Friday, November 5, 2010

Undercovers: Jailbreak (1.4)

Once again we have The Agents Bloom attempting to intercept a device of some sort which, if released and/or sold, could have insanely heinous repercussions for some giant corporation. Is there too much of this, already? Four episodes in, and the show seems to be stuck in a familiar rut. We have the infiltration of various buildings, some undercover action, a kidnap victim, a twist midway through. A series like this lives or dies on its own sense of wonderment and high-stakes espionage, and so far it's not totally delivering.

If we were to judge Jailbreak on its own terms as just one random episode, then it's fine. The IRA scenes were filled with contrivances (hiring two black agents is just throwing an unnecessary spanner in the works for this particular undercover mission), but I guess it was pretty well done. The accents were universally awful, but the twists were unexpected, while I liked the coda at the symphony.

Also of note were the use of Leo and Hoyt, given scenes together and away from Sam and Steven. What J.J. Abrams' other series do and have done so well is to create great ensemble casts of characters. Marshall Flinkman on Alias was so scrappy and fun that he could easily carry an episode or two (which he did), the same with somebody even as potentially unnecessary as Astrid on Fringe. But the series did bless its casts with intriguing personalities or notable 'quirks'. The cast of Undercovers has so far under-utilized its ensemble, so I was happy to see Leo and Hoyt bond over their major differences here, especially in Hoyt's attempted seduction of the hotel clerk.

The episode also sees the resurfacing of the show's lone dramatic arc: the real reason behind the Bloom's reinstatement. It's still all pretty vague, but I welcomed the acknowledgment that that particular plot strand hasn't been erased. Equally intriguing were the fuzzy secrets behind Sam's original departure from the CIA in the first place. If the show could put greater emphasis on character detail than the missions, it could be pretty awesome. Rating C+

Guest stars Jason Barry (Sean Cullen); Michael Reilly Burke (Brian Murphy); Lisa O'Hare (Marie Murphy)
Writer Phil Klemmer Director Anthony Hemingway

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