Thursday, October 18, 2012

Broken the Land That Needs Heroes

Thriller the Thursday

In attempting to infiltrate a hostage situation, Sam, Gene and Annie find themselves at gunpoint, with Sam believing that he must avoid being killed in the past to prevent his life support from being cut off in the future.

The review for "Once a Red" can be read here.

Unable to find a way home, Sam (John Simm) has grown somewhat resigned to the life in which he has found himself, working his cases and interacting with the people as he believes he should. While there is a constant struggle as he tries to understand what has happened, his drive to find answers has slowly been waning, but here, with the threat of death in both timelines, and a deadline wherein he can change his fate, Sam's determination reignites and his desire to survive shines through once more.

Sam has allowed himself to step back in many cases, diverting authority to Gene (Philip Glenister) in order to maintain the pretense of being outranked by him, but here he takes charge completely. During the hostage negotiation, Sam is completely within his element, being one step ahead of even Gene's game and cutting Gene out of the negotiations in order to lessen the risk of failure. In ordinary cases Sam is easily reeled in by Gene's overbearing attitude, but with the understanding that he might die at the close of the deadline, Sam forces his way to the lead and doesn't relent. The witnesses preferring Sam's authority to Gene's here helps Sam in keeping his position, effectively cutting off all important information from Gene until Sam decides it's necessary to share. This story allows Sam the opportunity to prove to Gene that, while his gung-ho attitude can often be a bit much in this time period, he has earned his title and developed his attitude for a reason.

Annie (Liz White) offers to go into the hostage situation disguised as a nurse, which Sam immediately refuses. Annie argues that, as part of the Women's Department, she is trained in first aid, and it would be less threatening to send a woman into the building than to send a man. She isn't content to simply be a cheerleader for the force, she wants to be a full member, and counters that danger is a part of the job, she understood what it was she was signing up for and she wants the opportunity to prove herself. Annie is clearly nervous about entering the situation, but she does so because its the right thing to do, and what's most heartbreaking is that, even though she's one of the most dedicated to her job, she's likely to continue getting the least amount of respect.

The appearance of DCI Litton's (Lee Ross) team seems completely unnecessary to the plot aside from adding an extra layer of tension amongst Gene's team. The conflict between Sam and Gene would have been all that was needed for the narrative, and having an extra group of people in the mix added very little to the outcome of the story, especially when they disappeared before the end of the episode.

Reg's (Paul Copley) motivation behind his crime is suspect; it's completely understandable that he would be frustrated with these people, angry about his situation in life, but he states that he had "failed to be a hero, [and is now] content to be a villain," which makes very little sense. He is desperate for any kind of acknowledgement of the things he has done, yearning constantly for some kind of praise for a job no one asked him to do. His need for attention is disturbing, but his heel-turn to attempted murder is a bit ridiculous.

Copley does a great job in this episode, portraying Reg's threatening madness quite well, and Ruth Millar (as Jackie Queen) also gives a great performance in her foil to Glenister's character. Millar and Glenister have an amazing chemistry with one another, mixing loathing and attraction in a way that's more intriguing than off-putting and never crossing the line too far in either direction. Simm makes a good choice during Sam's lie to Reg, letting Sam be a terrible liar as he talks about Gene's allergy and his passing out, proving he can only deliver a good ruse when Sam believes the meaning behind the words he's saying, speaking greatly toward his character as a man.

The time-limit imposed on John Alexander's episode keeps the pace steady and tense, exciting without a chance to breathe but not rushed beyond control of the narrative. The ominous musical choices during the hostage scenes are fantastic, adding a lot of uneasiness to the situation. Alexander drops hints throughout the episode regarding Sam's status, giving the promise of waking from his coma as he imagines that he laughed in 2006 at the same moment he laughed in 1973.

Matthew Graham and Ashley Pharoah team up to write this episode with a good focus on Sam's determination to save himself and the hostages and to ensure that "nobody dies today." Sam often defers his authority, Gene's grandiose being too intense to control, but here he simply ignores Gene, understanding that this could be his one chance to get back home, this could be the situation that ends his life if he isn't careful, and he doesn't have the time to let Gene blow off steam. Sam's interesting here because he doesn't allow failure of those around him, determined to save everyone else in order to save himself, and he proves how capable he really is.

Clearly there is some kind of meaning behind Sam's recurring dream about walking in the forest that will come into play by the close of the series, along with the upcoming romance between Sam and Annie that continues to be hinted at. There also appeared to be a spark of an opportunity between Gene and Jackie, though their relationship is possibly far too antagonistic to culminate to much beyond that.

The review for "Internal Investigation" can be read here.


Post a Comment