Beginning to Believe!


Despite a pilot with potential, Believe (NBC, Sundays, 9/8C) has been pretty average over its first three weeks. With tonight’s episode, White Noise, that begins to change. In tonight’s ep, Bo and Tate are in Philadelphia for, as it turns out, more than hiding from Skouras and the police. The plot, as they say, thickens.

The safehouse in which Tate (Jake McLaughlin) and Bo (Johnny Sequoyah) are staying is in the same block of apartments where Ben (Ebon Moss Rachbach, Girls, Rubicon) and Taryn (Alexia Rasmussen, Our Idiot Brother) live. Ben has a blog with The Times and a late-night phone call, complete with electronically disguised voice, promises him the story of a lifetime – something called Project Orchestra.

Bo makes a connection with Taryn at a broken soda machine – by noting that she’s pregnant – and shortly thereafter, senses that Ben is in trouble. At her emphatic prompting, Tate, Winter (Delroy Lindo) and Channing (Jamie Chung) manage to prevent the couple from being tortured (and most likely killed) by Mr. Zepeda (Nick Tarabay, Spartacus).

Because of Zepeda’s failure, Skouras (Kyle MacLachlan) decides to bring Joshua (Rob Morgan) into play – setting up the potential for a Bo-Joshua showdown.

Believe’s creators, Alfonso Cuarón and Mark Friedman, planned the series to be a show about hope and family (Tate is unaware that he is actually Bo’s father) – as well as a sci-fi series that includes elements of the paranormal (like the mental abilities shown by Bo, Joshua and others) and the potential dangers of having such abilities groomed for weaponization by the less than scrupulous. In the show’s first few episodes, that wasn’t explored much beyond the very superficial.

In White Noise, the series mythology begins to expand as the connection between Bo and Tate strengthens and cracks begin to appear in Skouras’ organization. While Tate insists he doesn’t really have that connection, he’s still the person Bo asks to retrieve her cherished turtle, Stanley.

Even though Bo sees what needs to happen for Ben and Taryn, it’s Taryn who sees the connection between her and Tate even more clearly than Winter and Channing – who already know he’s Bo’s father! Sometimes it takes a new set of eyes to make something real – and Ben and Taryn do that.

Dave Erickson’s script is the first one to make all the show’s intended layers feel real. By connecting Ben and Taryn to the mythology in an unexpected way, he highlights all the show’s relationships and the contrasting personalities of all the regular characters in a more emphatic way – from Tate’s issues with anger management to Skouras’ mixed feelings about Bo and the events of ep; from Zoe’s (Kerry Condon, Rome, Luck) growing horror at Skouras’ ambitions to Bo’s generosity of spirit.

With White Noise, the series’ mythology broadens – because of what they’ve learned, Ben and Taryn are potential returnees; Zepeda seems likely to pop up again (he’s good at his job), and developments with Joshua speak to the kinds of consequences that can be caused in the show’s unique circumstances.

Director Jonas Pate does keep things moving at a good pace, but he does a nice job of framing characters in quiet moments that silently bolsters their character beats. He knows when close-ups are most effective, and when shift focus within a frame. White Noise is, technically, the best episode since the Cuarón-directed pilot.

I was at the point of dropping Believe from my watch list, but White Noise has begun to show the potential hinted at in the series’ pilot. Plus, it’s a lot of fun – something that should not be discounted.

Final Grade: B+

Photo by David Giesvrecht/Courtesy of NBC