The flesh of The Fades

A great cast, bold writing, and well-crafted effects define this great thriller from the UK.

The Fades is an unexpected supernatural thriller from the BBC. Any fans of the genre should be watching it.

The most interesting thing about Fades is the world-building. The mythology and canon that’s been built here is really impressive for a television show. Most supernatural oriented stories on television don’t really have the courage to redefine things so dramatically, but The Fades is an exception.

The Angelics, this world’s clan of monster fighters, are not even clear on how everything works.

Episode 4 gave us a chance to learn much more about the story-world that we’d gotten previously, and especially about John, the Angelic killer, and his motivations, but there is still so much to be discovered, and that’s because it’s not a fight as old as the ages continuing into our time.

This story shows us the first time that anything like this has (ostensibly) ever happened. Even the villains – the fades who are growing stronger and finding ways to fight in our world – are only just learning how their powers work and what form they take. No one has ever seen someone like Paul before, and his powers continue to manifest in strange ways, deepening the mythology of the tale.

The drama of the show is tense and unforgiving. The cliffhangers are high, and so are the stakes of failure, but it doesn’t reach into melodrama for its highs, it manages to remain grounded and escalates the drama with real plot and character development instead. It’s still early in the series, so only time will tell if they’ll be able to keep it up forever.

A big part of Fades ability to pull off any of this, however, comes directly from the talent. None of the actors are big names – though some come from other popular BBC shows that American audiences simply haven’t been exposed to. Yet, the show has managed to put a lot of great talent together, as the performances don’t feel half-assed or half-shod, with each performer putting his/her heart into the role.

Usually when I say that, I’ve got an exception up my sleeve, someone to point out as the one person who is phoning it in, but we don’t have that this time. It’s clear that the whole cast work very well together, and all of them are passionate about making the show work.

The fifth episode of The Fades will hit BBC Three next Wednesday night. North American audiences have to watch on the BBC Three website for the show.