I wasn't sure where to exactly start my review. Should I start with the writing? acting? directing? Nope, I am going to start right with Jonathan. This is not what you're thinking. I actually want to say that I think Jonathan will turn out just fine on the show. The more I see him the more I am beginning to like him. The character has some different quirks and far deeper ones than Sean did. I really thought Jonathan Togo is getting more comfortable in his role on the show. He was able to shift from the scared out of wits guy to someone who understood how Nick felt. The look on his face when he told Kate about how this is exactly like what happened to Julie showed sympathy and a caring side of him. Jonathan's game of trying to impress the Captain is funny and I can see some great potential for Jonathan in the show. He is no Sean, but he doesn't have to be, he's Jonathan and he is going to be just fine.
Now I must say the guest star Mark Sheppard was fabulous and definitely a great villain. He brought out a part of Nick that we rarely see that emotional. The original Chameleon took a delight in his games with Nick and Mark Sheppard brought that alive so well. It was their banter and playing off each other that brought Mark and Nick to a level above and beyond the high level this show is at. Mark commanded the scenes in and out of character. It was hard not to notice how perfect he played the Chameleon and how the chameleon played Nick.
As for Michael Landes, if he does not get an award, more specifically an Emmy I am going to be pissed. One of my favorite scenes with Nick was in the van with Kate and the Chameleon where he had to restrain himself. The entire sequence in the van was outstanding as the Chameleon went from playing with Kate to playing with Nick. Those piercing eyes of Nick really told the story of his pain while his body language was screaming for payback while his brain was telling him to restrain himself. Michael is the complete package when it comes to acting. I likened him last week to Ethan Hawke and I echo that this week more than last week. Michael's ability is outstanding and he will never get the credit he deserves. Michael played Nick to a "t" this week. There is nothing to describe how great Michael performed in this episode; I would not be able to do him any justice. This is a performance you need to see to believe. The pain, the suffering, and finally saying goodbye to Julie brought me into the episode so far I got a little misty eyed at the end. If you missed this episode, do not fret cause this will not be the last time you see Michael Landes give an excellent performance.
This was definitely one of Michael's finest hours, but Carl dang near stole the show. Carl and Captain Page both brought the humor into the episode so as not to be drowned in the dark tone of this episode. Carl was downright hilarious; his scene trying to escape in the file boxes was a favorite of mine. "Does the box have cable? Point taken. Captain Subtle." Even Captain Page had excellent moments from the serious moments, of acknowledging the failure, they had in catching the Links and allowing it to hurt more people, to when he tried to comfort Nick. The reaction to that was well timed and delivered.
Kate: He actually put his hand on your shoulder...
Nick: ... and he called me Nick. We must really be in deep.
Richard Gant really brings out the best in the cast, especially his relationship with Carl. In an odd way, I think Captain Page and Carl respect each other and that is why they can get away with so much with each other.
I must take my hat off, not just to the outstanding acting and direction by Oscar Costo, but to William Schmidt as well. William Schmidt wrote a truly fantastic episode and showed he really knows what this show can do. He not only understands the show, he knows how to keep the rich characterization on the show developing and to toss some hints at what is upcoming. It was a dark episode with light moments, very well blended together to create a great story for the fans to get into. There were plenty of twists and turns, I really felt like we were taken on one hell of a thrill ride.
You could tell we are being setup for something big coming in this season. We all know John DeLancie is going to appear as "Y," the king of all Links. How all of this is being setup is just well thought out and executed perfectly. The writers and the producers are stepping up to the plate in that respect and really plan on giving something for us to scream about. I am really enjoying this season and I can feel it in my bones that this is merely the beginning and we haven't seen anything yet. We are all in for a real treat this season and these first two episodes have proven Special Unit 2 is alive, and television at its finest. Now on a different note, if there were one question I have about anything, it would be about Julie's kids. The ones Nick gave money to in the first season, specifically the pilot. If he loved her, he loved the kids as well. If so, I'm curious about how both spent three days away from them considering their age for a romantic interlude. This brings up the "the kids never existed" kind of explanation again. So I say to the writers and producers, please stop doing that. Those of us who fell in love with first season are beginning to feel a little left out. While new people that don't really know the full story when they do see season one, they will wonder as well what the deal was with the orphaned children. One sentence could have summed it up... "Julie and I agreed to let the children find a family that loves them, but you know I still give them money once a week." Just a little explanation would go a long way; the same can be said of what happened to Sean. I am not harping on the Jonathan character again. That is long past as I mentioned above what I think of Jonathan now. However, the "never existed, never happened" approach just does not work at all for fans of any television series.
The most superb aspect of this episode I hate to say it, but it was not the writing, nor the acting, nor the production values and locations. It was the score by Mark Morgan. I swear this man deserves an Emmy at the very least. His work is nothing short of pure magic. I had to force myself to listen to his music the third time through the episode. The mark of a great score is not realizing there is music in the background in a pivotal scene that brings a certain emotion out of you just for that scene. You are not supposed to notice it, but feel the effects of it. Throughout the episode, I got so involved in watching that the score was there and it immersed me into every scene. It was haunting and enchanting at the same time. I would love to have a CD of the music of Special Unit 2 by Mark Morgan, definitely include the opening credit theme. I love it. I also like how Mark has taken elements of the theme and made it part of the score at times. It adds a lot more appreciation for the show and the overall feel the show has. My compliments to Mark Morgan, I look at him and I hear the talent of a young John Carpenter and Danny Elfman in him.
There was but one little thing about this episode that I did not like and I refuse to let it affect my judgment of the episode. I feel a little disappointed with no explanation about Julie's children, but it was not enough to change my opinion of the episode. William Schmidt wrote a dandy, and Oscar Costo did a beautiful job directing, coupled with outstanding acting by Mark Sheppard, Nick and the regular cast and the beautiful score everything was top notch and one of the best episodes of any show I have ever seen and that is saying something coming from me. On a scale of 1 to 7, I give this episode a rousing 7. In short, The Skin was a wicked and wildly intelligent episode. Special Unit 2 is definitely high quality television. Next week looks terrific as well...
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