Another thing I have recently discovered is the So Many Shows and the radio show/podcast thing they do immediately after the live airing, often with various cast & TPTB members chiming in. I frequently have to turn it off due to secondhand embarrassment from fan questions, but other than that, it's an amazing experience, like getting invited to a party with all the cool kids but not having to talk to anyone. I plan to go through their back catalog at some point -- if only I had found it during hiatus! -- but since I took a few notes while listening, I might sprinkle in some insights gleaned from it.
The Brave, 1x10, "Desperate Measures"
I will admit that I was moderately underwhelmed by the rescue after how high I built up the possibilties in my head (YOU GAVE ME SIX+ WEEKS AND A BLOOD-SPATTERED-CLOTHING "WHITE ROOM" SPOILER PHOTO TO WORK WITH, COME ON) and may have had to run back and reread the "Somehow" fic to attain full satisfaction in the hands-on department -- this show is just a little heavy, still, on packing in so much action that sometimes it doesn't find enough beats to pause in between the opening and closing scenes where the team is concerned -- but only after I had been on the edge of my seat during airing and then spent roughly 2 hours playing the good parts of the episode back to myself so I could novelize and analyze every bit.
So yeah, it was a pretty damn fine hour of television.
Now, please set your phasers to "skim" because I just spent 2800 words on what I'm sure could have been wrapped up in a thousand.
A giant list of positive / memorable things in the first half:
* Dean Georgaris put up the first couple pages of the script on Twitter early, and my eager anticipation for the opening scene, with Dalton sitting frozen in horror and oblivious to Preach repeating his name, was absolutely satisfied. But slightly better, because I did not anticipate that little stutter on "th-they've got Jaz."
* Jaz & Dalton's faaaaaaces at each other as she disappears out of the garage into oblivion / certain doom thanks to a piece of junk SUV not hotwiring in time. That was entirely indulgent camera lingering and I don't care; it might as well have been designed as a fic prompt about how either one keeps replaying that sight.
* Dalton listening to that recording -- the one that ends with Jaz getting hit -- over and over and over again. (also awww at Preach keeping an eye on him and knowing when to push and when to pull back)
* If I did not fully love the DIA side of things before, I do now. Patricia really displays some excellent Dalton-management skills here. She is more lenient than she needs to be in her position, and her indulgence on that front is a delight, but I like that she's also the only one who can rein him in all the way if need be. Maybe I should give episode 4 another whirl, really appreciate their face-to-face.
* "I know a sheep when I hear one." Hahaha, it is a testament to both him and this show's general level of intensity that this line sounds completely serious, normal and appropriate in context. And thanks for irresponsibly filling my head with visions of Dalton competently working on a farm! You're just lucky I already have a cowboy shot for reference. In related news, someone just got himself cast in at least one if not all three full length Hughie Call novels.
* Dalton not hesitating for a second to whip out his gun and convince someone to talk via bullet: wow. The man did not come to play.
* Also, I love that when he gets in said guy's face, he looks like an angry terrier, visibly shorter than every other man in the room but 3x as ferocious. (the Internet tells me Mike Vogel is 5'10, which just makes it even funnier to me that there is still a height discrepancy)
* BONUS: Dean "Wish-Granting Genie" Georgaris is here again with a deleted scene from the script immediately following that scene, which I kind of wish had been left in over one of the endless French liason ones.
* Boy howdy do I love whenever Amir casually rolls up undercover. "Yes hello I am here as a Totally Legit Health Inspector. Nothing is off limits to me."
(also, props to cutting from the torture knife straight to the butcher knife! nice juxtaposition in editing there)
* The sneak peek I was excited about was the one with Dalton's heartbreaking surrender to ending the mission without finding her. "I'm not asking to stay." So well delivered I don't even know how to praise it; it's like there's a physical lead weight attached to every word. Or as described in the radio shows, possibly by more than one person because my notes are sporadic:
"Watching him process the fact that he has to leave Jaz behind, I don't remember seeing that on shows like this. These people make agonizing decisions. And for Hannah to be like, "the chances are zero," and they don't end up doing it..." [my notes got erratic here] "...just the way Mike played the moment of, he's leaving her behind. He's a grownup, he's a professional, they don't want to leave people behind, but they're not that irresponsible."
So thank goodness he needs very little inspiration to come up with a plan after all (and inspiring rally speech to sell it).
* On that note, I love Amir pulling Dalton aside with worried hissing about how he's asking Patricia to straight up break the law, because I feel like Amir is very often the only one still detached/brave enough to challenge their C.O.'s more extreme decisions.
Short version: "white torture" / sensory deprivation (on top of, you know, a knockout punch and some regular knifey bloodletting torture) definitely qualifies as a unique torture tactic, and nothing at all like what I think most of us were picturing, starting with the length of captivity.
Someone asked on the radio show how long she was there, and he said not long, "3-4 days," then backtracked and thought more like 36-48 hours, so there you go. Someone also asked about the severity of her injuries, and he stuck to the intentionally vague presentation, saying only that it was pretty much what you can see: mostly small cuts along the arms and torso, just...a lot of them.
My already enormous love of Jaz quadrupled in this episode, and at the rate she's going she's gonna knock Dalton off the top of the character totem pole. I'm constantly impressed by how fluidly she slides from badass name-taking soldier to emotionally vulnerable individual. Not in a way that compromises her, but like -- she bucks the Strong Female Character trope where nothing bothers them ever; things affect her. She can withstand torture, but it doesn't make the pain or anticipation of it easy. She's courageous and resilient, but not fearless, and it gets to show. I love that.
Long version, in bullet points:
* Arthur is a terrible human being, but for some reason I really enjoy all of his line delivery? It's just so singsong and threateningly pleasant. Now, as for her:
* I love her fallback to French*, her stony glares, and that when she does give in and start speaking English, she addresses him with calm disdain to match his own measured tone.
*Though it bugs me immensely that the subtitles at one point say "I have no idea what you want," when she very clearly says ce que vous parlez, "what you're talking about." I verified with Google Translate backwards and forwards and still I see no way to translate it the first way. While we're at it, it annoys me that it sounds like there is something after "what the hell is going on?", because that phrase should be loosely covered with "expliquez-moi ce qui se passe?" but there are a few extra syllables beyond that.
* I still can't figure out what the scars on her leg are supposed to be. (or how far I should take the phrase "took the liberty of examining your body." That is a very sinister sentence.) But I do love the reaction shot we get, just for a moment. when she looks down at them while his focus is off her. COME BACK FOR SEASON 2 AND TELL ME THE STORY THERE.
* And because she has been so calm and largely unruffled this far, I kind of love that the abrupt hood over her head catches her off guard enough elicit a muffled outcry or two, and I love the ringing effect and disorienting whine that permeates the rest of the scene. Her face is doing a lot of wonderful things trying to keep her cornered-wolf glare on point while overcoming the discomfort.
* The doctored photo of a bloodied and very dead Dalton -- wow. Even knowing that it isn't real, never mind the obvious fakery proven by him wearing the same clothes as in the airport photo, it looks pretty damn real. And the thing I think her face shows in spades, before she squares up, is the knowledge/fear that it could still become real.
* I greatly respect that they didn't show us the torture proper, and let the aftermath of her injuries do the talking, but I have drawn some conclusions about the number of bloody spots on her clothing + the fact that I see no visible rips or tears in the material. I'm choosing not to dwell on it, and instead be distracted by how much I love that she refused to break under any of it, despite showing a pretty healthy amount of fear for the impending pain beforehand. Like I said above, people strong enough to withstand torture aren't usually allowed to look vulnerable.
* Finally, I love that she puts up a feeble but determined protest against being bundled into the Van of No Return, and continues her silent protest by snapping her head away from ~Arthur's~ approach, but is not immune to his final threats. Those beautiful expressive eyes of hers are looking pretty grim by this point...which is why it is so great that her jungle cat reflexes are on point enough to STRANGLE HIM WITH HER CHAINED LEGS first chance she gets. So much primal rage. So satisfying.
I had to watch this like 8 times in a row, most of them slowed down, just to track everything that going on because this happens so FAST. It is literally not even sixty seconds from blowing open the van door to peeling away with squealing tires. (the fact that it cuts off there gave rise to my "NO COME BACK I want at least the next twenty-six minutes in real time" protest)
I love McG's expression and muttered "geeze" when he first sees Jaz. I only caught it on slow mo because it's literally a 1-second shot before he's all action again, but if you can pause it, it's magnificent. It goes without saying that I appreciation Dalton being the first to jump into the van, clipping chains and trying to bring her around, snapping at McG to help faster, but this is where I start to get impatient with the editing, which has a lot of jump cuts I'm not sure all fit together. Like, "there she is, there she is. you all right?" could have been a favorite bit, but it occurs almost entirely while he's lookng over at McG, and that seems like dialogue that would have been directed more at her.
Also, once in the getaway vehicle, I presume she's supposed to go from dazed by the blast + sudden action to distressed as the combo of pain-from-josted-injuries + relief kicks in, but the switch is choppy and I can't track a natural progression from the first to the second. There is an audible outcry in the wide shot that makes sense as far as prompting Dalton's response, but I didn't even hear it the first time around.
REGARDLESS: please tell me to shut up and look at everything in this handy gifset, because despite my nitpicking, we know perfectly well that my heart shot the moon over this cradling business + his reassurances. "I got you. I got you, it's all right."
EDIT: OH MAN I didn't think there was anything left for the gifs to show me that I had not already identified, but I forgot about Photoshop's magical ability to brighten and clarify; he is stroking her hair back in that last one and asdkfjasl;dkjafsd that was the dream. I'm good. I'm dead now, but I'm good.
Speaking of indulgent if very brief shippy things: (x)
Very Specific Details I Still Need Described In Fic/Meta or I will haunt fandom forever:
- McG's initial assessment of her injuries/any need for immediate medical attention
- Dalton's reaction to Jaz once he finished barking directives at everyone
- EVERYONE'S reaction, honestly, to her facial injuries and sheer number of places she's bleeding. We got 1 out of 5, or out of 6 if you count Hossein, and I do, since he's clearly seeing his daughter's suffering reflected in her.
- How she came around from her dazed state to realizing her team was really there and she was (on her way to being) safe
- Basically every second between the van peeling away from the scene of assassination until they rolled up to the fruit truck
- What the hell all happened between getting on the fruit truck midday, and nightfall
- * Including precisely how Dalton articulated the hiding arrangements in the truck bed
- * And also what followed the last gifset above; like what actually was the purpose of getting her up there?
- When and how the actual cuffs were taken off
- Where the gray shirt came from
- When Amir finally got to talk to her
The Box Scene (now with an entirely different context from its Glee origins)
"I should have played things differently. I got us all into this mess."
= oh man. I guess that will teach me to judge all the fic writers whom I thought were leaning too far towards the "Jaz blames herself and Dalton has to reassure her" angle.
(also I LOVE IT. This is such a friggin' indulgence I could not believe my eyes. I love that she's fighting back tears and it starts with a sniffle and he does not let that go for a second. Out with the bad thoughts, Jaz).
"Talk to me." Why do I love that so much? I dunno, but I've been focusing a lot on how mincing this show tends to be with dialogue, paring it down to the essentials, yet managing to convey so much with so little. Similarly: "You did good." It looks like so little. But it means a lot, and it's all she needs.
If I had one tiny wish, it would be for the addition of a reassuring touch at some point -- just a brief hand on her arm, shoulder, back, something. That is a perfectly reasonable request. Plus I mean honestly, look how small that space is. The one you chose to put them in together. Literally how do you come up with one of the closest approximations to spooning possible and then take a left turn into "two soldiers chilling in a hidden truck bed, five feet apart 'cause they're not not gay." To quote the great TV analyst Kelly Kapoor, it's just, it's irresponsible?
He gets his own section because I had rewatched episode 1x09 kind of a lot in the week leading up to this, and thought I had taken a shine to him (I just love his softly rounded way of speaking and general switching between jovial cheer and Super Concern), but he completely blew me away by the end. Now I've reached the point where his tragic but inevitable ending makes me cry bittersweet tears.
It's awful that he had to die, stupid accidentally competant Iranian border guard!, but I like that there's a sense of peace to it? I am unsure how much guilt Jaz might harbor about being the indirect cause of it, but if it's there, I would like to see Amir and/or Dalton relaying the significance of his sacrifice. He couldn't save his daughter. But he could save her. (or everyone. i guess. but he said "my daughter" too many times in this 2-parter for me not to focus on that)
Things Are Gonna Get Easier
And what a good, good closing scene. Beautifully shot with the rising sun and the background song, and central focus on Jaz, battered but never broken. I also appreciate greatly that McG is sitting close enough for a knee or an elbow to make light contact with hers, and honestly I was just happy seeing that Dalton finally let himself rest, but THANKS FOR THIS BONUS:
I can't believe it's almost Monday again. One benefit to not being done with this review is that my worry about not being done with it completely distracted me from hyper-anticipating the next episode. I checked Twitter a couple of times, checked out the promo and stills, and then pretty much flopped down to work on this and wait.