Stitchers reboots with "2.0" and gets a new lease on life

(Episode review: S0201) Thank the gods of fandom that Stitchers' show creators (airs Tuesdays at 10:00/9:00c on Freeform) didn't leave us hanging about whether Cameron would return  or not, because those tend to be the worst cliffhangers ever -- the ones that make you wait almost a year to see the conclusion and yet even then it's still often drawn out over several episodes. No, Stitchers picked up right where the Season 1 finale left off, with Kirsten screaming and crying in unusual shows of emotion, and Cameron coming back to life. 

Cameron is having a little trouble with the land of the living.

See, things have reversed a little going into the second season. A Kirsten with emotions -- which Stitchers hasn't dealt with much yet -- is a Kirsten who worries, and especially about Cameron. Dr Goodkin, for his part, has come back from the dead with a double dose of Kirsten's previous semi-recklessness. And the show dives right back into the story and keeps moving.

While Cameron is getting ready to leave the hospital ("Being dead agrees with me!"), Fisher has also pulled through and wastes no time in telling Kirsten that he thinks Les is the one who killed Ed, and that he had him shot because he was getting too close to the truth. The team goes straight to Les to confront him about it and finds him shot dead on his own livingroom floor. He becomes the first Stitch of the season, and they find that they can't map his mind, probably because of some sort of training he did that makes himself un-Stitch-able.

So much for any sort of trust in their skills or purpose, huh.

The memories Kirsten encounters are disorienting and super fractured, but it looks like Maggie killed him. We saw her arguing with him and saying that she would gladly sacrifice one to save the nineteen in her lab, so it doesn't look good, and the new soldiers who are all over the lab to protect them are not pleased at this development. There's a standoff with a lot of guns while Linus gets his moment to shine figuring out how to put the memories back together and re-check with a new Stitch.

Turns out, of course, that it's not Maggie--but the memory of her is very close to the memory of someone else who smells like incense, who's face Kirsten can't see, and who actually did shoot Les.

Whew! What a tense main plot!

In the B-plot, Kirsten and Cameron are following the lead on a 15-year-old computer they found in Les's apartment, and wind up in a mysterious lab that has all these hair-raising electromagnetic fields, but before they can investigate, they're caught by security. Here's where their new emotional stances get bad: Cameron was the one who climbed walls and broke in, and Kirsten was the one who sacrificed herself to stop him from getting hurt--and then Cameron Goodkin punched an officer of the law in the face. Cameron! I know!

So they get arrested, of course, though it doesn't do much but give them a chance to talk a little about what she saw inside his head. She tells him about the memory of meeting him when they were both kids in the hospital, and things get a little sweet, and so of course, Maggie shows up and has to act like their mom. It's only half-hearted, though; she gives them official agent status with badges and all, and they're free to go. Secure in the knowledge that it'll be a lot harder to get arrested from here on.

So everything is wrapped up nicely...except on the way home, Kirsten flashes on something she saw in Les's memory: a floor-number in their own building. She stops the elevator. A secret lab. A body kept in a preservation chamber that Cameron admits to having invented, even though all he knew was that it was theoretical and had no idea it had actually been built--let alone in their own actual building. And the body is Ed Clarke, where all of this started.

So of course, Kirsten wants to Stitch into him. She's boiling mad at everyone for lying to her, and she's probably feeling his loss for the first time, and she wants answers. His memories are three months degraded, but they manage to get snippets of a fight, a few words about someone coming when she's ready, and the smell of incense again. The same person killed Ed and Les!

Later, when she's home, Kirsten remembers that her dad's shaving cream smelled like sandalwood--did he kill them?

And season two is off to a roaring start!

It was so good seeing these characters on the screen again, and so great that the writers rewarded our patience by getting right to the point. We got a little info about the "true purpose of the Stitchers program" that Maggie hasn't shared with anyone yet, something about "furthering human brain evolution", so that's a promising hint that things are going to get even more scifi than just placing a living mind inside a dead one to solve crimes! We got Kirsten and Cameron not talking about how she knows he's in love with her and has no way to handle that detail. We got a little bit of the big conspiracy that's been driving the show since the beginning. We got a few new characters, and the leader of the soldiers had a nice antagonism with Cameron that should be fun to explore as he integrates into the team and starts investing in what they're doing.

And we're left with a lot of interesting questions for the story going forward! Who will be the new head of the program, and will they be better or worse than Les, who was always mysteriously blocking everything? Can we trust that that new person's better-or-worse-ness is genuine when no one in charge ever seems to be? What does it mean for the program and for her that Kirsten has a normal brain now? Will it last? Will it help or hurt her as a Stitcher? Will she use her emotions to make connections and deal with some of what she's been through in the last three months, or will she totally not be able to deal with any of it and make things worse? Did Cameron really not know that there was another secret lab there? What other secrets were hidden from them, and how much will they show up to throw curveballs at our favorite nerds?

This was an excellently tense and fast-moving season opener, setting up a lot of new information cleanly and in good time, while also showing that the fallout from last season is still around, falling out, like it does. Yay for continuity! Plus, as they explain things to their new soldiers, it gives new viewers something to latch onto, which is useful as well as fun. It's always a little worrying when a channel rebrands in the middle of a show's run while they're off the air--some of us still shudder at the mess that happened when Scifi became SyFy all those years ago (though they're making up for it in spades now)--but that doesn't seem to have bothered Stitchers at all. It's always been a show that's very clear on what it is, and they still have that sureness. It lets the story bounce along between witty banter, big mood swings, and weird semi-science without breaking stride, and that's why we love it.

More thoughts on Stitchers 2.1 "2.0":

  • The Halloween Episode was a dream! I knew it couldn't have been real, with all that flirting and cuddling--not to mention, where would it have fit in the season's timeline? But as such, it was a story Cameron made up for himself, and he's a total sap--and also not the hero of his own story. It'll be interesting to see where that comes in, as they continue to work and emote together.
  • Was anyone else entirely charmed by Camille being so sweet with everyone? Who would have thought that she'd be the kind heart that holds the team together when she was first introduced last season? (But especially with Fisher--that's a ship possibility that I hadn't thought of before!) (And speaking of Fisher, it seems like getting almost killed as loosened him up nicely, and he's coming through with a nice devotion to the team. I hope he's around more this season!)
  • Her new suit really is kind of awesome.
  • Did anyone else get shades of Limitless when Cameron trapped his bodyguards in the panic room? It was totally something Brian would do to Mike and Ike in the early days.
  • "Does she have to eat the brain?" - a nice nod to iZombie, which started around the same time and has a vaguely similar idea. Also, hilarious.
  • They don't make it super clear whether the entirety of the fracturing was because of whatever Les did to his own mind, or if some of it was because of how Kirsten now has emotions--but I have to worry, since the thing that made her an ideal Stitcher was that she had no emotions AND no sense of time, and now she's as normal as everyone else. Like Marta. Who died.
  • Cameron and Kirsten having badges is going to get them in SO MUCH trouble and it's going to be amazing.
  • The preview of the season after the episode looks insane, with new characters, new love-matches, new threats, and a whole lot of implied viewer-flailing, and I can't wait.
  • Watch this episode on Hulu or on Freeform's own website!

    By Samantha Holloway

    About the author

    Samantha is a freelance writer, editor and book and TV reviewer. She's currently in gradschool and working on her first novel, and one day she'll rule to world. Or marry her TV. Whichever comes first. Follow!

    More From Samantha Holloway

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    On: Sunday, March 27, 2016
    Eric - TV Geek Army "Revered Leader" said:
    I'm not familiar with Stitchers but looks like great fun. Welcome back to TVGA, Samantha, very glad to have you back in action !
    On: Tuesday, March 29, 2016
    Samantha Holloway said:
    It's so much fun, and it's also full of conspiracies and pop culture references, so that makes it MORE fun! I'm glad to be back!

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