Below The Surface (Gidseltagningen) s1 ep 3; s1 ep 4

Episodes 3 and 4 followed the pattern of the first two: nothing remarkable, but decent storytelling and one or two twists to keep the viewers interested. In the third episode, the stakes are getting higher. It’s confirmed that Adel has indeed been killed; and Leon, another of the hostages, has slipped into a diabetic coma. Insulin is requested, and Philip and the TTF decide that provides an opportunity to mount a rescue mission. (I have been persistently delighted by the discovery that, according to the subtitles, there’s a Danish equivalent of “Copy that!”.)

It all goes very badly wrong, though – the captors are much more sophisticated than he thought, and in the resulting shootout Silas, one of the captives, is shot in the stomach. Fortunately we have Marie the nurse to help; unfortunately, as her flashbacks reveal, she failed her medical training because she hesitated when faced with a medical emergency, which isn’t great when you’re a hostage and need to treat a fellow hostage with a life-threatening bullet wound.

Meantime, the terrorists, media-savvy as well as dangerous, have offered Naja Toft another interview, although it’s acknowledged that if there are hostages dying all over the place that won’t help the fundraising thing. So insulin is allowed in for Leon, who survives; and Silas is taken to the surface for treatment. At some point, I thought, they’ll run out of hostages if this sort of thing keeps happening – that’s two out of eight gone already, with a third needing regular insulin, and no sign of the money yet. Naja, meantime, decides that she can no longer facilitate the terrorists, and backs away from the fundraising campaign.

Which takes us to episode 4. Philip and the TTF are trying to trace the weapons being used by the terrorists, and pursuing this – in a manner which, as is often the way in TV drama, involves a few deductive leaps – takes them to Torben, a former soldier with PTSD, living in the forest. (Well, it is a Scandi-drama.) As this is a Danish show rather than 24, they offer Torben empathetic questioning rather than suspending him from a ceiling and whipping him until he squeals for mercy; he, in turn, points them to a biker gang, and when the team opens a lock-up garage being used by the gang them have an actual “What the fuck?” moment, which we’ll presumably find out more about in the next episode.

Philip is still convinced that Ahmad is one of the captors, and asks for the circumstances of his apparent death to be investigated. Under stress, he starts crying in front of Louise, who, presumably satisfied that she’s finally broken him, makes out with him. And Leon is revealed, through flashbacks, to have been in a relationship with a Thai sex worker. Meantime, though, there’s an even more unexpected bond being forged: Leon’s son makes contact with Naja Toft, is totally sympathetic about her decision to take a step back from dealing with the hostages, and offers to take over the fundraising. In due course they end up in bed together, and when he leaves her apartment he phones one of the terrorists to tell him that Naja will answer next time she gets a call from them.

So, some quick unpacking: (a) the son of one of the hostages is working with the captors. Does this mean that the motive for the attack is still money, or is there something else going on? Does Leon’s son (didn’t catch his name) have a grudge against his father, or – if Philip is correct about the identity of the head terrorist – something personal against Philip? And (b) does this mean that Naja Toft, experienced journalist, has been honeytrapped? Oh, I do hope so. Less savoury is the sexual assault perpetrated by one of the terrorists, which looks as if it might have driven a wedge between him and the others.


Scandal s7 ep 10

After last week’s misstep, this was a bit more like it. The show lands two decent punches even before the credits: Olivia is taken to Vermont by Fitz, but when she gets there she discovers that it’s an intervention of sorts; half the cast is there, all trying to persuade her to resign from the White House, leave B-613, and essentially save herself. And Charlie is still throttling Rowan, which he’s been doing for quite a while now, but is dragged off him by Quinn, thus confirmed to be definitely alive in the present-day timeline. Somewhat, it should be said, to Charlie’s surprise.

The offer to Olivia is that unless she walks away, David Rosen will prosecute her for, well, quite a lot of things, although the assassination of President Rashad, and trying to cover that up by murdering Quinn, will presumably both be high on the list. In fairness, there’s something a little hypocritical about watching Olivia being lectured by people like Huck, Fitz, and Abby, whose crimes could keep a reasonably-sized DA’s office going for the next couple of decades. Olivia even has to endure the indignity of being called a monster by Huck. Huck! Nope; she’s not having that.

Thing is, though, I’m not sure what we’re supposed to make of Olivia these days: the way in which she’s shot this week, strutting and soundtracked by Janet Jackson hits, would suggest that she’s still Scandal’s beating heart, its alpha female. (Or maybe it’s because Kerry Washington directed.) On the other hand, she hasn’t worn the Gladiator’s white hat for a while now: she’s a deeply unpleasant person these days, and has been for ages. Perhaps the point is that we would be rooting for her were she a ruthless white male antihero, and we’re… less likely to when she’s female and African American?

I don’t know. Anyway, while Jake, Mellie, and Cyrus circle each other at the White House, Olivia drafts a resignation letter, says she’ll put Jake in charge of shutting B-613 down, and tells everyone in Vermont that she’s going to quit. But when she heads back to D.C. she does no such thing; instead, she does the nasty with Jake. A solid episode, with the advantage that I now have no idea whether Vermont, jam, and Fitz is endgame.

The Good Fight s2 ep 1


Carl Reddick is dead. And he’s not the only one – “Oh my God, what is going on?” asks Diane, shocked by the number of Chicago lawyers she knows taking sudden trips to meet their maker, and the court security guard at risk of following them via the heart attack express, “It’s like a plague!”

A plague which will irrevocably change Reddick Boseman one way or another: faced with Barbara going decidedly off-piste, the potential loss of the Reddick name and the Obama Presidential Library account with it, Diane and Julius try to recruit Carl’s daughter and newly-resigned AUSA Liz – Audra McDonald – as a new equity partner, reasoning that Adrian being unlikely to welcome his ex-wife to his fiefdom with joy and delight is no reason not to.

Diane and Julius aren’t the only ones recruiting at the funeral, meanwhile, as Diane’s old “friend” Renee offers her a partnership a year too late before giving it to Barbara instead (whaaa…?) and Marissa – after a very kind, very patient steer from Jay – essentially recruits herself as a back-up investigator, whether Adrian wants one or not.

Not a competency-based interview in sight, then, but jobs flying around all over the place. And more besides: Jane Lynch’s Madeline Starkey is back to try and wheedle Henry Rindell’s whereabouts out of Maia, jockeying for the title of “Most inappropriate use of a funeral setting” with the bartender who gives Diane magic mushrooms because… I don’t know. There’s a great deal going on in this episode, and I’m not sure I truly, properly “got” it. The political stuff was clever if unsubtle – and as one of my friends pointed out, will really date the show in due course – but the surfeit of funerals and the Judge Lyman (!) court scenes gave us plenty of black humour, the return of Julius after his resignation last season was an unexpected delight, and the Trump-Rindell-Starkey audio very funny as well as incredibly alarming. Maia’s “memories”, however, I’m a little fed up with – I’ve had enough of her spacing out and maybe remembering/maybe not entire scenes – but Lucca and Jay redeemed the rest of that storyline for this week at least, and it’s always nice to see Marissa. To be honest, I wasn’t entirely sure how I felt about this episode overall till I started to write this but in short: I liked a lot of “Day 408” even if I was nonplussed by the rest of it, and I’m glad The Good Fight’s back, either way.

Blindspot s3 ep 12

We know the basic season 3 drill by now: Roman tells Team Tat to investigate something, they look annoyed but do it anyway, and then they have to stop an attack in or near New York from happening TODAY, while he swans about somewhere sunny – Morocco again this week, lovely – getting his Machiavelli on vis-a-vis the big picture bringing-down of Crawford Corps. This week: yup, all that again.

So instead of going into it in any great detail this week, I have some questions. No.1 – with all this very important questioning of very secret assets that nobody really trusts going on, why hasn’t anyone broken out the big radioactive Chair of Truth again? Truth serum and lie-detectors are a bit uninspiring when you have giant infallible interrogation furniture which LIGHTS UP. No.2 – why is nobody prosecuting or at the very least yelling very loudly at the appalling Avery for conspiring with an international criminal/terrorist/ super-bad-dude and doing what she did to Kurt and her mother? And No.3 – did science ever resolve the question of nature vs nurture? Because if not, I would like to offer up the Family Doe as a potential subject for further study.

Roman and Jane have both been astonishingly annoying at various points – Roman more so last season, although his tremendous power to irritate is always simmering just under the surface, waiting to be activated by removing his “Tom Jakeman” glasses like a furious, entitled Superman with abandonment issues. Jane’s abilities in that regard, meanwhile, have really mushroomed over the past few weeks, giving her horrendous sibling some real competition in the self-righteousness stakes. They’re obviously related, but hang about: Shepherd, who raised them both was biologically unconnected to them and yet completely unlikeable, too. Which might have led me to come down on the side of nurture as the dominant force, except that now Avery, who grew up nowhere near any of them, has appeared and the writers have outdone themselves with how insanely infuriating she is. So maybe it’s genetic after all. Either way, Jane may be showing signs of getting a long-overdue grip on herself at last, but if her unspeakable offspring doesn’t shut up at some point soon, I’m going to have to start using the fast-forward button and maybe take up meditation or something because ARGH.

The Blacklist s5 ep 11

Much to Cooper’s amusement, Red has been robbed: his car is T-boned by a truck being driven by someone working for this week’s Blacklister, Abraham Stern (who is, fittingly, number 100 on the List, in the show’s 100th episode.) Stern then takes the rare coin Red obtained from Greyson Blaise earlier in this season. Red knows who took the coin and why, and he wants the Task Force’s help in retrieving it. He acknowledges that it might sound like a treasure hunt for his benefit, but insists there will be something in it for the FBI as well. “I think”, says Aram, “it sounds like fun!”

And he’s right; it is. The plot – something to do with four rare coins leading to dollar bills worth hundreds of millions – is of course ridiculous, but tremendously entertaining. Stern is played by Nathan Lane, and as ever James Spader visibly relishes the opportunity to play opposite someone whose acting chops match his own.

Liz’s storyline, meantime, isn’t what you’d call fun, exactly, but it’s hardly dull: having accidentally killed Navarro, one of the people behind Tom’s death, Liz goes way, way back in the show’s history and – once she’s able to deflect Aram’s puppyish enthusiasm – digs out the file of The Stewmaker, an expert at disposing of bodies, in order to mine it for tips. (Lots of acid, basically.) Agent Singleton is after her, though, and knows that she’s up to something. As it happens, Liz’s manipulation of the situation this week is skilful but… well, I was going to say out of character, but it’s entirely possible that we’ll see more of this sort of thing from the post-Tom Liz. A strong episode.

Homeland s7 ep 4

It’s episodes like ‘Like Bad At Things’ which remind us why, seven seasons down the line, we still bother with Homeland. Carrie’s storyline, although not the main event, is good enough, and will presumably pay off in due course. Having found out that Wellington is the sort of guy who’s capable of circumventing the chain of command and ordering an airstrike without the President’s knowledge or consent, Carrie heads to Hazelton, trying to find out what Simone Martin was up to, and discovers that she’d withdrawn nearly $10,000 from a cash advance business. Max is able to interrogate Simone’s driving record, and the conclusion that he and Carrie reach is that Simone was, most likely, in possession of nearly $50,000 in total; the sort of cash money with which you could pay someone off. She has a plan to prove a connection between McClendon’s death, Simone, and Wellington, something illegal; and Dante agrees to help her.

The real action, though, is at Redneck Farm, where more and more guns are arriving to shore up the militia’s defence of their compound. Saul and O’Keefe have, at least, established telephone contact, and Saul flatters O’Keefe by referring to them as the two grown-ups in the room, both trying to avoid an armed conflict. It’s coming, though, and it starts with something as minor as a teenage boy, JJ, chasing his dog through the forest. The dog is running towards the FBI, who shoot it, and when JJ remonstrates with the Feds and raises his gun he, too, is shot.

Whereupon everything just starts to spiral downwards. The FBI agent who shot JJ is taken hostage by the rednecks; and JJ, bleeding from a stomach wound, is taken back to the compound. Saul goes over the head of the agent in charge of the scene, who doesn’t want to assist the boy in any way while his agent remains a prisoner, and manages to negotiate safe passage for an ambulance to go in and take JJ to hospital. (One of the paramedics, protesting all the while that they’re just there for the boy, nonetheless manages to plant a bug while inside.)

So things should be back under control; and, in fact, agreement is reached to get the other children, and their mothers, out of the compound. But someone on Team Alt-Right has other ideas: he smuggles himself into the hospital where JJ is being successfully treated, takes a photo of him lying on a hospital trolley, crops the medical staff out, and posts it on social media with the mendacious claim that JJ has been allowed to die. Saul immediately phones O’Keefe to tell him that it’s not true, but O’Keefe doesn’t pass that on to the rednecks – we’ll never know whether they would have believed him anyway – and JJ’s father executes their FBI captive.

Whereupon, unsurprisingly, the FBI moves in, blasting away at the compound and everyone in it. O’Keefe is taken alive, and led away through a field of dead rednecks. One wonders whether his conscience might be troubled, although probably not too much; for alt-right fake news rabble-rousers like O’Keefe, the distrust and chaos is the point, and truth is just another casualty. It’s a lesson that we’re learning over and over again on both sides of the Atlantic at the moment, and I don’t think we’re close to being done yet. The best episode of the season so far by some distance.

Hawaii Five-0 s8 ep 10

After the events of last week, Steve, Danny, Tani, and Junior have recovered from Ebosles but are still in an isolation unit, where their only enemy should be boredom. Tani and Junior even flirt a bit. However, the peace is shattered when an unidentified assailant dresses up in hazmat gear and gets into the unit, wires the door to explode if opened, then shoots Danny before killing himself. As Danny is bleeding out, he starts to hallucinate the future: the restaurant he’s running with Steve (“Serve ‘em, Danno”); his daughter’s wedding to Grover’s son; his son joining HPD; Tani running the Five-0 (and married to Junior); Adam and Kono having a baby.

Meantime, in the present day, Steve eagerly seizes the opportunity to perform some field surgery on Danny, ending up being talked through a reasonably delicate and complicated operation by a proper doctor. Eventually they will of course be rescued, although Danny’s shooter’s identity and motive remain mysterious by the end of the episode.

We know from the start that Danny isn’t actually going to die, because we’ve seen TV procedurals before. So this episode really shouldn’t work. Miraculously, though, it does. The action in the hospital is properly tense, and the flash-forwards are as funny or sweet or touching as they need to be, culminating in a scene in which a wistful and elderly Steve and Danny sit by the beach, amiably bickering, which is genuinely and unexpectedly moving. It’s no surprise to discover that the episode was written by Zoe Robyn, who was responsible for two of season 7’s standout episodes. Ms Robyn clearly knows what she’s about.