Monday, January 5, 2009

The Unit - Recap & Review - Switchblade

The Unit

Original Air Date: 21 Dec 2008

Brittany Wells – TwoCents Reviewer

Apparently, I was wrong. There was one more episode of The Unit in 2008, and it for the most part only serves to highlight the ups and downs of a so far inconsistent season.

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  1. Apparently, I was wrong. There’s one more episode of The Unit in 2008, and it for the most part only serves to highlight the ups and downs of a so far inconsistent season.

    Nor do the CBS executives have any idea how to program this show. The last episode to air was a re-run of episode 307, “Five Brothers,” which is notable because it involves the death of series regular Hector Williams. That episode aired on December 6, a Saturday, which isn’t uncommon as CBS sometimes likes to run Saturday Unit reruns. Then they proceed not to air the episode after it…until next Sunday. What? For current episodes, it’s ridiculous. Put the show on an almost one-month hiatus just to bring it back for one episode and then stick another repeat on the following week? And for someone who may have caught the rerun and wanted to know what happened, they can’t tune in the next Saturday; they have to guess and turn in more than two weeks later, on a Sunday. Way to go, CBS.

    Programming rant aside, this isn’t the episode I was expecting at the end of the previous one. I’m not even sure it’s one that we really needed, as it wastes the majority of its time with one plot that’s tired, another that’s implausible, and doesn’t give enough emphasis to the important part.

    When last we left our team members, they were on their way to yet another unnamed African country to extract its president before the rebels killed him, with annoying government official Dr. Donald Metz in tow. Also known as “the guy who got Charles shot and half of Bravo Team killed and then totally forgot to mention it.” As we meet them again, they’re still on the plane, still having fun screwing with Metz, Bob and Jonas in particular. Mack just goes on a rant, as he would. They swear it’ll take all of thirty minutes to go down, pick the guy up, and get on the plane, and we all know that’s not happening. No sooner is Jonas warned to expect anti-aircraft fire then..hey, the plane’s on fire. Just a small one, though.

    Meanwhile, Charles is recuperating from his injured shoulder in California, under the watchful eye of Molly, who has finally returned after several episodes’ absence (not that the show explains that). Both are startled when a random woman turns up at the Aerodyne HQ looking for help with a broken piston on her airplane. Never mind that anyone who knows about the company would know that it doesn’t do airplane repair work. Or that the woman completely ducks Molly’s question about how she heard about them in the first place. At least Molly tries to question her. Charles, on the other hand, turns into a high school boy. (I do love, however, how he keeps heavy firearms in his toolbox, because that is all levels of awesome.) The next time we see them he’s off playing pool with this random blonde girl, which leads to the inevitable makeout session, and he’s fallen for her so much that by episode’s end he intends to propose. In the space of, as far as I can guess, maybe a day or two at the most.

    Never do we see them do any sort of background work on this girl (although Molly does ask repeatedly who the heck she is). Never do we see any sort of concern for possibly blowing their cover. Let’s think about who we’re talking about. It’s true that Charles is a ladies’ man. Last I checked, though, he had a girlfriend. Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t he dating Hector’s ex the waitress last season? What happened to her? And wouldn’t he, as a member of the most elite Special Forces team in the country, at least want to know who he might be jumping into bed with as she turns up unexpected? For all he knows, he could be in bed with a terrorist. Especially since, as he’s leaving with some guy he doesn’t know (Hi, Barry Corbin! Didn’t you use to have hair?) to meet her, some other random guy pulls his fingerprints off a water bottle. And then he ends up face-to-face with some hired goons. There’s still not much of an explanation as to who the girl is, and Charles is left in an awkward situation pretty much told to take a hike. Letting his guard down like that is very unlike him, and he’s lucky that he didn’t get shot again or killed. Not to mention, for all of this? I checked the listings for the next few episodes – this woman is never seen again, so what’s the point of all this?

    At least on the other half of the show we’re following a plotline from the previous episode, but I’m not sure if we really needed to. The team is having a hard time locating the missing president, and then the plane gets attacked leaving them stranded (not that we didn’t just do the attacked plane thing last season with “Five Brothers” and last episode, too – plane guys have the worst luck on this show!). Jonas and Bob use most of this time to heckle Metz. Then it turns out the president was there all along, just being held hostage by the other guy he was with. Jonas shoots this other guy in two seconds, they rescue the president, and head on home, stopping only so Metz can be paranoid and shoot two civilians when he thinks one of them was pulling a gun. There’s not even that much action involved, unless you count that a bomb explodes the building seconds after they escape (always fun). It seems the point of the whole mission – and therefore episode – was to prove to Metz that he’s not a real soldier and that he should stop screwing with those who are. Okay, but didn’t we do that at the end of last week? What’s really gained by dragging it out into this week?

    Meanwhile, nine minutes before the end of the episode, after much complaining and more skin than I needed to see (memo to the wardrobe department: Abby Brammell does not need to dress like a tramp just because her character used to be one), something important happens. Kim finally gets a much-deserved weekend with her kids. She’s been missing them like hell all season, so for her to have that I felt was really sweet. Unfortunately it comes way too late in the episode and gets somewhat brushed off. We don’t even get to see her spend any real time with her kids, or even the look on her face when she finally gets to hold her daughter – all of that is done from a distance. For something she’s been wanting all season, doesn’t that deserve at least a couple minutes of more screen time? (Although I will admit this gives me my one Robert Patrick scene of the episode, and that is one handsome man. Okay, that was my shallow moment.)

    Honestly, I’m a huge David Mamet fan. Have been since his classic plays and films like American Buffalo, Oleanna and my favorite, The Spanish Prisoner. He’s arguably one of the best playwrights of our generation. However, between this and “The Conduit,” I have to say I’m losing a little bit of respect for his television work. It just doesn’t have the same intensity. At least “The Conduit” made sense; it was just obvious. This episode doesn’t even have that. If it were any other writer I’d say maybe they didn’t know the characters, but this is the man who helped create the show. There’s no excuse for this.

    I’m not sure what the point of this episode was. Think back to the beginning of the season. How much more do we really know about the conspiracy than we did when it started? Not that much more. Not one reference is made to anything Isaac Reed might have told the authorities last week, or who he might be working for. If you’re going to do what appears to be a season-long plot, you at least have to make considerable progress in advancing it by the mid-season point. Life is set up with the same conceit, but at least each episode we have at least a scene if not a whole subplot with some reference to the ongoing idea of who set up Charlie Crews. The Unit really hasn’t paid off much, and would be better off focusing on the storylines it’s started rather than new ones that don’t last. I read a recent review wondering why the ratings for this season are on the decline, and my guess is it probably has something to do with people getting tired of a plotline that isn’t going anywhere and episodic plots that don’t engage the way they used to. The show started off with a bang, but do the writers know how to finish it?

    We won’t get another episode until January 4, but I hold out some hope that it will be at least vaguely interesting. Not only is Isaac Reed back (I can’t imagine how but that’s cool), there are some great guest stars lined up: the ever wonderful Ricky Jay and Shaun Toub, who last played Yinsen in Iron Man. On the down side, somehow, despite being told never to come back, Bridget returns. I wanted to leave her in South America.

    I always say never complain unless you’re prepared to fix the problem. Talk to me, Unit fans. Where do you think the conspiracy plotline is headed? Where would you like to see it go? What are you hoping for? Leave your New Year's wishes below.


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