Absence makes the heart grow fonder

This has been a long time coming, and I sincerely apologize for that! I know you all must have missed me as much as I missed you. A lot has happened since the last post. Let’s see if I can get it all in:

1. ‘Intelligence’ has been cancelled
Is it a surprise? Not really. Am I disappointed? Kind of, yeah. It was a really interesting premise, but it did seem to be dropping a bit at the end. No doubt others thought the same, and it got the boot. Many shows didn’t make it that season, so it’s nothing against Holloway. Obviously. Because he’s perfect.

2. Another season of ‘Downton Abbey’ has come and gone
And wow, what a season! We’re in the roaring 20’s and there are quite a few changes happening with the Crawleys. I will hopefully have some posts about the series at some point…once I get it together.

3. ‘Sherlock’ is still out of commission…
…until Smaug and Bilbo get their act together. I mean, seriously. I know they’re great actors and all, but we need more Sherlock. I finally convinced my husband to watch the first episode with me. He refuses to watch another one, because he’ll get addicted. That’s my plan, of course.

4. I bought a house!
Sure, it has nothing to do with TV, but it’s a change and I thought I’d share.

5. I published a book!
Again, nothing to do with TV but something like that NEEDS to be shared with others. If you have any interest in science-fiction, adventure sports, animals, and a tiny bit of romance, check out ‘Revealing the Revolution’ (http://www.amazon.com/Revealing-Revolution-N-M-Sotzek/dp/1481197037/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1415334730&sr=8-4&keywords=revealing+the+revolution) Yes, that was a plug but I’m allowed to in my own blog.

With that all being said, I’m hoping to get back into blogging and reviewing. I’ve been reviewing novels, but it’s about time I get back into the swing of things with TV shows. God knows I watch too much as it is…

All These Mixed Emotions

Other than the Russian guy at the beginning, we’re diving right into “feelings.” And man are they ever pushing it. Let it flow naturally! Oh, and talking about humanity again. I would say I told you so, but it’s not something they really made subtle. The theme for this week: family, and being human (as usual). Hurray. Just one more thing to push Riley and Gabriel together.

There’s something else that really bothers me about this show: everyone tries to show how smart they are. Cassidy and his son are constantly explaining their answer before they give their answer. This is a time sensitive operation. Tell them where to go! They don’t need your five minute explanation of how you found out where the bad guys made the bomb.

I have to say, though, that this is likely my favourite villain so far. Even the way he sees Gabriel walk and knows he’s an athlete…yes, it made me watch the way Holloway walks, and stands… Anyway, I almost wish they hadn’t caught him so quickly. This was likely the most complex villains we’ve seen yet. If they keep going at this rate, they’re going to run out of ideas for bad guys. Some can stretch over multiple episodes without losing the viewers’ interest.

Overall, this was likely the best episode…if only for the villain. Yes, it was nice to see another side of Lillian, but the rest of it seemed corny, which didn’t seem to fit with atmosphere of a darker episode such as this.

 

Aaaand there it goes

Okay. Here it is. By the end of this episode, I wanted Gabriel and Riley to kiss. I can’t believe I just wrote that. Ugh. I’m a little disgusted with myself. But I have to say that this has been a very interesting episode, and while I enjoyed it I was very aware of the fact that every single aspect of this episode was to further the relationship between the two.

First we have someone else show interest in Riley, and she turned him down. Well, we know why. And then Gabriel loses his memory. Okay, it’s pretty cool how they did it, and shows yet another element of the chip. I love seeing the consequences of new technology. Ultimately, this was meant to act like the movie ‘The Notebook.’ Even without the memories, Gabriel could remember his emotions, and his feelings toward Riley. We were meant to see his true feelings in the form of a confused soldier.

I have to say that I love the introduction of the Athens List: the list of children with the genetic mutation which will allow them to use the chip put into Gabriel. They likely won’t get back to this for a while, but it’s something to look forward to in the future. That’s something you can always count on: a small plot line will be introduced, and you know they’ll follow it at some point. And that’s exactly what they did with this episode.

We haven’t seen Jing Kong since the pilot, so we knew he would show up again. We saw Chip Girl already, and we just had to be patient. The idea of a list of children reminds me of the show ‘The Pretender’ which was absolutely an amazing show, by the way. I’m excited to see where they go with that.

One more theme seems to be evolving in this show: being human (which is, ironically, similar to the show ‘Almost Human’). As time goes on, Gabriel will have difficulty knowing which part is the chip, and which part is himself. But from the way this episode played out, Riley won’t let him forget what makes him truly human: emotions.

The Downslope

First, I have an exciting announcement! Although I started this blog as a creative outlet for me (and also so my husband wouldn’t have to hear me talk to the TV so much) I have partnered with a friend to create what I like to call a blog hub. We will be writing on various topics, from food and lifestyle, to the arts (including TV reviews). This blog will remain the same, however there will be another writer along with me. I’d like for you to welcome Leigh as a co-author. I’m very excited for this new venture, and I hope you’ll join us in the other blogs as well!

Now, onto ‘Intelligence.’ Disclaimer: I actually do enjoy the series. The acting is great, and the premise is unique and promising. However, I feel this is the worst episode yet. We’re introduced to some Bolivian politician whose opponents are being killed off. Turns out the assassin is Gabriel’s best friend from his time in Afghanistan. The entire episode is Gabriel and Riley chasing down this guy (very poorly, actually, in comparison to the other episodes). It’s not until the last ten minutes we learn why. I get suspense. I really do. I read…a lot. I’m good with suspense. I can read 600 pages of a book and be okay with suspense. But this was terrible. It wasn’t suspenseful. It seemed pointless, and I hate that. I hate wasting my time. Why do I care about this Bolivian politician? Why does Cyber Comm? That was never really answered, other than a brief mention of his willingness to work with the US government. But no details about that, not really. Granted, I may have missed it but if the entire motivation for this plot was in one line, then that’s poorly done. There has to be more to this than the show going downhill. I refuse to believe it’s already hit its peak. So I did what I do best: I began to research.

My favourite episodes so far have been:

– Episode 5 (Directed by Alrick Riley. Written by Barry O’Brien)
– Episode 6 (Directed by Adam Davidson. Written by Michael Seitzman)
– Episode 7 (Directed by Alrick Riley. Written by Shintaro Shimosawa)

My not-so-favourite have been:

– Episode 2 (Directed by Aaron Lipstadt. Written by Aaron Grinsberg and Wade McIntyre)
– Episode 8 (Directed by David Von Ancken. Written by Aaron Grinsberg and Wade McIntyre)

I’m starting to see a pattern, here. Statistically speaking, this isn’t much of a data set. I will be going over this again at the end of the season to see if the pattern continues, but for now it seems as though I favour Alrick Riley’s directing, while not being a fan of the writing of Grinsberg and McIntyre. So I did a bit more research. Wade McIntyre hasn’t really written anything else that I’ve seen. He was one of the writers for Home Alone: Holiday Heist…which may say something. I actually dislike all of those movies. Aaron Grinsberg is the same deal. Now, director Alrick Riley….yeah, that’s the same deal there too. That’s just the pattern I’m seeing. So we’ll just have to see where this takes us.

But back to the episode. Actually…that’s about it. The entire show seemed to be more about showing Gabriel’s connection with John Norris, and the contrast between the two (good and evil). Even that could have been done in a better way. Maybe do the flashback all at once? Maybe change it altogether? And seriously, why does every episode seem to end with Riley going into Gabriel’s apartment? Is it supposed to get us ready for when she goes in and stays the night? I sincerely hope not. She goes right to his fridge, takes a sip of beer, then leaves. What was the point of that?! To me, this show is becoming more of a way to spend an hour, rather than a ritual the way Grey’s Anatomy is for me. Plain and simple.

Lesson for today: To save someone, one must first kill them.

I have to say that I believe this episode of ‘Intelligence’ is my favourite so far. Yes, it’s missing a few elements I had laid out in the last post but this one had something new. This one got my emotions going. Okay, so that’s not hard to do…but this was different.

First, let’s talk about the incredible opportunity this show has. It’s a science-fiction show, but science is absolutely amazing. The things scientists are working on in real life would blow our minds. Boom. We look at the things in this show: biological explosives, chips inside brains, sentient nanites….we’re not so far away from all of this. Which makes me nervous for the novel I wrote (which is yet to be published). Tangent! In doing research for my sci-fi novel, I discovered that the University of Tel-Aviv has created a chip to be implanted in the brain which replaces the cerebellum. This can be used in stroke patients, and people who have had severe head trauma. Currently the chip has only been implanted in rats, but it’s working. How cool is that? It’s also the premise of my book, but that’s a different matter altogether… But with that being said, the technology in this show isn’t so far out of our reach, which is what makes all of this so believable. And a little scary, as well.

Autonomous nanites. The things people will do to get rid of their competition.

At this point in the series, we’ve gotten to know all the characters much better. Unlike in the first episode where Cassidy’s life is in danger, I now know much more about him and have had him around for longer. When his life is in danger…I cared. Score for the script writers.

Another thing I loved about this episode: very little about Gabriel and Riley! A show can’t simply focus on the dynamics between two people, or it will fizzle out. They did a great job beginning the balance. They’ve introduced the possibility of romance, and now they’re allowing it to grow naturally (and subtly) as other things happen around them. Sure, there was the unnecessary late-night/early morning phone call at the end with Holloway’s charming smile, but it wasn’t what the show revolved around. It revolved around the technology, and the effects it has on society. Best premise ever. Although, I’m biased.

The part was actually quite interesting, and very revealing about the characters. Gabriel is called the Frankenstein of this generation. (Oh, by the way, as soon as Bryce said “my assistant” in his car over the phone, I knew he was the bad guy…just sayin’) Up until now, we saw Gabriel embrace the chip and what he was. He’s a super agent. Literally. He has access to everything. He’s the best they have. But then Bryce steps in, and asks how much of him is human. And Gabriel hesitates. It’s something he hadn’t considered. His mind is not his own. It’s augmented. It’s partly computerized. He is part computer. And how much of him is computerized, he wonders? All of him, now? He claimed that he can’t even go home for the weekend without knowing what Riley did. She talks him down with the simple phrase: “you know me. It’s not the chip.” But we’re beginning to see something very interesting. Gabriel is doubting his humanity. He’s talked down by the end of the episode, but the seed is there. Riley tells him that humans make decisions. Computers follow code. It’s only a matter of time before he wonders whose decisions he’s following: his, or the chip’s.

Connections

Well, it seems like this may be a bi-weekly thing, just with my work schedule I don’t usually watch ‘Intelligence’ until Tuesday morning before work (hurray for PVR!) but I’m going to try to get back to weekly. With that being said, let’s look at the last two episodes together.

I’m starting to get annoyed with the show. Okay, not annoyed, and not necessarily with the show itself. I love the premise of the chip, and I love how the show has been demonstrating the various ways it can be used. The show seems to be taking a bit of a turn from that, and into the darker side of, not only the government, but the entire country. It’s like military vs secret service vs FBI vs Cyber Command vs CIA vs MI6 vs … well, you get the idea. No one seems to work together. Everyone’s dirty, and everyone has secrets. When the FBI gets Cyber Command to do something, it’s actually for some super secret reason which eventually forces the FBI to double-cross our show’s heroes. Mind you, it gives another level to the show which is fine…but it makes me angry. Why can’t we all just get along??

I have to admit though, I’m really beginning to enjoy Lillian Strand as a character. In the previous episode, she was first presented almost as a little girl working with her dad. She’s been very quick to quote him in the past, and now we actually get to see their relationship. And it’s not good. But by the end of it, she stepped out from her father’s shadow, and I believe that’s when we really got to see who Lillian will be in future episodes: strong, and independent, and a competent leader of Cyber Command. She took matters into her own hands, and got her own contact in Mexico. All while at the opera. Not too shabby.

Now let’s move on to the whole Gabriel-Riley fiasco. The thing I love about Josh Holloway (and many other great actors) is how he acts without saying a word. By now it’s pretty clear these two are going to get together. I’ve come to terms with that. So now we get to see how it happens and how their feelings develop. They’ve been through quite a bit already together. Disaster creates lovers. That’s fine. And now…Riley’s taken hostage! Dun dun dun. Wait, it’s willing! To save a girl’s life! Now Gabriel sees a new side of her. Add on the love points. (I made those up. They’re arbitrary, of course. For now…I may make up a system, depending on how long it takes for them to get together.) Gabriel has to save her now. I have to wonder, however…how good was she at protecting the President’s life? Aren’t his Secret Service people supposed to be with him and his family at all times? Other than a few tackles, Riley seems to be saved by Gabriel more often than not. Back to acting without words. In Gabriel’s cyber render where he discovered where Riley and the senator’s daughter are being held, he kneels down and looks at her face…he takes in a deep breath, and sighs. Add more love points. In that one gesture, that one breathless moment, we see his concern, his loyalty, and the beginnings of his feelings for her. That’s not the sound you make when you’re about to save your work partner. That’s the sound made when you see the person you love in a hostage situation, knowing you’re the one to save her.

Now, this week’s episode was really well done. They were able to add in all the elements that had previously been a bit more choppy. We had the double-crossing (special forces vs cyber command). We had a relatable danger situation (biological warfare). We have the love (Riley gets infected, and Gabriel touches her anyway to save her life). And we have the development of Lillian’s character (she takes down the General).

What I really loved about this episode, was actually at the end. Riley asked Gabriel how he views the chip now that Amelia is dead (she was the reason he got it in the first place). She apologized for bringing it up, and his response is that he thinks about it all the time. I was getting pretty frustrated that he didn’t seem to be someone who had just seen his wife die. Yes, she had been missing for years, but he knew she was alive. Now she’s dead, and there hasn’t seemed to be much internal conflict about that, except for maybe 10 minutes in the episode after it happened. This is really the first time we get into his head about the whole thing. It was brief, and it was to further the relationship between Riley and Gabriel…but beggars can’t be choosers.

Better late than never

Politics are dirty. So are secrets, and the people who hold them. That’s what I love about shows like ‘Intelligence’. There are many levels of this show so far. It seems flat at first, but when you look into each scenario the show offers you realize how much more there is. Or maybe that’s just me. My husband tells me I read too much into things. (But he may be biased.)

When Gabriel talks about someone being in the rendering with him, I had two immediate thoughts. 1. The chip has become almost like an AI and has its own ‘being’ now. 2. The chip can be hacked.

I’m so good. Well, at least one of them was right. So while the chip hasn’t necessarily been hacked, there’s clearly a connection between Gabriel’s chip, and the Chinese woman’s chip. Or maybe it was hacked…by her chip. This all makes sense, from a sci-fi perspective, but it would have been nice to have this come in slowly. And to have it resolved slowly as well. Crises can go through more than one episode, you know. It doesn’t have to be wrapped up in a neat bow each time. That’s something I’ve noticed about this show so far, is that not much has really kept me hanging to get me to watch the next episode. We had the Chinese girl’s eyes open in the end of the pilot, which wasn’t much of a shock. We knew something would eventually happen with that. And then we had Amelia die in the end of the next. The only saving grace on that front is their previews of the next episode during the beginning of the credits, which I hope was intentional.

But I was right about something else, too. The friendship between Gabriel and Riley begins to flourish…well, I guess I can’t stop it. I’ll just have to keep watching and see what they do with it.