Castle: “Target” (Season 5 Episode 15)

castleBroadcast date:  Monday, Feb. 18th, 2013

Kidnapping seems to be a popular theme, almost to the point of overuse. From Taken and Taken 2 to last year’s Missing, and this year: The Following, NCIS, Arrow, Zero Hour – all have featured episodes, or geared the whole show around, a kidnapping. Castle joins the fray in an episode where Alexis is abducted, along with an Arabic girl. At first it looks like a case of money, or political enemies of the Arabic family. Following leads takes Beckett and Castle to where a member of the kidnappers is hiding. In a Liam Neeson moment, Castle is left alone to question the man. Although nothing is shown, we hear the man’s screams while watching Beckett’s face. It’s a telling moment: how far would you go, what would you do, to find the person you love?

Meanwhile we see scenes of the kidnapped girls…wherever they are being held, they are being taken care of. Alexis manages to keep her cool and use her head, using a bobby pin to pick the lock (just like her dad taught her!) and then making an escape attempt. She finds a phone and Skypes her dad. When the kidnappers close in, she flees and emerges on a roof, as the same time the FBI traces her location – Paris?!! Thus ends the cliffhanger for this week.

I would like to point out that Nathon Fillion’s acting is superb in this episode. Horrified, anguished, tormented, fearful, resolute – Fillion pulls off all these and more reminding us that when you look past the flippant one-liners, wild conspiracy theories, and bumbling oafishness, he brings whatever is necessary to sell the character in the moment. Although the serious episodes of Castle can be a little overly dramatic, there’s no disguising how exciting and entertaining they are. This is the best episode of the season.

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Face Off: “Bugging Out” (Season 4 Episode 6)

face-offBroadcast date:  Tuesday, Feb 19th, 2013

There was actually a Foundation Challenge this week, in which contestants were tasked with taking a fairy tale heroine and making her a bad girl. Eric F scored a big win with his Little Red Riding Hood – not only did he earn immunity, he also got a massive makeup kit. Wayne came up just short with his Little Miss Muffet’s spider look.

Eric F. and his Red Riding Hood
Eric F. and his Red Riding Hood

The Spotlight Challenge showed that talent is still lacking on the show this year. Most of these contestants are failing in the conceptualization aspect, as a bad design can’t be overcome no matter how much make up you put on. Even Anthony struggled this week and ended up in the bottom. Wayne should have won with his Firefly, but left his key element at the workshop and couldn’t finish the design. In my opinion it was still the top look. That honor instead went to Kris, for his Butterfly.

kris butterfly
Kris’s Butterfly
Wayne's Firefly
Wayne’s Firefly

Alam’s Grasshopper was hideous – she should have stuck to anime. Joining Alam and Anthony in the bottom was Meagan’s Moth, which I didn’t think was that bad. So between Alam and Anthony, Alam had to go…cutting a multiple challenge winner like Anthony this early would have been ratings suicide. Hey, the guy had a bad week, everybody does at some point. Here were the worst looks:

Alam's atrocious Grasshopper
Alam’s atrocious Grasshopper
Anthony's lousy Army Ant
Anthony’s lousy Army Ant

Revenge: “Sacrifice” (Season 2 Episode 14)

emily-vancamp-revenge-season-2Broadcast date:  Sunday, Feb. 17th, 2013

If last week’s episode was jam-packed full of action, this week offered some clarity in the death of two characters and one story line. While Daniel struggles with the twisted legacy of his family, Jack and Amanda are halfway to Nantucket before Nate Ryan makes his presence felt. Meanwhile, Emily, Nolan, and Aiden hatch a plan to flip Padma. The Graysons host their annual labor day party and are confronted by Helen Crowley’s replacement (I told you so!), played by Burn Gorman of Torchwood. The Graysons point the finger at Amanda, since Victoria planted evidence under her bed. As Ashley tips off Emily that Amanda has made a play against the Graysons, Emily realizes the danger Jack and Amanda are in, and she and Nolan hop a speedboat to Nantucket. Aiden and Padma demand proof Padma’s father is alive, and receive his finger for their trouble. Silly people, haven’t you learned not to make demands upon the Initiative? The show ends with an explosive (literally) sequence that leaves the Amanda on the bottom of the ocean, two people dead, and one shot in the gut. We finally get some tears and heavy emotion from Emily, who’s had to hide her true feelings constantly. A pretty enjoyable episode…

Lost Girl: “The Kenzi Scale” (Season 3 Episode 6)

Lost-Girl-Cast-lost-girl-28058794-720-493Broadcast date:  Sunday, Feb. 17th, 2013

I wasn’t happy with the last episode, but fortunately this one wrapped up the fake Kenzi mini-story line. We actually get to see Tamsin’s ability for the first time, and it was awesome! It left Dyson a wreck. I thought the episode was interesting for the fact that all of Bo’s friends believed fake Kenzi instead of Bo and locked Bo away. It took Tamsin, Bo’s adversary, to recognize something was wrong. Tamsin turned the corner in this show, helping Bo and facing down the Morrigan. Rachel Skarsten is a great actress…she’s had to walk around with a perpetual smirk or angry glare for most episodes, and there was the “slumber party” a couple of weeks ago where she had to act like a teenager with Bo. In this episode, when Tamsin makes a comment about how her friends wouldn’t have rescued her, Bo tells her that maybe she needs new friends, and Tamsin gets teary-eyed watching Kenzi and Bo’s reunion. Plus a new story arc is introduced – Bo must undergo some kind of Fae personal trial. It sounds like “the Quickening” from Highlander. Still to be addressed is the fallout from everyone distrusting Bo. Now that we have Kenzi back, I’m intrigued once again…

Person of Interest: “Booked Solid” (Season 2 Episode 15)

Person-of-Interest-person-of-interest-30429662-1280-1024Broadcast date: Thursday, Feb 14th, 2013

This was a jam-packed episode featuring a woman who was the sole witness to some war crimes hiding out under cover in a New York hotel. When she agrees to speak with a reporter, the war criminal’s election hopes are threatened and he must silence the woman by sending a Serbian hit squad. Reese and Finch must protect the woman from the hit squad and take jobs in the hotel. Complicating matters is the fact that Zoe is working in the hotel (Paige Turco continues to look Shania Twain-ish gorgeous), the manager is running a side prostitution business, and the assassin targeting the “Man in the Suit” is back to finish the job.

There’s tension and action throughout the episode that culminates in a kitchen knife fight between Reese and the assassin. But this episode is really about all the little moments: Reese being propositioned by a guest, punching the manager in the face, Fusco taking out a couple of hitman, Carter getting a polygraph from the FBI, Reese propositioning Zoe with the honeymoon suite, and Finch buying the hotel. It’s all these great little moments that make the episode one of the best of the season. I also recognized Mira the housekeeper as Mia Maestro, who played Jennifer Garner’s sister in Alias (which was one of my favorite shows).

There are some inconsistencies in the story, mainly involving the assassin. It’s not really clear why he just doesn’t kill Reese, instead taking him into the kitchen, then letting him pull himself up and begin to fight. If I had to guess, I’d say that the assassin wanted to test his skills against Reese rather than outright killing him, but that’s not really made clear. It’s dumb moves for the sake of action, and in shows like Zero Hour it’ kills the episode (and the series). The difference here is Person of Interest has so much more to offer that I can let that inconsistency slide. The show tries very hard to eliminate such inconsistencies and answer questions, it’s smartly-written, and not sloppy. There’s also a twist at the end where we see that the Office of Special Counsel to the White House is behind the assassin, and the re-appearance of Root, that just makes the episode that much better.

Supernatural: “Trial and Error” (Season 8 Episode 14)

spBroadcast date:  Wednesday, Feb 13th, 2013

Supernatural returns to the Demons and Angels story line, which is disappointing, but it’s also handled surprisingly well. After spending some time in the bunker setting up their rooms (“I have memory foam!”) and cooking up burgers (must taste good after years of fast food), the boys get a call from Kevin, who has cracked the tablet and figured out how to close the gates of Hell. When they visit Kevin, he has just recovered from a mini-stroke, either from lack of sleep and caffeine, or all those hot dogs he’s eating (gross!). He states that one person must undergo 3 epic trials to close the gates, the first of which is killing a hell hound and bathing in its blood. There’s an interesting aspect here that the writers have chosen to explore: Sam is concerned about how hard Kevin has pushed himself and shows compassion; Dean, not so much. It highlights the difference between the two, which is expounded upon later in the episode.

The easiest way to find a hell hound, they reason, is to look for someone who made a crossroads deal 10 years ago to the day. They find a family that struck it rich by finding oil where none was known to exist. After meeting up with Ellie, the groundskeeper, the brothers talk their way into hiring on as farmhands. Confusion soon ensues, as multiple people are taken by the hound. It seems that Crowley stopped by that night and made multiple deals. Not knowing who to protect, they quarantine everyone. This is where the worst of Supernatural comes into play – Dean’s whiny, angst-ridden bitchiness. We get to hear a speech about how Dean should be the one to undergo the trials, because the one who does probably won’t survive. Dean explains that Sam should be the one who lives, and he’s arrived at the conclusion for two reasons: He saw how easy it was for Sam to slip into a domestic life, and the whole men of letters thing – not only is Sam better at the research stuff, he also needs to carry on the bloodline. But we just know Sam’s going to screw up Dean’s plan, don’t we?

One other thing I’d like to mention is that dating all the way back to season 1, Supernatural has had the best special effects and CGI on tv. It isn’t even close. Watch a show like Once Upon a Time or Warehouse 13 to see how bad CGI can look. Supernatural has always been top notch. This episode is no exception, from the appearance of the hounds to Dean’s features going all ghostface thanks to the effects of the hounds.

When the battle with the hound takes place, turns out Sam is the one who will have to undergo the trials, much to Dean’s dismay and no one’s great surprise. Now that Supernatural has been renewed for another season, who knows what will happen since this season has already been written and filmed. But even if someone dies, that’s okay, because Supernatural always has a Deus Ex Machina up its sleeve to bring the boys back…

Pulling the Plug on Zero Hour

CARMEN EJOGO, SCOTT MICHAEL FOSTER, ANTHONY EDWARDS, JACINDA BARRETT, MICHAEL NYQVIST, ADDISON TIMLINIt only took a couple of episodes for me to get fed up with Zero Hour. It could be that I’m more critical of tv shows than I am of books. However, I think it’s more likely that books are coherent, character-driven, written by a single person, and working toward a singular end. Often tv shows have multiple writers, who must develop an episodical, self-contained, time-constrained show every week. Zero Hour suffers from a lack of those things that make a book great. It’s incoherent, lacks vision, and though the actors try very hard, the characters aren’t really compelling. I had many questions after that first episode, and a couple are addressed immediately, but ultimately the second episode raises even more questions than it answers. When you combine that with characters whose actions are inexplicable save for the purpose of advancing the plot, I built up an ambivalence towards the plot and the characters. I think it’s unlikely the series will be renewed, so I don’t wanted to get heavily invested in it anyway – I’ve had my share of that…realistically I should be watching season 2 of The River instead of this…