Welcome back to my “Tales from the Darkside” Marathon! There have been many interpretations of aliens interacting with Earth. Whether they’re friendly, world-conquering, or living among us, aliens have always fascinated people because they represent a universe much bigger than ourselves. Today’s tale offers up a view of humans from an alien’s perspective. This is “Going Native.”
Claire is an alien masquerading as a human in order to study them. To do so, she snaps photos and ended up joining a therapy group. Some of them find her suspicious, however, as she tends to not show any emotion around them. Claire begins to regret joining the group as it distracts her from her mission to document life on Earth. But the more time Claire spends around humans, the more she begins to connect with them. Will she press on and finish her study, or is being around humans taking a toll on her?
This episode was decent, but not as a standard “Darkside” story. It comes across as more of a character study for both Claire and human beings as a whole. Most of the dialogue is either short exchanges between Claire and her peers/subjects, while the rest is narration by Claire on humans and Earth culture. The dialogue portions on Claire’s end were a little annoying but expected, as she awkwardly attempts to keep up with conversations pointed at her. The biggest issue I had with this “story” is that it took me a few minutes to realize that it wasn’t going to offer up some backstory on Claire or any sort of straightforward plot beyond “Claire studies the group and engages in human activities, i.e. sex.”
The group characters are pretty much forgettable except for Lee, who has the most interactions with Claire and makes somewhat of a connection with her. I found Claire herself to be more interesting when she was narrating about humans. Besides things like material goods and our tendency towards violence, she focuses on human emotions and how we respond to things like advertising and loneliness. It’s especially interesting to see her observations turn themselves back on her the more she envelops herself in human behavior. This is notable during a later scene with the therapy group when she gets her turn to let out some pent-up emotions.
Since this is a non-standard episode, it also doesn’t have a clear-cut twist. Personally, I didn’t feel it needed one. I suppose you could argue that the ending is a twist since very little is revealed about Claire’s alien background through the episode, but I thought it was more of a natural ending than a shock. Given how this episode doesn’t have the same structure as others in this series, I was fine with it.
So, while it’s not an episode I’d want to watch again, I appreciate that “Going Native” tried to change up the formula. Because it’s character-driven, there’s not much of a plot to speak of and all your time is spent looking through Claire’s perspective. It has what felt like a slower pace as a result and the side characters are pretty much non-existent. However, I thought it was an interesting change of pace and it got me wondering if this is how aliens might actually see us if they were to ever show up. If you’re looking for something to get you thinking, I’d give this a try.