Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Summer TV Rewind: Kyle XY 1.01: “Pilot”

“My birth was unconventional at best. My first memory was waking up in the forest. Like a newborn baby, I had no idea who I was or what was happening. My eyes weren’t sure what they were seeing. Every sight, sound and feeling was unfamiliar. Every species is born with instincts that ultimately create a balance with nature. Every species except the one I was born into.”
- Kyle

Like a lot of good TV gone before its time, I came to “Kyle XY” long after it had ended (after three seasons and a giant cliffhanger we never saw resolved). But I thought why not share the first season with you all this summer. I’d forgotten how heavily the pilot relied on voice over narration but when your main character doesn’t actually speak for most of the episode, it gives the viewer a nice insight into his mind and personality. When we first find Kyle, he’s lying naked in the woods, waking up and seeing the world for the first time. I loved how he reacted to different things (a snake, a couple in a tent having sex) with wonder. I was also kind of impressed with the camera work for a lot of the opening scenes because Matt Dallas (the actor) was actually naked and covered in goo). Anyway, as Kyle wanders into the city and is arrested and sent to juvenile detention, we meet the Tragers. Lori and Josh are your fairly typical teenage siblings who bicker. Then you have dad Stephen and Mom Nicole who is a therapist. A colleague of hers who works at the juvenile detention center calls and asks her to see Kyle.

Before Nicole gets there, we see Kyle has some things to learn. He discovers the shower, eating and urination. Even though he doesn’t say a word, he understands what’s being said to him and given his enormous IQ, he retains it all. We are also shortly introduced to how he draws which is pretty amazing. He just does dots on the page but it’s so cool how it actually forms pictures. Nicole decides she is bringing him home to stay with the family for a few days, much to Josh and Lori’s annoyance. Lori is particularly upset when she comes out of the shower wrapped in a towel and Kyle sees her. She’s tasked by Nicole to babysit Kyle for a little while but of course Lori just goes off talking to her boyfriend Declan on the phone. This leaves Kyle to leave the house and wander next door where we meet Amanda, a rather gifted pianist. One other little plot point that I didn’t pick up on when watching the first season originally was they lay the foundation for much of what comes in the later seasons with a throwaway line on a TV news program. I have to admit I’m very impressed with how well and how far they plotted this story out (then again most shows come in with a 3-5 year story arc already planned so you know there’s that). Anyway, Kyle doesn’t really understand emotions and he gets sad after hearing Amanda play and runs out of her house and ends up hiding in the bathtub (which a whole other thing believe me). Josh sneaks into the bathroom to look at some porn and Kyle finds him.

That night at dinner, we learn that Kyle can in fact speak. Though right now it’s parroting phrases back that he’d heard. I have to say every time I watch that scene I laugh out loud. The next day, Nicole and Josh take Kyle for some tests and his scores are off the charts. His brain activity is also very high and the lab techs assume the machine is messed up. That night, Josh does a little internet searching on seizures and it freaks him out. He shouldn’t worry about that, though. Lori sneaks out of the house while Kyle discovers the wonders of the refrigerator and he ends up following her to Declan’s party. He gets pretty wasted and then when the cops show up and one is trying to cuff Lori, Kyle goes all badass big brother and shows some wicked moves to avoid being cuffed or beaten himself. I laughed at that scene too because it was really well choreographed. I really need to check out IMDB and see what else Matt Dallas has been in because I really enjoy his performance as an actor. One of the sweetest scenes in the entire episode has no dialogue or anything. Kyle is just carrying Lori home and it was just so innocent.

Kyle wakes Nicole because he’s bleeding (that tends to happen when you jump through glass doors) and he tries to figure out who and what he is but she doesn’t have the answer. The next day, things take an interesting turn. Nicole wants Kyle to stay longer because she doesn’t think anywhere else is safe (he reveals he’s afraid of everything, including a man in a red truck that we see at least twice). The rest of the family seems set against it until Kyle helps Stephen retrieve a photo off a dead computer for a client and retrieves Josh’s porn magazine. Josh and Kyle bond a bit while playing some basketball and Stephen sees how happy that makes both boys. And Lori realizes that Kyle saved her at the party and looked out for her. So when Nicole brings up the topic of Kyle’s extended say, the family responds not in words but in actions which I thought was beautiful. They each take turns serving Kyle dinner, including him in their family.

It is always interesting to watch something again once you’ve seen the whole series. So many little things fall into place that make you realize just how clever the writers are. I loved how Kyle slowly began to develop language on his own and how innocent and child-like he is at the beginning. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next.

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