Hawaii Five-0 s7 ep 16

We start at a nightclub, where a thirtysomething dude’s appalling chat-up lines are getting much more attention than they deserve from a blonde babe in a revealing dress. They adjourn outside to make out, and next morning dude – Jeremy, a Palo Alto software developer – is found murdered, and the blonde is nowhere to be seen. Jeremy was on Oahu to attend a conference on The Method, a technique which is being pushed as a foolproof way of picking up women by its creepy originator Blake Stone.

The investigation is left to Kono, Chin, and Lou this week, because it’s Valentine’s Day and Steve has taken Lynn on a romantic break… to Hawaii. Yes, he’s gone a mile or so down the road and booked a suite at a well-known Honolulu resort hotel. And who should be in the next room? Danny, of course, with Melissa, so that the four of them can hang out. In fairness to the women, it’s courageous of them to attempt to compete with Steve and Danny’s true loves (each other); a task which becomes even more difficult when Danny becomes rather disturbingly fixated on a teenage boy at the resort, who might or might not have stolen his $20 sunglasses.

Meantime, in the Case of the Week, it turns out that Stone has been paying escorts to flirt with his students so that they will think his asinine methods are actually working, which means that the blonde in the revealing dress is now the main suspect in the murder of Jeremy. But is she the culprit? It’s about as traditional an episode of H50 as it’s possible to imagine, and it’s diverting, but no more than that.

This episode was brought to you by: well, the Hilton Hawaiian Village, of course, which gets more screen time than any of the characters.

Scandal s6 ep 9

So… will Huck live? Well yes, of course he will, because Meg, who as we’ve seen is capable of taking someone out with a single bullet, has inexplicably decided instead to give Huck the privilege of an elaborate James Bond-esque death, shooting him but not quite killing him, then stuffing him into the boot of a car and pushing it into a water-filled quarry.

All of which gives Huck the chance to escape. But, my God, the show really makes a meal of it, which gives the viewer time to wonder whether he’d be able to smash his way out of a car, swim to safety, and rescue the body of Jennifer, all while bleeding out from potentially fatal bullet wounds. But he lives, even though he might have “deficits” as a result of the attack. And since Huck already has numerous “deficits”, that isn’t promising either.

If this episode has any merit, I suppose it might come from character development: Olivia slapping Abby for her part in the conspiracy, then forgiving her; Fitz and Olivia hugging it out; Quinn visibly preferring Huck to Charlie. That apart, though, there have for sure been worse episodes of Scandal, but I don’t know if there have been any quite as pointless as this one.

24: Legacy s1 ep 9

So, who is this Naseri dude? Well, while Carter and his team were looking for Ibrahim bin Khalid, Naseri pretended to be an interpreter, used that as cover to get access to an intelligence asset, and killed him. Oh, and beheaded his children. No-one seems inclined to draw a line under that incident and move on, so Operation Find Naseri is launched, and a phone call he made shortly before the air strike at the end of the last episode is traced to a nearby house.

Naseri’s call was to a CTU security operative, Stephen Grant, from his girlfriend Jennifer’s home, showing her tied up and wearing a bomb vest. The idea is that Grant will co-operate with Naseri’s plan to spring Jihadi, Jr., and Grant, of course, goes along with it. Which means that CTU is, once again, infiltrated by terrorists. It’s been a while. Meantime Carter makes his way to Jennifer’s place, and defuses the bomb in the usual way – cut the short wire, look for the trigger (or whatever, I wasn’t taking notes) – but by the time that news is passed onto Grant, it’s too late: Naseri has Jr.

And – bonus ball – Naseri has someone else as well. Because at the same time as this is all going on, Senator John has also dropped into the CTU building, in order to try and put his marriage back together after the whole your-former-boyfriend-tortured-my-daddy business. But he gets caught up in the crossfire and abducted by Naseri. I’d guess that the Senator will now be used as leverage to get Rebecca to do something she shouldn’t. And if that, in turn, is used as a device to keep Tony Almeida involved then I’m all in favour, because post-torture he’s left the scene, and a fair amount of the show’s excitement has walked out of the door along with him; leaving a gap that Nicole’s continuing but inexplicable attraction to bad-boy-drug-dealing ex Isaac just isn’t going to fill.

Public Service Announcement 14 of 2017: Mr. Robot; Orange Is The New Black

A quick PSA from the frontlines of the streaming/broadcast interface. In the UK Mr. Robot is shown first on Amazon Prime, with TV broadcast coming along later. So, a few months after premiering on Amazon, season 2 starts tonight on Universal Channel at 9pm. I watched the first season, but I’m not sure it had quite enough about it to make me sign up for another go.

Wholeheartedly recommended, though, is the genuinely stellar first season of Orange Is The New Black, a Netflix original which finally makes it to linear broadcast tonight on Sony at 9pm.

Person of Interest s5 ep 8

This week’s Number is James Ko, a businessman whose flight is diverted to New York City, where he starts to feel unwell and goes to hospital. It’s an immutable rule of TV drama that when someone starts coughing it never ends well, and sure enough before long poor old Ko is dead of an unidentified illness, resulting in the hospital being locked down with Finch and Reese both inside.

Ko’s death turns out to be attributable to a synthesised virus created by Samaritan, apparently as part of its reaction to a couple of members of hospital staff who disagreed with its approach to automated healthcare. (Once again, I note in passing that Samaritan has a point: human error kills more people than it should, and in the long run greater automation will save lives.) And Jeff Blackwell, recent Samaritan recruit, is in the hospital as well, with the intent of killing the relevant medics. But the plan is bigger, and has a typically Samaritan-esque twist; the CDC requires mass immunisation, as part of which the DNA of the entire population is being harvested by everyone’s favourite supercomputer, for reasons as yet undisclosed.

In a busy episode, all of the main characters get something to do: the increasingly disaffected Fusco requests a new police partner, and enlists Elias in his investigation of who killed the bodies in the tunnel. Elias, incidentally, gets the best line of the week: “Underneath all of that intellect”, he tells Finch, “you’re the darkest of all of us. It’s always the quiet ones we need to be afraid of. I just hope I’m not around the day that pot finally boils over”. I expect he will be. I hope we will all be.

Meantime, Shaw escapes, and finds herself in a prison in Johannesburg, where she shoots that Samaritan henchman with the English accent. Or it’s another simulation. Given that my primary school teachers would have leathered me for using “…and then I woke up!” in a piece of creative writing at age 10, it’s genuinely astonishing how often proper TV writers think they can get away with it. This time, though, I think it’s for realsies, as she hears details of the virus outbreak on a car radio as she drives away. It’s another very good episode, but it falls short of being exceptional, perhaps because the main plot – virus, hospital, lockdown, CDC – has been done so often before.

Homeland s6 ep 12

Spoilers. It’s the last episode.

Homeland doesn’t always manage to stick the season-ending landing, but as these things go I thought this was a pretty good finale. Dar is going down fighting: he has a Senator, in his underwear, imprisoned in the freezer room of a restaurant, and he’s trying to find out from him what the conspirators are planning, with specific reference to Quinn. I must say that I’m not entirely convinced that the Prince of Darkness would put his evident affection for Quinn ahead of his messianic belief that President-elect Keane needs to be stopped, but there it is. Anyway, while Carrie and Quinn are with Keane at her hotel, overseeing an evacuation because there might be a bomb in the building, Dar discovers that the plan is to flush Keane out and assassinate her as she leaves. He tells Carrie just in time for her to stop Keane exiting the building, and thus saving her life, as a bomb goes off outside.

And then it’s Peter Quinn’s last stand: he bundles Carrie and PEOTUS into a 4X4, and drives them to safety through a hail of bullets from the would-be assassins. But in the process he’s shot, and – finally – dies. Which is irritating. Last week I said that – having survived sarin, stroke, and explosion – he was probably immortal for the show’s purposes. I was very wrong. But it hardly seems worth keeping him alive for this, and I’m now even more of the view that he should have been allowed to die at the end of season 5. Farewell, Quinn.

We then jump forwards six months. According to O’Keeffe, President Keane has extended the reach of the PATRIOT Act. And she was inaugurated behind closed doors. Given the events of episodes 1-11 I can see the need for her to be circumspect, but presumably a camera crew could have been allowed in? Still, O’Keeffe can piss off. Dar is in prison, not before time, and on being visited by Saul, Dar confides that he still thinks there’s something “un-American” about Keane.

My guess is that what then happens is to be interpreted as corroborative of Dar’s position, as the episode – and the season – ends on a disquieting note. Carrie has been working as Keane’s liaison to the intelligence community, and in that capacity reassures senior officials that, although Keane hasn’t been granting them much direct access, their jobs aren’t in any danger. Keane then offers her a permanent position in the West Wing and, while she weighs her options, she gets FaceTimed by Saul, who is being arrested. She then discovers that he’s far from the only person in the intelligence agencies to get arrested and, when she tries to protest directly to Keane, she’s blocked by new Chief of Staff David Wellington (Linus Roache).

The show, I think, is inviting us to regard this as sinister, and maybe it is. The thing is, though, does Keane not have a… point? There has just been an attempt to mount what would have effectively have been a coup d’état, involving significant numbers of Agency officials allying themselves with an alt-right bloviator and his lie factory, and using bombs and bullets along the way. Not to mention everything that’s happened in seasons 1-5. Time, I’d say, to clean house. And if one or two innocents get swept up: well, can’t make an omelette.

The final shot – Carrie staring at the Capitol – is presumably a deliberate callback to Brody’s similar scene at the end of the pilot. I can’t imagine that Carrie is going to go full terrorist on us, but at this point it’s quite possible to imagine her working in Keane’s White House, or campaigning in opposition to it. However, having once again enjoyed this admittedly patchy but ultimately compelling season, I’ll once again be on board to find out.

Homeland s6 ep 11

Now that Quinn has found Sekou’s original van, providing evidence that he was framed, Carrie wants to call it in to the Solicitor General. Quinn doesn’t, though, because he wants to offer some extra-judicial justice to the guy who shot Astrid. “You owe me!” Quinn shouts at Carrie. “Because you made me this way!” He does have a point, in fairness. So when he tells Carrie that he’s going out, following the men from the house when they leave, Carrie takes the opportunity to have a look round for herself. It’s entirely possible, given what then happens, that Quinn was getting Carrie to repay her debt by using her as bait: Astrid’s killer is still in the house, and he’s about to strangle Carrie, but Quinn comes bursting in, shoots the man, then batters him to death, of which we are not spared the details. Still, he deserved it.

Meantime, Saul is once again trusted by President-elect Keane, and takes the opportunity to show her the evidence that Dar Adal is linked to alt-right wing nut O’Keeffe. Keane is invited onto O’Keeffe’s talk show, and her advisers are inclined to tell her not to go. Saul, however, knows what’s going on, and although he’s as much of a practitioner of two-fisted realpolitik as anyone on the show he has never quite lost sight of the moral dimension of what he does: he observes that there’s a disinformation campaign, and there are protestors with “boots on the ground”. This is the sort of thing the US does in other countries to delegitimise governments, and “it does not end well”, he notes drily, “for the elected regime”. I’m more than ever convinced that the Homeland writers were expecting a Clinton victory and a subsequent right-wing campaign to destabilise her, similar to the one before the election which (successfully) made such a big deal out of a bit of ill-advised email handling. Anyway, PEOTUS goes on O’Keeffe’s show, and does a reasonably good job, but what can you say to these people? In real life, I mean, as well as on Homeland. Seriously?

Max is still being held at O”Keeffe’s alt-right fake news factory, and thinks he’s escaped, but he’s recaptured and taken to meet Dar, whose motives are now becoming opaque again: Dar caught sight of O’Keeffe’s next project, something about Quinn, and Max digs around until he finds it. It’s a blog, purportedly written by Quinn, in which he’s set up as an anti-Keane fanatic. This ties in with what Quinn – now offered immunity for using the terrorist as a punchbag – and Carrie have found at the house, where it looks as if an attack on the East Coast is planned. Putting two and two together, I’m guessing that Keane is to be assassinated with Quinn as patsy. But as Carrie tries to call Keane’s chief of staff – the underused Hill Harper –  to warn him, the house blows up. Quinn survives, mind you, and given what he’s already been through I think we can now peg him as being essentially immortal. It’s another excellent episode, although it depressed the hell out of me.