Main cast: Bryan Cranston (Silas), Essie Davis (Vera), Ruth Bradley (Yaro), and Liam Cunningham (General Olin)
Director: Francesca Gregorini
Real Life is another supposedly modern interpretation of Philip K Dick’s short story, and it’s perhaps the most faithful one so far in this series. Thing is, the original story is a thing of beautiful simplicity, The Return of Martin Guerre with a happy ending and a sci-fi twist. The wife of a brutally cold and emotionally abusive husband believes that her husband is killed in a mission… until he comes home a completely changed man, and she is finally happy for the first time in her marriage. Then, she confides in someone how much her husband has changed, and this man is then dragged off to the authorities. He may be an alien spy – an alien who takes over the mind of its host! The wife, when asked to testify however, denies that anything weird has happened. Her husband is always like this! So her “husband” is released, and the two of them live happily ever after.
In this episode, however, we have a 17-page story expanded into a 47-minute episode, and it shows. These people fill up airtime with unnecessary scenes like Vera, the wife, sneaking off to find her own sexual jollies when her husband doesn’t want to entertain her. It also introduces unnecessary twists and turns that only make the whole story feel more convoluted and tiresome. It’s like being asked to go from point A to B, but this episode insists on going on detours to sixteen more points before ever reaching point B.
The acting is pretty good, although poor Bryan Cranston’s pre-alien possessed Silas is so cartoon-like nasty that it’s hard to take this episode seriously. Essie Davis is just lovely here as the lonely and unhappy Vera, but in the end, the story comes up short, especially when I think of the original story. This one is padded with too many unnecessary filler elements.