Otherwise known as finishing off the last of my (American) crime dramas for the season. Long story short, I watched a lot of murders yesterday.
I) CSI: NY, 7x20-22
This episode also made me realize I have no idea who Peter Fonda is. Scanned IMDB; see recognizable work, but it's not because of him. Much more recognizable guest star of the hour: Elliot's creepy boyfriend (Jake?) from Scrubs. I always KNEW he had that repressed serial killer gleam in his otherwise lifeless eyes...
7x21, "Life Sentence"
Boredom factor: INSTANTLY NEUTRALIZED. (and this is why your labs should maybe not be made entirely of glass) A ridiculously, wonderfully long montage
in unnecessary slo-mo of people diving for cover while glass shatters all around them. Most importantly, Lindsday alone and exposed! Mac doing things of questionable intelligence, such as kicking through partially broken pointy-edged walls, to pull her to cover! Factor in all the protective positioning and stroking her hair and HAPPY RS IS HAPPY.
This is exactly the sort of sequence that normally I would say it's worth an entire year of crap just to have, but honestly, I would rather have given this up and had the show cut off at the knees before Jo arrived. I'm just appreciating what I've got, is all. *watches 10 times in a row*
(insert long, relatively dull episodes spiced up only by the fact that Mac spent more time talking to Danny and Flack -- whose hair looked almost normal in this one; am I seeing things? -- than he did to Jo. V. nice)
And back to machinegun fire at the end! OK, this is now in my top three episodes of the season, despite the excessive Peter Fonda and Twitchy Little Ex-Con Out For Revenge. And that is...not saying much.
7x22, "Exit Strategy": So this is what it looks like when a CSI show faces its mortality and plans for the end of days. Impressive. Well, now I'm just sadder than ever that this show didn't get canned, because that would have been perfect. It could have actually bowed out with a last shred of dignity. Instead it's going to be back on in the fall, looking mildly embarrassed after its exaggerated death throes.
Leave it to this show to make a fugitive murderer/kidnapper into the adoptive father you root for. I don't know about you, but I'm a little traumatized by that ending. I think I'd be happier if that case had stayed cold. As we learned from the Cold Case squad itself, solving the old stuff doesn't always provide as much satisfaction as you expect.
It wasn't a perfect finale, as I was utterly annoyed by the various sound effects used to emphasize how Out Of It Mac was, and OF COURSE Jo is the one who gets all the heart to hearts, blergh...but I forgot all my annoyances with that ending montage. Yes. That is the way to close a series, with the lab working on, and following the solitary heart of the show out at the end. I suppose the real finale will switch gears and go for a heartwarming family-style feeling, for fear of repetition, but I thought this bittersweet twinge was much more poignant and fitting. And that song turned out to be the absolutely perfect backdrop.
On a final note, having Danny go after a promotion is, what's the word, not an exciting subplot in any way and in no way lived up to what I was expecting from a storyline for them. But I'm grateful that they got the sideshow instead of more crap with Jo's family. I'm very careful to be grateful about that.
II) CSI, 11x20-22, "The Nate Haskell Showdown"
("Father of the Bride; Cello and Goodbye; In A Dark, Dark House")
I attempted to split this into individual episode reviews, but that quickly fell by the wayside, because -- yeah. CSI hasn't done arced storytelling that well since they introduced Haskell. I'd forgotten how good they could be at not only scaring the hell out of you, but sending a chill up your spine and creeping along your skin with the mere suggestion of how horrifying a person can be. At its best, this show hits Criminal Minds territory, and is all the more effective for not doing it every week.
Part 1 was not all that exciting as an introduction, and the fact that I yawned my way through it is the reason I chucked this show in storage when I got busy. But once you get a little ways into part 2, you're wrapped up in it. I did not think that was possible, given how bored I am by Langston and how little I care about either his self-doubts, his personal crusade, or his accidental vendetta with a madman. But the minute we transferred out to Vegas and met ball of sunshine Morgan (she's everything Riley could have been if Riley wasn't a horrid brat -- and surprise, Ecklie's daughter! That was a fun reveal), things were looking up.
[wait, what do you mean, regular gig next season? woo! I didn't even know we were supposed to focus on her when she was first introduced; I just liked her as soon as I laid eyes on her.]
Throw in a pile of complex historical clues (cue Greg -- EXCELLENT), and you immediately have a recipe to intrigue RS. Throw in some old buildings and a confrontation at a carnival, and I am all the way there. Particularly if Nicky is providing non-sanctioned backup and everyone is causing Catherine much headache and grief with their rogue antics (poor Cath -- but love watching her chew everybody out. Luckily Sara's there to provide helpful support. Cute girls club they had going in L.A.).
FINALLY it becomes clear why we were introduced to Gloria, and I have to say that I approve of introducing an ex just to kill off her new husband (husband to be? can't recall) and psychologically destroy her in order to do the same to one of our main characters. You win! I care about Gloria and I care that Langston cares, and with that I guess I've moved myself into part 3, or almost there. That house is a very, very dark house indeed.
(Sidebar: is it weird that I love that the main location for the horror showdown is a gorgeous old basically-abandoned house full of vintage things? probably. but it's just so intriguing)
I rarely understand the satisfaction of killing someone for revenge -- death seems like an easy way out -- but this time, I got it. Not only because it was a painfully drawn-out affair, but because he's escaped too damn many times and you really, really wanted his unshakable smirking to just shut up, shut up forever; even if you know that his satisfaction comes from making you like him, you just...really don't care; it's more than worth it. It was very violent, though. Hard to watch.
But when it comes to the worst part of the episode...Gloria's fate is not one I would wish upon any of my characters, ever. I am still twitching and twisting my arms around, trying not to envision the same kind of scarring as the fishhook sadism. Never mind the stuff we didn't see, as effectively conveyed by implication and hyper-zoomed skimming across an SAE report. Nightmares forever. That's the kind of broken I don't know how you recover from, and as a viewer, I just feel kind of empty and hollowed out. To use a very poor and barely related example, it's like hearing about Osama's death, where it was objectively good but I did not want to dwell on it for a second. So with tragedy in my TV shows: this is the opposite of something I can watch a thousand times like the Grey's Anatomy shootout last year.
Again, Langston does not usually invoke feelings in me, but his reaction to said report gave me a punch in the gut. And with that last reveal that she was tracing music notes with the chalk to hold onto the last part of herself...why, show, that's the kind of poignant knife twist I'm more accustomed to getting from my British TV.
I didn't know how the third part was going to hold up when the climax seemingly happened in the first few minutes and the rest was just about the aftermath. And if it had been all about the IA investigation, it might have been dull. But when you're peeling back wallpaper to blood spatter, finding more elsewhere in the house, and generally diving back into history again? (more history-nerd Greg to the Rescue!) Oh, and maybe digging up a bunch of skeletons in the backyard? AWESOME. I was at least as glued to the cold cases as I was to any of the current-time murders. So awesomely eerie.
And finally, a last nice moment with Sara and Greg, as the former follows a suspicious hunch to check Langston's kit... "What if it was me?" Awww, Greg, that is the kind of friendship stuff I live to see. And whatever, Sara. You would not do the same thing. Or at the very least, you'd find a way to help him once you had satisfied your need to know the truth. Look at that face! We both need to believe this.
Whoops, I just triggered a 7x04 clip show rewatch, BRB.
*scrolls up* Oh good grief, my rambles get long when I let it all pour out without checking myself.
In conclusion: masterfully done, not quite enough to knock out the Sara and Greg features at the top of the season, but parts 2 & 3 could take comfortable third and fourth. Season 11 has, on the whole, provided some clunkers but it has also produced at least half a dozen standouts and is at least on par with season 9, miles beyond last year's journey through hell. I am actually EXCITED to pick up next season!
III) NCIS, 8x22-24
Well, that went out on a dull note. Remember last year, when it was all Mexico, all awesome, all the time? I'm probably going to reference season 7's season-ending excellence forever, but especially when faced with inferior stuff like this.
Baltimore: (Hey there, Dr. Morris.) One thing I will always give this show credit for is its ability to make flashbacks feel like you've actually traveled back in time. Not just in appearance this time, but I was right back there with season 1 Tony. Who knew he had actually changed over the course of the series? But he definitely felt younger. Less sure about past!Gibbs, who seems more like a whole different character, but the first headslap did get a giggle out of me.
The previews made this episode look unspeakably boring, which is part of why I fell behind, so I'm glad it was slightly better than anticipated. My only real question is, what happened to Tony's fiancee? Because if you're not going to give me a real explanation, I'm just going to do what comes naturally and assume he's a cheating bastard who dumped her.
[edit: great. episode writer says she left him at the altar. Had to take that away from me, didn't you?]
Swan Song: I got spoiled for Mike Franks' death ahead of time, but I guess the episode didn't make any great secret of hiding it. And other than a brief flash of pity for Amira and her mother, I'm not exactly broken up about it. In fact, kudos for making everybody worry about Mexico last year, then left him off the hook only spring it on us a year later. But the pacing of his last episode was deathly slow, and may I register a complaint about the ZERO Gibbs/Abby followup? I was looking forward to that! You can't kill someone close to Gibbs and not have Abby all over it, right? Wrong.
(*I am much more upset about them shooting David. COME ON. Apparently they've not heard of Be Kind to David Day , or don't care if it's not the actual holiday).
Much more interesting was that we got an actual name for the P2P killer, and his name is "played by Kerr Smith." JOY! Please continue this trend of hiring actors from beloved shows of mine that get canceled midwinter, in this case Life Unexpected. I should probably not root for the serial killer, but when that serial killer is Kerr Smith and he's threatening to kill EJ, whose side do you really expect me to be on?
Oh, and it was fun to learn that the eye belonged to Trent Kort, but you know what he is/plots involving him are? Super boring.
Pyramid, finale: I yawned through it, so my thoughts are in short supply and follow thusly:
a) I am officially Team Ziva/Ray. Go with that. Run with it. Do not foreshadow Trouble that suggests he might be sketchy.
b) Really? In three episodes, one quick "Remember: positive" temple kiss is all I'm going to get on the Gibbs/Abby front to play me out?
c) Go, P2P killer, go! Seriously, though, as NCIS plots go this actually got compelling by the end. Just the killing part. Not the backstory/agency politics.
d) Props for having the least suspenseful cliffhanger in series history. It's nice to be able, for once, to go into hiatus without caring at all what happens next. It looks plot-heavy and involves Tony doing secret things again, so I probably won't understand it even when they explain it. It's like not having a cliffhanger at all.