January 25th, 2010
I don’t have a whole lot to say about this week’s new episode of Human Target, which aired in its normal Monday timeslot on CTV and which airs Tuesday at 9pm (due to the State of the Union on Wednesday) on FOX: it’s another fun episode that continues to care very little about believability, but because each hour is its own self-contained 40-minute action film it isn’t really that big of a deal. I don’t have any sort of fancy or complex thematic introduction to my thoughts on the show, so I’ll just suggest that people enjoying the show so far should tune in.
However, I do want to say a few things about where the show sits at the moment, and whether the episodes we’re seeing out of order are adding up to a distinct impression of Christopher Chance and his universe of sorts, so I shall nonetheless analyze the episode after the jump.
Every show that is definitively episodic like Human Target is all about incremental character development, the idea that we start with one impression of a character that is slowly build on and tested by the action which follows. For Christopher Chance, this is particularly true: he was very much a blank slate outside of his physical and mental capabilities, and the challenge for the show is convincing us that he is not only uniquely capable of completing these tasks, but he is also uniquely engaging while doing it.
And I think that’s why the episode order has been rejigged in the way it has, as last week’s episode offered some insights into Chance’s past (as he demonstrated an understanding of what it’s like to feel trapped in a criminal existence) while this week showed what I’d call the “fun” side of Christopher Chance. His relationship with the FBI agent had plenty of fun flirting, and a couple of really great fight scenes (both their Tango-inspired initial battle and their handcuffs assisted fight with Raven in the security room), but it had this really nice back and forth in terms of how much control Chance has over his missions. He isn’t entirely infallible, as he does presume her to be a prostitute (reading into his previous relationship with the deceased), but there’s also the sense that when he makes a mistake he does it on purpose, like when he leaves his prints on the handcuffs so she can find him. Mark Valley has a lot of fun playing the mystery of Chance, but he’s also great at showing those moments of realization (like when he figured out he was poisoned) where we see that side of him that’s formulating a new plan, which allows us to relate to the character even if we know we could never do what he does.
With Winston and Guerrero, we know their roles in Chance’s life quite clearly, but the show is currently enjoying pairing Chance with female companions, which returns me to the Doctor Who model I discussed when I reviewed last week’s episode. It creates new dynamics that test Chance’s resolve, and while it could get old with time (perhaps leading to the producers ushering in a more consistent companion should the show go to a second season) I think it makes for a nice way to get different character reactions out of Chance. In the pilot we saw his ingenuity in terms of getting out of a tight situation, in “Rewind” Courtney Ford’s character brought out his dark past as well as his recklessness, and here we got to see Chance deal with a more romantic female companion amidst a tense situation. I’d like to see him team up with someone who isn’t a woman, just for the sake of investigating the non-romantic/chivalric aspects of the character a bit closer, but I do think the idea of cribbing from Doctor Who a bit certainly isn’t a bad one.
Otherwise, I thought the episode was bolstered by the idea that Chance had a personal relationship with Danny, and that Aaron having access to his card both a) shows that he has loyalty to those who do him favours (just as he will use those who owe him one, as with the Secretary of Defence) and b) that the show will have the ability to bring back past acquaintances in the future. The show is taking its time in terms of building Chance, but what they’ve shown us so far has proven that he is a unique character with a history and a complicated present, and that that history could help service the show’s narrative needs in the future. Combine with great scenes like Chi McBride staring down Mark Valley over the fingerprints, or Guerrero putting on a gas mask in front of a terrified neighbour before going into Aaron’s apartment, and you have another enjoyable hour of television.
- It isn’t up yet since it won’t go live until the American airing, but yet another great episode for Bear McCreary’s music. Some great action stuff, yet again, and I especially liked the variations on the Tango/action music in the fight between Chance and the FBI agent (whose name, clearly, I didn’t bother remembering, or else I’d be using it).
- Always fun to see some Whedon alumni, so Sean Maher was a nice surprise as Aaron. Maher hasn’t done much since Firefly/Serenity, but this is his second guest spot in a week after doing some work on The Mentalist last Thursday, so it’s a good time to be Sean Maher.