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Persons Unknown: Exit One

“Do you believe in the process?”

Our heroes are running ragged. They’ve been in a state of high alert for a couple of weeks now, and they’re starting to crack. Tori, Blackham, and Charlie are starting to occupy their default panic positions of desperation; Janet and Joe are working out their problem-solving issues; and Renbe…well, I guess I was wrong about him.

Tori attempted to solve her problems the only way she knows how: sex and allure. If she’s to be believed, her father pimped her out so he could advance up the civil service food chain. This strikes me as rather unlikely, but I suppose we should believe her. Who would make up a story like that? Her note to her father seems to have succeeded, although there’s no guarantee that it was her father who received it. I wonder if we’ll see her again? (The previews for next week might have answered that question, but let’s keep the comments spoiler-free.)

Blackham, meanwhile, seems to default to annoying and grasping. Blackham’s blackmail attempts were funny until they went horribly wrong. He’s such a sleaze that I started to hope Charlie would do him in. And Charlie: wow. He proved the fifth rule of Agatha Christie: never try to blackmail a murderer—it’s a sure ticket to a cyanide cocktail. Did he really kill his wife just because she was annoying, or was that just a dig at Blackham’s bad ideas?

Janet and Joe went on an episode-long equivalent to the misguided van-escapade of a few episodes ago. They walked, they talked, they avoided honeybees, and they wound up back where they had started. I don’t understand how they could have gotten so turned around, especially since they walked past the same field of haystacks twice. Oh, well.

So Joe’s in on it, eh? Interesting. He’s an inside man who is increasingly sympathetic to Janet. And his restaurant contact asked him whether he believed in the process, which might be a sign that this is some sort of character-strengthening exercise. I certainly hope not.

I was more shocked by what Renbe said to his editor. Last week, I thought he was being set up as Janet’s ex-husband. His confusion, getting brained in the alley, breaking into the P.I.’s offices—all of those moments made me certain that he was just what he appeared to be. Now, though, he’s claiming to be Janet’s ex. Is he lying? Is he telling the truth? Why on earth would he say that? The benefit of this being a 13-episode series is that we know they’re not ret-conning. I’m not sure that makes his revelation, if it was that, any more believable, though.

Bits and Pieces:

• The women were willing to share information; the men weren’t. I don’t know what to make of that. Nor do I know what to make of the fact that all three women are victims: Moira, with the awful orphanage; Tori, with the sexual abuse; Janet, with the childhood abuse.

• Blackham: “I’m calling it FreshAirrr, with three Rs.” I laughed every time he said it.

• Moira, as I discussed last week, plays the victim card to get people on her side. This week, did Joe do the same thing with the honeybees? It’s an interesting approach to forming alliances, especially if we think about it in context of The Usual Suspects. (And don't give away the end of that movie in the comments!)

• I don’t think I’ve mentioned Sartre’s play No Exit, but the title of this ep reminded me of it. “Hell is other people,” indeed. Especially if you’re there with Blackham.

This episode left me with more questions than answers. I don’t know who or what to believe. There are nine episodes left, and what I’m most curious about is how they can draw this out for another 360 minutes.

Two and a half out of four telegrams.

Josie Kafka is a full-time cat servant and part-time rogue demon hunter. (What's a rogue demon?)

5 comments:

  1. Good review, Josie. Presuming Tori was right, I say it's a secret military experiment to recruit potential super-spies with the right survival instincts and ability to adapt.

    As an aside, I thought Charlie agreed to share info with the others, so it's not just the girls... or I might have got that wrong.

    Oh, and I agree. The revelation regarding Janet's ex-husband makes no sense. In the pilot, she mentioned she was trying to find him. For heaven's sake, he's a writer/journalist. Just Google his name, spot the byline, and go knock at the door of the newspaper for which he writes! I despair sometimes.

    ReplyDelete
  2. In defense of McQuarrie, I think that when Janet was married to her husband, he had a different name. There are so many holes in that story--but why would he lie to his editor?

    Why? Why? Why?

    The ratings for this show are sinking like the Lustania.

    ReplyDelete
  3. It's funny, but at the start of this episode, I thought -- I bet Joe is the mole, because he's our hero and the last person we'd suspect. So the end didn't surprise me. And I knew they'd wind up back at the ranch, so that wasn't a surprise, either. I did like Charlie and the pillow :) and Freshairrr reminded me of Steve Martin's name in "The Man With Two Brains." Dan just looked it up on the internet and spelled it for me. Hfuhhfuhruhurr.

    I guess I'm still on board and watching, but not really into it. I wish it had more... I don't know, but it's lacking something important. Other than ratings, which are also important.

    ReplyDelete
  4. LOST has spoiled me forever.

    Every time I see other new shows I see what they're doing wrong by comparing with what LOST did on Season 1, when they had immense critical and public acclaim. So I'll list all I see Persons Unknown doing wrong.

    First of all, you don't get much ambiguity here. You know somebody brought them there and that it was designed. And there's no real sense of isolation, because you know there are people watching, and some of them show their faces.

    Which leads to the second problem: the way people react doesn't seem genuine. They act angry, but do nothing to get more information from the night manager, who clearly knows a lot. I would be so angry I'd beat him daily just for the heck of it, although I sense these words will come back to bite me in the a**.

    Their not acting genuinely causes the 3rd problem: they're not compelling. They don't seem like real people because they're mostly types, not characters, for now. They play a lot into the stereotypes.

    This wouldn't be a problem if the crew behind the show developed them a little faster (problem 4), which could be made two ways: through their interaction, which is faulty and shallow (though it seems to be improving), or through telling their back story, but not something so vague. All we know about their stories (except for Janet) is what they tell each other.

    And problem five is that, since we don't know these people, when they tell their stories, we don't know if we should believe them, don't trust them, and end up not knowing them better and, as a consequence, not being moved by them.

    Not knowing the characters, what's ordinary about them, anything that is revealed about them is not a surprise, because a surprise would be something out of the ordinary. (That's problem six for you.) The perfect example is Joe, who's given no information at all about him except being a former military and his allergy to bees (refer to problem 5), so the reveal he's an inside man is not surprising at all.

    Having said that, I'm still hooked. I'll watch it until the end. maybe knowing it has an end in sight, and so close, is a reason. But it could have been much better.

    ReplyDelete
  5. LOST has spoiled me forever.

    Every time I see other new shows I see what they're doing wrong by comparing with what LOST did on Season 1, when they had immense critical and public acclaim. So I'll list all I see Persons Unknown doing wrong.

    First of all, you don't get much ambiguity here. You know somebody brought them there and that it was designed. And there's no real sense of isolation, because you know there are people watching, and some of them show their faces.

    Which leads to the second problem: the way people react doesn't seem genuine. They act angry, but do nothing to get more information from the night manager, who clearly knows a lot. I would be so angry I'd beat him daily just for the heck of it, although I sense these words will come back to bite me in the a**.

    Their not acting genuinely causes the 3rd problem: they're not compelling. They don't seem like real people because they're mostly types, not characters, for now. They play a lot into the stereotypes.

    This wouldn't be a problem if the crew behind the show developed them a little faster (problem 4), which could be made two ways: through their interaction, which is faulty and shallow (though it seems to be improving), or through telling their back story, but not something so vague. All we know about their stories (except for Janet) is what they tell each other.

    And problem five is that, since we don't know these people, when they tell their stories, we don't know if we should believe them, don't trust them, and end up not knowing them better and, as a consequence, not being moved by them.

    Not knowing the characters, what's ordinary about them, anything that is revealed about them is not a surprise, because a surprise would be something out of the ordinary. (That's problem six for you.) The perfect example is Joe, who's given no information at all about him except being a former military and his allergy to bees (refer to problem 5), so the reveal he's an inside man is not surprising at all.

    Having said that, I'm still hooked. I'll watch it until the end. maybe knowing it has an end in sight, and so close, is a reason. But it could have been much better.

    ReplyDelete

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