Star-Crossed, in general, is a pretty fun show that deals with some interesting issues around xenophobia and paranoia. The alien world-building shows some promise, too. But jeez, this show is the worst victim of the CW's need to put a dreadful love triangle into everything.
The CW's love triangle-mania has paid off pretty well on The Vampire Diaries. In the case of that show, the romance between Elena and the Salvatore brothers really is keeping it alive, after most of the other storytelling juice has kind of gone. But that doesn't mean it's a good idea for all other CW shows.
It's especially interesting to watch Star-Crossed back to back with Tomorrow People, now that they're on the same night. When it first started, Tomorrow People was really, really trying to push the idea of a John-Cara-Stephen love triangle, and it was clearly the worst part of the show. So they let it drop, and the show became 1000 percent more watchable. (Except now, I just want John and Astrid to be together.)
It's much earlier days for Star-Crossed, so we can only hope this show will wise up and eliminate the dried-out oatmeal that is the Emery-Roman-Grayson triangle. Because it's pretty much killing this show right now.
Last night's episode had a serviceable non-triangle plotline. The Red Hawks, keen to let you know they aren't actually a group of airport baggage handlers, decide to step up their game from just making propaganda. They hatch a plan to blow up part of the Sector, the walled-off refugee camp where the Atrians are living, but they're foiled by Zoe, the undercover Trag who's pretending to be just a normal high school girl.
So Zoe hatches a plot to get revenge on the Red Hawks — she and Drake will kidnap Grayson, the son of the Red Hawk leaders, and hold him for ransom. If five Atrian prisoners aren't released, then they'll kill Grayson and reveal his parents' secrets. But this goes awry when Roman figures out what's going on and foils their kidnap plot, and when Zoe decides to execute Roman, Drake turns against the Trags.
The best part? Is when Drake is at a swanky high-society party and he has to distract Taylor, the queen bee at the high school whom he had a random hookup with last week. And I had sort of forgotten that Zoe, the secret undercover Trag, is Taylor's bestie, and Taylor catches Zoe hauling a drugged Grayson out of the party. Awkward!
Meanwhile, Emery's loose lips have gotten her in trouble again — and she wonders why Roman doesn't trust her — because she was blathering in public about Ciper, the Atrians' secret cure-all that saved Julia. A reporter for a gossip website, the Smatter Chatter (no, really) has found out, and wants to blow the whistle on Ciper — but instead, Emery helps him to expose Grayson's mom as the "Grand Matriarch" of the Red Hawks. (That will never stop being funny, especially the scene where the high-society lady is calling herself a Grand Matriarch in a biker bar full of Hells Angels. This show.)
Anyway, Emery succeeds in erasing the journalist's tape of Emery talking about Ciper, using a gizmo given to her by her nerd friend Lukas, who's not even in the episode despite saving everybody's asses. But the journalist hooks up with a teacher at the school, Eva Benton — who is very curious to hear about Ciper. That teacher, incidentally, is played by Stephanie Jacobsen, formerly one of the best characters on BSG and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Really hope this show kills off half the other characters and gives her a bigger role.
So there's a bunch of interesting stuff now — the Red Hawks have been upgraded from "shouty beardy hate group" to "terrorists," meaning that there are terrorists on both sides of the conflict. It's rare that you see a conflict in pop culture where both sides are terrorists — usually, it's terrorists on one side and the establishment on the other. The Red Hawks and the Trags both seem to have an "us or them" mentality, but the Red Hawks have much less clear-cut grievances. In any case, the conflict between the two groups, with moderates like Roman and Emery caught in the middle, could be interesting to see develop.
But then there's that love triangle. Sigh. There's no nice way to say this — it's sucking the oxygen out of this show. It's not just that Emery has no chemistry with either of these two dudes, and you don't really believe that either of them care that much about her. It's also that every time the show seems like it's going to reach for some interesting character development, it falls into the love triangle hole instead. Roman and Grayson both have moments in last night's episode where they seem like they're becoming more like three-dimensional, breathing people, who are conflicted about their loyalties and trying to find ways to confront people like Drake and Grayson's mom about their mistakes — but then all that meaty stuff gets enslaved to the question of which one of them is going to date Emery.
And that's the other problem, really — Emery isn't a terribly interesting character. The most interesting thing about her was that her dad is one of the main guards on the Sector, and shot Roman's dad. And I don't think we've seen her dad since the pilot.
So let's hope this show jettisons the love triangle soon, and follows in the footsteps of its fellow Monday night show, The Tomorrow People. Also, more of Sophia's doomed crush on Taylor, please.