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TV of the Week: 09/06/2012

Alcatraz

Season 1, Episode 13

‘Tommy Madsen’

And so Alcatraz comes to an end. I can’t say that I’m especially devastated by this show’s cancellation; there were much better shows than this in previous years which were cancelled prematurely, and for all I know this show’s fate had to occur for Fringe to get a final season. The biggest problem with this show is that it feels like the writers came up with an idea for a show, the Alcatraz inmates coming to the present day, and then put the characters in purely to facilitate the plot. This is, in my opinion, never how a show should go, as the characters are the most important aspect of any work of fiction. Without interesting characters it is all but impossible to get invested in a show, and that naturally leads to low ratings and low quality.

The finale was fairly good. I wouldn’t by any means say that it was the best season finale to a cancelled show I’ve ever seen, but it was decent. We got some answers and all the characters were finally (almost) on the same page, it’s just a shame the show waited this long to do this. There wasn’t a huge amount of character development in this finale; a little for Emerson and Lucy perhaps, but overall it was mostly about the plot and the hunt for Tommy Madsen. Unfortunately, this wasn’t actually resolved and the last shot we had in this show was of Rebecca dying after Tommy stabbed her. I imagine that if the show had continued Rebecca would somehow have been healed by the Alcatraz doctor, who was doing something with the dead bodies, but the big problem is that I didn’t really find myself caring.

I don’t really have much more to say about this finale. It’s a shame that we will never find out what happened to the prisoners and to Rebecca, but I won’t lose any sleep over it. It was an average show which didn’t get the viewers and was cancelled. There’s nothing especially new about this story, and I’m sure it will happen again. The finale itself was decent, but nothing special, and wasn’t enough to save the show from going down in history as mediocre.

Hawaii Five-0

Season 2, Episode 23

‘Ua Hala’

This explosive episode of Hawaii Five-0 marked the end of the second season, and was certainly a fast-paced, exciting conclusion to this season of the show. The episode managed to fit in more plots that I would have imagined possible in a single episode, which was both a good thing and a bad thing. The good thing was that it was gripping and made a very exhilarating episode. The bad thing is that there was so much going on that none of the plots were really developed, and some seemed to come out of nowhere.

For a start, we had Chief Fryer being killed in an alley. Then, when the team came to investigate, Max got shot by the killer as he followed a blood trail. As I say, this was very exciting, and almost enough to make you overlook the slight flaws in what’s happening. For example, why didn’t anybody else notice the (rather obvious) blood trail and why did Max follow it without telling anybody else. Also, why did the killer stay to shoot Max? It can be assumed that he wasn’t necessarily the target, but the actual killer didn’t seem to have any reason to want to kill the rest of the team. Delano did, but it seemed that the actual killer’s role was simply to kill Fryer. Furthermore, the Max getting shot plot really didn’t go anywhere. He didn’t seem to be in any serious danger, and the team never seemed to actually worry about what was happening to him; neither did they particularly seem to mourn Fryer’s death.

Then, after chasing the killer through the streets, they got back the Hawaii Police Department which the killer promptly blew up. Again, there are a few holes. How did she know how to navigate through the building, and why did she blow it up? Perhaps she was also doing it at Delano’s behest, but it was never really made clear. What’s even more frustrating was that the team actually pointed out these questions but then never bothered to answer them. Still, the explosion was extremely shocking and made a finale-worthy plot. Of course, what happened there was never particularly explored either.

When the team finally managed to catch and kill the killer, the case seemed to be immediately closed. Nobody asked why she did what she did, or how she “came back from the dead”, or worried about who else might be out there. We did get the answer at the end of who set everything up: Delano, the bent cop that the team arrested earlier in the season. It did seem to come out of nowhere and suddenly within the last few minutes Kono and Chin’s wife Melia were kidnapped, forcing Chin to get Delano out of jail. Delano then said that Chin could save one of the women in his life, and the other would die. Chin chose to save Melia, and Kono was pushed overboard into the sea, tied up. It’s the kind of way of killing someone that TV shows can usually get around, so I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Kono finds some way to survive. It didn’t really make sense as to why Delano did all he did, but it was certainly very exciting.

There were a couple of other plots also going on during this episode in the background. Danny’s ex-wife Rachel and his daughter Grace were moving to Las Vegas due to her new husband’s new job, so Danny was having to decide in this episode whether to let her go, or to get into a messy court battle. This also seems to come out of nowhere; not too long ago Danny was helping Rachel give birth to her new husband’s child, and now she’s perfectly happy to move and stop him from seeing Grace? It seems slightly out of character. Also during this episode Joe returned and took Steve to finally see Shelburne. The episode ended with Steve saying “Mom?” when he opened the door, which wasn’t really a surprise. Who else could it have been? But considering this plot has been dragged on for months, the revelation felt a bit lacklustre, as though it had just been stuck on the end of the episode.

This was a very exciting and enjoyable episode of Hawaii Five-0 if you don’t think about it too much. However, if you do you notice several plot holes and how the majority of the plotlines didn’t actually get much in the way of development. This wasn’t a bad finale by any means, but it was just trying to balance too many different ideas and not giving sufficient time to any of them.

NCIS: Los Angeles

Season 3, Episode 23

‘Sans Voir, Part 1’

This week’s episode of NCIS: Los Angeles kicked off the two-part season finale, with the second half coming next week. It did feel, to some extent, like this episode was just setting things up for next week as the case that the team were investigating didn’t seem especially relevant until the last few minutes when it was revealed that the Chameleon was behind it all. Several weeks ago we first met the Chameleon and he promised then that he would kill everybody Callen cared about, and it looks like he has finally got around to starting that.

The first main victim of the Chameleon was Agent Renko, who was killed fairly early on in the episode. I’m not entirely clear why the Chameleon killed all the other people in the case Renko was investigating before killing him, but I assume it was so that Callen and the others would be there when Renko died. It has been quite a while since we last saw Renko, so long ago that I’d actually forgotten he existed to be honest, and because of that his death didn’t have quite the impact on me as it did on the team. Still, it was clear that they all cared for him and it is a shame that he won’t be appearing in any more episodes.

While I did slightly expect that Renko would die after he suddenly appeared again in this episode, I did not expect Agent Hunter to also return and die. I feel quite stupid because I did notice Claire Forlani in the opening credits but I had completely forgotten that fact by the end of the episode. I certainly didn’t expect that she would die, especially so soon after Renko’s death. Assuming she is dead of course, as I never trust that a character is dead until we see the body. But I don’t see how she could have survived that explosion. I have to give props to NCIS: LA for having the guts to kill off two of its recurring characters in one episode. Normally when a villain threatens an agent nothing actually happens before he is caught, but here the Chameleon had already managed to kill two of Callen’s friends. Furthermore, although he was arrested at the end of the episode, he is still clearly where he wants to be and I wouldn’t be surprised if someone else becomes his victim before the season is out.

Overall, while this episode was a bit light on an actual plot as it was mostly all leading towards the last few minutes, it contained some huge shocks and surprises. As I say, I expect we will get some more in the second half next week, and I can’t wait to see what the Chameleon’s endgame is.

NCIS

Season 8, Episode 17

‘One Last Score’

I should start by saying that I don’t actually have a lot to say about this episode. I think I wasn’t really paying attention at the beginning, as for the majority of the episode I didn’t really understand what was going on. I think I missed the part where it was explained why the woman was in jail, and as the plot mostly revolved around her I was quite lost. Still, the plot seemed fairly interesting although not perhaps to the usual standard.

One interesting thing about this week’s episode was the introduction of Special Agent E. J. Barrett who it appears will be around for a while. She seems to be quite a fascinating character (although slightly rude and interfering) and is also interesting for the effect she has on Tony. She is running the team which Tony was offered several years ago, which provides an insight into Tony’s thoughts and feelings about what happened then. One thing I love about NCIS is that plot lines are never really over and often come back in later seasons. I don’t know how the team behind the show are able to plan that far in advance, or even if they do, but it makes it real and rewarding for those of us who have watched the whole series so far.

Overall, this was an average episode with the introduction of a seemingly important new character. I look forward to seeing what role she plays in the coming plotlines, and how Tony and the rest of the team react to her.

Leverage

Season 4, Episode 2

‘The 10 Li’l Grifters Job’

After last week’s very character-driven episode of Leverage, this week the show returned to a more typical case, although as always there was a twist. In this case, the team were conning a businessman while he hosted a murder mystery party at his house, but things took an unexpected turn when the businessman was murdered. Nate was initially in the frame for it and it was quite interesting that, if only for a split second, it did cross all the team members’ minds that he might have actually done it. As Sophie said at the end, it doesn’t mean that they don’t trust him, but it does show that they aren’t entirely sure of exactly what Nate is capable of. I do think that the team trust each other more than they do Nate, after all he does a lot of his work drunk and you can never tell when he’s running a con on someone, but do think that they trust him as well.

The case itself was interesting. I’m a big fan of the Agatha Christie type crime stories and I enjoyed the way it was done here. I think it could have been done better, as the actual killer was fairly obvious and there wasn’t much in the way of clues, but there were some good twists and turns. I think perhaps it would have worked better if there hadn’t been the murder, which seems oxymoronic, but this isn’t a show which deals a lot with death and I would personally prefer to keep it that way. If they had done the crime plot and had something being stolen instead, or something similar, it might have worked better.

This was a good second episode of this season of Leverage, although personally I prefer the more character-focused ones like last week’s. Still, this show does stand-alone cons very well even without the character focus and I very much enjoyed this episode.

Bones

Season 7, Episode 13

‘The Past in the Present’

Of all the season finales I’ve seen so far this season, this is by far the most impressive and is the one that has me most anxiously awaiting the next episode. This is actually quite an unusual episode for the end of a season of Bones; normally the overarching story gets wrapped up in the penultimate episode and the last episode is more restrained and starts to set things up for the following season, while, no doubt due to the shortened season, this time the finale is finale-worthy and focused on the season’s Big Bad, Christopher Pelant.

We have actually only seen Pelant once before, but he is certainly a memorably villain. Even though last season’s Big Bad was the only one to actually succeed in killing a member of the team, I didn’t find him an especially interesting character and he never really terrorised the team like some of the others have. The show has had some impressive Big Bads before, from Howard Epps to the Gravedigger to the Gormogon, and Pelant is deserving of a place alongside those. I believe he is the first to really set up one of the team to take the fall for his crimes and, while we don’t yet really understand his vendetta against Brennan and Booth, he has perhaps done more damage than any of the others to their family unit.

In this case, an old friend of Brennan’s is killed and, while the team know that it was Pelant who did it, the evidence stacks up against Brennan. The victim was in a mental institution and had threatened Christine, there was video of Brennan leaving the mental institution the night the victim escaped, Brennan had access to the very rare toxin that was used to paralyse the victim, and one of the victim’s hairs was found in her car. While it was never especially convincing to us that Brennan had done it, it was interesting to see how the team reacted to the evidence. None of them really believed that Brennan was a killer, but the scientists amongst them had to follow the evidence as Brennan taught them to. We could see how much it hurt Cam when she found ‘conclusive’ evidence of Brennan’s guilt and had to report it, but as Caroline said at the end it was the only reason the Squints were still in the game.

Not all of them acted so impartially though. Booth was tricked into attacking Pelant and was taken off the case, Brennan was obviously taken off the case due to the evidence against her, Sweets was taken off for being too close to Brennan, and Caroline was taken off as Pelant hacked into the bank and made a transaction from Brennan to her. Angela, as far as I could tell, wasn’t taken off the case but she was the only one really fighting for Brennan’s innocence during the episode. Of all the team, Angela is the one who is the least rational and objective so it wasn’t surprising that she was so unwilling to do anything which would be detrimental to her friend, and it was her who discovered how Pelant was doing the hacking. Of course, there’s no evidence but hopefully the team will be able to prove Brennan’s innocence soon.

The episode ended with Brennan running away with Christine so that she wouldn’t be arrested. I didn’t really see that coming, and as she didn’t take Booth with her I can’t help but wonder how this will affect their relationship when she does (presumably) return. I also want to point out that this means that David Boreanaz’s two main TV character, Angel and Booth, have both had their children taken from them by someone they trust. I don’t expect Christine will return as a teenager, but it is interesting that a plot which isn’t incredibly common in TV has happened twice to characters played by David Boreanaz.

With such a cliff-hanger, I can’t wait to see where the series goes from here. It’s always difficult for a show to provide a satisfactory resolution to a cliff-hanger, but I have faith in Bones. We also need to find out what Pelant was doing in their house at the end, and how the Squints are going to prove Brennan’s innocence. I look forward to seeing how this plot is resolved and I can’t wait for September.

 

Grimm

Season 1, Episode 17

‘Love Sick’

While most episodes of Grimm have a main case and then some mythology and character development going on around it, this week’s episode was different. There was no procedural element in it at all, and it was largely focused on concluding the plots that have been going on for the past few weeks, as well as contributing to the mythology. I have to say, I really enjoyed this episode and I hope they do more like it in the future. Procedurals can be fun, but an in depth story is always more exciting.

The plot this episode concentrated on was all about what Adalind has been doing to Hank over the past few weeks. I’m glad the show hasn’t strung this story along for too long, as this type of plot can get frustrating. Fortunately, it seemed to be over by the end of this episode, which formed a great conclusion to this plot. It was great to see more of Monroe and Rosalee working together to help Hank and Wu, and there seems to be a slight romance potentially developing there. I wouldn’t complain, as it would mean more screen time for Monroe, which can only be a good thing.

The plot reached its peak with a fight between Nick and Adalind, and Nick getting his blood in her mouth. It seems that the blood of a Grimm was able to destroy the ‘demon’ inside of Adalind, and I wonder if that would work on all Vessen. What was perhaps more interesting was that Adalind herself was fine after what happened, which is I believe the first indication that the people and the Vessen ‘inside’ them aren’t one and the same. Is this the same for all Vessen, and what might this mean for the future of this show? I look forward to finding out.

The other main plot going on in this episode was with Sergeant Renard. It appears that whatever he is doing is part of the family business, and is under pressure from the rest of the family to deliver the key Aunt Marie gave to Nick in the first episode. They don’t appear to be a close family, however, as Renard shot his cousin in the forehead to deliver a message. It will be interesting to see what the family do now that Renard has failed to get the key, and what further steps he will take to obtain it.

This was by far the most serialised episode of Grimm so far, and I hope further episodes are more like this. The episode ended with Nick getting what appeared to be a map from the key. What is the map for? Who knows, but I can’t wait to find out. This show has a great mix of procedural and overarching mysteries, and I’m eagerly anticipating the next chapter of this story.

A Town Called Eureka

Season 5, Episode 4

‘Friendly Fire’

While the first three episodes of this season focused on dealing with what happened after the Season 4 cliff-hanger, this week’s episode returned to the more normal, stand-alone episode format of the show. I did like the whole virtual-Eureka plot, and thought it was fairly well executed, but I am pleased to be returning to the more traditional style of this show, for a while at least. I’m sure that as the end of the series approaches things will become slightly more serialised again, but for now I am happy to watch the typical Eureka hijinks.

The ‘disaster’ this week was all about a fireball (or a Firefly) that got loose acting seemingly of its own accord and causing chaos all over town. It was a typically good, funny, interesting plot and the revelation that the people who had been to the virtual Eureka were emitting some kind of radio wave that was affecting the fireball was both surprising and a fascinating plot development. I doubt that will be the only side-effect of the virtual Eureka, and I look forward to seeing where the show takes this.

As the hunt for the fireball was going on, the main characters also had to deal with the emotional impact of the virtual-Eureka plot. After all, the Astreus crew had just got used to what was happening in virtual Eureka and having to adapt to the fact that none of that was real was always going to be difficult. It was also hard for those who didn’t go into the virtual Eureka to understand the actions of the others, and it was clearly putting a strain on their relationships. By the end of the episode it seemed that most of the issues were slowly going away, but it will be interesting to see if there are still any residual effects next week.

The other character plot this week was Fargo trying to deal with Holly’s death. I am pleased that the show has dealt with this, and hasn’t just swept it under the rug. It also wouldn’t necessarily have worked if Fargo had spent the entire episode grieving, so the plot of him using a patch to go through the five stages of grief quickly allowed us to see both the effect Holly’s death was having on him, and allowed him to provide some of the comic relief for which he is known. My favourite scene had to be the one at the end though, as Dr Parish came by to mourn for Holly with Fargo. It’s one of the few times we’ve seen Dr Parish do anything kind, but it was nice to see the two of them overcome their differences and play a role-playing game in memory of Holly.

This was a very good episode of this show, with some great character plots and an interesting disaster-of-the-week. I hope the show can maintain this quality of episodes for the rest of the season, and provide us with a satisfactory end to this marvellous show.

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