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Hallo Spaceboy! ‘The Man Who Fell To Earth’ Recap

Hallo Spaceboy! ‘The Man Who Fell To Earth’ Recap

On Sunday, April 24, 2022, the Showtime TV show The Man Who Fell To Earth made its series debut. Based on the Walter Tevis novel of the same name, an alien (Chiwetel Ejiofor) crashes deep into the oil fields of Mexico and requires the help of a young woman named Justin Falls (Naomie Harris) to save his species. Falls is a scientist who has now elected to live a life devoted to taking care of her elderly father, Josiah (Clarke Peters), and her daughter Molly (Annelle Olaleye). However, Falls’ skillset is the key to saving this extraterrestrial creature, who refers to himself as Faraday and his kind.

Series creators Jenny Lumet and Alex Kurtzman, who also penned the script, bring a poignant take on the issue of immigration to this story. In the opening scene of the pilot, Faraday refers to himself as an immigrant — a refugee. He’s in a situation where he has to escape because it has become a life or death situation. This is sadly a reality for many refugees currently in Ukraine as the war threatens the lives of many of the country’s citizens. Many citizens have recently become immigrants and refugees due to the imminent danger.

Chiwetel Ejiofor as Faraday in THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH, “Hallo Spaceboy”. Photo credit: SHOWTIME.

Faraday had to step into a new skin, form a new identity, and acclimate to humankind to go on his mission to find Justin. 

It should be noted that one of David Bowie’s first starring roles, The Man Who Fell To Earth, was adapted as a TV movie in 1976. The cult classic was regarded as one of the most respected sci-fi projects of that decade. Speaking of David Bowie, each episode title of The Man Who Fell To Earth is strategically named after a song of his. The pilot episode “Hallo Spaceboy” is the 1995 single from his album Outside. In an interview BGN had with Jenny Lumet and Alex Kurtzman, Lumet says: “We’re Bowie freaks like many other folks, and anything that we could do to honor him and to feel his presence in this series, we did shamelessly.” Kurtzman added: “hopefully, each episode captures the spirit of the song that we chose to name the episode after.”

The pilot episode reels you in with the mystery of the underlying motives of each character, especially Justin Falls, who is dealing with a conundrum of her own. Although she’s an immediate skeptic when the alien articulates who is and what his purpose is to Justin, she’s still intrigued and perhaps it is her inquisitive nature as a scientist that keeps her within Faraday’s sphere of influence. 

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The viewer is engaged through the quick jump cuts, impressive special effects, and story pacing. While the pilot doesn’t unpack too much story, it lays just enough groundwork to keep us interested without dumping a bunch of exposition. That would put viewers to sleep at first glance. The quickest way a TV show can seal its fate with a low-attention span audience is to focus on too much telling and show us very little. 

Chiwetel Ejiofor as Faraday in THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH, “Hallo Spaceboy”. Photo credit: SHOWTIME.

The Man Who Fell To Earth delivers impactful moments. These include a TED-talk speech that delivers powerful metaphors that set you up for Faraday and Justin’s story, Faraday’s awkward interactions with human beings, and his challenges to adapt. There’s even a moment he, as an unarmed alien in naked Black skin, is attacked by the police. While this brutality is not specifically addressed in the plot, the violent act in and of itself is acknowledged, which is an important detail.

Ejiofor drops his notable English accent for this role, playing in the opening scene an articulate tech guru and the alien Faraday, a being with speech challenges. His speech is scattered and oftentimes, he repeats what he hears from other humans. There isn’t anything original in his cadence with his alien vernacular, we’ve heard this speech before in other alien films, but Ejiofor is quite commanding on-screen during his interactions with Harris. Watching both Ejiofor and Harris in action is compelling to see and the two together have great chemistry.

Harris at times as Justin comes across as a bit neurotic and filled with anxiety, but there could be some incredible subtext happening with this character that we have yet to see unfold until later episodes. The Man Who Fell To Earth is another opportunity to see Black talent in genre TV, in this case, science fiction. The pilot episode gave us mystery, action, and a metaphorical connection to real-life events that give this story some empathy. While it has aliens and the supernatural, there are various elements of the story that are rooted in real-life moments. That’s always a recipe for some groundbreaking television.

The Man Who Fell To Earth is currently streaming on Showtime.

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