“Time Out of Mind” made an honest effort at some worldbuilding, but it was a bit too silly to be taken seriously.
This recap of Pandora Season 1, Episode 7, “Time Out of Mind”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
The CW’s Pandora has always had an issue with its worldbuilding, asking us to care about a galactic history — and all its attendant planets, species and important events — that has never been properly explained to us. In that sense, Pandora Episode 7, “Time Out of Mind”, felt long overdue. It made an honest effort to flesh out some of those details, such as why humans left Earth in the first place, and how the sinister Parallax Galactic both formed and was able to consolidate so much influence. I appreciate the effort. The problem is that Pandora just isn’t very good.
I know that’s a relative term. But this is a show that does so much weird stuff that all its earnest attempts to be dramatic, or romantic, or interesting, or exciting, all feel as though they’re fighting against its cartoonishly awful writing and lackadaisical performances. For instance: In the vision that opens “Time Out of Mind”, we see Jax (Priscilla Quintana) undercover as a floozy sent to assassinate a smarmy politician, Nelson Fisk (Alexander Hanson), who totally unironically says to the media that he’s going to “make Earth great again”. He’s a ridiculous cartoon parody, and we’re expected, for much of Pandora Episode 7, to believe that he was an altruistic do-gooding climate change guru whose death doomed the Earth. The eventual reveal that he was a fraud — delivered in a ludicrous Evil Villain monologue — is treated as a twist.
Pandora has previous with this kind of thing, having previously delved into campus culture with episodes that have extolled the virtues of no-platforming and functioned as metaphors for sexual assault. Whenever the show ventures into this kind of liberal talking-point territory it means well, I’m sure, but never manages to find an approach that doesn’t come across as hopelessly juvenile. “Time Out of Mind” bundles its Trumpish caricature with a strong climate change message — Earth was abandoned in “the Great Migration” because human beings had essentially destroyed the planet. The show’s entire mythology is an anti-conservative statement.
Jax visits her “past life” as an assassin multiple times throughout “Time Out of Mind”, mostly thanks to a Zatarian elixir provided by Ralen (Ben Radcliffe), although once with the help of Thomas (Martin Bobb-Semple), whose powers are still developing and who is still being a whiny little baby, and twice in class for no reason at all. I distinctly recall Jax being immune to psychic probing, which means Tommy being able to project her back into past-life memories is either part of his continuing development into a mind-melding superhero, or its a plothole. The fact this isn’t clear is a problem.
Jax’s temporal excursions introduce her to a young Harlan Fried (Luke Fetherston) as one of Fisk’s campaign advisors, and in the present day, Professor Osborn (Noah Huntley) tasks Xander (Oliver Dench) with uncovering a mole who has been feeding information to Parallax Galactic, the company Fried would eventually set up. That mole turns out to be the wife (Maryam d’Abo) of Osborn’s old-school spy buddy, for no reason that I can identify other than that it gives Osborn an excuse to say he killed his own wife for being an enemy agent.
I admire what Pandora Episode 7 was trying to do, even if it’s very difficult to admire how it actually goes about doing it, which has been a problem through the series. “Time Out of Mind” either believed itself to be cleverer than it was or its audience to be stupider than we look, and neither one of those is ideal.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.