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Well, that was...different.

Have I mentioned that I hate basketball?  And all other professional sports.  They are the bane of my TV existence.   Once again I forgot it was basketball season, and I set my timer record for 8-10. Lucky thing I decided to go downstairs instead of going back on the computer, or my dad wouldn't have been able to inform me that things were time-delayed again tonight, and so my shows didn't start until past 8:30.  I think I might have had to kill someone with a shovel if I'd missed this ep of Without a Trace.  But that's for later.

Cold Case: Offender [points of reference: 1987, little boy, pedophiles]

Wow.  Just...wow.  Two glaring issues stuck out at me right away:

1) I can't say I really saw the need for the father of the murdered boy to start shoving registered sex offenders off the roof just to deliver the message "I'm taking out one piece of trash every day until you solve the murder of my son."  I mean, have you seen this show?  You don't need to resort to extreme measures to get their attention.  You walk in, say "please solve my friend/relative's old murder," and they do it for you.  Usually within a few days.  Also, they never fail.  They have a 100% solve rate.  It's almost scary. 

Now, that one I can make excuses for, because he probably isn't aware of their fantastic solve rate, and also he's been screwed over by the legal system before and probably doesn't have a lot of faith in it.  But the next one? 

2) The CC team got most of their leads based off the mother's interview in which she included the detail that the mailman had been out delivering packages.  This is a red flag because the boy disappeared on a Sunday!  Dun-dun-dun! 
a) would you really remember to specify something as specific as the mailman?
b) especially 20 years later?
c) NOBODY on the ENTIRE STREET thought it was odd that a postal worker was making deliveries on Sunday?  I mean, he was strolling along in broad daylight.  Even if the boy hadn't disappeared, I would have thought somebody would have considered that suspicious. 

Aside from those two errors, this wasn't a bad episode.  For once it felt less a flashback story helped along with the occasional modern interview that could have been conducted by anyone, and more like this current team of detectives solving an old case.  I had liked the storyline earlier in the year about Scotty's brother having been molested, and I was glad to see it resurface here, with his newfound personal resentment towards pedophiles and his obvious disdain for their welfare.  Loved his not-so-subtle commentary that their deaths weren't exactly a bad thing.  I know that was unbefitting conduct for a law enforcement agent, but I couldn't help cheering him on.  It's kind of hard to feel the tragedy when a murderer gets killed.

Oh, and the visit with the mailman, who waxes rhapsodically and almost serenely about his preferred "type" until Scotty sees red and has to be physically restrained from beating him up?  Yes.  Purr.  Now I remember why you used to be my favorite.

Best of all: The guy playing Mitch was Mitch Pileggi.  Score.  I love it when two X-Files stars cross paths on another show. 

Worst of all: I think I stopped watching about 10 minutes from the end and went back to my reading, because they dragged that final showdown on the rooftop on for waaaay too long.  Not only was the woman a terrible actress - just a lot of loud weeping and wailing that I didn't feel the emotion in at ALL - but there was no SUSPENSE to it.  If this were his first offense, you might suddenly change your mind and want him to let the murdering pedophile go, because even though he'd still get in trouble, he probably wouldn't be locked up for long and he and his wife might end up with a few years together at the end.  But Mitch had already killed 2 people.  He was going to jail for a good long while anyway, so he might as well have just taken out his son's killer in the process, and not made us sit through an endless negotiation.   

Without a Trace: At Rest
Okay, I might have gotten mad at the episode, but I cannot deny that it was entertaining.  Lots of stuff happened.  Plenty of twists.  Definitely worth watching.  Provides brilliant material for my review, which comes as a 10-point ordered list of paragraphs and goes on for a couple of pages.

A) Last week, when we got to see the morning scene with Sam's damp hair and her blue bathrobe, that was cute.  This week, when the morning scene is her waking up with a guy in her bed whose name she doesn't even remember, was OMGWTF RETARDED.  WHY?  Why were we subjected to that; was it supposed to show she was so rattled over her sister's showing up that she went straight to a bar and drowned her sorrows in alcohol and a random hookup?  Or is this Sam's usual routine, screwing strangers?  We've established she exceptionally poor judgment when it comes to hopping into bed; why doesn't she learn from this?  My mom frowned and said "She's too old for that.  Not that you should do be doing that at any age, but...it's very immature behavior."  ARGH.  I'm ready to hit something and it's only been 5 minutes.

B) I love how Jack practically had to put Elena in time-out to keep her off her daughter's case, but Sam hunting for her sister?  Hey, let's take a road trip to Wisconsin!  Somebody, I think in the NY fandom, mentioned recently how it was interesting the way the line blurs on these shows about how sometimes you can be involved in a case you have a personal connection to and sometimes you can't, the distinction being only which way will tell a better story.  It's not a bad thing, because we are, after all, watching for the story - it's just an interesting discrepancy.  So I'm not mad about this point, per se, but I do think it's worth pointing out.

C) I still think Sam's sister looks like a man, at least in profile.  Maybe transgendered.  That was Dad's theory.  "Maybe the sister used to be a boy.  Or maybe she's planning on undergoing a gender change, and that's the secret."  I told him he would write remarkable crack!fic.

D) "You know what, Samantha, in the personal arena I would have to say that you consistently make the worst choices."  That may be my favorite quote ever.  Thank you, Jack.  (Don't worry, I won't remain amicable toward him for long.)

E) Sam's mom is one of those people who is so blissful and naive and oblivious that sometimes you just want to smack them across the face to make them wake up and look around.  In fact, she seems so out of it I would suggest investigating to find out whether she's hooked on some sort of prescription painkillers/tranquilizers.  I was gritting my teeth after 30 seconds.  "Oh...yeah, there was this phone call...was that important?" But while I'm talking about Wisconsin, I'd like to say that the aerial shot of the farm was 16,279 times better than the usual stock shots of city buildings. 

F) Ignoring the rest of the hideous quasi-flirty crap in the car, this single line about Jack is also quite hilarious: "Yes, I always think of you as someone who hates to be right."

G) My favorite character this episode was the country hick woman wife (?) of Jeff Henry.  "Where is he?" "Beats the crap outta me!" We laughed hysterically for about five minutes straight over that line.  But really, I DID like her.  She was just so earnest and sweet and eager to help.  She was talking to real live FBI agents!  Exciting!  Hee.  Well, it was cute.  Bottom line: Best.  Minor character. Ever.   (also, she had really gorgeous hair, reddish-blonde, waist length and wavy.)

H) Oh wow.  Sam's got cold-blooded murder in her past...now that, I didn't see coming.  Because I'm naive like that.  And it wasn't until Jack flat-out said "Joe Henry's dead" that I sat bolt upright, everything went winging into place - laguera25's comment that Sam had committed a crime before joining the FBI + the shovel flashback + what I had formerly thought was an utterly silly interpretation of it, "so Sam killed somebody with a shovel?" and I yipped in shock, "Sam killed him!?" 

That's the kind of thing I would have liked to have had spoiled for me, because right now I don't know how to react to it.  I don't know if I think it's stupid or it's amazing storytelling or it's really deep and complex and layered or it's just a cheap writing copout.  Really, I could go any direction.  I think the potential to write emotionally stirring fic is endless*.  I think it could feed a lot of drabbles.  I think the atmospheric details you could use to describe the night in question would make for compelling storytelling.  I found the flashback sequence to be all kinds of eerie and chilling, and I was staring open-mouthed as it sank in what had happened.  Besides, how creepy is it to think of skeletal remains lying in a shallow grave just off the trail in these barren woods, woods indestinguishable from all the places I like to explore? 

But I also think what the HELL, nobody else in these shows has anywhere near that kind of twisted history.  That's absolutely horrible, and I don't care why she did it - even though I stand by my comment in the Cold Case review that it's hard to feel bad when bad people get killed - the fact that she kept hitting him over and over is more than a little repulsive.  She was what, 13?  14?  And she had enough pent-up rage in that slight little frame of hers to kill the guy?

* = On the fanfic note, I think "Forty Yards" would be an excellent title.  (from "Where's the body?" "About forty yards that way.")

I) And as far as Sam wanting to tell the FBI, I'm not sure she understands something.  This isn't like going to Confession and unloading your darkest sins, asking for forgiveness and receiving a penance to do.  This is called "confessing to murder" which will not only get you promptly kicked out of the FBI, but probably arrested and possibly sent to jail.  By all means, you shouldn't have to drag this secret around forever, but if telling Jack wasn't enough (and really, you'd think it would be), then you go to the church, not the government.  Going to latter serves no purpose other than to destroy the rest of your life.  Despite all that, I still couldn't stand Jack's nonchalant bullshit session when he swooped in to take over her hearing and didn't let her get a word in edgewise.  Yes, he saved her from making a huge mistake, but the way he went about it I could only see as controlling, domineering, a power imbalance.

Besides, Jack was so ridiculously casual that I can't believe they didn't think something was fishy, especially given how caught-off-guard she looked when he started talking.  He was also much too quick to answer every question, with perfectly prepared responses, and honestly, wasn't it just the tiniest bit strange that she didn't speak a word during HER OWN INTERVIEW?

J) Finally, the part where I want to repeatedly slam my head against something: Jack's use of "Honey" in that last scene.  Which, NO.  ENN-OH, NO.

This isn't Grissom talking to a dazed and injured Sara after a lab explosion.  There it was not a romantic endearment but simply a word of concern, the same way you would talk to a child, or what one girl might say to a friend who got injured.  I don't think it was paternal in that context either so much as simply in that moment, she was a vulnerable young female, and "honey" fit the description the same way "sweetheart" would have.   It's GSR-significant in the long run given the undercurrent of UST, but in that moment?  Innocent.

The problem here is two-fold: one, they're ex-lovers.  Even innocent remarks gain a new connotation in that context, and I'm not entirely convinced it WAS an innocent note of affection.  Two, she's simply too old for the "vulnerable young woman" thing to apply.  I don't know why I think Sara seems young but Sam doesn't; maybe it's that she and Jack seem closer in age than Grissom and Sara.  Which means they iether completely screwed up an attempt to portray a platonic dynamic, or this intended to show they're slowly going back down that unholy course of shipdom.  Which is a pity, because I'd spent the whole episode biting my nails and waiting for it to be some horrid Jack/Sam revival episode that would provide vindication for the shippers.  I thought we were going to escape with nothing more than potential eyesex I was trying hard not to see...and then "Honey."  *headdesk*

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