Monday, January 12, 2009

The Unit - Recap & Review - The Spear of Destiny

The Unit
“The Spear of Destiny”

Original Air Date: Jan 11, 2009

Brittany Wells – TwoCents Reviewer

The Unit kind of got the short end of my stick this week, seeing as it followed the two-hour season premiere of 24. While not always plausible, 24 has been one of those shows that’s close enough to reasonable where if it doesn’t quite make sense, you forgive it because it makes sense enough and you know the writers will eventually wrap it up in a nice package. Unfortunately, watching that only helped point out the plot holes in another standalone Unit episode that seems more filler than forward progress.

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[photo: CBS]


  1. The Unit kind of got the short end of my stick this week, seeing as it followed the two-hour season premiere of 24. While not always plausible, 24 has been one of those shows that’s close enough to reasonable where if it doesn’t quite make sense, you forgive it because it makes sense enough and you know the writers will eventually wrap it up in a nice package. Unfortunately, watching that only helped point out the plot holes in another standalone Unit episode that seems more filler than forward progress.

    First, because I don’t want to be negative all the time, I want to talk about the good part first. I want to say kudos to Scott Foley for his first directing job. As a filmmaker myself in high school and college, I can say it’s darn hard to direct and probably a lot harder when you’re acting at the same time. (If only he’d had a better episode.) In the ‘B’ story, Bob is sent to surveil the Reeds while they meet with Leon Drake, and Kim bullies her way into tagging along. While I’m not quite understanding how that would be permissible, I love the interaction between Scott and Audrey Marie Anderson. Kim is sort of following in Molly’s footsteps, understanding that she has her own vital role in the Unit even if she isn’t a soldier, and she asserts herself nicely to her husband.

    It is an out of this world thrill to see Demore Barnes again, and it makes me wish that they’d never killed him off. Max Martini makes the most of what he’s given and runs with it, and we can physically see Mack learning to accept the death of his colleague. The two of them have some poignant moments together especially as Hector walks Mack through his own final moments and Mack realizes that he missed the shooter who would kill his friend.

    But there’s more bad than good to be said about this episode. Why, at midseason, are we wasting time with an episode that feels more like an Indiana Jones caper? Pacing in this episode was a problem for me. I felt like we could have spent more time focusing on Hector and Mack, or have some actual story advancement with the Reeds and Leon Drake, then on Jonas swordfighting someone, a lot of religious backstory, and an awful lot of my least favorite character ever, Charlotte Canning. Allow me, for a moment, to digress because I cannot stress how much I hate this character. I’ve always disliked the actress, but the character makes no sense to me either. She seemed to enter the show conveniently (maybe because the actress is married to the series creator?), and here she seems to be pulling all the strings out of the blue like she’s suddenly gained some sort of government authority. Wasn’t she a journalist at one point, and now she’s some sort of spook for a committee we conveniently can’t name? I don’t buy her one bit. Not only that, but she completely subverts Tom Ryan as a character. He knows this is the woman who nearly destroyed the Unit, and his men are in danger, and he’s asking her to call her people? I don’t see him asking her for anything. Especially given how Robert Patrick can scare the heck out of anyone, I think it’s a real missed opportunity, and more than a little out of character. I’ll say it again: if you want a strong female presence on the show, you have one in Kayla Medawar.

    Not to mention, we seem to spend an awful lot of time watching Bob hack on his own lung. I get an answer to my question from last week: Colonel Ryan doesn’t know Bob’s had heroin, at least according to Kim. Excuse me? How does he not know? Jonas didn’t say anything? It went unnoticed when he got home and through all the debriefings? I also don’t buy that he’d get bounced from the Unit for it; wouldn’t they send him for treatment, especially considering it was involuntary and not something he did on purpose?

    And while I’m unsurprised that the Reeds are later shot – by Bob, on mysterious orders that I somehow doubt came from Ryan – I would have liked to have learned more from their meeting with Drake. We don’t hear names, we don’t hear much more than the bad guys are shutting down their West Coast operations, and we don’t get to see what’s in the mystery envelope they were given. As a viewer, we’re not much smarter than we were a week ago, and again that’s a disappointment.

    Back to our primary plot. Jonas has to go steal a spear from the monks to get himself and Mack home, since Charlotte has a strangehold on the TOC. He accomplishes this, but as he gets Mack to the helicopter, everyone’s favorite soldier appears to die. At least, until Jonas runs off, and sticks the Biblical relic into a tree, and then Mack finally breathes. I’m used to Dennis Haysbert as team leader, or even President. I didn’t think he was God. It all seems a little deus ex machina for my taste, though I am having a bit of glee that Charlotte and her little friends aren’t going to get the spear. I’d still like someone to shoot her. But at least Mack is okay, and Bob? Well…Bob is still a wreck and now Kim is upset. Understandably so. But where the heck does this lead us?

    I can’t tell you because there were no previews. Gripe directed at the network: don’t tell us to stay tuned for scenes from the next week and then show me commercials for NCIS and The Mentalist. That’s just not fair. I’ll be over here waiting to see what Jack Bauer does next, and wondering what on earth the writers of The Unit have been on recently. I no longer ask myself why this show is in danger of cancellation; I only hope that they remember they have one of the best casts on television, capable of doing amazing things, and just give them the material to perform already. After all, there are reasons this show has been on the air for four years, but I’m doubting the ability to make it to year five.

  2. I think The Unit is stronger when it sticks to stuff that we can believe happens in real life. The advent of what can be called "woo woo" storylines has greatly weakened the show. First we had Kim going all psychic, then Molly and her daughter and now we've got mysteeeerious disappearing monastries. Puh-lease!!

    As for Bob and heroin, yes, they'd treat him, but it's not likely he'd be allowed back into the field. It would be considered a potential weakness and/or blackmail possibility. While they would have every sympathy, I am fairly sure it's SOP to remove an addicted soldier from front line operations, even if the addiction was acquired as part of a mission.

    Don't even get me started with Kim being with Bob and seeing an operation go down. I detest Kim with the passion of a 1000 burning suns. Her final line to Bob "A normal man would say "I wish I didn't have to do that." was slap-worthy. Seriously, what did she think he DID on these covert missions, give out candies to orphans???


    The Unit has greatly disappointed me this season, I think it was weakened the minute they moved everyone away from Fort Sumner and into these ridiculous cover backgrounds. It just hasn't worked as well.

  3. My thoughts exactly. I did greatly enjoy the two-parter this season, but the two-parter had a driving plot: to find Jonas' daughter and rescue her, something that could have happened to any soldier anywhere. Some of this stuff I just laugh. I really felt like Ryan was a massive pushover this week for some random relic that we're supposed to believe has Biblical powers the government cares about. And I love Ryan a lot, so for me to want to smack him, yeah. Tough times.

    I've heard a couple people in various places debate whether or not what Bob went through would actually be enough to get him addicted. A lot of people seem to believed he wouldn't actually have had enough to be addicted, at which point I'd guess treating him might be more effective and his presence less of a liability. I think it depends on how you choose to take the severity of the situation; I've had only some slight experience with chemical dependency treatment and not enough to make the call with what little we saw on the show last week.

    I've discussed with fellow fans, and we're pretty sure they're going to milk this conspiracy for all its worth, probably down to the final episode. I wouldn't be surprised if the rest of the season continues this way. Not to mention, there are rumors of Nicole Steinwedwell becoming a regular and some new recurring character, which just means more people we didn't need in the first place to take up more screen time. I'm not optimistic, but I'll stick it out if only because I greatly admire some of the actors on the show.

  4. There's definitely going to be a new guy, it's been confirmed. No-one I know but he looks cute :) And that's about it. Seriously, if they think the show needs a fifth guy, they shouldn't have killed off Hector!!!

  5. I've never heard of the guy either. And ditto. I mean, everyone is still missing Hector (everyone I've talked to anyway). I watched the episode commentary on "Five Brothers," and they said they wanted to kill him off to prove a point about the realities of war. Okay, fine, but if you're going to do that, why are we bringing all these new people in? What point is that proving? Meh. I still miss Demore Barnes. Never heard of him before this, but he really impressed me.

  6. I just rewatched the Unit Seasons (3rd time already) and now I'm at this point again. and even after watching it 3 times, I still miss Hector. And even better yet, The Unit's already cancelled. Thus, I miss all of them now.

    Hey, but not to worry. I saw on Youtube, this interview with Dennis Haysbert about a movie that's somewhat similar to the Unit. Fingers crossed


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