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Persons Unknown: Smoke and Steel

The Great Unnamed Organization (GUO) routinely kidnaps people who have lots of untapped potential, puts them through a sort of life-coach wilderness adventure trial by fire, and the sets them on their merry way to succeed, become powerful, and owe it all to GUO. Despite the vast number of people who do this, only one—whom we have yet to meet—has any objection to this coercive brainwashing. Everyone else feels like they owe it all to the program.

It’s an interesting case-study in Stockholm Syndrome, if you take a second to think about it. But this week’s Persons Unknown didn’t allow us this second: instead, along with all the information that Joe imparted, we got Renbe and Kat playing Amazing Race in Italy, Blackham searing Joe against the fence, Erika playing games, and Janet being wishy-washy.

Charlie actually seems to be falling for it—either that, or he’ll say anything to get Joe on his side. But I found his assertion of his own happiness at being kidnapped rather convincing. He believes it. How creepy is that?

Janet, on the other hand, went full-on Patty Hearst for most of this episode, willing to defend Joe against all reason. What finally made her mad was the tangible proof that Joe was working for the GUO: the files that the restaurant guy planted. I don’t understand how the files were the deal-breaker. For me, finding out that Joe was part of the group that had kidnapped me and put my life in danger, repeatedly, would have been a warning sign. But maybe I have trust issues.

Even though Janet got angry enough to have the boys lock Joe up, she still defended him in the restaurant and killed the Random GUO Guy whose name I haven’t bothered to learn. That’s a horrible death, being burned by hot oil. (I was worried at first that he would still be alive after they put him out, but thankfully no.) Terrible, painful, tragic. I’ve worked in restaurants, and I know how dangerous kitchens can be—heck, I’ve got some scars of my own to prove it. But despite all that, I laughed when he caught on fire. It was so slapstick, and I so didn’t care about what this mean for him, for Joe, or for Janet.

Erika is now our repository of information. She knows about McNair, about Blackham the Blackmailer, about Janet and whatever she told her shrink. She’ll use that information in some sort of heavy-handed way. I wonder if she read Moira’s file? And—hey!—when did Blackham and Erika make up? When she said she wanted a drink, I thought he’d play the jerk and not bring her one. But he did. Which doesn’t make sense.

Renbe and Kat are still evading the law with help from the wealthy, sexy, very-full-head-of-hair Stefano. Next week, South America! Will our team make it to the checkpoint in time, or will they be detoured by the GUO? And what’s happened to Joe? Did he melt in the water, like the Wicked Witch of the West?

This show had so much potential. Is anyone still watching? Anyone? Anyone?

One platoon out of four entire Symbionese Liberation Armies.

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


  1. Josie, just for a sake of you not being alone in here - I did watch it. I have no idea idea why i keep torture myself with it, it might be better idea just to wait and watch the finale.

    On a side note, was meaning to ask, how come noone here on this board is watching this new show Haven? It is much much better than PU, it would be great if someone was reviewing it.

  2. I volunteered to review the premiere of Haven, and then the flu intervened. I saw episode three last night and really liked it. I don't think I can do reviews of every episode, but I'm now thinking of doing a piece on the entire season after it ends, sort of like what Jess did last year with Warehouse 13.

  3. Heya,

    just so u know: I am watching and I am always reading ur review afterwards ^^.
    I actually might be the only person who still enjoys it, too. Well, not enjoy enjoy, but it´s fair enough that I watch it as soon as I have downloaded it from the net (I cant watch US-TV in germany otherwise).

    As pointed out by you and various other ppl the characters are very weak. For me thats the shows biggest flaw, because I totally dig the premise of the show. I love those scenarios and thats what keeps me entertained. I wanna know whats going on behind the curtains ^^

    Well, I am happy you didnt quit and I hope u make it through. Thumbs up!

  4. What Mona said (but in brazil, instead of germany) :-)

    The overall premise is cool and I kind of enjoy pointing at the flaws and cliches in the script while hoping the series will get better - which it probably won't. (I think it's the same reason I kept watching other good idea / bad shows like Daybreak)

    One of the things that bothers me most is that, from the beggining, there have been only two extremes in dealing with the people who know something. Either they try to beat them to death/fry them in the outdoors microwave/etc or they just ignore them. Has anyone thought about talking more to them and gather the information they let slip? The night manager doesn't say why they are there or where they are, but he admits he has been in other towns like that. No one is interested in what happened to them or other things he might be willing to say without (or with) coercion. Joe says this is all a program for the greater good and they refuse to hear what he has to say because it might be a lie (well, duh!). Of course the purpose of it all may be questionable, but aren't they interested in hearing the excuse for them being kidnapped and how they can end the program more quickly?

  5. Hi Billie,
    thanks for answering - I knew you wouldn't miss a show loke that. SO far I like it - we'll see where it goes and I would really love to read you review even if of season as a whole and not separate episodes.

  6. Hi, all,

    Thanks for your comments--knowing that I'm not alone in feeling rather blah about this show actually makes me look forward to the next episode!

    And maybe it suddenly will get better. Stranger things have happened. We all love the Vampire Diaries now, don't we?

  7. I do not love this show, I'll put that out first. But I don't dislike it at all. Maybe I'm still interested in the premise, and I'm willing to forgive sloppy character growth and cliches. But for me, I keep finding the scenarios they go through fun to watch.

    I do have to agree with you that there might be hope, we're a little over half way through and it could ramp up to be really cool by the end. As an example I am getting seriously into Vampire Diaries and I hated the first three episodes... so who knows what will happen!



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