The Return of The Alien Tracker Raises the Stakes on Resident Alien


When was the last time Harry actually had to run away from someone? Or work to hide who he is? Even worry about someone being able to see his true form? It’s been a minute. So, in that regard, “Cat and Mouse” serves as a great reminder of the series’ central premise—something I think a lot of viewers may have potentially forgotten about in the face of all the other problems facing Harry, Asta, and the rest of Patience this season. Because if Harry’s discovered and hauled off to a government black ops site to be interrogated for the rest of his life by Linda Hamilton, he’s definitely not saving humanity. 

With the arrival of the Alien Tracker in Patience, Harry not only has to get back to the basics of survival (read: running for his life), Resident Alien has to return to telling stories with more immediate and tangible stakes. A lot has happened this season, but most of the story’s biggest moments have been more thematically important than anything else. Asta killed a man to save Harry, which gave the show a chance to explore guilt and grief in new ways, but also removed a direct threat that could have exposed his secret identity. (Or at least that he’s not the real harry Vanderspiegle.) The alien baby escaped but was almost immediately found by Max and Sahar, then snatched by the government. And the ongoing question of Harry’s growing humanity continues to play out with the revelation that he is also Goliath, but the show hasn’t wanted to look too closely just yet at what that really means, and we’ve seen relatively little of his reaction to this news.

Now, however, there’s a much more immediate problem to solve, one that’s ultimately presented by a man who ultimately may not be the enemy we have all assumed him to be. And though “Cat and Mouse” ends with Harry springing a trap on the Alien Tracker—having guilted Max into lying to him in order to set him up—-of the sort that implies Peter’s fate is likely pretty grim, it’s a mistake to assume that this is where his story ends. The biggest reason for this is that you don’t cast an actor of O’Quinn’s caliber in a guest role to just kill his character off after an episode or two, but there’s also the fact that this show is simply better if Harry doesn’t have things too easy. It’s been relatively easy to ignore the fact that protecting the secret of his identity is something he should have to actually work at occasionally instead of just a thing that’s taken for granted. (Even if we’re all pretty sure that he’ll never truly be found out. Or at least not in a way that can’t be easily undone or contained.)

Plus, the hour features another heartrending flashback to the Alien Tracker’s past, where we see Peter and his wife celebrating what would have been the second birthday of their kidnapped child. As we see during his conversations with Deputy Liv, this is the defining event of the Alien Tracker’s life, and one that has shaped every choice he’s made since then. His alien obsession seems to be, in large part, about his need to explain the loss of his child, but it’s also made him deeply sympathetic to the experiences of those whose stories have gone unreported and unbelieved, and who carry pain that many others don’t even believe is real. 



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