There are so many levels of deception required in espionage when it comes down to it, the lies can almost be seen as truths in the end. You have to believe what you’re saying on some level to truly sell it, even if it’s a lie.
In The Americans Season 2 Episode 8 things got even more twisted as all of the Americans and Russians working on the various projects started to work so closely it’s almost as if they’re working on the same side without knowing it. It’s fascinating.
The sense of elation I felt at knowing this great show will be around a while longer (and hopefully live up to the “on our schedule for five years or more” vow of FX’s straight-shooting PR chief) comes in a nice contrast to “New Car,” an episode whose prevailing emotions are despair and frustration that other people don’t believe as deeply as you in the things that you think matter, and that even when they do, belief alone can’t prevent great tragedy.
Now Philip is disillusioned with both the cause and the country he lives in. Toward the end of the episode, he convinces Elizabeth not to kill a sanitation worker they kidnapped to gain access to the Contra training camps. Philip has always been the more compassionate one but, even for him, this decision seems reckless.
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Tonight’s episode of Continuum, we learn a bit more of Travis’ and Dillon’s personal lives.
Let’s start with Travis. It is 2077 and a mother-daughter return home when we see Travis cover the mouth of the mother. We are lead to believe something bad is going to happen to them but it is only Travis secretly wanting to see his daughter and the mother of his child. Travis’ wife/partner/mother of his child is worried about the danger he is putting them in considering that he is a terrorist. This fear is realized when CPS men break in and demand to know where Travis is. Travis’ wife doesn’t give him up but states they are loyal to the Corporate Congress. The head officer speaks to Travis’ daughter and asks about her loyalty. This pretty much leads to her giving up her father’s hiding spot. At episode’s end, we are back to this scene where we see moments before Travis’ arrest, he tells his daughter about sacrifice. After Travis is taken away, the lead officer thanks them for their loyalty and gives Travis’ daughter a CPS pin as thanks. When the officers leaves, Travis’ daughter cries in her mother’s over betraying her father.
Back to the present a young man and woman are scaling the Fermitas building as a sign of protest and are arrested for their troubles. Carlos tells Kiera that Fermitas is a big weapons manufacturer and one of Liber8′s safety deposit box theft victim. When Carlos abruptly ends their call, Kiera is paid a visit from Curtis. Curtis wants to form a partnership with Kiera but she is weary and wonders if Catherine knows.
And apparently Catherine doesn’t when Kiera goes to visit her and ask. The big thing about this scene is that Kiera wonders what is behind a mystery door that Catherine goes into. Instead of answering, Catherine just tells Kiera that she is glad they are on the same team.
Due to the murder of former NIS agent Daniel McLane, who worked together with Mike Franks, we meet agent Dwayne Pride (called King by most), agent Chis Lasalle, and agent Merri Brody. (I will be honest and say I had trouble understanding what Lasalle was saying at times.)
McLane was Pride’s mentor like Franks was Gibbs’. Gibbs and Pride know each other from back when they were probies. From what I understand, Gary Glasberg might create a spin-off (“NCIS: New Orleans”) with this team. In principle, I am never a big fan of spin-offs, but it might work.
Pride comes to D.C. and to Gibbs because he thinks there might be a political motivation for the murder. McLane, after he retired from NIS, became a congressman. When Pride is in D.C., Lasalle calls in MTAC. He is there with the New Orleans medical examiner, Dr. Loretta Wade. They say the FBI came and took the body away. Dr. Wade had not been able to finish her autopsy. Tony “smells a conspiracy.”
“NCIS” and the FBI have to work together on this case, causing Fornell to join in. (Yay!)
This week’s episode of Arrow, “Unfinished Business” was written by Bryan Q Miller and Lindsey Allen and directed by Michael Offer. All three are new to Arrow. Miller is not new to the genre, having written for the CW’s Smallville as well as comics for DC, including Teen Titans. Allen worked with Mark Guggenheim on Green Lantern. Offer has a number of action credits on his resume, including Last Resort and The Unit. All this experience may help explain why even a brand new team to Arrow was able to deliver a satisfying episode that once again wove a single theme through multiple story arcs. This week’s theme was summed up by the Count (Seth Gable): “Nothing is what it once was.”
The Count is not who he once was and neither is his drug, Vertigo. However, another theme that runs through the episode is misconceptions built on preconceptions, so Oliver (Stephen Amell) believes that the Count is still a threat and not really crazy and therefore buys into the Count escaping. This results in Oliver being captured by the doctor who is actually behind the new version of the drug and Diggle (David Ramsey) having to kill to save both of them. On the other hand, Oliver is not able to kill the Count in the end because he realizes that it would be a cold blooded killing. The Count is no longer a threat to anyone, and Oliver is not simply a cold blooded killer.
Another facet of the theme this week is that people can and do change, but sometimes they get stuck in the past. Diggle is obsessed with finding Deadshot. He keeps this a secret from Oliver even though he’s enlisted Felicity’s (Emily Bett Rickards) help. He is so consumed with finding him that he fails to come when Oliver needs him at the Aquarium. Just as a side note, the scenes in the actual aquarium were filmed in the Vancouver Aquarium, which I’ve visited. Diggle tells Oliver that he can’t get on with his life until he avenges his brother’s death. He doesn’t tell Oliver about his meeting with Lyla (Audrey Marie Anderson), however, and this may be a problem in the future if both the military and Oliver and Diggle are both hunting Deadshot.
Anderson, who is a very good actor, worked with director Offer on The Unit. She provides another layer to Diggle’s backstory, so I hope we’ll see more of her. It’s a great scene between Amell and Ramsey when Oliver tells Diggle that he’s making Deadshot a priority because it’s a priority to Diggle. I really like the way their partnership is growing. It’s also a nice way that Oliver is changing, letting people back into his life.
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This week’s episode of Criminal Minds opens with a middle-aged gentleman closing his convenient store for the evening. When out of the blue, two kids on their bikes drive up to Anthony Rango. The two boys would like some candy. The store owner reopens the door for them to sneak in for a few seconds. The boys rush into his establishment, and after gathering their sweets, they immediately leave the scene. The joyous man now with key in hand and ready to lock the door, he gets hit from behind. The unsub beats him and drags Mr. Rango by his feet back into his store. The unsub, Rodney Harris, closes the metal security door.
Next we see, Morgan trying to put a window into a window frame in his apartment. Rossi knocks on an adjacent window, shaking a bottle of alcohol. The two agents smile. When they’re ready to enjoy their beverage, Morgan receives a call from Garcia on his cell.
At the BAU headquarters, the team is already assembled around the round table. Garcia begins this week’s slideshow with two male victims: Anthony and Michael. Both were badly beaten and found with literally their pants down.
The team is off to Chicago, Illinois-Morgan’s old stomping ground. Before they arrive, we see an African-American father outside of a diner hugging his son goodbye. After the hug, his wife walks their son across the street. The unsub is sitting in a parked car. He is wearing a gray sweatshirt with the hood partially covering his face. He looks angry. We see, in his side mirrors, a shadow of a man boxing.
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It’s completely ordinary for television shows, or any serialized form of storytelling, really, to take a little breather after a big episode. Breather episodes typically involve some sort of emotional fallout, or perhaps a reevaluation of goals and relationships. They give the show time to reflect on recent events, and they normally afford an opportunity for some measure of character growth. Essentially, they’re narrative way stations between major plot developments.
“The Huntress Returns” was such an episode. And it was ridiculously dull.
If you’ve been watching (and reading) along with me for the past 16 episodes, you know I’m generally more interested in the melodrama portion of Arrow’s action + melodrama set-up, and as a result, I was rather eagerly looking forward to seeing the aftershocks of “Dead to Rights” playing out a bit. And those aftershocks did happen, but to nowhere near the extent that maybe they should have. I say this knowing full well that they’re something that will continue to weigh heavily over the rest of the season, but I just wanted more.
Instead, “The Huntress Returns” brought Helena back to Starling City. It turns out that Daddy Bertinelli cut a deal with the feds and was going to get himself a little witness protection in exchange for blabbing about some of the regional crime families, and Helena was none too pleased that he was going to get a second chance at a life. She wanted Oliver’s help bringing Bertinelli down, permanently, and was willing to hurt anyone Oliver cared about to get him to cooperate.
I am probably the worst person to write an NCIS review because of how much I love the show, now in its 10th season. I have tried to be as unbiased as possible. This week’s episode of NCIS featured Matt Jones and Andrea Bogart in The Bahamas. Here at home the guest stars were Jay Avocone, who played Gibbs’ barber Frankie Dean and Derek Magyar as his son Cameron. I have to say that splitting the team on two investigations really added to the show. While in Washington, dealing with the mounting evidence against Cameron, Gibbs also had to deal with Metro PD Detective Quinton Shard (Mathew St. Patrick) hounding him for the name of his suspect. Gibbs is trying to be discreet so that Cameron doesn’t find out his father suspects him.
There are a lot of deep emotional moments to consider here. If your mother or father thought you might be a serial killer, how would you feel? How would you feel if all the evidence in a murder case pointed to one of your children? My favorite part of this is Ziva and McGee telling Gibbs that they will do whatever he needs them to, even though this is not an official case.
Meanwhile, in the Bahamas, Tony gets to be the DiNozzo everyone has grown to love. We all know by now, having seen the other side of him, that Tony’s gloating over the bikini clad girls by the pool is just to make Tim and Ziva jealous. I think here he was testing Ziva’s reaction. He has exhibited a lot of jealousy over her secrecy and her boyfriends; he wants to see if he gets a rise out of her. Tim is another story; Tony needs to make Tim feel like he’s missing out. The chance to play Probie pranks on Dorneget is an area of delight for Tony, and a blast from the past for viewers.
In the end, I have to say, as sappy as it sounds I teared up a bit. Sorry, but this episode really makes you think about relationships. From Tony’s need to get attention from Ziva and Tim, to Gibbs’ desire to bring Frankie and his son closer, to Abby’s need to console Vance for his loss, it was a great episode.
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NCIS season 10 put Ducky and Jimmy in danger in episode 16, “Detour,” which saw the team working to find them and solve a murder at the same time.
The victim, Lieutenant Gordon Roth, shocked two plumbers and their customer when he stumbled over to their van and drank drain cleaner. However, as Ducky and Jimmy discovered, he had been shot and in a fight. They learned from his CO, Lisa Cleveland, that he dealt with highly classified materials, but as they looked deeper into the case and his history, they discovered that Roth had been taking photos in a park two miles away from the crime scene before he was involved in a high-speed car chase for blowing a stop sign. Once they realized Ducky and Jimmy had been taken, they had to work on solving the case while finding them, and then things got a bit more complicated when they discovered Roth wasn’t really Roth. He had an offshore bank account filled up primarily by Cuban sources, and his signatures didn’t match; at some point in the two weeks between his final interview and his induction into the naval academy, the switch was made.
So what happened to fake Roth? Well, as it turned out, they had the blood of his shooter. Though Mike tried to deny that he was involved, he really should’ve just looked in a mirror before trying to get that one by Gibbs. He had a black eye and had clearly been in a fight, and he finally admitted that Roth had been sleeping with his wife-Lisa, his CO-and when he confronted him, it got physical. Roth had the gun, and during the struggle, it went off.
As for Ducky and Jimmy, “Detour” offered a closer look at just what happens with them to and from crime scenes. They flip bones to figure out who drives. They take turns on controlling the radio. They do crossroads (and Jimmy wants to dissect Ducky’s brain when he dies). It’s lighthearted, it’s fun, and it’s something new even after 10 seasons. But that all changed with this episode as they had to pull over for a flat tire-which Ducky discovered was due to a bullet-and were then promptly kidnapped and forced to drive to a cabin. Once there, their legs were chained to the floor while they were forced to perform the autopsy on Roth. Anna wanted answers, and while Ducky did tell her some things, they also used what they had to their advantage and got the kidnappers to clear the room by opening up the stomach. They couldn’t stand the smell, and once they were alone, Ducky told Jimmy they had to go on the offensive and use what they had: the victim.
Criminal Minds season 8 has just teased the recurring unsub, the Replicator, until now, until episode 16, “Carbon Copy” which saw the team take a more active role in the case.
“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”
JJ received flowers and the card read “Zugzwang.” The phone call Reid received hadn’t been about Maeve. It had been the Replicator; he was watching their every move. Garcia did determine that the flowers had been bought with a stolen credit card and a prepaid phone traced to Philadelphia, where the fourth victim was found exsanguinated and with her eyelids removed. Unlike the other copycat murders (the mouth sewn shut, transplanted leg, and a human marionette), this one wasn’t found in the same area as the original kills.
The Replicator was a narcissist, patient, and had the time and money to travel. But then a second victim was found, and the local detective, Rizzo, didn’t hide the fact that he was unhappy to see the FBI there (but later revealed that his partner was killed while they were working a federal case). And then a third victim was found, with Hotch’s photo, which the unsub had trimmed and added to a pile of photos for the team, on her
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Tonight’s episode of Arrow, “Dead to Rights”, was written by Geoff Johns and directed by Glen Winter. Johns also co-wrote the teleplay to “Muse of Fire” with Mark Guggenheim, an episode that also featured both Tommy (Colin Donnell) and Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) and Moira (Susanna Thompson). Johns’ script and Winter’s direction resulted in an episode that delivered a number of terrific performances from Donnell, Barrowman, Thompson, and Stephen Amell. This was Winter’s first time directing, and I felt his strongest scenes were the more emotional, character-driven ones. The initial fight sequence was good, though it felt like the helicopter got in the way, but I felt the fight sequence with China White (Kelly Hu) was too choppy and cut up to really enjoy or appreciate.
This episode was very much about trust and the bonds of family, and that played into every character’s decisions. The loss of a family member and the subsequently strained relationship with a parent was a theme that touched on Tommy’s relationship with his father, Oliver’s relationship with his father, and Laurel’s relationship with her mother. In addition, Diggle (David Ramsey) is also confronted with his brother’s death again when Lawton/Deadshot (Michael Rowe) turns up alive. Ramsey is terrific in the scene when Oliver breaks the news to Diggle. I’m also very much enjoying the chemistry between Diggle and Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards). It feels very much like the team is becoming a family themselves, especially as Diggle begins training Smoak to be able to defend herself in the event she has to fight to protect herself.
One of the things about the show that has impressed me from the beginning is the complexity of the characters. This is a tribute to both the writing and the acting on the show. The characters are anything but black and white, stereotypical comic book good and bad guys. Instead, they are very real characters with complex motivations, and one of the ways that this manifests itself is in how difficult it is to label a character either good or bad. This in itself holds a mirror to the Vigilante. Is he bad, for committing violence, or good, for defending the city?
Up to this episode, Malcolm Merlyn seemed to be the straightforward bad guy as the head of the “Undertaking” and as the Dark Archer. He seemed to have no fatherly feelings towards Tommy and even tried to get Tommy to disband the charity that his mother had set up. This episode shows Malcolm as the head of the “Undertaking”, telling his fellow conspirators that “There is hope on the horizon. We won’t fail this city.” Yet, while making his speech for Humanitarian of the Year award he says “I haven’t done enough for this city. I’ve failed it. I’m going to do more.” This echoes Oliver’s tagline to the villains that “You have failed this city.”