Thursday, March 7, 2013

666 Park Avenue: The Elysian Fields (1.12)

666 Park Avenue has suddenly become a hard show to write about. Due to circumstances outside of the writers' control, it's a series that, in its last gasps of life, greater resembles a mass info-dump than anything else. By rapidly speeding up what we can assume is the entire first season's worth of plot into just two or three hours, the show has sacrificed whatever threadbare characterization may have existed in the first place, leaving The Elysian Fields an episode in which people do things that don't make a ton of sense, while being told about other things by drab third parties.

At the same time, however, it's understandable that the show wound up this way. And it raises an interesting question of whether a brutal cancellation that leaves plot strands dangling is in any way worse than a thrown-together last hurrah that brings events to a close but never in an exactly brilliant manner. Sure, we now know the history of the Drake and all that related hooey, but it's never entirely satisfying. Presumably because large swaths of exposition would have ordinarily been delivered less as a huge gloomy monologue and more as a teased-out, months-long mystery, naturally. So it's fine in some ways, but lacking in others.

In keeping with the writers' intent to wrap things up as quickly as possible, here we get Jane discovering that Cooper is part of the Conspiratii, a secret order formed to stop satanic forces from taking over the Vatican (!), while Harlan Moore mugs and plots and wants her dead. Gavin's all pissed because outside forces are converging on the Drake, so he orders the last members of the Conspiratii dead, kills Cooper, and traps Harlan in that old box from episodes ago. Seems he wants Jane safe and protected, for reasons not yet known. As an idea, this is pulpy secret-society Pope zaniness at its best, and there's certainly the potential for fun if the show hadn't been canceled. But as presented here it's unsurprisingly drab and charmless, Gavin and Olivia's late-episode involvement stranding both Terry O'Quinn and Vanessa Williams in more muddled scenes that they seem to struggle with. It remains difficult to understand their respective motivations, the show veering their characters so far from 'mysterious ambiguity' mode and straight into 'WTF?' territory.

Elsewhere, William Sadler appears this week as Jane's absent father, who arrives with 'dead wife' baggage and shady warnings about the Drake. It's fine, features characteristically strong work from Sadler, and once again seems to indicate a 'bigger picture' story. There's also a catfight between Wife and Window that leaves Window dead and Wife and Writer pretty darn eager to dump her body to protect their butts. But both stories, like everything in these final episodes, lacks any real color or weight.

It's hard to dislike anything at this point in time because of the real-world conditions affecting the show's writers, but it doesn't cover up the fact that The Elysian Fields plays more like a detailed plot summary than anything truly substantial. Meh. C

Guest stars
Teddy Sears (Detective Hayden Cooper); William Sadler (Nate McKenny); Richard Short (Harlan Moore/Patrick Corey); Misha Kuznetsov (Kandinsky)
Writers Elizabeth Craft, Sarah Fain Director Chris Misiano

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