"Paul Levinson's It's Real Life is a page-turning exploration into that multiverse known as rock and roll. But it is much more than a marvelous adventure narrated by a master storyteller...it is also an exquisite meditation on the very nature of alternate history." -- Jack Dann, The Fiction Writer's Guide to Alternate History

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Amazing Stories (2020) 1.2: "The Heat": Life after Life

Life after death stories - the departed coming back to help, haunt, or otherwise interact with the living - are a dime a dozen. Amazing Stories' (2020) second episode, "The Heat," manages to visit this well-trodden path with a story that is at least somewhat original, even if that originality relies upon yet another very well-worn gambit in fiction.

Tuka and Sterling are track athletes and best friends, until a typical teenager argument leads to Tuku getting killed in a hit-and-run, right before Sterling's horrified eyes.  Most of the rest of the episode tells the story of Tuka's ghost connecting with Sterling, and helping her run and compete again, and maybe win a crucial track-meet race.

Except, Sterling doesn't, and here's where "The Heat" veers into both originality but some kind of ultimate cliche.  The originality is in Sterling's not winning, which would be the expected result in what had come before. But what happens after that, when the ghostly Tuka tries to comfort and inspire Sterling is, well ...

It turns out - at least, I think that's what's going on - that Tuka wasn't really killed in the hit-and-run.  She's just temporarily stunned, and comes back to full consciousness and life after she asks Sterling to kiss her, tenderly on the lips, aka romantically,  Now I thought the kiss was excellent because it showed the two young women had a deeper connection than just friends, and it harkened back to the fairytale ending of kissing the deceased back to life.

But that ending also means that everything we saw earlier in the episode was, what, going on in Tuka's mind while she was unconscious on the street?   That kind of ending - that what transpired was a protagonist's dream - is even more cliched that the dead coming back as a ghosts.

So, all in all, a mixed bag of an episode as far as originality.  But "The Heat" did have heart - as it turns out, a never unbeating one - and Hailey Kilgore and Emyri Crutchfield put in good performances as Tuka and Sterling, so I'd  recommend it.

See also Amazing Stories (2020) 1.1: "The Cellar": The Tops  ...  Amazing Stories (2020) 1.3: "Dynoman and The Volt!": Sweet Superpowers... Amazing Stories (2020) 1.4: "Signs of Life": Happy Revivals ...  Amazing Stories (2020) 1.5: "The Rift": Time Travel and a Candy Bar


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