Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Hunted: Khyber (1.7)

Hunted isn't a television show. I mean, yeah, it is, but not in the same way that any other TV show is a TV show. It mostly resembles a spit-balling session, whole streams of stuff happening all at once, Frank Spotnitz covering all bases but forgetting to make any of it at all interesting. It's just a bizarre experience, a show so dedicated to telling a story that doesn't make a ton of sense on its own, and certainly hasn't given us enough reason to care all that much. There were so many moments in Khyber involving people just saying stuff, fulfilling a thin purpose and helping somebody else move from one point in the story to another. And that's what Hunted is. Nobody has an actual role to play, instead they're just mechanically maneuvered from set to set, and the whole thing is a wreck.

Detachment is a major factor here, something that plagues so many of the serialized dramas populating the post-Lost TV landscape. Khyber features a couple of revelations, but they're still ambiguous and detached in general. Sure, we know that Polyhedrus was keeping tabs on Sam and her mother, but that's not a total shocker. And we now know what's in the briefcase, evidence of a Pakistani massacre cover-up from years prior, but it's not a narrative detour that satisfies. It's just more stuff piled on top of the other stuff. Then there's the continued "mole" hooey with Aiden, Indira Varma blathering all over the place and trying to make sense of the overly directionless character she's playing.

I should also add that Hunted has been terrible from an actor stand-point. The show has assembled an array of generally strong actors here, from Adewale Akkinuoye-Agbaje to Stephen Dillane, through most of the British players within Sam's team and the Turner compound. But they've only ever been given exposition material to work with, and the random bursts of characterization they're granted every once in a while only ever feels like a weak gesture of goodwill from the writers: "Oh, right, you're a really strong actor so we ought to give you a random moment of back-story to make you feel better". It's like Zoe and the wheelchair guy she's seeing. It's a story randomly introduced several weeks ago, abandoned until now, and loosely connected to Polyhedrus and the need to take out Sam. Again it's mechanically awkward, something so messily tossed together and awash in so many incongruous flourishes (why is he in a wheelchair, for one?) that you're only distracted by how long-winded it is, rather than what the story actually represents in the grand scheme of things.

And that feeling affects every corner of this show. It's hard to watch, even harder to write about, and one of the strangest, most misfiring series in recent memory. D

Frank Spotnitz, Amira El Nemr Director Daniel Percival

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