Previously on Kyle XY
Kyle is handed over to psychologist Nicole Trager (Marguerite MacIntyre, who gained experience with moody teenagers on The Days). Their immediate emotional bond leads to Nicole bringing Kyle home to her family. As he discovers inexplicable mental and physical abilities he becomes more committed to unlocking the secrets of his own origins.
Eventually, with the help of Nicole's daughter Lori (April Matson) and her boyfriend Declan (Chris Olivero), he uncovers evidence of a brilliant graduate student, Adam Baylin, who looked exactly like Kyle twenty years ago. Adam is now missing; going through his old notes Kyle finds sketches of a symbol that Kyle himself has seen in his dreams. But a mysterious stalker, Tom Foss (Nicholas Lea, who owas Krycek on X-Files), finally intervenes, warning him not to investigate his past any further if he doesn’t want to endanger to Tragers.
In the end Kyle's "real family" shows up to reclaim him. The Tragers think Kyle is off to Connecticut to return to his old pre-amnesia life, but Kyle has left clues for Declan, who knows more about Kyle than the others, that the whole thing’s a ruse to protect the Tragers. The first season ends with Kyle being brought to Adam Baylin (soap star J. Eddie Peck), who offers to Explain All.
Season 2: New Storylines, Old and New Characters
Explain All is exactly what Adam does. In the talky season premiere, Adam lays out Kyle's entire history. In a nutshell, there was a multi-generational series of experiments that sought to increase brain development through longer gestation in the womb.
The experiments led to a 13-month human gestation – Adam Baylin. Feeling isolated, Adam continued the experiments through a company called Zzyzx. This led to two subjects, a male and a female who were kept in gestation chambers for their entire lives. Zzyzx went unethical, however, and Adam had to go into hiding. Zzyzx ordered Kyle terminated, but Foss got him out.
Kyle at first is angry at having been an experimental subject. But as he begins to learn from Adam, Zzyzx tracks them down and shoots Adam. Foss retaliates by firebombing the Zzyzyx complex against Kyle’s wishes.
Understanding Adam’s loneliness, Kyle returns to the Tragers. Foss tags along to protect him and help guide Kyle’s training using Adam’s notes and journals.
The female âasset,â€� later named Jessi (Jaimie Alexander), escaped the explosion. Her encounters are not as positive as Kyle's were, though, and in the second episode she ends up killing a redneck camper.
Zzyzx's parent company, Madacorp, sends an operative after her named Hollander (Leah Cairns, Racetrack on Battlestar Galactica). Hollander catches up with her target, but not before Jessi has drawn images of her first encounters with humanity – including Kyle, whom she saw at a distance. By this means Madacorp finds out that the XY asset is still alive.
Enigma Gives Way to Suspense
The main charms of the first season of Kyle XY were watching Kyle figuring out how to be human and speculating alongside the Tragers about Kyle’s origins. Both of these elements have now been swept away.
Kyle has not only grown up enough to interact normally with others; he’s also lost a lot of his innocence, having been disillusioned by the circumstances of his creation and his experiences with Zzyzx.
The new wrinkles are not as compelling. Kyle must keep his secret from the Tragers, but protecting his secret while exploring it was more interesting than just keeping it.
Jessi is available for the same first-exposure stuff Kyle went through. But where Matt Dallas projected a wide-eyed innocence and an eagerness to learn, Jaime Alexander so far has shown only a just-stumbled-out-of-bed confusion.
Kyle's investigation of his past is replaced by a quest to discover his abilities. As these have been underwhelming in the first two shows, this thread is not off to a good start. The new episodes have yet to match, for example, the cool fight scene with the cop early in season one.
Carried over from last year are the domestic issues of the Tragers. I like these characters; they're intelligent and aren't just props for Kyle to interact with. But Kyle helped the kids learn how to be Better People last year. So there’s not as much potential in the Trager B-plots anymore. Moreover, their obsession over Kyle being gone during the premiere (Nicole and Declan, I’m talking to you) burned some good will with me. I wanted to tell them to get a life.
Still Worth Watching?
Kyle XY still benefits from Matt Dallas’s engaging performance; as an actor Dallas has an inherent ability to draw you into his character and make you root for him. Still, Dallas was at his best when Kyle was still completely innocent; his explorations of how to be human during the first five episodes or so of the first season were a lark. Now, Dallas has a tougher job: combining innocence with knowledge and determination. He might be up to it, but it’s early days.
Certain elements were not very successful in the first season and need not have been retained. One is the romance angle: Kyle still pines for next-door neighbor Amanda (Kirsten Prout), an empty-eyed dishrag with a loser boyfriend. Since the romance is a complete non-starter with no chemistry, every time I see Amanda I have the same reaction: What does Kyle see in her, and why is she still here? The new season was a glittering opportunity to write her out, but alas, that did not happen.
The biggest challenge will be to make the Trager family dynamic work with the larger scope of Madacorp’s schemes and the open question of Jessi’s development. Before, Kyle’s encounters with the Tragers helped him find himself; now that he’s done finding himself, there’s a danger of the two sliding apart, leading to a schizophrenic and unsatisfying show.
Season two has been commissioned for 23 episodes instead of ten, so Kyle XY has more time to develop strong storylines and find something interesting to do with the Jessi XX character. Here’s hoping they start soon.