Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice smooching, Steve. What the hell was that, Show? Seriously, that was such a bad choice, and by bad I simply mean awful, so don't let yourself think I mean, "Oh, we've built in a complication.
Most of the action revolves around Piper. She's a breakout. She is also little sister to Stephen's Ultra trainer, Darcy. Stephen and Russell first come across Piper while they're hustling at the local pool hall. Once Russell and John go on a road trip (I'll hit that), Stephen convinces Cara they need to try to save Piper, and they need to be honest with Darcy in the doing. Darcy plays it by the book at first, but by the time she and her fellow Ultra agents are trying to pick up Piper, Darcy has a change of heart. She takes a barrage of bullets for her little sister, which sort of sucks, because now we're back to Jed as the only person who matters on the Ultra side. Oh and it seems he has a SUPE lover. I'll hit that in the full weecap.
In the course of trying to identify, protect and lure in Piper, Stephen and Cara have to make out in order to escape Ultra detection. It's a little more complicated than that, but only hardly. John and Russell are out of town. Russell's difficult (if seemingly faithful) father has passed, and Russell feels duty-bound to attend the funeral. Russell acts out. John risks detention in trying to keep Russell on the straight and narrow. Cara and Stephen take it to the next level. While the cat's away, the SUPES will play.
Once again, there is a lot of potential in the plot, but the execution remains too facile. What do you think? I'll be back tomorrow with the full weecap. In the meantime, please grade the episode at the top of the page, and then come on over to the show thread where we're making out with John.
You wonder if and when the actors know, you know? You wonder what they tell themselves when they see the ratings, read reviews and, worst of all, watch the finished episodes. I mean Mark Pellegrino (Jed) was on Lost, which (no matter what you think about the end -- I was fine with it) was a deep, well-crafted, thinky show. He's also been on Supernatural. And sure Supernatural is a CW fantasy genre series starring impossibly good looking people, but for seasons it had so much heart (confession, I've become a sporadic viewer the past season or so) that the impressive chests of Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki, combined couldn't contain it. What about Peyton List (Cara)? She was on the critical darling, Mad Men. Sure, her character was a gold digging trophy wife, but even so, she had some layers and she mattered. The now-squandered Sarah Clarke was NINA on 24, for crying out loud. Don't even get me started with Dan Stevens (the voice of TIM), because since he couldn't find it within himself to give Downton Abbey six or eight measly episodes a year, he's no longer my TV boyfriend and I don't care about him, anymore (and I'm going to keep saying that until it's true, Mr. Stevens).
I guess my mind is on the actors, because Robbie Amell (Stephen) live-tweeted during "Sorry for Your Loss." His tweets were gracious, enthusiastic, amusing and he seems like a fine young man. He seems like the kind of guy that if you met him on a bus or something and he told you how grateful he is to have his job, you'd want him to succeed. Every once in a while you might think, "I wonder what happened to that kid I met on the bus." Then one day, you end up next to him on the bus again and he mentions he's been promoted to manager, so you'd ask, "What line of work are you in anyhow, Kid?" Sadly, you have to summon your poker face once he answers, "Shoveling shit." After that, you start catching an earlier bus, because you know if you see him again, your filters are going to fail you and you are going to tell this perfectly fine young man that if he plans to respect himself in five years, he'd better hit up Monster.com.
I don't want to see any show cancelled. Forget about the actors and producers and even the writers. The below-the-line people are working folks who, like so many of us, live paycheck to paycheck. What I want is for the show to take this rich premise and exploit it. Write bold stories. Subvert clichés. Resist tired tropes. Develop (don't merely present -- develop) relationships (romantic and non) that pluck my heartstrings. Okay, what I really want is to turn back time, accept Sleepy Hollow as my new assignment and get on with my life. But since that can't happen, Show, I'm relying on you to make the most of your premise and your cast, which is your job, anyhow. Said cast is pretty good. The aforementioned Amell might not be your most gripping performer, but you've got Mark Pellegrino, so I expect no one else on the cast thinks they're stealing that crown this early. To be extra clear, I don't think most of the problems with Stephen's character (or the show itself) are Amell's fault (or the fault of the cast, writ large). Show, you can't give your actors Play-Doh to work with and expect your audience to receive the results like we would YiaYia's homemade baklava.