Thursday, November 29, 2012

Hunted: Polyhedrus (1.6)

Great serialized dramas frequently strike a balance between the overarching story that the writers want to tell, and smaller, more character-driven concepts that help smooth out the show's edges and create a strong ensemble dynamic. Hunted is weighing heavily on the former and has been ever since it first premiered, at the expense of any real strength of character. The only arc this season to be driven by actual people instead of elaborate conspiracy hooey has been the relationship between Sam and Aiden and their angst over the baby they lost. As an idea it's undoubtedly strong -- the death of an unborn child is horrible, and the emotional fallout can easily provoke sympathetic drama. But Polyhedrus strands both characters in a pissing contest, Aiden whining over Sam sleeping with another character involved in the Turner scheme and yelling at her in public like somebody in ninth grade.

It's a story decision that fundamentally impacts Hunted as a series. I can't imagine that anybody is watching this show consistently and not finding themselves repeatedly thrown off track, not by intriguing plot twists but more because of the sheer abundance of plot, and without believable characters populating the thing, acting professionally and exhibiting behaviors that resonate, then why should any of us at home care all that much? Neither of these people ring true, even when their collective experience should so easily be a source of brilliant drama.

Like a similar scene in Hourglass, Hunted works best in the quiet moments. Sam sleeping with Stephen is tantamount to prostitution, the act of selling both your body and self-worth in exchange for completing a mission. It's such an interesting idea, driven home (again) by an agonizingly lengthy shot of Sam standing alone soon after the deed, looking at herself in the mirror and seemingly wondering just how things got so bad. But it's the sole moment of peace here, Polyhedrus quickly returning to the show's trademark 'let's just throw stuff at the audience one after another' pacing. Like a lot of recent television, there's an interesting series buried in here somewhere, if you move past the rigid dedication to elaborate narrative.

Oops, the narrative. Right. Okay. So the Turner family has purchased the Khyber dam, but first need to assassinate the Pakistani presidential candidate who wants to shut the whole thing down. The head of Byzantium is dying, and bleeding and barfing all over the place. Angry Dude (not Mr. Eko, not Aiden, the other Byzantium guy) is framed for the murder of a guy in a giant rabbit costume, and Aiden's mole-itude is still creating dissent within the corporation. And Stephen now knows that "Alex Kent" isn't who she says she is. I... can't follow this show anymore.

I'm not sure if I've just kind of bottomed out in terms of interest, but Polyhedrus didn't work for me. I don't care all that much, the intriguing moments are few and far between, and the only thing that feels tangible and real is that Frank Spotnitz is working as a kind of deranged puppet master losing control of his play-things. D+

Christian Spurrier Director Alrick Riley

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