The Mentalist s7 ep 7

Some poor guy is killed for some whatever reason by some other dude….. Nobody (especially not the writers) cares who or why since the real point of the murder investigation is to give Lisbon and Jane an excuse to go to Chicago and sort out her relationship with two of her brothers, one of whom is a potential witness, the other of whom is in terrible debt, and both of whom could stand to see their big sis a bit more.

Bringing the Lisbon Siblons siblings closer together also brings Jane (in gentle and supportive and thus highly attractive mode) and Lisbon closer together in a sweet, shipper-pleasing episode with lots of significant, adorable firsts for their relationship and lots of SQUEE-ing from my sofa. Bonus points also for Lisbon looking great in a skirt and Jane looking fantastic holding a baby (awwwwww!) – if you wanted to watch a whodunnit, you were short-changed, but on the Jisbon front it was a bumper week.

Hawaii Five-0 s5 ep 17

In what passes for the A-plot this week, a diamond thief robs a jewellery store, but is then shot in the getaway car by his lover/partner-in-crime, who dumps him out of the car and leaves with the jewels. A quick Five-0 investigation reveals that the dude who was shot (a) isn’t dead and (b) is a Serbian megacriminal, who will assuredly come after Emma, the broad who double-crossed him. As he’s a higher value target, it’s decided that the best thing to do is set up a stake-out at Emma’s apartment, and wait for the megacriminal to reveal himself.

Which brings us to the real point of the episode; after several weeks of not-very-much, it’s all about the bromance this week. I’m not sure it’s a wise decision, either. It starts with Steve and Danny getting “couples counselling” again, then onto them sharing a flat overlooking Emma’s while keeping an eye out for the rampaging Serbian (who will rampage magnificently in one particular scene). So there’s plenty of time for them to, y’know, talk about their relationship. And their feelings.

The thing is, though, there really isn’t that much to talk about, no matter how much the writers might wish it so. I like the bromance as much as the next viewer, probably more so, but in reality the arguments in the car and the occasional exchange at a crime scene are probably enough to cover it. They’re partners; they’re friends; they bicker; they love each other. It really doesn’t need psychoanalysis. OK: I was quite amused by the elderly neighbour who thought Steve (with a white cat draped over his shoulder) and Danny were married. Less so by the way in which the guys leered over Emma while nominally engaged in a surveillance operation pertaining to her, although it’s hardly the first time H50 has objectified women, and it’s hardly the first show to do so either. (The elderly neighbour will also get a sort-of C-plot, which gives Jerry another chance to be sweet.)

Daniel Dae Kim directs, incidentally, and does a good job, but he really doesn’t have much to work with here.

Person of Interest s3 ep 1

It’s been a while. Fortunately, though, for those of us who haven’t seen an episode of Person of Interest in the best part of a year, this episode doesn’t spend too much time trying to remind us of arcane points of backstory, or for that matter establishing a whole new mythology. It’s brisk and to-the-point from the first scene, which also gives us the wonderful sight of Fusco in a silly fake beard.

That, though, is just a warmup for the Number of the Week. The fleet’s in, and Finch is alerted by the Machine – still talking to everyone, it seems, not just Finch – to sailor-boy Jack Salazar. It isn’t easy to find a sailor among hundreds of them, but Reese tracks Salazar down and is satisfied that he’s a good guy. Salazar’s buddy, though, is involved in a little bit of Cuban cigar smuggling. This in turn gets Salazar into bother; he’s holding a few cigars for his pal, but those cigars conceal some delectable uncut diamonds that some bad people want to get their hands on. Happily – for Salazar, for Reese, and indeed for all of us – Shaw can assist. She now seems to be at the very least a semi-permanent member of the team, although perhaps not yet on the payroll. Carter, meantime, is back in uniform and also helping the boys out, while keeping Elias hidden, and tending to her HR Conspiracy Wall. And Root, in psychiatric care but still apparently in touch with The Machine, is debating whether to kill her counsellor.

As CJ mentioned in her preview, I must confess that I approached this episode with just a little indifference; it’s been months, and we’ve got a lot else on. I’d forgotten, though, just how good a show Person of Interest is. The balance of action and humour was just right, the plotting was tight without being convoluted, the supporting cast is a joy, and it continues to tap into our concerns about surveillance in a way which is both entertaining and unsettling. In short, I loved ‘Liberty’, and I’m delighted Person of Interest is back.

Murder in the First s1 ep 10

As if to make up for the measured pace of the first nine episodes of the season, the finale shifts gear and goes charging through huge amounts of plot in thirty minutes or so: Terry and Hildy, trying to find out who killed Neyers, will suspect Blunt, Salter, Harbach, Mrs Harbach, Wilkerson, Navarro, and a dude called Howard Toomey, before finally working it out. At least this time they have the support of Koto, who seems to have developed a pair after last week: “We don’t work for Perez. This is my call”.

Which, once the mystery has been solved, brings us to what looks like the inevitable endpoint: Terry and Hildy go for a walk in Golden Gate Park, chug some beers, brush up against each other… But just as Terry mentions “love”, and they look at each other soulfully, a phone rings and the moment is interrupted. I’ve asked this before of other shows, but isn’t anyone thinking of me? Just because there’s been a suicide, that’s no reason for a ship to capsize.

But that’s where we end the first season, and if you’ve been counting you’ll have seen something of a difference of opinion on Unpopcult about this show. For what it’s worth, though, I thought Murder in the First was very good indeed. On one level was it was endearingly old-fashioned – one investigation, two cops, a bit of will-they-won’t-they – although that might have been because Steven Bochco was at the wheel. But it was refreshing to watch a new show which didn’t want to be the most important thing in the history of Western culture, but stuck to the basic premise of a good story told well. I’m delighted it has been renewed, and that it seems we in the UK might get season 2 as early as May. And if anyone’s wondering whether to give this season a go, I’d recommend it.

The Blacklist s2 ep 12

A cult leader preaches an unpleasant sexual morality to his followers, before a child is produced in front of the congregation, dressed as a bride and apparently about to be married to an adult. The wedding can’t take place because an unknown group storms the cult’s compound, killing most of them, while the leader, Justin Kenyon of the Kenyon Family – this week’s Blacklisters – goes missing. It’s a creepy opening to a supremely creepy episode, in which the corruption of children will recur as a theme – some of them are driving vehicles loaded with explosives, and others were cast out of the Kenyon cult at an early age and went feral as a result.

Red advises the FBI that the Kenyons make their money from storing weapons for baddies in buried shipping containers, which brings Keen and Ressler into the picture. Armed with a warrant, they lead a raid on the compound, although as usual they’ll be kidnapped. Also as usual, there’s something in all of this for Red; once the dust has settled, he goes into one of the underground bunkers, where he finds a vehicle which looks like a 60s Presidential car of the sort in which John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Whether it’s actually supposed to be that car isn’t discussed, although I can’t imagine that the fact that the real vehicle is in a museum will get in the way of The Blacklist’s writers if that’s the road they decide to go down. Anyway, there’s a McGuffin-holding briefcase in the boot of the car, which Red retrieves. He then phones a number picked up from Alan Fitch’s St. Petersburg safe, and a mysterious person – presumably a new Big Bad – answers.

It could be argued, and I probably wouldn’t disagree, that this episode still didn’t come close to the highpoints of season 1. But it managed to establish and maintain a genuinely nasty and unsettling atmosphere throughout, and I mean that as a compliment.

Scandal s4 ep 11

A panicked Fitz is trying to summon the Joint Chiefs, in order to get them to hold the planet Earth upside down and shake it until Olivia pops out. But a Secret Service man manages to dissuade him, by telling him that the White House is full of people keeping an eye on him, just to make sure he doesn’t do anything he shouldn’t. It’s a coup of sorts, and one I’m calling shenanigans on, because even in Scandal-world I just don’t buy that the milquetoast VPOTUS could somehow gain the devotion of just about everyone in the President’s orbit. Cyrus is the baffled exception, wondering what the hell Fitz is doing suddenly declaring war on West Angola.

So with Fitz under the control of the VP, I started to wonder what Olivia’s team was up to. Well, they’ve worked out that she’s leaving a trail – “breadcrumbs” – in the hope that someone can track her. Huck decides to exert some pressure on Elizabeth North, and there’s a moment which is both entertaining and chilling, when he leaves the OPA office to “visit” Elizabeth; we can see the rage and hunger in his eyes, and because we know Huck we know that his appetite can only be assuaged by torturing someone whether there’s a purpose in it or not. Sure enough, Elizabeth gets the Huck treatment.

None of it – not even our old friend, facial recognition software – gets them much further forward, though, until two important developments. Firstly, a friend of Olivia’s neighbour turns up at OPA. “Where’s the black lady?” she demands. She’s gently shooed away until Quinn works out who she is, and that she might lead them to some evidence about Olivia’s abduction. And the second break is provided by Mellie. I’d actually wondered whether she was in on the coup as well, a delicious prospect which enlivened the first half of the episode considerably. But no; in fact, she’s prepared to take her commitment to her new “partnership “ with Fitz very seriously, adding yet another layer of complexity to their relationship.

The big plan with Olivia, meantime, isn’t just to stop at the war in West Angola; it’s to hang onto her for the whole of Fitz’s second term, allowing the VP to run the show. There’s another somewhat dubious twist, when Olivia persuades her captor Ian that she’s worth more on the open market, as the woman who can control the President, than whatever the VP is paying him. He’s a pro, not an idiot. But he goes along with this, which means – I think – that we don’t need to worry too much about the symbolism of a powerful African-American woman being subjugated and auctioned among even more powerful white men; her half-smile at the end suggests that she’s started to take control back. This was entertaining, although I’d have enjoyed it more were it not, even by Scandal standards, utterly preposterous.

The Good Wife s6 ep 8

imageIt’s all about the optics on The Good Wife this week.

“One woman on a focus group” has Alicia obsessing about whether she comes across as “entitled” and inadvertently turning herself into Marie Antoinette in the process. Pre-trial prep has Diane enlisting the help of Viola Walsh to see how Cary will come across on the stand (badly, you guys. Cary will come across BADLY). And annoying Kalinda’s annoying relationship with the annoying FBI woman has Lemond Bishop questioning her loyalties, Cary questioning their connection and me questioning if the Kalinda-as-magic-sexpot storylines will ever END.

The focus group stuff is superb – especially when it intersects with the case of the week and the previously suspicious woman starts arguing with a suddenly wary man about whether taking on a campus rape lawsuit makes Alicia a “feminist activist.” First of all, dude, no it doesn’t, and second of all, so what if it did? I don’t understand why, in the twenty-first century, “feminist” is still used as such a bizarrely pejorative term, even if I’d hazard a guess that the deeply worrying climate of misogyny online and in the media might have something to do with it, but it’s a question that needs to be asked and a point (as I’ve said before) that this show is never scared of making, so, once again, kudos.

As far as the lawsuit itself is concerned, however, the university panel scenes are another excellent example of TGW’s fascination with and peerless skill at portraying extra-judicial proceedings, but the subsequent court scenes, fantastically-played though they are, did disappoint me a little. Campus sexual assault is such an important, relevant subject, particularly just now, and turning the storyline into one more opportunity for Canning shenanigans just cheapened the whole thing, I thought.

But I’m nit-picking, I guess. By TGW standards, “Red Zone” was a mid-table rather than top-tier episode, but by any other show’s? It was pretty damn good.