Main cast: Mykelti Williamson (Dr Michael Alders), DW Moffett (James Heatherton), Rae Dawn Chong (Karen Heatherton), Richard Grove (Kadimas), Garry Davey (Randall Kelly), Kent Gallie (Jeffrey Littman), Madison Graie (Nancy), Julian Christopher (David Aftergood), Debbie Podowski (Tali MacGregor), Fulvio Cecere (Det Richard Jacobs), Barry Levy (Vila), and Yvonne Campeau (Jaru)
Director: Paul Lynch
The aliens have landed! The N’Tal resembles some folks forced to wear a bag over the head and some extra padding here and then, with the studio making them glow like a deranged candlestick during post-production, but hey, aliens. They announce to the folks on Earth that they come with a request: they are refugees, seeking a new home after rendering their home inhospitable due to their own “negligence” (their own admission). Of course, once they say this, I’d boot them off to the next planet ASAP, but sadly, I’m too smart to be in the government. All they ask from the folks on Earth is their dead bodies – the N’Tal are apparently gaseous in form, and they each need a body to inhabit in order to keep doing what they do.
We cut to a year later, when Earthlings have apparently let the aliens stay instead of kicking them off – clearly, the open border policy taken to extremely lenient extremes. Folks are conflicted. Some view the N’Tal as body snatchers and grave robbers, and they do not appreciate the sight of their dead loved ones coming back to life only with alien personalities and all. On the other hand, there are some folks who join the program that allows them to donate their bodies to the N’Tal after their deaths. Some form cults that believe that “bonding” with the N’Tal will result in higher, more enlightened kind of life forms.
Dr Michael Alders works with the government as part of the program, and he’s not too sympathetic with the N’Tal, viewing them as parasites. The oncologist is just doing his job because the President ordered him to, that’s all. Okay, and he is also hoping to be able to study the N’Tal and perhaps incorporate their ability to restore the dead to life into bettering the world.
Hence, when their leader keeps demanding for more dead bodies for his people, and the people of Earth aren’t dying fast enough to supply the intact corpses these aliens need, his reaction to their leader’s request is basically, “Whatever.” His chagrin intensifies when his good friend’s wife dies and her body soon becomes the home for a N’Tal. When he suspects that these N’Tal aliens on Earth are slowly poisoning the environment like they did on their home planet, he decides that he needs to do something about these alien immigrants.
The Second Soul is interesting in that it embodies the naïve hippie-dipstick socialism-tinged idealism that still seizes a big chunk of the science fiction today: it’s a thinly-veiled plea for more open borders policy, with a take home message that the immigrants will assimilate happily, and you will feel like a much better person for patting these immigrants in the head while they are doing so. Given that immigration is one of the hot topics in politics today, this episode may find some relevance with a present day audience.
Unfortunately, this episode spends a lot of time building up the N’Tal as whiny, rude, and entitled cretins who keep demanding that the people of Earth die faster for them – their spokesperson going as far as to tell Michael that it’s “on his head” for not giving the N’Tal all the dead bodies those things need – so it’s hard to view those things as anything but huge pains in the ass who need to be booted off where they came from. And then, all of a sudden, there is a turnaround in the last few minutes and I’m supposed to suddenly cheer for them now? It’s more like this episode ran on for too long, and they decided to abruptly cut off a huge chunk to fit into the run time, splice on a rushed feel-good ending, and call it a day.
Worse, its preachy message here is basically “Let them in… and magical things happen!” That’s the worst kind of argument one can give to support open borders – the kind usually espoused by wealthy people living in gated communities; people who will never have to personally deal with the consequences should their woke fantasy comes true. How about considerations such as housing and job opportunities? Indiscriminately taking in large numbers of immigrants who will then be forced to live in poverty will only create more problems for everyone, but hey, I suppose what’s more important here is people feeling good for supporting indiscriminate and uncontrolled mass immigration of everyone and anyone into their countries.