Watching Taken the TV Miniseries (part 5)
Wait, hold up, have you watched Episode 5 yet? No? Go do that then come back and we can have a chat. Don’t worry. This review isn’t going anywhere.
With this episode we have another time jump to propel the plot forward. We start off pretty quickly after the end of the last episode and see Eric Crawford take the project back from Lt Colonel Erickson, who was handed the project quickly after Owen Crawford was dismissed. Immediately after that we jump forward 10 years and it is obvious that quite a lot has changed in the interim.
We have more nods to real UFO history facts right out of the gate in this episode, though several of these facts are little bit off from reality. Now full disclosure: if you can’t tell by these reviews, I am very interested in UFO history. I’ve actually been to Area 51 three times in my life as parts of larger road trips (the southwest is super fun to explore by car, okay, and Nevada is kinda in the middle of everything I want to see). There are several difference between how it’s portrayed here and what it’s actually like in real life, but the differences were probably mainly for cinematic purposes. It’s still close enough, though, that I give the creators major props for what they accomplished.
In the three times I’ve been there I have never seen a crowd as big as the one depicted here. At most I saw one other vehicle on Groom Lake Road and we just passed each other silently without really socializing because, you know, talking with strangers in the middle of a desert with a super secret (not so secret anymore) government base over the hills isn’t exactly the best idea. Honestly, the whole thing is a rather strange idea for a vacation, but many people, myself included, have done it. It’s a unique experience to say the least.
One major difference is that there is no gate like that at the main entrance (though there is a similar one at the back gate) as it’s depicted here. There’s basically a big sign on a lonely desert road telling you that if you cross it they have the authority to use deadly force. There are also posts delineating the border and security guards in a truck on a hill knowns as “cammo dudes” (due to their camouflage uniforms) who keep an eye on things. It’s a lot less of a circus as Taken portrays it and more of an eerie isolated desert road with an oddly intimidating vibe.
Also the “black mailbox” that is depicted here is right at the gate whereas the actual mailbox is several miles away and belongs to a farmer named Medlin. Oh, and it’s not black anymore. It’s a heavy duty white monstrosity and he’s even attached a special little mailbox for the aliens (see a fabulous picture of the “black mailbox” here). Medlin has a pretty good sense of humor about it all.
Okay, now that I’ve overshared my strange vacation habits, on with the episode, shall we?
Anyway, we finally have Jacob back. The Clarke kids have kids of their own, Jacob with a daughter named Lisa, and Becky with several small children of her own. Lisa is definitely her father’s daughter, showing off her ability to read people with a rather in-your-face display towards Becky’s husband.
The Clarke clan has reunited to say their farewells to Sally who is on her death bed. Turns out Jacob’s batteries weren’t quite as dead as we thought and, in one last burst of power, gives his mother a vision of John before she dies. That scene just breaks my heart. As I mentioned in an earlier review, she’s my favorite, so I can’t watch that scene without getting a bit emotional.
Meanwhile, Jesse and Amelia have a son named Charlie. Things seemed to have normalized for Jesse. He’s become an EMT, has a home, spends time taking care of his yard, and so on. However, while out on a job Jesse gets abducted for the first time in years and his mental state rapidly starts to deteriorate. When he attempts to seek help this puts him back on the radar from the government and, unfortunately, brings Charlie to their attention. It becomes apparent that the aliens also have an interest in Charlie, which Jesse doesn’t take lightly. Their interest in his father has now passed through three generations, which devastates him. While Amelia was hesitant to believe in the conspiracies at first, she soon recognizes that it’s a reality and flees with Charlie in the hopes of evading both the government and the would be alien abductors.
Shifting our attention back over to the Crawford family, we get the main plot drive of the episode. Because of the circus that has become Area 51, the government is forced to move locations. They decide to keep the base as a decoy location where they will run experimental plane (which is the actual use for Area 51 in real life) to keep the tourists happy. This is another nod to real conspiracies that have formed regarding the base. In Taken they move to Maine, but theorists have speculated Utah, Colorado, and other locations around the country. Eric Crawford is forced to pick up his family and move them to Maine quite suddenly. This move is what propels much of the plot of this episode and leads to some rather surprising character development.
The odd romance between Eric Crawford and Becky Clarke is something that both drives me up the wall and attracts an odd sort of sympathy from me. I absolutely hated Owen Crawford and even though Eric was antagonistic towards him, I still don’t like him very much either either. His father may not have liked him too much, but he still has a lot of his father’s traits. He’s ruthless, fiercely determined, and cold (except, it seems, with Becky). Meanwhile I love Becky. She’s warm and loving and protective over her family. So when their romance begins I am quite opposed to it. Not to mention the fact that they are both married, albeit unhappily, and infidelity is something I have a hard time enjoying on my TV screen.
Ah, but here is where the sympathy comes in. I have trouble enjoying adulterous plot lines, but they are both lost individuals who find a strange sort of happiness with each other. As the narrator puts it, love is finding someone who makes you feel a little less alone. I want Becky to be happy, but I don’t care at all about Eric’s happiness. I don’t want him to be miserable, but I just don’t really care. Becky deserves better than a jerk husband, but is Eric really better? Not really. He seems to want to be something better, but something inside of me just doesn’t believe in his ability to pull it off. He’s got too much of his father in him. He tells Becky that he’s not his father, but I’m not buying it. The way he took down Erickson just to take over the project reminded me far too much of his father and I immediately lost what little sympathy I had for him at the time. Maybe others view him differently. Maybe you can see the potential for him to be a better person, but I’ll just sit over here and hiss at him while being a protective mama bird over Becky, thank you.
And then we have the ending of the episode. Oh man. This ending. I remember watching it for the first time over a decade ago and being completely floored by it. It felt like the ultimate climax, but we’re only halfway through the series. It’s the first time absolutely no one – alien, citizen, or government – is being evasive. It’s all there happening for all to see.
While Eric Crawford is being confronted by the Clarke’s and their merry band of UFO enthusiasts and reporters the aliens just kind of show up and are like…
“Hey guys. So like…
“You have some stuff that sort of belongs to us, so like….
“We’re going to take it all back and be on our way…
PEACE OUT HUMANS!”
And then they’re out of there like that badasses that they are.
Now we are officially halfway through the miniseries. How are you enjoying it so far?
Stephanie “Angel” Wilson is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. She earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. She’s contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. She’s written for Friends of Comic Con and has essays published in Fandom Frontlines.