughter. It was expertly done as usual, and he did it so well that it gave the exact impression that was warranted. I found myself wanting to laugh but feeling terribly uneasy because this was so unnatural. For me, this was a top-notch scene because I am certain Sebastian stepped outside of his “comfort zone” so to speak to play that scene, but he did it perfectly! In fact, the scene was so well done, it was days before I could shake it from my mind.
There is one other thing about Sebastian’s performance that really impressed me (his entire performance did but there is something truly notable). During season one, it often seemed that the writers were pushing Cade Foster towards being some kind of messiah. I can remember Cade’s character saying he was not, but people wanted him to be. It didn’t necessarily bother me but I did notice the tendencies towards that way of thinking.
Interestingly enough, I happened to read an article as I was just beginning season two that took the same view. In fact, in said article, Sebastian made the comment that he didn’t want to take Cade Foster’s character that way. He cited his Catholic beliefs and even his father’s views. And it seems like either the writers listened to him and/or his deft acting took the character the right direction. It was admirable to see that although Cade Foster was still the leader in season two, he was not perfect. He made mistakes, but his heart was always in the right place. He abhorred taking any lives for the sake of the cause, and he was always ready to do the dangerous thing. Again, Sebastian’s portrayal of Cade Foster was about as near perfect as you can get in this acting business. I will never understand why this series is but a memory and he has never received such a steady television show like this. Yes, I know I am biased, but I still say that Sebastian Spence is one of the finest actors in today’s world. Indeed his acting never disappoints, and his versatility is legendary in my humble opinion.
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