Yet another 4-episode week and that’s leading to lazy viewing. Instead of doing one or two episodes a night, I’m knocking the whole week’s worth of watching in a single evening, leaving the rest of the week open for whatever I happen to want to watch. I’d better not get used to it because the fall premieres are coming and I’ll have to buckle down again for some serious viewing.
Burn Notice #7×06 – “All or Nothing” – Following their return to Miami, Michael and Sonya set their sights on destroying the hacker network that “outed” her to the Russians. However, Sonya plays things close to the vest, keeping secrets from Michael and he doesn’t like that. She meets him at a restaurant, supposedly to plan, but it turns out to be phase one of the operation. When another patron goes into convulsions, Michael pretends to be a doctor to cover the theft of a super powerful computer virus that Sonya needs for the next step in her plan. Strong tells Michael that Fiona is part of the operation whether he likes it or not and they meet up at their old loft. The plan is to pose as a couple of high powered hackers to get into the operation, then destroy their network from within. To prove their worth, Michael and Fiona show up at a club to impress a recruiter for the hackers and, with a little help from Sam and Jesse, pretend to cut the power, a feat that’s supposed to be almost impossible. That gets them in the door and with a little sob story about their last employment that supposedly got hit by the mob, which left body parts as a warning, they start hacking for the crew and setting up the technology they need to get into the server room where the data they need lies. Fiona almost falls off the roof and is caught by Michael, resulting in a series of flashbacks to their good times together throughout the series. Meanwhile, Sam and Jesse recruit Barry to help with the scheme, on the condition that they find his ex-girlfriend who left him while he was in prison. It turns out that she didn’t leave him because of his incarceration, but because she was in love with someone else. Barry thanks them for finding the truth and signs on to help Team Westen. Things go relatively smoothly, Michael makes it into the server room and gets the information he needs, but is almost caught inside and his new bosses suspect he’s trying to steal from them. They sit him down and force him to perform a hack for real, something he can’t do, but he’s saved when Fiona accuses the recruiter of being a police plant. This isn’t that far from reality, Sam and Jesse posed as feds, threatening the recruiter with harsh treatment if he doesn’t plant the virus into the server. He reluctantly agrees and does so just as Fiona drops the hammer on him and he’s almost killed. Making it out with the information, Fiona, Sam and Jesse leave and Michael demands to meet Sonya’s bosses. She says he has to earn it, he has to be committed to the cause and he says that he’s lost everything because of the cause, there’s no more commitment that he can provide. He and Sonya spend the night together and she promises to make the call and set up a meet. This is the first episode of the season where I’ve started to seriously doubt that Michael and Fiona will get back together. She seems absolutely serious that she’s done being with him and once her debt to Strong is paid off, she has no interest in seeing him again. You know something? I’m not that upset about it at the moment. Michael is right, he’s lost just about everything during the course of the series. He lost his career, he lost his brother, he lost his girlfriend, he lost his credibility, maybe it is time that he makes a clean start. That said though, I know there’s something up with Carlos and he’ll either betray Fiona or die and that will get them back together. I just hope that when the time comes, they do it right. To be honest, I didn’t buy the hacker thing, no real hacker would buy the act Michael and Fiona gave for a second, it was beyond amateurish and they didn’t even ask any serious questions. Then again, I guess they had to be dumb, they were going to lose, after all. I just wish it wasn’t so obvious.
Continuum #2×11 – “Second Guess” – In the future, Kiera is shocked to find that the government is archiving all of the input her CMR receives, her entire life is backed up somewhere for anyone with clearance to access. That’s kind of creepy. What’s more creepy is that she didn’t ask that question before she let them implant her. Back to the modern day, Kiera and Carlos are told by Betty that someone hacked into every e-mail account in the area and changed the passwords to “Liber8”, meaning anyone can go through anyone else’s e-mail. There’s a brief scuffle when one detective discovers that his wife has been sleeping with another detective, and Dillion wants to get to the bottom of this, but being an opportunist, he isn’t above checking the e-mail accounts of anyone who might even be tangentially connected with Liber8. This makes for a lot of arrests on some very flimsy evidence, which is what Lucas was after when he hacked the e-mail in the first place. Lucas has been hallucinating, he’s now seeing Kagame everywhere. He believes Kagame wants him to bring the city to it’s knees. Travis suspects that it’s a result of the time travel, it’s playing havoc with his nervous system. Kiera tells Alec to use the attacks to find out what happened to Gardiner, but he objects. He suspects that someone has tapped into the Arc, it’s the only way he can explain the severity of the cyber attack. Mayoral candidate Jim Martin is vocal about defending and protecting the people, but he and his wife are accosted by Travis in a stairwell and Travis demands that Martin set up a meet with Kiera or he might end up dead like the last mayor. Back at the station, Dillion sees a webcast of Julian who claims that he’s responsible for the cyber attack. He wants Julian picked up, but first he has a meeting with Carlos, Kiera and Agent Lewis of CSIS, who wants to know about Agent Gardiner. It seems a bit strange that he’s been missing for weeks and nobody has really looked for him. We know he’s dead, nobody else does. Carlos and Kiera are talking about the case when Julian walks into the precinct and surrenders himself. He says his reasoning is twofold, he doesn’t want anyone “accidentally” shooting him and he wants to report Alec for committing a crime against humanity. Alec suggests that since Julian stole his cell phone, which had some of the specs for the Arc, if Julian gave it to Lucas, it could explain how they hacked into the Arc in the first place. He thinks that if Lucas uses the code again, he can track it. Back to Lucas and Kagame. Kagame says he’s proud of the work Lucas has done, but is disappointed because he didn’t capitalize on the chaos when he had the chance. Alec and Kiera get closer and closer to Lucas, but he’s operating out of a truck and stays one step ahead of them. Martin meets with Sonya and she’s mad at him for not supporting the cause. He tells her that it’s Julian to blame for ruining her plans and she tells him to set up a meet with Julian. Why can’t these people just talk to each other instead of constantly going through a middleman? Anyhow, Martin is exposed by a reporter, his e-mails have been found, linking him to Sonya, a known terrorist. Kellogg and Escher have an unscheduled meeting at an art gallery and Kellogg suggests that they ought to join forces instead of stepping on each other’s toes. Escher rejects the offer and they leave enemies. Kellogg then meets with Sonya, he’s playing all sides of the game, but he sees Lucas and learns of his growing dementia. He passes that information on to Kiera at another meeting and she decides to use it against Lucas. Alec comes up with a voice changer so they can call Lucas and sound like Kagame, they do and he’s fooled, he tells them right where he is and the VPD shows up to arrest him. Kiera finds the rest of the time device in the van. Meanwhile, it comes out that the precinct is being run as a pet project of Piron and Dillion fears a media storm, but chooses to ignore it rather than face the music. Alec fears the potential damage that the Arc program can do and he gives the USB drive to Emily to destroy, but she pockets it instead. Kiera shows up and gives the rest of the time device to Alec. At the end, Lucas is put into a psych ward where sees multiple versions of Kagame that aren’t really there. Jim Martin wins the election and Carlos notes that he now has a lot of influence over the police. There was a lot that happened in this episode, which is good because there’s only two more episodes in the season. We see that Julian really is the mad genius that lots of people thought he was, that Escher has his fingers in everything and that Kellogg has been working more behind the scenes than we thought. I’m wondering where they’re going with Lucas’ insanity, that can’t be just a coincidence. Two more weeks, that’s all we have until the end of season two.
Perception #2×04 – “Toxic” – We start in Daniel’s class where he’s talking about keeping secrets, that it’s biologically healthier to confess your secrets than to hold it all in. Daniel goes back to his office and finds Rebecca Abbott, an environmental activist who wants him to testify in a court case. She says there are a couple of girls in a small town who have started to express tics within a few days of each other. He says he’d have to examine the girls, but when he finds out that he’d have to fly to Pennsylvania, he bows out. He hates to travel. However, Kate soon shows up with a case and, afraid that Kate has feelings for him, says he’s already working on another case and heads off to Pennsylvania anyhow. Off in the small town of Brooksville, he finds that Rebecca has filed a class action lawsuit against Brooksville Chemical, claiming they have poisoned the water supply with TCE. At a town hall meeting, the owners of the chemical plant express their displeasure at the lawsuit and she introduces Daniel. He gets uncomfortable at all the attention and walks out, followed by a mother who demands to know if the chemicals could have caused her daughter to kill herself. She shows him a picture of a girl with one blue eye and one brown eye. Rebecca comes out and Daniel gets mad at her, saying she ambushed him with the publicity. They’re about to argue when someone opens fire and hits Rebecca in the shoulder. Kate calls Daniel about the shooting and says she’s flying out to Brooksville right away. No other FBI agent would know how to handle him. He argues with her but she says she’s coming anyhow. Daniel says he wants to see the girls right away and finds them all irritable and upset and frankly, kind of rude. He talks to their doctor, who confirms that while they have trace amounts of TCE in their system, it isn’t enough to cause the symptoms. Daniel asks about other diseases that have been around recently and the doctor tells him there was a rash of strep throat cases a few months before. Daniel returns to the hospital and talks to Rebecca, he tells her there’s a syndrome called “Pandas” which is caused by strep throat and characterized by motor tics and tremors. Rebecca is upset, she wants him to claim TCE is the cause but he’s there to find the truth, not rubber stamp his name on her case. Back in his hotel room, Daniel hears a ghostly whisper “help me” and sees the delusion of the dead girl he saw in the photo earlier. Kate arrives and says they have no leads in the shooting, but know who has been vandalizing the belongings of Rebecca and her crew. They go to the Sullivan house, the people who own the plant, and their son Braden admits to slashing her tires, but not shooting at her. Besides, the plant commissioned it’s own tests and came up with a clean bill of health. Daniel suspects that Rebecca faked her test results so she could collect big when she won the case. It turns out that Rebecca’s assistant, Chad, purchased the rifle and was supposed to hit her car as a publicity stunt but accidentally hit her instead. They tell her that Chad is testifying against her and she’s through. Natalie suggests to Daniel that he tell Kate the truth, that he knows she’s got a thing for him and he does, only to be completely shot down. How truthful Kate is being, we don’t know, but it convinces Daniel, who apologizes, but keeps Donnie’s name out of it. However, the original mystery still remains and Daniel thinks it’s linked to the girl who killed herself, but she really didn’t, he finds evidence that she was strangled and hung up to cover the crime. He suspects that the girls suffering from tics actually killed the girl and their physical manifestation of guilt is called conversion disorder. He talks to them again and this time, they admit that they killed her, or at least feel that they did. She was sleeping with the ex-boyfriend of one of the girls and they tried to blackmail them into staying apart by threatening to release a video of them in bed together. The next day, the girl was dead and they all felt horrible. However, that doesn’t answer who did it. They go back to talk to Braden, the boyfriend in question and realize that, because of his eyes, he’s actually the half-brother of the dead girl, his father had an affair with the girl’s mother and, in fact, has continued to do so. The wife found out about it and went to tell the girl’s mother to stay away from him, but when the girl answered the door and refused, they got into an altercation and the girl had a heart attack. The hanging was a coverup for the accidental killing. She’ll go to jail for manslaughter, if nothing else. Once they go back home, Kate confronts Donnie, knowing he said something to Daniel. He admits it, saying he just wants Kate to be happy. This is the second week in a row that I thought they really pushed the psychological elements past the breaking point. The idea that four girls all contracted the same psychological symptoms out of guilt over the death of a classmate seems a bit out there. It also seems a bit convenient how they fell into the solution at the end, they just so happened to have been talking to the boy who was unknowingly sleeping with his half-sister, whose mother just so happened to have been the one who caused her death. They just stumbled into it, they didn’t reason it out. That costs points in my book. It was still a good episode in a great series, it just has some problems.
Under the Dome #1×04 – “Outbreak” – It’s been a month since the dome came down and the military on the outside are packing up and going home, much to the consternation of the residents of Chester’s Mill. However, when half the town starts keeling over, chaos ensues, especially since all of the doctors were out of town when the place was cut off. Luckily, Norrie’s lesbian mom, Alice, has a medical background and quickly diagnoses an outbreak of meningitis and, of course, there aren’t enough antibiotics to go around. They quarantine the hospital, with Junior at the door with a shotgun to keep people from leaving, while Barbie and Big Jim try to scrounge up more drugs to keep people alive. Meanwhile, down in the bunker, Angie tries to stab Junior with a pair of scissors so he shortens her leash in punishment. She really is an idiot. She then climbs up, breaks a pipe and starts flooding the bunker. Now people might be actually worried that she might fill it up with water and drown, but this is especially slow water, even by the end of the episode, it’s only covered about 2 feet on the floor, she’s sitting on the bed unaffected. At that rate, in 6 months, she might be in some danger. But this episode really isn’t as much about the disease as about the character interactions. Julia has Barbie’s map and is determined to find her husband, especially after she discovers that DJ Phil is driving her husband’s car. Junior says he found Barbie in a cabin and Julia is off like a shot, meningitis or not, to the cabin where she passes out and is rescued by Barbie who plays a voice mail from her husband, proving to her that he had gambling debts and their house was in foreclosure. He doesn’t admit to killing her husband though, he suggests maybe he skipped town. The Reverend shows up at Big Jim’s house with a bag of money and tells him to keep it, God has judged Chester’s Mill and he wants no part of the corruption. Instead, the idiot Reverend breaks into the drug store, steals all the drugs and tries to destroy them, only to be stopped by Big Jim and Barbie, who should have put a bullet in his head but don’t. They get back to the hospital in time to deliver the drugs and save most of the people, except for Linda’s old teacher who was a sacrificial lamb anyhow. Meanwhile, Norrie and Joe become curious about their seizure and perform an experiment on cell-phone-cam. It seems that when they touch, they flop around on the floor and mumble things about pink stars. It could be a new reality TV show. At the very end, Angie is banging on piles down in the fallout shelter and Big Jim hears a noise and goes to check on it, finding the partially flooded shelter, with Angie inside. How is Junior going to explain this, especially since Sheriff Linda just gave him a deputy badge? Honestly, these people have been in the dome for a month, why isn’t everyone as freaked out about it as Norrie’s other mother Carolyn? It’s just life as usual and at the beginning, they were throwing food at the dome to keep the military there. Food? That thing they need to survive? That thing that apparently nobody is conserving? People don’t seem to be too worried about anything. Joe asks Junior if he’s seen his sister, who has been locked in a fallout shelter for weeks. He doesn’t seem too concerned. It’s not like there are too many places she could go, she can’t get lost, what gives? About the only person who actually had a clue this week was the psychotic Junior, the guy with the gun who gives a stirring speech rather than playing shoot-it-out at the hospital. And isn’t this the same Junior who was being harangued by his father just the week before for being such a pathetic loser that couldn’t be counted on, then he gives him a gun? And how damn stupid is that nurse who, trying to give drugs to Linda, just stabs the syringe into the side of the saline drip? That’s not how you do it! Why does it feel like they only have enough actual plot for maybe 6 episodes and they’re trying to spread it out over 13? Stephen King’s original novel had them in the dome for a week. Maybe that’s all the legs this concept actually has.
Best of the Week: Nothing really stands out this week so the nod goes to Burn Notice, if for no other reason than we can finally start to move past Michael moping over Fiona, if only for a little while. I know they’re going to try to get them back together by the end of the series but I’m not all that convinced they actually should anymore.
Worst of the Week: Every single episode this week has at least one groan-worthy stupid thing going on. In Burn Notice, it was the hacker test. In Continuum it was the Agent Gardinier thing. In Perception, it was the overused syndrome and in Under the Dome it was, well, most of it. That’s why Under the Dome wins this week, it has the most forehead-slapping per hour that I’ve seen in a while. Come on, does anyone think about these scripts before they’re filmed?
Other Stuff I Watched: Whose Line is it Anyway? (UK) #5×01-5×09, Top Gear (UK) #20×04