“Under the Red Sky” was mostly an excuse to leer at its gorgeous stars, but it also took the time to include more insufferable romance and ridiculous spycraft.
This recap of Pandora Season 1, Episode 8, “Under the Red Sky”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
As is becoming a trend in the CW’s Pandora, “Under the Red Sky” was divided into two storylines. In the first, Professor Osborn (Noah Huntley) convinces Xander (Oliver Dench) to convince Jax (Priscilla Quintana) to schmooze an old flame who just so happens to be the daughter of Harlan Fried (Ben Cross). In the other, Thomas (Martin Bobb-Semple) and Atria Nine (Raechelle Banno) enjoy a “staycation” on the deserted campus which comes to include a despondent Ralen (Ben Radcliffe), who has decided he’s in love with Jax.
These romantic shenanigans are complicated by the fact that Ralen thinks Jax is in love with Xander, which she kind of is, but Xander is too devoted to his job to have feelings, even though he clearly does anyway, and Thomas can read Atria Nine’s mind so he knows she’s really in love with Ralen — very little is made of how invasive it is to constantly mindread your romantic partner, and everybody but me seems immune to his incessant, childish whining. Oh, and Xander has broken up with Kossara (Lola Ogunyemi), whom Ralen inadvertently offends with his usual fish-out-of-water patter.
This stuff, in “Under the Red Sky” more than ever, is absolutely insufferable. And the A-side plot isn’t much better. After some persuasion — “But your parents!” etc. — Jax and Xander head off to Euphoria-7, which is basically Cancun during Spring Break, and pose as a bickering couple to entice Cordelia Fried (Isabelle Bonfrer). This is supposed to be an exotic espionage excursion, but it really just plays like an excuse to ogle Jax, like we haven’t already noticed how stunning she is.
The plan, initially anyway, seems like a success. There’s a bit of high-tech surveillance business, a sneaky steal-and-replace of a device full of secrets, the inevitable “quick, kiss me!” moment between Jax and Xander, and then the easily predictable outcome that Cordelia and her sister Regan (Tehmina Sunny) are well-aware of what Jax is up to. An interesting wrinkle is that Cordelia obviously resents her father and slips Jax a detonator so that she can escape, or at least kill herself along with him, but it never really goes anywhere.
Harlan’s plan is to open a portal, which he needs Jax to do, but he’s thwarted by Xander and Ralen, the latter of whom turned up in the nick of time after having been convinced by Thomas to go and make a grand romantic gesture in order to win Jax’s affection. Our heroes fight their way to freedom by… jumping through the portal that Harlan was trying to access in the first place, arriving under that red sky of the title, where a fleet of Zatarian ships is preparing for war.