The Twists and Turns of Colony

A new show starring Josh Holloway is always something to look forward to, just because of his portrayal of Sawyer in LOST, the tough teddybear on that mysterious island in the South Pacific. One of the writers on that show, Carlton Cuse, has carved out a new hard-edged-but-actually-a-sweetheart role for him, that of Will Bowman. And this time, it’s not an ocean that keeps him prisoner, but a massive wall, in Colony.

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The Pilot
We’ve talked about Colony before, after its first look special ‘Behind the Wall’, which, as it turned out, was basically the pilot episode with a few testimonials cut in between. Los Angeles has gotten a wall Donald Trump can only dream about, built by the ‘Others’. It’s a result of a war between men and… aliens? In any case, Will used to be a soldier in that war, but is laying low, trying to live an ordinary life, providing for his family. That’s his wife Katie (Sarah Wayne Callies, Prison Break, The Walking Dead) and their two children. There’s one child missing, though, their son. Taken beyond the wall, and without telling Katie anything, Will sets out on a dangerous quest to find him. During an attack at the wall/border by the resistance, Will’s discovered by the officials and taken into custody. Proxy Governor Alan Snyder (Peter Jacobson, House MD, Ray Donovan) makes him an offer he can’t refuse. Collect intel on the resistance and then, maybe, if Snyder feels like it, get his son back. All Will has been trying to do is keep his head down, so he’s not in contact with any resistance members, but he’s got no choice but to play ball. Katie, however, is part of a resistance cell. That last twist feels a bit too much. How and why would she keep such a secret from her veteran husband? It may have been better if they’d saved that surprise for later – like LOST used to do with practically everything, postponing revelations indefinitely – but I guess USA doesn’t have the luxury of gradually building an audience; they need viewers quick, and that means plot twists, please, as many as you can spare.

Brave New World
The second episode ‘Brave New World’ introduces, apart from a few continuity errors, a bunch of new characters. Snyder stays in the background – doesn’t even show up, in fact – and his replacement, story wise, as the one who gives Will his orders, is Phyllis (Kathy Baker, Medium, Boston Public). She pairs him up with Beau (Carl Weathers). Also walking around in the Colony universe: Jennifer, played by the extremely funny Kathleen Rose Perkins (Episodes, Trust Me) and George (Strike Team alumnus Brian White, The Shield, Men of a Certain Age, Chicago Fire). Will’s collaborating with the oppressive government at Homeland Security, tracking down the guy who played a vital role in the border bombing, Andrew (Craig Henningsen). When he brings him in, Will finds his friend Carlos (Jacob Vargas, Sons of Anarchy, Hand of God) in custody, too, ready to be shipped off to a place called ‘The Factory’.

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The Factory
Will tries to make Carlos his CI, but Homeland’s full of people who just try to survive. Phyllis gets her orders ‘from above’; her hands are tied. At least Will and Katie make sure Carlos’ wife and son are safe. Meanwhile, the so-called Red Hats who do the interrogations, break Andrew. He gives up the location where his people are hiding. Will’s called to come in, Katie overhears him on the phone and informs Quayle (Paul Guilfoyle), head of her cell. When Homeland arrives on the scene, Andrew’s people are bleeding out on the floor. Somebody knew they were coming. Will realizes there must be a mole. And I suspect, given the pace of the show, Katie will confess her role in all of this to him in episode 3. Together with a group of other prisoners, Carlos is sent to ‘The Factory’, which looks like a huge gas chamber, but it’s not quite clear what happens to them. There’re blue lights, then red lights, a lot of smoke, people in hazmat suits… The writers wouldn’t have shown all this if the prisoners were all just going to get killed. They haven’t made it spooky for nothing; there’s something going on, perhaps even something alien.

Well Done
For now, the whole occupation thing feels a bit silly. What motivation could the aliens (if they are, indeed, aliens) have for dividing the United States into specific ‘zones’? Are they transforming Los Angeles into an amusement park? (That’s not such a stretch, actually, if you know what I mean.) But all silliness considered, the show’s fast, looks great, there’s enough mystery to be captivating, so I definitely give it the benefit of the doubt. Shallow entertainment, but shallow entertainment well done.

The Golden Globes 2016 Nominees

Sunday January 10, 2016. The day the Earth stands still again. Why? Because that’s the date Ricky Gervais will once again land on holy ground. And unholy the hell out of it, I’m sure. O, and there’s an award ceremony happening at the same time, too. The Golden Globes. Those are like the Modern Oscars, since they include acting on smaller screens as well. We’ll only take a look at the TV and streaming dramas, comedies and limited-series, but best picture should be Mad Max: Fury Road. As Larry King would say: my two cents. It’s so much the ultimate favorite to win that it’s actually become the underdog. Don’t ask me how. Anyway, here are the nominees and who we think should win.

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Best TV Series
I don’t know why, but the Golden Globe committee always divides this category into separate ones. That’s three balls for the price of one. There’s an award for best drama, comedy and TV Movie or limited-series. Best drama being the most important one. That committee, by the way, is called the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. It consists of a little over 90 members, from all parts of the world – obviously. That’s how small that group is, especially compared to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which has close to 6000 voting members.

Best Drama
Best drama could go to Empire (FOX), Narcos (Netflix), Outlander (Starz), Mr. Robot (USA) or Game of Thrones (HBO). It’s nice that USA is finally recognized (Suits has been snubbed so many times I lost count), but unfortunately the mental health of Elliot (or Mr. Robot, for that matter) never grabbed me. It wouldn’t have made a difference anyway, because there’s only one drama that’s upped every ante in the drama division this year, and that is, of course, Game of Thrones.
Honorable mention: Hand of God (Amazon). It looks like its subject matter flew over the heads of the foreign press, as well as American newspaper critics, but it was an incredibly strong first season, starring Ron Perlman, Dana Delany, Garret Dillahunt and many, many more. All award worthy performances. It’s a shame those 90 people didn’t bother to see it.

Best Comedy
Best comedy could go to Casual (Hulu), Mozart in the Jungle (Amazon), Silicon Valley (HBO), Transparent (Amazon), Orange is the New Black (Netflix) and Veep (HBO). The first three of these don’t stand a chance, with Transparent crushing everything in its path, and OITNB and especially Veep being very popular amongst critics. For that reason alone, it’d be nice to see Casual win.

Best TV Movie or Limited-series
This category has got snooze written all over it (American Crime, American Horror Story: Hotel, Wolf Hall), with two exceptions: Fargo and Flesh and Bone. The latter being a nice surprise this year, the former being absolutely destined to win. Some critics admitted to never gotten into Fargo, which makes them totally unqualified for the job, in my opinion. On rare occasions, brilliance supersedes taste; this is one of those moments.

The Rules
It’s a Golden Globe tradition to debate the particular categories certain shows are in. Sometimes it’s hard to tell whether something’s more like a drama or comedy. They’re non-exclusive, of course, but where do you draw the line? The ‘Hollywood Foreign Press Association Golden Globe Award Consideration Rules’ don’t offer much help. About what’s considered a ‘television series’, they say: ‘A recurring series with a total running time of at least 150 program minutes aired during the qualifying year.’
That’s clear. But what about being a drama, comedy or musical? Well: ‘The majority of the running time of at least 150 program minutes aired during the qualifying year must be primarily musical, comedic or dramatic.’
This means, that at least 51% of a show needs to be funny to qualify as a comedy. How do you calculate such a thing? Do you measure the smile on your face while you’re watching it, or just count the jokes? Awkward situations? Funny looks on characters’ faces?

Best Actress in a Drama
Moving on. Best actress in a drama: Caitriona Balfe (Outlander), Viola Davis (How to Get Away with Murder), Eva Green (Penny Dreadful), Taraji P. Henson (Empire) and Robin Wright (House of Cards).
Davis will probably get it, Green deserves it – being tucked away in the darkest corner of the week on Showtime – but Wright might deserve it a little more. I don’t know why House of Cards isn’t nominated for best drama (Outlander, foreign press? Really?), even though it’s not been its best season, there was still a lot of good stuff in there. Not to mention having its finger perfectly placed on the pulse of the times we live in.

Best Actress in a Comedy
Best actress in a comedy: Rachel Bloom (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend), Jamie Lee Curtis (Scream Queens), Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep), Gina Rodriguez (Jane the Virgin) and Lily Tomlin (Grace and Frankie). I’d say Lily or Gina.

Best Actress in a limited-series or TV movie
Best actress in a limited-series or TV movie: Kirsten Dunst (Fargo), Lady Gaga (American Horror Story: Hotel), Sarah Hay (Flesh and Bone), Felicity Huffman (American Crime) and Queen Latifah (Bessie).
I have a feeling, if Hay doesn’t get it now, she won’t get it at all. And I would like her to win. However, Dunst has completely won me over this year, with whipped cream and sugar on top, as Peggy Blumquist.

Best Supporting Actress in a series, limited-series or TV Movie
Best supporting actress in a series, limited-series or TV movie: Uzo Aduba (Orange is the New Black), Joanne Froggatt (Downton Abbey), Regina King (American Crime), Judith Light (Transparent) and Maura Tierney (The Affair).
I’d pick Tierney, but I just hope John Travolta is going to present this award; there are a few names in this category that could easily go wrong.

Best Actor in a Drama
Best actor in a drama: Jon Hamm (Mad Men), Rami Malek (Mr. Robot), Wagner Maura (Narcos), Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul) and Liev Schreiber (Ray Donovan).
The more time passes since the series finale of Mad Men, the more ridiculous it becomes. That doesn’t take anything away from Hamm’s performance, but maybe it does a little bit. I would’ve much rather have seen Gabriel Macht here as well, and Peter Dinklage. Ron Perlman. Kevin Spacey. Timothy Olyphant. Titus Welliver. But if I had to choose, I’d go with – even though Narcos was a bit too mellow, and was totally overusing the voiceover – Wagner Maura.

Best Actor in a Comedy
Best actor in a comedy: Aziz Ansari (Master of None), Gael García Bernal (Mozart in the Jungle), Rob Lowe (The Grinder), Patrick Stewart (Blunt Talk) and Jeffrey Tambor (Transparent).
Good to see Lowe on the list. Ansari’s sauntering a bit too much, Stewart’s brought overacting to a whole new level (but is that a good thing?) and Tambor, well, I think his name’s already being engraved. I have my doubts about how long The Grinder can continue – how long before the show The Grinder turns into the fake show The Grinder? – but Lowe is absolutely hilarious.

Best Actor in a series, limited-series or TV Movie
Best actor in a series, limited-series or TV movie: Idris Elba (Luther), Oscar Isaac (Show Me a Hero), David Oyelowo (Nightingale), Mark Rylance (Wolf Hall) and Patrick Wilson (Fargo).
This category could easily have been Fargo across the board. Wilson was great, but greater than Jesse Plemons? Or better yet: Jeffrey Donovan?

Best Supporting Actor in a Limited-Series or TV Movie
Best supporting actor in a limited-series or TV movie: Alan Cumming (The Good Wife), Damian Lewis (Wolf Hall), Ben Mendelsohn (Bloodline), Tobias Menzes (Outlander) and Christian Slater (Mr. Robot).
Of all the supporting actors, they came up with this list? I think that says enough.

Bosch: ’Tis the Season

Amazon, more so than Netflix, has been sticking its neck out. The historical nazi fiction of The Man in the High Castle, transgenderous Transparent, the thin line between madness and divine intervention Hand of God, the Christina Ricci vehicle Z, Bryan Cranston’s criminal drama that about every cable network passed on Sneaky Pete, the season order for hot-house thrilling Mad Dogs (coming this January) and eighties high school dramedy Red Oaks. It’s quite a list already. I’m sure there are some executives out there green with envy, watching how a book store makes all the right story decisions. Let’s take a look at one of the early amazons that’ll return in the spring for a second season: Bosch.

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The Following
The first thing that stands out is the casting of the show. If you wondered whatever happened to some of your favorite TV drama faces, Bosch might just be the place to get your answers. Leading man is Harry Bosch, played by Titus Welliver (LOST, Suits, The Good Wife, Sons of Anarchy, Prison Break, Deadwood, NYPD Blue). The pilot starts with him saying it’s ‘gonna rain like a bastard tonight‘. It sounds like a voiceover – not uncommon, since the show’s been based on the books by Michael Connelly -, but it’s not. He’s on a stakeout with his partner Jerry (Jamie Hector, The Strain, Person of Interest, The Wire, Heroes), waiting for a guy named Flores to come out of his house. And he does. Bosch follows him. We get no clue to who this Flores character is, what he’s done or what he’s going to do. A little information would’ve been helpful. Is Bosch in danger? Is someone else? The show keeps its cards a little too close to the vest, which in this case makes you watch and just kind of shrug your shoulders. For the viewer, there’s no clear reason to be invested yet.

Not Just Strong Actors
Bosch has Flores at gunpoint. In the streaming rain, he tells him to drop to his knees. Flores does so, but then makes a sudden arm movement. Is he pulling out a gun? Bosch doesn’t think twice and shoots him. This is what puts everything in motion. Was killing Flores justified? There were no witnesses, it’s Bosch’s word against Internal Affairs. Still, there seems to be a witch hunt going on. Only Jerry appears to be on his side. The rest of the department would rather see him go, including Irvin (Lance Reddick, LOST, Fringe, The Wire, Oz, Intelligence) and Grace Billets (Amy Aquino, Being Human, Harry’s Law, ER, Felicity). It’s two years later and Bosch is in the middle of the court case against him. Enter Honey Chandler, the lawyer who’s out to bury him, played by Strong Actress #2 Mimi Rogers (Wilfred, The Loop, The X-Files, Full Body Massage). Apparently, she’s got access to Bosch’s personal file, which lets us know a little more about him. Does the death of his mother, who was working as a prostitute, still haunt him? Is his behaviour – in other words itchy trigger fingers – in any way linked to this trauma?

Cocktails
Well, even though the whole world’s out to get him, an angel appears. A rookie called Julia Brasher, played by Annie Wersching (strong actress #3, General Hospital, 24, Extant, The Vampire Diaries), takes a liking to Bosch. Their attraction – his curiosity and her admiration – is sealed over cocktails. On a school day.

Knock On Any Door
The pilot – later renamed ‘’Tis the Season’ – offers a glimpse into the stubborn yet vulnerable character of Harry Bosch – and his new case. He doesn’t like to sit on his hands. Like the printout at his desk reads: ‘Get off your ass and go knock on doors’. So, while the whole court mumbo-jumbo is going on, he goes out, in search of something detective. What he finds, is a collection of bones in the woods. Bones that show tremendous trauma. Bones of a 12-year old. Bones that takes back Bosch to his own childhood, which he’d rather forget about, I’m sure.
The pilot, which Amazon made available in early 2014, doesn’t exactly give the show a flying start, but it does draw you in. The stories at hand don’t spike much interest – like Bosch says: Homicide is boring -, but the actors and actresses do. It’s one of those slowburn shows, and possibly one of the best.

Z: Pilot

And suddenly there they are again. Fresh, steaming Amazon pilots. To be watched and judged at everyone’s own discretion. A few months ago, I was pleasantly surprised by Sneaky Pete, starring Giovanni Ribisi, and not so much by Casanova. The newest batch includes Patriot, One Mississippi, Edge and Z, but none of them seem to be Pete or Hand of God material. They can’t all be winners, although Z could be something.

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Amazon Pilots
Shows that traditional networks either passed on or found too sensitive to burn their hands on, have an out, since a couple of years. Amazon’s more than happy to enlist them. Amazon doesn’t care about sponsors. Doesn’t care about affiliates. Just throws the pilots out there, to see which ones stick. Like I said, their latest offerings leave a lot to be desired. One Mississippi is a very personal, if not autobiographical, drama created by and starring Tig Notaro. It’s just a bit too identifiable, maybe. Not enough drama, not enough comedy, not enough of both to be called a dramedy. Edge has old-fashioned written all over it, and even Terry O’Quinn can’t save Patriot. So my last hope was reserved for something titled ‘Z’.

The Z
Z stands for Zelda. Not Zorro; my first guess. Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald, to be exact. The series – well, at this point still just one pilot – is based on the life of the feminist icon, as portrayed in ‘Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald’ by Therese Anne Fowler. She’s played by Christina Ricci (Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Ally McBeal, Pan Am, The Lizzie Borden Chronicles), whom I still see as little Wednesday Addams, but that’s just me. Nevertheless, in just half an hour, Ricci totally made me forget about her role in The Addams Family, with her lively performance as Zelda, whom she injects with a high dose of bravado.

The Guy in the Corner
Her father, Judge Anthony Sayre, is played by good-guy-even-when-he’s-a-bad-guy David Strathairn (The Bourne Ultimatum, Alphas, The Blacklist). But more importantly, the man that Zelda should fall in love with, F. Scott Fitzgerald, is played by Gavin Stenhouse (Allegiance). At this point in the story, he’s basically nameless, or ‘the guy in the corner continuously staring at Zelda’.

Eternal Youth
The casting of Ricci is actually a smart one. Assuming the potential series will span multiple decades, it’s important to have an actress who can play a 20-year old as believable as a 50-year old. Ricci’s one of those women who’ve got an ageless about them.

Tim Blake Nelson
The episode is directed by Tim Blake Nelson, who’s helmed a few other projects before, but is commonly known for his acting career. From O Brother, Where Art Thou? and Syriana, to Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, The Incredible Hulk and Fantastic Four. On a side-note: I kind of enjoyed that last one, despite it being a mess, obviously. Nelson did do a great job on Z, no doubt about it. He’s brought the early 1900s to life beautifully.

A-List
Z could prove to be Christina’s Homeland, in the sense that it could catapult her out of the ‘supporting’ section and into A-list territory. It’s not that Z has anything in common with Showtime’s jazzy CIA drama, but it’s a serious show with a serious lead. Sniff sniff, I smell a set of Globes with Ricci’s name on it being painted gold for 2017. That is, if a full season is ordered. I’d suggest you cast your vote on Amazon Prime to get more of Z.

Hand of God: The Tie That Binds

It’s the season finale, the tenth episode of Hand of God. The big question is whether or not there’ll be a rabbit out of the hat, a loophole we might’ve missed, for PJ to survive. Or will everything be wrapped up nicely; was it always the intention for the show to last only one season?

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Definitive Ending
That last question might sound like Hollywood outsider naivety – because of course there’d be a second season if the first was a hit – but in the case of Hand of God, it’s justified. Everyone knew this series wasn’t going to be a global scale sensation, for the title alone. Too risqué. Let alone the story, which involved a man getting messages from above – or is he? So the writers could’ve treated the 10 episode run as a mini-series, including a definitive ending. But they didn’t. In this season finale, they’ve actually put a lot of wheels in motion, not to mention the biggest wheel of them all, PJ.

Wild Conspiracy
Last week, we learnt Anne Wu (Elaine Tan) was in possession of PJ’s book. It could’ve been just a different copy, but Pernell (Ron Perlman) knew it wasn’t. It’s a bit weird, though, for Anne to have it just sitting there on her bookshelf. It’s one of the things that’s not explained (yet), Anne’s involvement. Maybe she was just angry with PJ after he broke it off with her, grabbed his book on her way out, not even realizing it contained his memory stick. Or maybe did realize, and wanted to get even by stealing his brilliant ideas. If that’s the case, then we can forget about a wild conspiracy behind it all.

Code
But what if there is? Anne may have stolen the book because she was ordered to. A third party that got wind of PJ’s ‘code’ and wanted to get/destroy it. In order for the story to continue, I’d say you need an angle like this. Pernell could just keep on doing what he’s been doing all along; go after the bad guys. However, it’s strange Anne didn’t say she was working for anyone, or even imply it – or did she?

A Ride Home
Because not Pernell, but Crystal (Dana Delany) went after her. Maybe it was just curiosity, after hearing Pernell’s theories, maybe more. Fact is, Crystal gives Anne a ride home, quickly figures out she and PJ had an affair, and then all hell breaks loose. The show cuts away briefly, between Crystal talking and Crystal standing over Anne’s body, so maybe we missed out on Anne explaining exactly why she got the memory stick and who she gave it to.

New Questions
Maybe. That’s the right word. As a great finale should, the episode clears a lot of things up, but at the same time poses new questions. Of all the key players, the only one who comes away without a scratch, is Bobo (Andre Royo). Everybody else is either arrested (Pernell), suspect (Crystal), suspect (KD), blackmailed (Paul and Alicia) or abandoned (Tessie).

Higher Power
It’s been quite a season. An unexpected surprise, this little Amazon original, Hand of God. Bold subject matter, perfectly shot, well written, at times absolutely superbly acted. Sure, the show took quite a few detours – like the ‘spa episode’ – but always remained entertaining. I guess it’s up to the digital (and apparently also physical now) bookstore, to decide whether or not a second season is something the higher power would be pleased with.

Hand of God: A Flower That Bees Prefer

After last week’s confusing entry ‘One Saved Message’, Hand of God has come back to form with ‘A Flower That Bees Prefer’ and it’s all about milk and honey.

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Stand By Your Man
Pernell’s (Ron Perlman) relationship with his wife Crystal (Dana Delany) could be better, which is an understatement, but they do manage to get through dinner together – kind of like Walter and Skyler White used to do – sitting at the same dinner table. Crystal, aware of her husband’s (symbolic) marriage to Tessie (Emayatzy Corinealdi), has decided to stand by her man. Until Pernell’s gotten rid of his demons, of course. The Tessie Chapter isn’t forgotten, but for the moment merely postponed. His biggest demon is sitting across from Pernell: his son PJ (Johnny Ferro). He should be lying in his hospital bed, hooked to machines keeping him alive, but he’s right there, in the dining room of the Harris residence, having a thing for milk and honey. The divine puzzle continues.

Going After the Source
Pernell, after seeing a therapist, knows he’s just an hallucination. Nothing more, nothing less. God has nothing to do with it. All he needs to do is take his pills and wait for PJ to go. ‘It’s there. It’s just not real’, he says. Easier said than done, though. Because the hallucination doesn’t talk back, Pernell goes after the source. He drives over to the hospital, walks into PJ’s room, sees his son in a coma, almost thinking: ‘Good. You’re in your bed again. As you should be.’

23 Times
PJ’s girlfriend Jocelyn (Alona Tal) still wants to know where Josh is, and confronts Pernell. Did he pay him off? To leave and never look back? Did he do something worse to him? The scene’s really about something else, and that’s to give Pernell PJ’s phone. Before he shot himself, he’d watched one particular video 23 times. Bobo (Andre Royo) is in it, as well as Anne Wu (Elaine Tan). And here I thought PJ’s secret girlfriend had something to do with his (still alleged) suicide. Maybe he was seeing Anne? That’d make everything perfectly come full circle.

Skyrocket in Flight
Wu’s interview, presumably taped in her home, does provide a clue. Behind her, Pernell discovers, is that damn book. The same book PJ hid his memory stick in. The memory stick that contains… well, we don’t really know, do we? But it’s definitely an important piece of the puzzle. Anyway, Wu skyrockets to the top of Pernell’s list of suspects.

Baptism
This is episode 9, the penultimate one, and I must say, I’d hoped for a bigger role of KD (Garret Dillahunt) on the show. Ever since the second or third episode, he’s been kind of shambling through the series. He’s done some very significant stuff, story-wise, but I guess I just can’t get enough of him; I need my Dillahunt shot to be bigger. KD’s role seems to be over now completely, too. He desperately wants to be whole again, clean, forgiven, so after convincing reverend Paul (Julian Curtis), with help from Alicia (Elizabeth McLaughlin), he gets baptised. Not before confessing to all his sins, which gives the reverend all the information to blackmail ‘Brother Pernell’ for all eternity. If he wanted to, of course, I mean, he’s a reverend, so he’d never do that, right? Sure, Pernell had just told him to stay away from him, because he’d figured out Paul and Alicia were just after his money all along, but the Hand of God Church wouldn’t steep to blackmail, would it? Okay, no. My guess is it would. Definitely.

The Threat is Real
The question is whether or not Pernell’s search for the truth still matters as much, now he’s decided to ‘pull the plug’. He believes the hallucinations will stop if PJ’s taken off life support. And he may be right. However, what’s Hand of God, as a show, going to be like if the thing (sorry to call you that, PJ) everything revolves around is gone? It doesn’t feel like an empty threat, though. This series might actually let PJ die, I believe it. So many other shows often work towards the unthinkable – like taking the edges of the carpet in both hands and threaten to pull it from under the whole concept, but you know they’ll never kill off Brody. Did I say Brody? I mean, you never have to worry they’ll discard the whole premise of the show. The great thing is, you never know what to expect from the Hand of God. You’d better prepare yourself for the worst.

Hand of God: One Saved Message

Okay, so here’s the deal. The eighth chapter – or should we say commandment – of Hand of God is kind of a mess. Despite some great performances, especially by Dana Delany and Garret Dillahunt, the episode suffers from a confusing script.

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On Hold
Is it because of the way it’s directed? Well, I suppose Mario van Peebles could’ve made better choices concerning the incorporation of the flashbacks, but it’s mostly due to the fact how the story’s constructed that makes ‘One Saved Message’ feel all over the place. Last week, Pernell (Ron Perlman) misinterpreted the signs/his hunch and got Josh killed. Before KD took his chance, Josh did share a piece of important information with Pernell. PJ was seeing somebody. Somebody who could be pivotal to PJ’s decision to shoot himself. Or did he? However, all this is put on hold for the moment. The reason for that being..? An unnecessary flashback episode.

Antagonizing Mental Coach
Pernell’s in a crisis of conscience, literately. Has he indeed been misreading the signs/visions/hallucinations all along? It’s not gotten him closer to anything, really. So when his office – his judge chamber – gets flooded with white imaginary doves, he knows he’d better get some help. And so he does. It’s Dr. Langston (Camryn Manheim, Person of Interest, Extant and the lady with the pierced ears on The Practice), who should be a psychologist, but she’s more of an antagonizing mental coach. I can’t imagine this approach would ever actually work, since trust needs to be established first. I would’ve been out of there in no time, and got myself someone with a little more compassion.

Unrecognizable Flashbacks
It seems like the voluntary admittance is just a framework, in order to weave flashbacks into it. But the problem is, it doesn’t quite work. There’s no indication they’re actually flashbacks, for starters. It’s hard to distinguish reality and Pernell’s reality filled with hallucinations as it is. Unrecognizable flashbacks thrown into the mix, that’s asking a bit much. Besides, they don’t add much to the story. Is it necessary, or even nice, to know how Pernell got in contact with Paul and Alicia of the Hand of God Church? Have we been dying to see, ever since the first episode, how Pernell got baptised? How PJ’s suicide attempt affected him while being with Tessie? Not really. Or not at all, I should say.

Crystal
Pernell questioning his visions and his belief, that’s a believable turn of events. Unfortunately, the writers opted for the most obvious way to examine it; a therapy session. It’s not all bad, though, absolutely not. Pernell and Crystal (Dana Delany) are on speaking terms again. Sitting across from each other, being more honest than they’ve been in a long time. Crystal, who’s started (or have been?) sleeping with men outside of her marriage, throws it all on the table. It’s another great performance by Delany. There’s really no going around her when the nominees for the Golden Globes are announced.

Burning Down the House
Garret Dillahunt hasn’t had a lot to do these past few episodes, KD’s been kind of waiting around till Pernell tells him to take care of another suspect for him. But Josh was a mistake. He’s killed an innocent guy and it’s weighing on him. He decides to burn down his house, and himself with it. Alicia (Elizabeth McLaughlin) is just in time to save him – not his house, though. Dillahunt’s at his best when his characters are tormented and/or heavily conflicted. Some actors have it, some don’t, the ability to show you everything you need to know in just their eyes. Dillahunt’s definitely got it.