There was a lot going on this week—probably a little too much, judging from the many pages of hastily scribbled notes next to my keyboard. My head is still spinning from the enormous info-dump the show just dropped, but that’s not to say it was a bad episode. Parts of it were weak, but most of it worked pretty well, even if the pace was a bit more accelerated than usual.
Early on, it seemed as if “Nuke It Out” would settle into the groove of a procedural episode, with Marcus and Sam working on the mystery of the missing launch key. I figured that’s where we were headed when Marcus assembled his files on the crew and called Grace into his office for a little interrogation/back-story exposition session. But the episode branched out into so many different directions, the hunt for the key almost vanished off the radar, Perseus-style, at least until the ending. (And we’ll get to that little “reveal” soon enough.)
We learned that Booth, the Black Ops soldier with his arm in a sling whom Sam is keeping prisoner in a secret location, is with the CIA. And if we’re to believe anything he says (which is quite a leap of faith to make in a show like this), we now know that the Colorado crew is now seen as a symbol of the resistance against “a man who wants to be emperor, not president.” But the catch is, the CIA wants perceived loose cannon Marcus out of the way so this resistance can be personified by a more palatable leader in Sam.
Back in Washington, the alliance between Kylie and Christine is starting to pay dividends. Maybe it’s just because the show has made sparing use of her lately, but Kylie is a much less annoying presence these days. It helps that the character has been humbled more than a bit—in this episode, she’s forced to buy back some of her own tech from a former employee. And her teaming up with Christine has made both characters more vital. Last time, Christine was forced back into the role of the aggrieved wife (albeit only in the form of a hallucination), but now she’s back in a proactive role, playing skeezy Paul while Kylie bugs his car.
Virtually every supporting character was given something to do this week, but some of these subplots were less successful than others. I’m always in favor of spending time with the COB, but his anti-drug crusade seemed like it could have been shelved until a less jam-packed episode came along (if we needed it at all). Yes, it did add fuel to the conflict between the Colorado crew and the islanders (and fuel to the fire on the COB’s feet), but this is one storyline that helped make “Nuke It Out” feel overstuffed. (And I hope we’re not in for a string of episodes featuring the COB’s battle with a painkiller addiction.)
On the other hand, I am glad Shawn Ryan and company made room for a little downtime with the crew. The ladies’ night out with the Lieutenant was a fun little interlude (although there was a little too much psychobabble about Grace being spouted this week, as if we hadn’t already figured out she’s a little uptight), as was Sam’s screening of the 1990 Army/Navy game as a morale booster for a crew that might have been reconsidering the prospect of mutiny. I was reminded of those time-out episodes of M*A*S*H where everyone gathers for a movie or some day-drinking at Rosie’s Bar before the choppers full of wounded inevitably return.
But wait, there’s more! Sam finds Sophie’s secret stash of Sam/Sophie slash-fiction, except whoops, it’s not fictional at all. But it’s okay because they were drugged, and I’m sure it will never happen again. Another “one-time only” hookup, and a somewhat more surprising one at that, finds our honorable SEAL James, who has just told Tani how good she is for him, having a roll in the sand with Grace. Yes, it turns out she can let her hair down after all. I give credit to the powers that be for not having this scene end with Tani emerging from the woods just in time to catch them in the act, but I’m sure we’ll be revisiting this turn of events soon enough.
Finally, there’s the big reveal: the identity of the CIA sleeper agent assigned to the Colorado. Just in case you hadn’t picked up on the flares Last Resort had been sending up throughout the episode, such as Cortez telling Grace the story about killing the dog that’s turned on you, or Cortez heavily hinting to Marcus that she’s on board for any executive action he’d like to take, the mole turns out to be... Cortez. This was kind of a shrug moment, as it’s not as if Cortez has been much more than a bit player so far, but it’s fine; it works.
This episode was so jam-packed, I didn’t even get to the whole “cut the yellow wire” bomb defusing sequence, or Marcus ordering the execution of the man who tried to blow them all up. I’m all for breathless storytelling, but some of the best moments this week were the ones that took a little time to breathe.
- Other revelations: Skeezy Paul is working with the SecDef, and he may not be so skeezy after all: It seems as though there’s some kind of blackmail situation with his son. The Admiral is in jail, but he’s got a friend on the outside who is able to get her hands on a photo of presidential aide Straw’s corpse. And the kid is making an NCO out of manure because he doesn't have enough crap to make an officer.
- I’m not sure I buy the COB’s Kurt Cobain reference. He seems like more of a Skynyrd man.
- No episode next week due to Thanksgiving. Enjoy your turkey day, everyone.