Person of Interest: s01 e15 – Blue Code


It shouldn’t be forgotten that, beneath the surface of two lone heroes saving lives with the aid of a magic machine, Person of Interest deals with some very dirty things. If it had been forgotten, the episode15, ‘Blue Code’, was a comprehensive reminder of that.

Michael Aranov guest-starred as Michael Cahill, real name Daniel Tully. As Michael, he appeared to have no redeeming character, acrook, a thief, a smuggler, involved in a drugs gang run by Vargas who, in turn, deals with a mysterious figure known as L.O.S.

But Cahill is NYPD, working under cover, husband and father, looking to bring everyone down. He has a handler, who is straight, but there is a Police source working with Vargas, looking to identify him, and once identified, Cahill will be killed, as will all his family.

Of itself, it’s a story, a PoI story, a story that could be used as the basis of any police/vigilante oriented procedural. But in this series, it’s the superficial, the symbol, and it’s what lies beneath that truly sickens.

For the first time in some weeks, we have a flashback, to 2008, to Kara Stanton and John Reese. They’re behind enemy lines, dealing with the extraction of someone, who will go into a black hole from which there is no re-emerging. In the meantime, there’s time: John Reese goes for a drink. He’s in a country where they’re no supposed to operate, they being the CIA, as represented by Mark Stone. It’s America.

John goes for a drink in a dark, busy bar, sits down next to a guy waiting for his wife. They get into conversation.  Kara turns up, having very much suspected John, back in country for the first time. Is it just a coincidence that he’s sat next to Peter, the man who married John’s love, Jessica? No, of course it’s not. We’re left to wonder exactly why John’s sought him out, with Jessica about to arrive, because Kara gets John to go, just before Jessica appears. It’s a foretaste, a foreshadowing. What did John want? Just to see her again? What might have happened if Kara hadn’t have intervened? That throws a long shadow.

Then there’s the mysterious L.O.S. He turns out to be Company as well, CIA, no longer fighting the War on Drugs, the unwinnable War, instead using it to fund the War on Terror, another unwinnable War. Cahill gets his moment, he gets to arrest L.O.S., he gets to go home, even over Reese’s warning that it will do no good, over L.O.S.’s warning of comeback.

And the guy means it. He’ll get both Cahill and Carter… until, that is, Mark Snow escorts him from the Police Station, into a big black car and into a big black bag, from where he will probably go into a black hole…

But the dirtiest part of the episode, the one that does leave a sick feeling about what we’re watching, is Detective Fusco. Kevin Chapman’s been the low guy on the totem pole for the series so far, not even been in some episodes. Fusco’s changed. He’s not the dirty cop he started out to be. He’s gone clean. He’s growing in reputation, respect and most of all, self-respect.

But John needs him to go contact his dirty buddies, H.R. (the first time this force-within-a-force are named). H.R. are represented by a uniform, Officer Patrick Simmons (John Robert Burke). Fusco wants to steer clear, and Simmons isn’t too happy with him, and how he’s gone clean.

John needs Fusco to do something seriously risky, to break into the security rooms at One Police Plaza, find and shred Cahill’s file, before Vargas’s informant can get to it. Fusco gets caught, by the security officer, who turns out to be the informant. He takes Fusco out into the woods, prepares to execute him, but the shot comes from another direction, John saving Fusco. But only to manipulate furrther. Fusco can’t tell, can’t report this, can’t come clean. He’s too useful. He has to bury the body, and ask for help in ‘making it go away’. That help’s from H.R. Fusco’s on the inside now, where John wants him to be.

Being used.

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Saturday SkandiKrime: Trapped 2 – episode 10


The news that a Trapped 3 is in consideration, and that it would not wait three years in going into production is the only piece of news that reconciles me to the end of the second series. A month is too short a time for drama of this quality, and the time to wait for another Skandi series that matches it will always be too long.

The posts are coming thick and fast this morning, because I’m off to work in a couple of hours, and between Film 2019 and the final two episodes of Trapped, things have to give somewhere.

In theend, the secrets behind Trapped 2 were dirty, and sordid, and mean on every level, almost enough to make you quesion whether the revelations are worth the losses, the casualties that the story sustains. But in the end, that is what crime is about: dirt and death and the horror that people visit on one another. The final episode was laced with flashbacks as secrets finally came out, the underlying irony being that all of this came about because secrets finally came out.

Stefan had got the job of waste disposal from theplant, but in order to cut corners and increase his profits, he paid Finnur to hire foreign workers like Ebo to dump the barrels on the heath. But Finnur, bastard to the last, decided to keep the money for himself, use it to try to buy out Gisli for the profits to be had from the geothermal sink on his land. Stupid, mean, selfish, sordid.

But that might not have been enough, if it hadn’t prompted Gisli to spill the beans to Stefan about his true patronage. Oh yes, old Thoris, the man who disappeared thirty years ago, father to Gisli and Halla, and little Erin. And also Stefan.

It wasn’t quite as I anticipated, when Elin said those dangerous words, “I know.” Thoris was a violent sadist who had raped his sixteen year old daughter, Halla. Gisli had killed him when hetried it again, crushing his skull with a monkey-wrench. His body was never found because the twins left it in the pigsty, and pigs will eat anything, a blackly comic line that did indeed make me laugh. You were not left with the opinion that justice had been denied, nor that the world was diminished by Thoris’ passing, let alone the peculiar circumstances of his interment. But Halla left for Raykjavik, abandoning Gisli to the sole responsibility that he was never able to shoulder. And she was pregnant. Confessing this, she wondered why she hadn’t got an abortion, and that’s a question impossible of answer. She gave the baby up for adoption immediately, kept everything concealed.

Secrets are at their most dangerous when they’re spilled. Gisli spilled the beans and Stefan broke. It was almost possible to feel sorry for him, to learn in one moment that you are not merely adopted but that you are the son of your rapist grandfather. Had it come at another moment, it might have been manageable, even if Stefan’ first reaction was to think of himself as a freak. Therapy, perhaps, might have unravelled that for him.

But here he was, son and grandson of a bastard thug, facing another bastard in Finnur, threatening him, with the means of killing him and throwing the frame onto Ketill’s sons. And from there it became a game of running to catch up, until there’s nothing left that can be done except to bargain for something you don’t understand yourself, life’s starkest survival instincts even in the face of knowing there is absolutely nothing that you can do to deflect the future bearing down upon you, but as long as you are the only one who knows where you’ve dumped Thorhildur, alive, in a narrow ravine, in a freezing beck, there is a card in your hand, and Andri on his knees begging for his daughter, Halla making a final attempt to acknowledge the son she rejected in the womb, and Hinrika, still splendid little Hinrika, the inveterate professional, to spirit out the scarf that the dogs can scent.

And Thorhildur is found, leaving Stefan with nothing but the final option, the shotgun under the jaw, the blast through the top of the head, the symbolic splash of blood on Halla’s face, where it has been all along.

The coda was brief. Vikingur loses Ebo who returns to Ghana, but he reconciles with his mother. Hinrika turns down Bardur’s almost apologetic attempt to rekindle something, sits in an empty Police Station, bereft of the Reykjavik cops, bereft of Asgeir, utterly alone, studies those ultrasound scans of her miscarried child.

And Andri visits his estranged daughter in her hospital bed. The extremes have, at least for a moment, brought them closer. Relieved, he lays his head on her pillow: it is Thorhildur who reassures him that it will be alright, Daddy.

If you ask me to make a judgement as to which of Trapped‘s two series is better, for the moment I would still select the first. The claustrophobia that the snowed-in towm brought to things, Andri’s pent-up bitterness at his exile and his family problems, the more convoluted and wider-ranging secrets exposed, and above all the overhelming white mountains impressed themselves more upon me. We were warned that the Trapped in series 2 was psychological rather than physical, and so it was, in every character, trapped by history and circumstance and need, a mesh that drove everyone to do the exact things they did. The greens and browns were not so impressive, though the countryside was still awesome. Another watch, of both series, may change my thinking.

Until we are returned, sooner I hope than later, for series 3.

Saturday SkandiKrime: Trapped 2 – episode 9


There was no hope. I would have loved to have seen Trapped move outside the inevitable and allow Asgeir Thorinsson to survive the end of episode 8, because I have enough confidencein the writers and cast that they would find a solution that did not reek of a sentimental wish not to have a good guy die, but I knew it wouldn’t happen, and episode 9’s open cemented that. When the bulky man in the black ski-mask dragged Asgeir’s body on a binliner into his police car, I knew, but to set a seal upon it, he drove the car out of town and set it alight. Andri and Hinrika, using the car’s GPS tracker, followed but not soon enough. There was no hope.

The rest of the episode played out in the wake of this loss. The shock to everyone in the town, not just Andri and Hinrika, the former locking himself in a bathroom so that he could cry, not Bardur or Gudrun, forcing herself to go through the post mortem.

But things are at last coming to a head. Andri decides it’s too dangerous to allow Thorhildur to stay where there is a murderer who knows her involvement: his rebellious daughter at last recognises the gravity of the situation and that he is desperate to protect her, and doesn’t protest. Aron will go with her, he too might be in danger.

But the flights to Reykjavik are fully booked, so Aunt Laufey will drive them there. Followed by a big, black people carrier that always stays one car back.

But now a name comes into the frame. Ketill leads the pretty girl reporter up onto the Heath, following a hunch that pans out, and finds a cave full of dumped and leaking toxic waste, the source of the pollution. Head of Waste Disposal at the Plant is Stefan Nikulsson, good old clean-cut, nice guy Stefan. Even at this late stage, I doubted, suspected one last red herring, something even more complicated.

But when Laufey stops for sweets, and Thorhildur needs to pee, Aron steps into the Ladies with her to guard her. Ineffectually. Stefan batters him into unconsciousness, chokes Thorhildur into the same state, and takes off with her. Andri takes the call from Laufey…

Lou Grant: s01 e14 – Airliner


Rossi and Aunt Rose

For me, this was the best episode of the series so far. An airliner coming into L.A. is in trouble. It’s landing gear isn’t fully functioning, the left wheel is jammed as partially retracted. There are 348 people on board. It’s late at night. And there’s a personal element to it.

What this episode did was to completely eschew the usual comic aspects of this series in favour of straight drama, showing the newspaper at work in covering a developing story. Of course the comedy wasn’t cut out all together, not least in the case of Assistant City Editor Art Donovan, frustrated in his (mutual) wish to seduce an attractive 33 year old divorcee by the entirely too chirpy presence of her ten year old son, but these were background elements, firstly as showing the characters in their leisure times, and then the usual tension-relieving jokes between colleagues facing a potential disaster.

The  episode cannily made a very slow start, with a pretty blonde getting onto a plane, introducing herself to her seat-mate as Joanie Hulme, then the end of theday shift at the Trib, all of people’s personal plans: Donovan we know, Rossi off to the airport to pick up someone called Rose who, from the way everyone else reacted, teasing a romance, was not going to be a girlfriend (correct, his Aunt, guest star Peggy Santon), Billie to wash her hair, other guest star reporters, and finally Lou to sleep after three nights disturbed by arhythmic birdsong.

All calm, all quiet, all low-key. Intercut with shots of the pilot’s instruments as the plane problem develops.

Then the story breaks. Everyone’s called back in, despite having done a full day. Loads of people don’t even need to be called. They drop what they’re doing, they don’t bitch or complain, they just get on with their jobs.

This is something I’m coming to value, as with last year’s Danish series, Below the Surface, making tense, enthralling stories out of doing things the right way, the professional way. This was the story, and everyone swung into it, putting aside their own concerns for th job at hand that was more important.

Of course, we knew, subconsciously, that everything would be all right. Oddly enough, the biggest clue to this was the young, pretty blonde, Joanie Hume. Daughter of Charlie Hume, flying home from exchange studies in France a couple of weeks early to surprise her folks. This gave us our personal element, not that the shows handling of the story needed it, and by doing so it indicated all would be well. Not this series, not those years: a principal character’s daughter would not be killed.

But that didn’t prevent the tightening of the tension when the plane was coming in on final approach, a belly-landing, a foamed runway. Naturally, the budget didn’t allow for the hiring of a plane and crashing it, but having a second-by-second commentary from Rossi at the airport relayed to the news room by Billie worked by forcing the event into our imagination. The imagination. Remember that? It was what we used before CGI.

All the groundwork was laid in effective measure along the way. You got to see the sheer breadth of the coverage, every aspect that needed explaining and didn’t notice the massive expository dump. The story was the plane, and the potential for massive death and destruction, but the story was the Trib’s handling of that possible massive news event.

And when it was all over, and everyone relieved, there was time for a bit more light comedy. Donovan tried calling on his divorcee, but her son was still awake, Billie went to sleep on the floor with her head on a cushion, Lou got hit by the bird again but still dropped off. My favourite line was Rossi, doing the ‘What did it feel like?’ interview with Joanie, her explaining that she’d spent two hours staring at the same page of her book (L’etranger) without taking in a word and Rossi responding that he could never get into Camus either.

It would all be done so differently today. We would fear the worst more seriously, we wouldsee the plane with our own eyes, Joanie Hulme would probably be at least seriously injured and Charlie affected by it for weeks. I don’t say that’s a worse way to handle the story, nor that it’s my age (or my nostalgia) that makes me prefer this take, broadcast on 3 January 1978, but the way things used to be done had its merits, and this episode sucked me in completely.

Person of Interest: s01 e14 – Wolf and Cub


To anyone of a comics-reading persuasion, such as myself, the title of this episode is a dead giveaway. It’s the English title of one of Japan’s most famous and long-running mangas, a series about a Samurai who travels with his baby son, pushing him along in a carriage. Yes, I know, not your standard premise. But here it tells us that John Reese is going to take on a kid as a partner.

The kid’s the Number, Darren McGready (Astro), 14 years old, already an orphan and now on the run: the kid’s elder brother Travis, his legal guardian, has been shot and killed by three thugs for stopping them hassling a pretty waitress. Darren’s a talented kid, a promising musician, a keen artist (kid reads comics, wouldn’y you guess?) But because he reads comics, Darren’s big on revenging and avenging for his brother. Reese needs to keep him alive, as well as taken down the thugs, and their boss, Andre.

But as always, we have not just the Number but the ongoing expansion of the show’s background, and there are three pieces of information this week that open up some unusual horizons.

Darren’s part of the story is, once again, tautly told, in  script and action. Andre owns the comic book store that Darren frequents, but it’s a front for a numbers and protection racket that, in tu rn, is paying protection itself, to some form of inner Police organisation of dirty cops,the very group Lionel Fusco was associated with when Reese selected him. In the end, Darren hasn’t got him in it to kill, which may be up there on the Cliche List but for which we’re grateful in the end. He gets his future back, Andre’s lot are taken in in an en masse that will be hard to protect, and Reese has played ronin to success.

But it’s the other pieces in the mix that bear the biggest attention this week. We begin with Reese and Finch cautiously entering the dark and silent Library, where Finch has to rebuild his system from scratch after last week’s hacking attack by Root. No assistance then in locating Darren McGready but, oh yes, the Numbers keep coming in, even with the Library dead. Point 1: where do they come from?

Point 2 is Will Ingram, Nathan’s son, dropping in to chat with Uncle Harold: Harold Wren, that is, insurance underwriter. Will’s been investigating his Dad’s papers. He’s found two things, a champagne cork wrapped in a napkin on which is scribbled a reference to ‘the machine’, and a name. ‘Uncle Harold’ has no idea what the cork symbolises, but Will has linked it to the mysterious $1 contract with the Government. Signed the very next day. And the name? Alicia Corwin, Nathan’s contact. Alicia Corwin, who resigned her Government post just after Nathan was killed, who didn’t go to the funeral, wjo has moved to a small WestVirginia town that’s the only place in America that doesn’t have… mobile phones and the internet.

Point 3 is Alicia herself. She’ll only meet Will in public, sympathises with him and his loss. It seems they have met before. She pretends to have no idea about the cork, the machine. And then Will mentions ‘Uncle Harold’. And Alicia tells Will a stream of porkies with great fluency, about how Nathan and his company were in trouble, going down the tubes, bereft of product, bailed out by the Government. Then she leaves, rapidly.

So does Will, back to the Sedan, chastened, shaken in his belief in his father, no longer a threat to the safety of the Machine. But Alicia Corwin has heard the name Harold.

Which brings us to point 4. Fusco’s gotten himself shot in the ass saving Daren, he’s limping. but he’s taking the jokes well. He’s reporting back to Reese. He’s found the name Harold Wren, traced it back to MIT alongside Nathan Ingram, back as far as 1976. But before then it doesn’t exist. And there are other aliases, multiple ones. Only the paranoid survive, Reese quotes, quoting Finch himself from the start of the task of rebuilding the Library. Only slowly does the picture form. We will get there, we will see it all. In time.

Saturday SkandiKrime: Trapped 2 – episode 8


Programme Name: Trapped – TX: 05/03/2016 – Episode: n/a (No. 8) – Picture Shows: (L-R) Ásgeir (INGVAR EGGERT SIGURÐSSON),, Andri (ÓLAFUR DARRI ÓLAFFSON) – (C) RVK Studios – Photographer: Lilja Jonsdottir

Oh no. Oh no, no.

Episode 8 ended the way I didn’t want it to end, but the way it had been heading towards all episode. Even in the best and most individual forms of fiction, some lines of development go only to one place. It begins with awkwardnss, it goes on to promise, and then it goes bad, very bad.

Andri, Hinrika and Asgeir used to be a good team, when they were the three cops of Seydiforddur. It’s not been the same since Trapped 2 began. Andri went back to being real police in Reykjavik, Hinrika became the local Chief of Police, Asgeir stayed where he was. He’s been content with his role, but he’s been the odd one ot since Andri’s been back. There’s a new balance and he’s not part of it, and he’s felt it.

They left him out of telling him about Vikingur, about how he might not have been guilty. Each thought the other had done it, genuinely, but Asgeir was left out. Hinrika complainedabout it, Asgeir didn’t want to do it.

But he’s still left out. There’s a guy at the plant, David, the one who wanted the crime scene clearing for 2.00pm in episode 7, for the American’s visit. He attends Finnur’s funeral, gives Elin half a million kroner, tied up in a knot identical to the one that hung Finnur up. So Andri and Hinrika go out to question him, without Asgeir.

It’s starting to go pear-shaped. The water’s been cut off, unfit for use or drink. A stupid old woman blames it on a curse, a curse brought down by old Thorir, who vanished, by building upon enchanted rock, and bloody hell, the town believes it! Shit thrown at Steinnun and Oli’s house, Aron beaten up, his car smashed. At least he’s talking to Thorhildur again. She confesses to him about the mobile phone, he gets her to bring it to the Police station, to Asgeir.

Asgeir’s gotten lucky. He’s risked a bet with Gudrun: if she solves the water sample before Reykjavik, he’ll make her dinner. And she does, e.Coli and PCB. See him at seven.

He’s read the messages off the phone. He’s tried to call Andri, but he’s interrogating David, who has an alibi, an MP in his bed, for Finnur, and won’t take the call. He’s late for Gudrun. There’s a text, the nursery, now. Andri’s still not answering. He goes himself, alone. It’s coming. A rotund but short figure, ski-masked, snatches the phone. Asgeir gives chase, loses them. Hangs around too long. Andri’s back, tries to ring Asgeir, no answer. The figure appears out of the dark, has a knife. Sticks Asgeir in the stomach, twice, runs off.

It happened. And there is a week to hope, against hope.

 

Saturday SkandiKrime: Trapped 2 – episode 7


Towards the end of summer, last year, I complained at The Bridge 4 being transferred to BBC2 and broadcast in single episodes, stringing it out and making me wait intently and impatiently for its story to unfold. Yet here I am, equally willing to bitch about how Trapped 2, in double episodes on BBC4 on Saturday nights, is slipping away far too quickly. It’s only three weeks since it returned and I am already facing the penultimate steps, all things wrapped up and answered this time next Sunday. It’s too soon.

Do I contradict myself? Very well.

And once again we begin with an episode that was over far sooner than it was subjectively due. It didn’t shortchange us, it didn’t feel baggy or stretched out like other series have, and yet episode 7, when I come to look at what happened, did not seem to advance us one bit towards the unravelling of any mystery.

For a second week running, the closing revelation – this one being that the mystery man behind the money discovered by Thorhildur and her equally stupid boyfriend knows who she is and where to find her – was not followed up upon. What we got of the fifteen year old nincompoop was more self-centred frustration about how they’re all trying to ruin her life, a complete avoidance of  recognition that there might be a practical reason for removing her from the scene, and a screed of hatred about Andri culminating in a desire that the murdered slit his throat that had even the unlovely Aron shutting up, cutting his connection and refusing to answer her phone calls.

Nor did we make any progress towards uncovering just what it was little sister Elin saw Halla do, twenty years ago, but we did discover that the severely burned Minister of Industries, who is pushing herself far too much over this American Aluminium deal, to a point where you have to conclude (had you not already done so by episode 2) that there is something eriously didgy going on in the background, is going down the route of political response: deny, deny, deny. Halla can’t be held responsible for Elin’s ‘false memories’. False memories, I see.

What the episode did build upon, slowly and implacably, was Vikingur’s arrest for the suspected murder of Pawel the Pole: in the factory, with a chipping hammer. The evidence mounts implacably. Motice, whereabouts, fingerprints and DNA, a total lack of alternatives. It can’t be anybody else.

Except that you know that with such a totality of evidence, it cannot be Vikingur, and at the end CCTV inserts the first hole in the wall. Pavel arrives at the factory. Next, the lights go out. Then, and some minutes later, Vikingur arrives. The electrical panel from where the power was cut is inside.

We have two more elementsto try to absorb. The first is personal. Gudrun, Andri’s Forensics assistant, is back from Reykjavik to mildly flirt with Asgeir again. Using Hinrika’s office, and looking for a free drawer in which to store files, she discovers two photos. Ultrasound scans. A foetus. Is Hinrika pregnant?

Then there’s the Lake, where Ketill found the dead geese. Asgeir takes Hinrika’s soon-to-be-ex-husband Bardur up there when he goes to collect samples of the water for the Vet. Dead fish. Hundreds of them. Littering the beaches, and the Lake, as far as the eye can see…

More later.