Well, where oh where do I start. The Grain, the second season premiere, brought us back to our favorite crew sans a MIA in Sean Radmon and an apparently renovated headquarters. I'll get more to those shortly. First, the Grain was a very good episode, far from great, but still a solid effort for a second season premiere. Most premieres of season generally suck, especially if they don't have a cliffhanger to bounce off or if production was delayed for longer than normal. To me, the premieres and first few episodes are usually not up to speed considering how long it takes for new writers and producers with new crew to gel. Around episodes, 4 and 5 we should expect to see the weaker points ironed out with a direction outlined for the show. Now I am not exactly sure where to start this review since I have many opinions about it. I will start with what I did not like about this episode and end with the good.
The first thing in my mind when watching the opening credit sequence was one simple question. Who in the blue hell is Jonathan Togo? Much to my chagrin, Sean Whalen is no longer a part of Special Unit 2 and I feel that is a terrible, terrible mistake. No offense to Jonathan Togo, but he is no Sean Whalen nor is his character a Sean Radmon. Probably the worst thing with this change is that we did not even get an explanation for this change. The second worst thing is how can this new guy be in the main credits when Sean never was. Jonathan Togo, I am sure is a fine actor but sadly he has no chemistry with anyone. If anything he zaps what energy exists in the scene's he is in. He tries to come off like a dumber version of Sean, it makes no sense, and it is wrong. The character Jonathan cannot match wits with Nick, he annoys the Captain, and he just does not work period. I do not know why Sean is no longer a part of Special Unit 2, but he was an extremely important character to the show whether people realize it or not. If we were at least given an explanation as to what happened to Sean, like he transferred to New York, was killed by a Link, or joined the Illuminati we could have some sort of closure to him. Whatever happened behind the scenes happens, but at the very least give an explanation and do not pretend he never existed. One simple sentence could have clarified it for us. "Sean transferred to New York." I will miss Sean, he was one of the characters I could relate to and sympathize with. He had a crush on Kate, was more at odds with Nick than Carl was, and did not want to just kill Links he wanted to understand them. Sean was a real person, and a terrific actor who had chemistry with everyone. I would gladly give up this next point to get him back.
This is the second grief I have with "the Grain." What in the hell happened to the Headquarters? Did the city give money to renovate or what? Now, I am a sci-fi fan of a different breed where I appreciate all aspects of a tv show and its production. The original incarnation of the headquarters was beautiful, it had grace, and beauty and it was a character in itself. The statue of the woman's face to broad arches and expansive stairs to the wide open feel of that hq really gave the impression something big and important was happening. The new headquarters lacks all of that. Once I heard production was moving to Vancouver the first thing, literally, that sprang into my mind was one simple question. "What is going to happen to the headquarters?" I was afraid this would happen and none of the features of the original incarnation was incorporated into the new look. This new look is smaller, claustrophobic, and lacks a character that the original did. This just seems like a typical police department now. I liked the statue, I liked the armory, and the nice desks, beautiful architecture and well you get my drift. I would gladly concede this to get Sean back and to be rid of Jonathan. However, an explanation would have helped here as well. "The city instead of moving us gave us money to renovate." Well that is where my weak points end. These two, really three, things hurt the episode and kept it from being the top-notch episode it was in every other way.
The writing does not look it has changed too much. However, it will be a few more episodes before we see the direction the show is taking with the new writers and producers. I am confident in them to stay true to the rich characters on the show, sans Jonathan, as well as the style of the dark tone with plenty of quick wit. Jack Bernstein wrote this episode and he did a fine job. The only thing I would remark on was not getting explanations and what seemed to be a rushed ending. It was a fine ending, but it felt like a scene was cut out between Nick leaving to fulfill the demands and suddenly being in the chopper. That might have been to cut for time on the episode, so I do not hold that against the episode. The overall dark tone about Kate revealing that one of her inner desires was to hit Nick was an interesting revelation. Even the comment about having lots of plans and only one of them has to do with Nick. However, I think some may have missed the point that she wanted to hit him and not anything intimate. Carl had some pretty good lines in the episode, especially his scenes with Nick at the bus depot and their little fight. I can't wait to see what the writers do with Carl next. One of my favorite scenes though was the mailman starting a fight with parcel man. I just knew postal workers and delivery guys don't like each other.
We have another addition to the show, or atleast I hope we do, in the damage control lady known as Alice. That character reminds me a lot of Lori Petty's character of Max on the show BrimStone. She is tough, confident, and sexy. I say make her the regular and ditch the Jonathan character. I mean no disrespect to Jonathan Togo, it is not his fault his character does nothing at all for the show. Sorry about that, back to Alice. Pauley Perrette plays Alice just right and really adds a flavor to the show as well as another woman. She came across as best friends with Nick and thinks of Captain Page as a father. The autographed picture of Diana Ross, the lunch offer, and the hug gave it away. She even seems like someone who can match wits with Carl and Kate, for which we can only hope. When she offered to go across the street to the bar and take shots with a reporter I knew she for sure she belonged on the show. She is probably my favorite new aspect of the show.
The Special F/X has also hit an upgrade. The phasing of the Sandman in and out of the bodies was pretty slick. Even though the f/x were not out in full force, probably due to budgetary constraints and holding back for a big f/x episode later, but they were very well done. The Quadregas, Stan with the 4 eyes, was very well down. If you paid attention, each eye blinked as he walked away. It is nice to see Carl getting a bit sinister with other Links. Maybe we will get to see Carl kill one, if Nick ever decides to give him a gun. Perhaps there is a rule conduct between Links, might be a great idea for the show. Oh well...
Michael Landes and Alexondra Lee definitely put on a great display of acting in this episode. I was glad that was really the central plot of the episode, very reminiscent of first season. Alexondra played the repressed woman very well. I really bought that Kate would do some of those things. Especially the, as Nick put it, kinky outfit she wore. Hitting Nick and just her overall woman gone wild was very well done. I think Michael Landes stole the show though. I really felt like he was hurt at being beat up by Kate and seeing how that was one of her desires. He also showed he cared about her enough to think of a plan to get the Sandman out of her. Even in the end, going against his nature, he told Kate about her best features including "a good heart." They really work well together on screen and just eat up everything in sight. I would love to see a blooper reel of the show, especially between these two. It seems every now and then they improvise something and because it added something to the scene, the directors and producers kept it in there. They did that on the tv show First Wave a few times.
The Grain was definitely and episode to remember. There were some low spots but there were a lot of high spots, and in the middle was a very good episode with some outstanding acting and a well written and directed episode that stayed true to Special Unit 2 of the first season, sans a couple of things. ;-) Next week comes The Skin. The Skin written by Bill Schmidt, the creator of Prey, will feature some interesting ideas, as he is a very intelligent writer.
Copyright 2001 - DrkAngel_113
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