Steve’s at the cemetery on the anniversary of John McGarrett’s death, when he sees someone else visiting the grave. Not just someone, but a woman. And not just a woman, but a hot blonde about his age. She’s Deputy Prosecutor Ellie Clayton, whose bar-owning father was murdered on his own premises in a robbery-homicide twenty years previously. MrGarrett père had investigated it without success, but hadn’t let go, had maintained a connection with Ellie, and might have had a new lead shortly before his death.
Well, what’s Steve going to do with that information, and its powerful combination of crime-solving, hot blonde, and daddy issues? He’s going to reopen the case, of course. To start with it looks like another H50 Cold Case episode, but apart from a brief flashback or two the action takes place in the present day and circles through a few suspects before ending up with a Samoan street gang. Steve’s solution involves one more person dying and another taking a bullet, so we’re good. And whither Ellie? After their cemetery meet-cute, and a further episode of emotional bonding while the two of them watch Ellie’s father being exhumed, there’s a clear hint at the end that Ellie and Steve perhaps have a romantic future, which presumably means that Dr Shaw (“…Commander”) will be forced to re-evaluate Danny as boyfriend material.
And this week there are, finally, some developments in Jerry’s investigation of the supposed counterfeiters: if you’re using Kamekona and Flippa as your undercover operatives, it probably isn’t going to end well, and it doesn’t. Which probably helped to make this watchable but unremarkable episode a little bit more memorable than it might otherwise have been.
Bromance Watch: No Danny at all this week; coming to terms with the emotional trauma of the events of the last episode. Still, “I’m just checking on you, man… just thinking about you, buddy.”
“Oh, FFS!” Watch: I probably shouldn’t have, but I LOLd at Kame and Flippa taping each other up.
This episode was brought to you by: Leonard’s Bakery. There’s a place round the back where you can hide the proceeds of crime for like years.
“It’s almost six months to the day since our last public apology!”
So, about time for another cluster of disasters then, and that’s exactly what this fantastic episode gives us.
On the “Oops, I committed a felony!” front, Will and Rebecca Halliday bicker entertainingly over what to do with Neal, who’d rather go to jail for espionage than listen to them sparring. Mac decides she knows best because she’s Mac and therefore “an idiot savant” according to Will, or just “an idiot” according to me. Both idiocy and felonious conduct seem to be contagious, however, since even Don, who isn’t usually an idiot at all, accidentally manages to commit a felony too (Dude, come on – how could you not have realised?) but he and Sloan make up for it by being hilarious and adorable yet again. “I can’t believe I’m being Don Keefered!” and “You bit down HARD.” are currently vying for the position of my favourite moments of the week – SQUEE!
Meanwhile, on the “behaviour which is not actually punishable by incarceration” side of things, Hallie does the kind of stupendously moronic thing these characters would probably excuse coming from Maggie, but not coming from the current obstacle to Maggie and Useless Jim’s love for the ages. The Demon Muppet herself, meanwhile, is on a train, managing to land a story, give up a story then land another one because she’s so gosh-darned righteous and decent and moral (give me a break), while also (inexplicably) charming an ethics professor by ranting at him about how exactly he should be doing his job. (Guys, really? This is supposed to be endearing? Seriously?). Points, though, for the amusingly meta “You’re giving a monologue”….”Everyone does where I work.” HEE.
Oh, and while everyone frets about ethics, First Amendment rights and how easy it might be to break into a filing cabinet from Office Depot, Reece (whom I like more and more every week) and Charlie face an even bigger danger as they try and save the company from Evil Kat Dennings. Dun-dun-dun! Hide your children, shelter your old folks, Evil Kat Dennings cannot be defeated! Unless…. is it Superman? Is it Wonder Woman? No, it’s SuperWoman! Welcome back, Mrs Lansing – I love you!
And I loved this episode. Managing to incorporate political and legal commentary, humour and a genuinely thrilling story arc (that final few scenes with the FBI and the take-out menu business – WHOA) without driving the viewer mad with annoyance is the Newsroom Holy Grail and we just about got there with “Run.” I felt flickers of my usual irritation with Maggie, but I think that’s a sort of Pavlov’s dog reaction for me now – she has been so, so much worse than she was this week, but, three seasons in, it only takes the sight of her to set me off. Never mind Maggie, though, this episode as a whole was terrific: a joyous mix of smart, sweet, exciting and very, very, funny. Superb.
Flashbacks to start with, as we see how Tom came to be chained up in a rusty old ship for four months. Keen tells herself, and everyone else who gets involved, that it’s because Tom’s a useful source of information. It seems, though, that she couldn’t bring herself to kill Tom, partly because she still loves him in some way. Hm.
We then pick up where we left off last week, with Red and Berlin trying to work out who set them against each other, a series of events which started with a bomb detonated in Kursk by this week’s Blacklister, a man known as The Decembrist. To start with, the trail leads to a senior Russian politician. “At the very least we should go there and question him”, Keen suggests, presumably with half an eye on the expenses claim. She doesn’t get away with that, but Red and Berlin – working together – extract from Senior Russian Pol that the actual Decembrist is our old friend Alan Fitch (Alan Alda). One florist later Fitch and Red are having a sit-down – as I’ve said before, it’s always good when The Blacklist gives James Spader an equal to play off – and although Fitch is warned that Berlin’s after him, we know what’s going to happen as soon as Fitch’s “security detail” turns up to protect him.
So. Berlin has Fitch, and both the FBI and Red want him back. Could Tom help? Probably, even if in the meantime he’s killed someone who found him in the ship, but he wants to be set free. Ressler argues with Keen about this, and there’s a nice moment when Tom and Ressler lock horns, hinting once again that Ressler might, in the medium term, see himself as the new Mr Lizzie. Tom just about stops short of saying “Yeah, I hit that, and you didn’t”, to Ressler, but provides intel enabling the FBI to find Fitch.
It’s not all good news, though: Fitch has a collar bomb round his neck, meaning that The Blacklist can be added to the illustrious history of Collar Bomb shows. Handily, the prop guys didn’t throw out the Red Box, meaning that there’s somewhere to stick Finch while everyone tries to work out how to disarm the bomb. Because there’s always a way of disarming Collar Bombs, as long as you stick to the rules of the game: don’t just jump in with a blowtorch and a saw, keep the weight distribution equal, and so on.
All of which sets up a finale which, I’d have to say, was significantly more exciting than the rest of the episode – three WHOAs and at least one EW – demonstrating once more that The Blacklist isn’t afraid to go there: it removes two major characters from the show, leaves a third in the wind, and introduces a couple of new plot arcs to be picked up again in 2015. Which is when we’ll see The Blacklist again, as this was the fall finale. If you want American shows as soon after original transmission as possible – and I do – you need to take the rough with the smooth, and the rough in this case is that The Blacklist is now on hiatus until February. For a midseason finale, though, this was mostly solid rather than spectacular, even if the last few minutes were eye-popping.
When watching the first two minutes of this problematic episode, I was reminded that Caitlin Moran once pointed out how ridiculous it was that, in music videos, women always, always have to be sexy; it’s as if men always had to be farmers or something. Anyway, we start with an obvious dream sequence, in which DSI Gibson pursues a man round the police station, then shoots him. Which, y’know, I can’t be doing with dream sequences to start with. But whether it was necessary for her to be wearing a silk dressing gown, and a nightdress which showed off acres of cleav – well, there we’re into difficult territory. Because in The Fall, Stella Gibson can’t just be a dream-sequence-killer; she has to be a sexy dream-sequence-killer.
Then we’re back to the terrorising of women, with Paul dragging Rose, his victim from nine years ago, into her car and driving her to a secluded area. Although we won’t hear from her again until the end of the episode, we can be pretty sure meantime that she’s not dead, on the basis that The Fall would undoubtedly show us her murder. If, for example, a teenage schoolgirl needs to be half-strangled, then secured to a bed with her school tie, while a serial killer calls her “a little virgin dreaming of her first fuck”, we’re certainly going to be shown that. I suppose at least she hasn’t yet been called a little hottie-tottie.
In both scenes Paul maintains that he’s not “him”: the killer, that is, although it’s not really clear whether either Rose or Katie believes him any more. Rose is presumably pondering her position on the matter in the confined space where she’s being held, and Katie might just like the thrill of it all, the temptress that she is. (I can’t begin to imagine what that business with the guy peering through her hotel room door is about.) And, because the writers perhaps don’t think that their adorably risk-taking killer is sailing quite close enough to the wind already, he starts to provide counselling to his surviving victim.
Somewhere in the middle of all that, a little actual detective work was done: a print was lifted from a possible murder weapon, and matched to Paul; Gibson now knows that he’s been interviewed as well, so presumably the net will start to tighten. Not my favourite episode.
I knew this was going to be a good episode within the first five minutes. Abby turns up at the White House for a campaign meeting as Olivia’s “proxy”, to not-at-all-veiled indifference from Cyrus, who can’t even be bothered getting her name right. He does, however, care enough to tell her, “I almost feel sorry for what’s about to happen to you”, as she heads into the grumpiest gathering in Presidential history – Fitz, Mellie, Andrew – with some polling data. It lasts a minute or so. Olivia can’t be there because she’s back at OPA on Operation Shut Down B-613, armed with information which, she concedes to Huck’s horror, she got from her father. “I would have gone with ‘anonymous former government employee’”, murmurs Rosen. So in order to bring B-613 down, Huck needs to find an algorithm and track it to B-613’s secret account. WHOA. Sexy TV or what? It is, of course, because it’s Scandal.
There’s a deliciously meta moment later on when Olivia bursts into a room at OPA to find her staffers sitting waiting for the episode’s plots to pay off. Firstly, Reston is visiting his wife in prison, where he’s going to be told that she now knows she took the fall for him. Secondly, Olivia’s bedded Jake in order to download data from his B-613 issued (and somewhat old-skool) mobile, which Huck is using to access B-613’s systems. And thirdly, Harrison’s friend Claire is double-agenting with Olivia’s mom.
But there’s more, because there’s always more in Scandal: Jeannine Locke is publishing a memoir (‘Taken For Granted’ – hee) of her fictitious affair with POTUS. He’s baguette rather than breadstick, apparently. Cyrus wants to leak details of how Sally, passionately anti-abortion until a few weeks ago, has been “letting her daughter D & C until the cows come home”. Fitz wants Andrew off the ticket, but what he needs – after some questioning from a peevish Olivia, still conscious that she’s “the help” – is for Andrew to stop screwing his wife. So Olivia offers Andrew the choice – VP or Mellie? In the middle of the melodrama there’s room for a flash of the pain Mellie must feel at being stuck in a loveless marriage, and it gives us one of the best moments of the episode, when Andrew chooses to stay on the ticket, Mellie’s advances towards him are repelled, and she slaps Fitz: “You take everything from me!”
It all comes together in the last few minutes, with Charlie and Quinn on the trail of Maya and Adnan, as directed by Jake. (The sole distraction I had this week, incidentally, was Adnan, because the only Adnan I care about at the moment is the one in Serial; in which, like every other listener, I am worryingly and obsessively invested.) Charlie and Quinn’s surveillance reveals that Maya has a bomb, but then their feed goes dead: Huck has pulled the B-613 plug. And as OPA are celebrating their step back into the light, Jake appears in a whirlwind of fury, seizes Olivia by the throat, and slams her into a wall: by closing down B-613, she’s just killed the President, it seems. ‘The Fluffer’ was one of those miraculous episodes of Scandal in which you feel as if you’ve eaten a ten-course meal but you’re still hungry for more. Amazing.
Perhaps we’re paying Stalker more attention than it deserves. But the critical mauling it received in America raises one or two disturbing questions of its own. For example, according to the Huffington Post’s Maureen Ryan – a critic I generally like – “(e)veryone involved in the creation and production of this show should be ashamed of their association with it”. Ashamed? Really? For making a middle-of-the-road procedural which is misogynist for sure, but no more so than True Detective (“essential viewing”) or The Fall (“each part… made me more eager to watch the rest”), for example?
Ryan is by no means alone. And, for the avoidance of doubt, she has a point. But True Detective is a cable show, and The Fall is a BBC show, so they’re both classy. Stalker, on the other hand, is a network drama. It’s a bit like the distinction between erotica and porn, and there’s undoubtedly an element of snobbery about the treatment Stalker has had. It’s all right for people like you and me to watch The Fall, but would you wish your wife or your servants to watch Stalker?
Anyway, let’s treat it on its merits. In the cold open to ‘Whatever Happened To Baby James’, a 16-year-old girl, Hannah, is terrified at home by a stalker while babysitting her younger brother. Their father died a couple of years back, and their mother is now a single parent. Beth (still being stalked) and Jack (still stalking) head for the scene, with Janice on exposition and fancying-Jack duties, and Ben resentful because he wants to go into the field. Jack tries to enter into the mind of the stalker, which of course is less of a reach than his colleagues appreciate. “The stalking is just foreplay”, he purrs. “The real goal… is sexual assault.” Janice turns up the news that Hannah is unexpectedly single; it’s weird, she explains, because Hannah is “a little hottie-tottie, and little hottie-totties always have a guy”. Yes, she said that about a 16-year-old. Janice, incidentally, is trying to channel the smart-mouthed fast-talking that Abby brings to the Scandal party, but she’s no Abby. Not that Beth disagrees with Janice’s careful and sensitive victim profiling: she later observes – without judging, obviously! – that Hannah is so pretty and sexy with her little crop tops and tattoo, searches Hannah’s room, and finds her condoms. Because she’s sleeping with a boy! Ooh! Bad girl.
After all that, Hannah isn’t the target of the stalker. Despite that, this week’s Stalker is who you think it is – at least, who I thought it was – and the endgame is stretched out for about five minutes longer than it needs to be, as if the writers had run out of ideas for the A-plot. In backstory news, Jack’s wife is the ADA dealing with the Threat Assessment Unit, which means they’ll totally be bumping into each other at work as well as when he’s stalking her, although she’s given him two weeks to leave town or she’ll reveal some secret or other. And Perry is now hanging around Beth’s BFF Tracy, played – actually quite endearingly – by Gemma out of Ringer.
It’s not good. But it’s not bad, and its sexual politics are actually more sophisticated than True Detective’s. The bigger problem – going back to treating Stalker on its merits – is that there’s really no-one and nothing worth caring about. With procedurals we’re almost never going to be allowed to become too invested in the Cases of the Week, which means that we need to like spending time with the regular cast. At the moment, I’m a long way away from that.
It looks as if my reviews of Elementary are, once again, going to be somewhat irregular. (Hee.) But justice requires that I say something about ‘Enough Nemesis To Go Around’, the excellent season 3 opener. The show has used the Holmes/Watson split at the end of the second season to spin the two of them off in different directions: Watson is now running her own consultancy firm, and trying to bring down a drug-dealing Ms Big; Sherlock returns from London in not-entirely-explained circumstances, and has a new (and, if I’m being honest, rather fetching) protégée named Kitty (Ophelia Lovebond). There’s a satisfyingly impenetrable locked-door mystery to be solved, but just as importantly some genuine tension in the relationship between Holmes and Watson: the impression left by this episode is that they might in time be able to evolve a new way of working together, but things will never be quite the same again between them. With any luck the writers will keep this going for as long as they can, rather than hitting the hugging/learning button too soon. Anyway, I really enjoyed this.