TBS’s alien abduction comedy PEOPLE OF EARTH opens the magnificently monikered “Bee Kind” by divulging the crucial intel that a bumblebee has somehow arrived on the alien abductors’ ship, terrifying Jeff the Grey (Ken Hall), who sprints into another room and ducks behind a desk. Jonathan Walsh (Michael Cassidy), meanwhile, has brought Ozzie’s body on board as a trophy — or so he has told his new supervisor Eric the Cube (Peter Serafinowicz). In fact, he has brought Ozzie on board in the hopes of reviving his corpse, implementing the same method used to resurrect their Reptilian coworker Kurt (Drew Nelson). Ozzie is in a glass incubator case.
In the latest StarCrossed alien encounters group meeting, the gang discusses the possibility of Ozzie’s “heart attack” (which was its official designation) actually being a conspiratorial government cover-up. Richard (Brian Huskey) kvetches that the FBI did not heed a single one of his notes on the case. The entire group, even nominally level-headed leader Gina (Ana Gasteyer) believes that Ozzie was secretly murdered, and that the FBI is covering it up. We the audience know that they are absolutely certifiably correct here, having been privy to a coverup conversation in a prior episode this season.
Chelsea (Tracee Chimo) and her husband John meet with Chelsea’s secret lover, Father Doug (Oscar Nunez), in a futile effort to save their marriage via his counseling. Instead, both Father Doug and Chelsea actively encourage John to leave Chelsea.
The aliens are researching just how deadly bees can… bee. It turns out that Don absentmindedly smuggled some flowers on board.
Brian and Gina from StarCrossed have driven to Albuquerque, New Mexico with their hearts set on recruiting Alex Walsh, who has been wearing the same pajamas for six days in a row and ordering takeout amidst a deep depressive funk. Brian and Gina compel Foster, on behalf of the dearly-departed Ozzie Graham (murdered two weeks ago at the hands of a Reptilian assassin), to pick up the case again. Foster requests all of Ozzie’s case materials from a friend of hers at the FBI.
It turns out that Don the White (Bjorn Gustafsson) abducted Alex Foster’s pregnant mother in 1986, and witnessed her giving birth to twins — Jeff, annoyed that Don abducted a pregnant woman, beamed the mother back down to earth. Don deposited the infant Alex Foster into an Albuquerque baby supply store, and now has confessed his sins to his AA group, vowing to find Foster’s birth mother. Don, we should mention, is mainly in AA because he likes the steps and the closure — he has gotten drunk one time, to date, during the fallout from his split with StarCrossed group member (and human test subject) Kelly (Alice Wetterlund).
Almost the entirety of Ozzie’s report has been redacted, including Ozzie’s crucial last words (“Trust Walsh. Find the others.”). The case has been closed at the FBI, and is considered resolved. A good portion of his personal effects that were confiscated (including his laptop) are no longer among the case materials, so Foster will basically be starting from scratch.
Chelsea informs her husband John that she doesn’t love him anymore, that she loves Father Doug. She’s made a savvy choice, as we discover that John just compulsively cheated on her earlier in the day with a woman he met at a gas station.
Back aboard the ship, Jeff morbidly records what he believes will be his last will and testimony, as he remains convinced that the bumblebee “invader” will seal his doom. Kurt and Walsh find him and question him. They have cornered the bee into the airlock, they claim, and leave it up to Jeff to dispose of the insect. Jeff flushes out the airlock, but we see that the bee, that resilient critter, remains on board the ship, lingering on a nearby wall. Walsh returns to earth.
Alex Foster remains convinced that Russians were responsible for Ozzie’s passing, not extraterrestrials. But she has joined StarCrossed now, and is renting a motel in StarCrossed’s base camp town of Beacon, New York.
Father Doug takes a huge step, delivering his final homily to his followers and admitting his love for Chelsea. They walk, hand-in-hand together between the aisles of church pews, and off towards a new, alien-conspiracy-friendly life together.
Jonathan Walsh discovers the Reptilian alien assassin (Paul Lieberstein) trying to break into Alex Foster’s motel, holds a gun to his head, and forces the Reptilian to dig his own grave. The Reptilian accuses him of having “gone soft.” Eventually, with enough cruel goading from the assassin, Walsh pulls the trigger.
People of Earth manages to walk the tightrope between carefully observed character piece and intriguing alien mystery adventure with deft skill. Though it rarely matches its executive producers’ other output (Conan, The Office and Parks and Recreation) in belly laughs, that’s okay. People of Earth remains funny, sure, but most of the humor feels almost incidental, like a supplement to the prime focus of the piece. The story is the thing here, and it manages to keep us engaged while keeping us entertained. No small feat, that.
Season 2, Episode 7 (S02E07)
People of Earth airs Mondays at 10:30PM on TBS
Alex Kirschenbaum | Contributor