“Though we like to believe we have control of our lives, in a single moment, everything can change.”
When the second season of Kyle XY came to a close, it was almost the perfect ending for the show. Teenage super-genius Kyle and his adopted family had taken down not one but two sinister conspiracies, everyone had fallen in love with everyone they were supposed to, and the characters all found themselves in new places in their lives with bright, new futures. Then, in the last minute of the season finale, the creators broke out the cliffhanger.
As the third season began, viewer numbers dwindled, possibly because the show went up against ratings giant 24, and cancellation quickly followed. For fans, though, who stuck with the teen sci-fi adventures of Kyle and company, ABC Family has brain-blasted the final ten episodes onto DVD. Will the oft-asked question “Who is Kyle XY” finally be answered?
Kyle (Matt Dallas) manages to rescue Amanda (Kristen Prout, Elektra) from a secret organization called Latnok and its charismatic leader, Cassidy (Hal Ozsan, Redline). Fallout from that event, however, strains Kyle and Amanda’s romance. Kyle’s super-genius counterpart Jessi XX (Jaime Alexander, Rest Stop), sensing their strife, moves in with the family and realizes her feelings for Kyle.
Speaking of Kyle’s family, teen bad girl turned good girl Lori (April Matson, Forsaken) starts a romance with a college student, little brother Josh (Jean-Luc Bilodeau, Trick ‘R Treat) continues the ups and downs with his new girlfriend Andi (Magda Apanowicz, Caprica), parents Stephen (Bruce Thomas, Legally Blonde) and Nicole (Marguerite MacIntyre, Red Dragon) offer advice and groundings when appropriate, and, as always, Lori’s ex-boyfriend Declan (Chris Olivero, Now You See It) continues to hang around.
This episode list has no bellybutton:
• “It Happened One Night”
Amanda is kidnapped! Then Kyle is kidnapped! Fighting and escapes and telekinesis and explosions! Also, don’t forget various romantic goings-on at the after-prom party.
New Kyle power: Freezing solid objects so they become brittle enough to fall apart with a punch.
• “Psychic Friend”
Kyle tries to keep Amanda from learning of her abduction—she was blacked out the whole time. When a psychic warns that Amanda is in harm’s way, Kyle wants to protect her without her learning the secret.
New Kyle power: Aquaman-style super-swimming!
• “Electric Kiss”
Kyle and Jessi devise a way to free Amanda from Latnok’s influence. Amanda, however, wants nothing to do with Kyle after he and Jessi get closer than expected.
New Kyle power: Channeling bioelectric energy through a kiss.
• “The Company of Men”
To get over their female woes, Kyle, Josh and Declan hit the town for a night of male bonding and debauchery. Meanwhile, Jessi makes a revealing confession to Lori. Also, mystery man Tom Foss (Nichols Lea, The X-Files) returns.
New Kyle power: Mathematical precision at bouncing-coins-into-shot-glasses bar games.
• “Life Support”
While on a road trip, Kyle, Josh and Nicole get into a car accident, causing a pregnant lady’s water to break and sending Nicole to the emergency room. Now, Kyle not only has to deliver the baby, but he has to make a deal with Latnok to save Nicole.
New Kyle power: Kyle is suddenly a doctor after speed-reading and memorizing a handful of medical textbooks.
• “Welcome to Latnok”
In return for saving Nicole’s life, Kyle must work for Latnok. Surprisingly, he finds that they might be less evil than they originally appeared. Meanwhile, the family tries to dream up ways to help pay Nicole’s hospital bills.
New Kyle power: He builds a hoverboard!
• “Chemistry 101”
A Latnok-sponsored party is an opportunity for romance, as some characters plan to seduce their crushes, while others scheme revenge against an ex. Kyle hopes to reconnect with Amanda by establishing a chemical formula for emotions like love.
New Kyle power: He comes up with a pheromone-based way to measure people’s compatibility.
• “The Tell-tale Heart”
Jessi is overwhelmed with worry about what happened to her mother, and whether Latnok might be involved, so Kyle tries to help her. The secrets they discover could alter both their futures and their feelings for one another.
New Kyle power: It’s a “shared dreaming” thing, when Kyle is able to see Jessi’s memories.
• “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?”
It’s awkwardness galore when Kyle’s family invites Cassidy to dinner. This is also an opportunity for Kyle, Jessi, Lori and Declan to engage in some amateur espionage to learn some more about Latnok.
New Kyle power: Kyle’s telekinesis is now so powerful that he can throw a person across a room with a thought.
• “Bringing Down the House”
After learning what Latnok is really up to, Kyle and company embark on a desperate effort to stop it. The series concludes with two big confrontations, one between Amanda and Jessi, and the other between Kyle and Cassidy.
New Kyle power: Kyle unleashes his inner Hulk. Kyle smash!
The two previous seasons of Kyle XY put an emphasis on Kyle’s interactions with his family and friends first, with the ongoing mythology about Kyle’s creation by a conspiracy often hovering in the background. This season, though, the mythology comes to foreground, and drives everything that happens. There’s relatively little “downtime” for Kyle and his family to do ordinary family stuff, as they’ve done in the last two seasons. Latnok’s plans and Cassidy’s devious scheming keep the season moving from one episode to the next. Also, this season spends a lot more time dealing with the “bigger picture” issues of the series, with Kyle’s existence raising questions about what it means to be human, the importance of interaction with others, and the conflict between truth and lies.
An ongoing theme of this series has been honesty versus lying. An early episode in season one had Kyle learning a difficult lesson about lying, and a major arc in season two had Kyle forced to lie to his family in order to protect them, and the emotional strain this put on him. Eventually the truth set Kyle free, so to speak, in that coming clean was what helped everyone in the end. As this season begins, Kyle must once again compromise his principles by lying to Amanda about her abduction, because he believes this will protect her from harm. This time, once the truth is out, things don’t turn out as well, as it further separates Kyle and Amanda. Many questions are raised by this. If Kyle had been up front about everything from the beginning, would Amanda have understood, or would her reaction have been the same? Was he really ensuring her safety by hiding the truth from her, considering that a Latnok baddie later goes after her anyway? As a certain acerbic medical professional likes to point out, “Everyone lies.” In one of this set’s commentaries, the creators talk about the nature of corruption, in that no one can be honest all the time, and we all have to let corruption into our lives in order to survive and get by. The internal conflict we all go through as we gradually discover this is exaggerated in Kyle, as he faces this corruption first hand in this season, still wondering if he’s doing the right thing.
Although not exactly a villain, Jessi definitely fills an antagonist role in the series as Kyle’s opposite in many ways. She doesn’t struggle with ethical dilemmas like Kyle does, she only sees whatever it takes to complete her objectives, without consideration as to who might be hurt as she does so. After her experiences with Kyle, though, Jessi is a lot less cold-hearted. Instead, she longs to have a family, as he does. It’s something of a cheat to have Jessi move in with the family this season, but it offers her an opportunity to interact with them to demonstrate the differences between her and Kyle. Although she has the same powers as Kyle, she’s a lot more vulnerable. She wishes to belong and to feel love, but she’s too emotionally distant. It’s only through Kyle that she experiences some joy in her life. This season, Jessi admits her feelings for Kyle, and sets forth on her attempts to seduce him. This sets up a “Betty and Veronica” situation for Kyle, as he’s torn between the good girl and bad girl in his life. This season is Jaime Alexander’s best work as Jessi, and the scenes where she searches for her mother in “The Tell-tale Heart” are powerful and gripping, thanks to her performance.
As the newbie to the main cast, Hal Ozsan as Cassidy makes for an interesting villain. When we first meet him in the pilot, there’s no mistaking his evilness. Then, as we get to know him, he comes across as friendly and charming, with the whole “evil” thing being a big misunderstanding. That’s true of Latnok as a whole. In the season premiere, they’re kidnapping people, sending trigger-happy thugs after our heroes, and watching over it all from a futuristically-lit conference room. Then, a few episodes later, we’re reintroduced to Latnok as it apparently really is, a cluttered laboratory filled with science geeks, located in an ordinary college campus. I like the idea of the secret conspiracy made up of just ordinary folks, but there’s a disconnect in continuity between this Latnok and the one in the premiere. Kyle has the occasional moment where he confronts Cassidy with a “Yeah, but you kidnapped Amanda” line, but these are fleeting. Perhaps more about Latnok’s operations would have been explained in a fourth season, but we’ll never know, will we?
Josh and Andi’s romance continues to be the most interesting subplot, as Bilodeau shows that’s he’s a capable serious actor and not just comic relief. Lori’s main character arc this season is her romance with a guy who may or may not be involved with Latnok. She also has some great catfight moments with Jessi. Still, Lori spends most of her time reacting to what’s happening, and never taking any direction of her own. The same is true for the parents, Stephen and Nicole, who offer advice and support, but not much else. With so much of the plot having to do with Latnok, both Amanda and Declan get diminished screen time, but are consistent when they are on screen. She’s still the nice girl slowly developing her own sense of assertiveness, and he’s still the sometimes-nice and sometimes-a-jerk guy who’s always hanging around.
• In case you haven’t already guessed, this season is not the place for first-time viewers to jump in blind. The show’s mythology is neck-deep by this point, so newcomers will want to start with season one and go ahead from there.
• The season premiere takes place on the night of the prom, but after that there are pretty much no references to the kids in school. Shouldn’t they be worrying about stuff like finals and maybe even graduation? If this season takes place during summer vacation, I’m fine with that, but couldn’t they at least mention that?
• So Kyle uses his new ice powers to freeze a door solid so he can break it apart with a single punch, but then, in the same episode, he merely kicks down a similar-looking door. This makes the whole ice thing look to me like special effects for the sake of special effects.
• We never get to meet Andi’s parents? What a missed opportunity. That could have been the greatest “teenage guy meets the girlfriend’s parents” scene ever made.
For a modestly-budgeted cable show, Kyle XY looks great on DVD, with crisp visuals, clean colors, and deep, solid blacks. The audio is good, but doesn’t seem to use the 5.1 tech to its fullest. The big deal about the extras is the “Future Revealed” featurette. While I’m sure most fans would have preferred a filmed ending featuring the actors as their characters, this featurette instead has the writers and producers revealing their master plan for the series, where it would have gone, and how it would have eventually ended. From there, we get two commentaries from the executive producer and head writer, one of which spills even more info about the show’s unfulfilled future plans. A handful of deleted scenes rounds out the extras.
The show’s creators like to call Kyle a “superhero of the soul,” in that although he does occasionally rescue damsels from bad guys, what he really does is “save” people on an emotional level. Everyone who meets Kyle ends up as a better person in some way. Based on this, the creators speculate that Kyle would have changed the world, being an inspiration to millions like some sort of sci-fi Gandhi. Will Kyle’s viewers at home be similarly inspired? That’s hard to say. Kyle XY is low-key, character-based sci-fi, more interested in matters of the heart than in speculative concepts and heart-pounding action. The show isn’t without its clichés—at times it wallows in them—but overall, it’s some nice comfort food TV.