On Wednesday night, the scheduled double feature of Human Target was preempted for the President's address in Tuscon. My cable schedule didn't reflect this till it happened, so I didn't realize the show wasn't airing till it, well, didn't. Then I make it through the week to Friday, and I'm chilling out with pizza and beer, and BAM--there's Fox airing the dropped episodes, right smack in the middle of my supposed night off. Because I'm devoted to my job (and because I didn't have a choice), I sat through the whole thing. I took moderately careful notes. But be warned: I did not stop drinking beer. It made the viewing experience far, far more enjoyable, but I can't really say what it did for my writing style. Seriously, though, Friday night, what the hell else was I supposed to do?
Maybe it was the alcohol, but on the upside, "Imbroglio" and "Cool Hand Guerrero" (wait, that's the title? Who the hell thought that was funny?) weren't as terrible as the show's been in recent weeks. Well, "Cool Hand" wasn't, anyway, because it focused largely on arguably the only character to make it through the re-tooling unscathed. Unlike the two episodes that aired last week, there's no connective tissue, regardless how tenuous, between these episodes, and that's probably for the best. One of the weakest aspects of "A Problem Like Maria/Communication Breakdown" (and it was a long list) was that it tried to have the impact of a two-parter without really earning the extra time. While I can't really imagine anyone wanting to watch two Human Target eps in a row who isn't being paid for it (and, again, I had to be rather tipsy to make it through myself, paycheck or no), at least "Imbroglio" and "Cool Hand"'s silliness was self-contained.
One thing that did connect both eps was that both involved cases that revolved around central members of the ensemble, and I gotta tell you, that particular trope is getting old. We've had a few episodes this season in which a client approaches Chance Industries looking for help, but far too many storylines have used either coincidence or contrivance to create some direct emotional involvement between our heroes and their work. Which just seems ridiculous. It's not like they're running a restaurant, and we need to justify why people with guns keep stopping by. Chance is bodyguard for hire, and when Ilsa joined on, she was interested in working with him; so we already have a perfectly good reason for new cases to show up, without needing to see an old guest star, or some former relative, or some past history resurfacing. Once in a while, it can be effective for us to get to know more about Chance or Guerrero's past, but this show is becoming less about a hero protecting strangers in need, and more about a guy who shoots people who put his friends in danger. That seems a lot less interesting to me, and it's been a lot less interesting in practice.
So! "Imbroglio" had Ilsa, her sister-in-law Connie, and everybody else (minus Ames, who I guess was only contracted to a certain number of episodes) headed to the opera. Connie is on the mystical "board" which decides whether Ilsa gets to keep spending her dead husband's "money" as she sees fit, and of course she's introduced to Chance and the others in a negative light. So we get a variation of last week's "Oh no, will Ilsa leave?", only this time, instead of threatening to quit, Ilsa is in danger of losing her funding. Feh. Once at the opera, a group of bad guys (who all appear to have come directly from the orgy party in Eyes Wide Shut) take the place over, holding everyone hostage while they attempt to free a prisoner from the secret CIA building next door. While Winston works with the Feds outside, Chance and Guerrero fight from within, through a series of action staples lifted from movies like Die Hard, Con Air, and The Dark Knight. This ep was probably the one most benefited by my lack of sobriety, as I wasn't cringing as much as I suspect I should've been. Lots of uninterested comedy between Chance and Ilsa, and the sub-plot about Connie was so irrelevant as to be almost offensive. (I'll admit, I am a little curious as to how Ilsa is able to just leave off everything in her life to hang out with these guys, but it's not really the sort of curiosity that demands satisfaction; the less we think about this stuff, the better the show will be.) We also dealt some with the fall-out from Ilsa shooting a dude last week, although in pretty vague terms. I can see theoretically how this should be interesting, but, again, Chance is so bizarrely antagonistic that it's hard to get invested in their relationship. Since this is a big element in the current season, that's not so great.
Thankfully, "Cool Hand" was much more fun. Still not terrific, and it's still tough to try and figure out just what the re-tooled version of Human Target is trying to be (sort of a Moonlighting/MacGyver hybrid?), but a lot easier to get through. And, delightfully, the relationship stuff here worked fairly well, as it focused on Guerrero's place on the team, and his dislike of relying on anyone, or letting anyone get too close. Guerrero's off on his own, forging a passport to help a friend get out of a bad situation; then the friend turns up dead in Guerrero's trunk, and Guerrero's framed for it, so off to jail he goes. Chance and Winston motor down south to help him, while Ames and Ilsa go through Guerrero's things to figure out why he was framed in the first place. Turns out there's a meth lab in the prison, and Warden James Remar is responsible (which is going to throw the Code of Harry all to hell, let me tell you). All of this is terribly silly, and doubtful any of it would hold up under any scrutiny, but it made for some nifty scenes of Guerrero kicking ass. Plus, Winston and Chance's assault on Gun World was, while broad, fairly funny. Again, like I said, moderately drunk, which makes me enjoy everything more than I should. But I liked the Guerrero had secret files on everyone (just like Batman!), and that once that information was released, he didn't seem too guilty about it. And I liked the final conversation between Chance and Guerrero, which led to Guerrero paying a visit to his son, which, thankfully, we didn't get to see. The new Target has been trying to hit the emotional buttons as hard as possible this season, and with limited success, but for once, it was more satisfying than painful. My expectations for the show remain low (and seeing as how it's burned off four episodes in two weeks, I doubt it's going to stay around much longer), but if it sticks with this direction, maybe I won't be missing beer the next time I sit down to watch.
- "Chance can vomit on cue." See, I'd criticize the show for throwing out a character trait like that this late in the run, but, well, I can't imagine it coming up very often.
- Of all the relationships on the show, I think I care about Ilsa's relationship with her dead husband least of all.
- "All right, just so you guys know, I got a permit for the samurai sword."