“It is now the year 2035,” Milo explains at the start of “The Deceivers.” It’s been 19 years since the Overlords rolled in, and four years since the world realized their alien buddies look a lot like Lucifer. Things are going great on Earth... but the price of utopia will soon be revealed.
This episode certainly expands Clarke’s original story—most of the characters, and the plot’s most dramatic turns, don’t exist in the book. Milo’s opening voice-over lets us know that despite the seeming perfection of the world, there’s a place called “New Athens,” an island city for anyone who’s longing for life that hasn’t been scrubbed clean of struggle and strife. That location will become even more important in the third installment of Childhood’s End, but the idea that not everybody is happy with the Overlords is very much a factor in episode two.
Milo (Osy Ikhile) is one who remains suspicious; his astrophysics studies at the Boyce Institute in South Africa have become simply unnecessary, as scientific inquiry is no longer a viable career path. Why bother being curious about anything, really, when everything is going so well? His billionaire boss, Rupert Boyce (Julian McMahon), is phasing Milo’s department out of the Institute; meanwhile, his sorta-girlfriend, Rachel (Charlotte Nicdao), tentatively supports his questioning of the Overlords’ ultimate intentions. Back in Missouri, Ricky gets a dose of truth when Karellen pays him his first visit in nearly two decades, for the purposes of delivering an apology of sorts. The “Blue Collar Prophet” doesn’t know it yet, but he’s contracted a terminal illness thanks to all those visits to the Overlords’ spaceship. What’s worse, Karellen has made certain that Ricky and Ellie (Daisy Betts) can’t have children—and as we’ll soon see, he genuinely thought he was doing his friend a solid with that act of biological interference.
We get an inkling of what’s in store for the kids of Earth—beyond, ahem, the title Childhood’s End—when we get to know a young couple, Jake (Ashley Zuckerman) and Amy (Hayley Magnus) Greggson, and their son, Tom, who’s lately been plagued with strange night terrors. Amy doesn’t realize it right away, but she’s pregnant with a daughter—a not-quite-human creature who seems to have psychically selected her own name, Jennifer. The Greggsons’ connection to the Overlords is first probed by the deeply Christian Peretta Jones (Yael Stone), a therapist whose profession and religion have been rendered nearly obsolete by Karellen and co., and then by Boyce, who’s basically doing whatever he’s told in the hopes of getting to catch a glimpse of the Overlords’ home planet.
His latest order: to lure the Greggsons to South Africa, specifically into a room the Overlords have built for mysterious purposes. Boyce throws a lavish party for the occasion, bringing the family (plus whoever’s around, like his employees Milo and Rachel) into close proximity with Karellen. The alien zeroes in on the unborn Jennifer; Amy is asked to place her hand on a strange device (an update of the book’s ouija board) to open the channels of communication.
It works. “It is done, she is awake, she accepts and understands! Now they will follow,” Karellan exults after no small amount of lights in the sky, rumblings, and other assorted commotion. Mighty ominous. In the chaos, the razor-sharp Milo is able to determine the Overlords have given up the location of their home planet, while the freaked-out Greggsons GTFO of Boyce’s compound as soon as they can.
And in Missouri, Peretta reaches out to Ellie (both women connected by their fondness for delicate gold cross necklaces) and manages to burst her way into a meeting between Karellen and Ricky. Karellen’s brought the ailing Ricky the last drops of a rare medicine that will cure his painful disease... which Ricky turns around and uses to revive Karellen when he’s blasted by a shotgun wielded by a terrified Paretta. “Let... it... die,” she urges. But Ricky, kind-hearted to a fault, can’t do it. He needs to know why Karellen has deliberately made him and Ellie unable to have kids.
“Whether I am alive or dead makes no difference to what is coming,” Karellen sniffs as he straightens up, wings twitching. He informs Peretta there’s no place for her religion, or any religion, anymore. And he sounds awfully sure of himself, too. Her faith shattered, the broken woman drifts home and follows the path of her mother, who made the same choice after the Overlords first arrived 20 years prior: to suicide.
As Peretta dies, and Ricky more or less accepts his own imminent death, a new life is born: Jennifer, the apparent doom of the human race. She looks like a normal baby, but her eyes! HER EYES! In what’s perhaps a nod to Rosemary’s Baby, she has her father’s eyes. We don’t yet know exactly “what is coming,” but we’ll surely find out tomorrow.
The final episode of Childhood’s End airs tonight on Syfy.
Top photo by: Ben King/Syfy.