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Persons Unknown: The Truth

Okay, dear readers, dear strangers. It’s time for a confession. No, I don’t work for the evil whatever-it-is that’s running the “program” in the mysterious town. No, I’m not behind Tori’s death, and I’m not secretly married to Janet. But I am starting to feel awfully sluggish about this show—and I’d like to hear what you think, because I find myself consumed in a violent conflagration of 100% proof apathy. See, even my metaphors aren’t working.

This isn’t a mystery, at least not to me. There’s still some confusion about whether or not Joe is our only mole, but neither a confirmation that there’s another plant, nor a certain denial, would come as a surprise. (See above, re: apathy.) There’s definitely a group behind whatever is going on, and their motives are ambiguous. But we know they’re powerful, their harsh, and their employees are devoted to them. Would a name really matter? (Haven’t we learned our lesson about answers?)

This isn’t a psychological thriller. Sure, it’s interesting to see how the characters are acting and reacting to being rats in a CCTV-maze. But it’s not that interesting: Blackham got the breakdown du jour, Erika is conniving and has access to big acme carton of antifreeze, Moira continues to latch onto the nearest warm body. But these characters aren’t really multifaceted: even Random Employee’s comment that he’d seen enough “women’s prison movies” to know what the Janet/Erika interactions meant was a nod to the one-dimensional reactions. Plus, lesbians on film? Titillating!

It isn’t a suspense show. I don’t feel on the edge of my seat. It isn’t a prison movie or an escape movie or a heist, despite nods to all of those genres. It’s just people talking and doing stuff, only I’m not finding those people or the things they do that interesting.

Even the delightful Kandyse McClure wasn’t doing much for me this week. Her machinations were rather transparent, and her gangsta girl has an awful lot of swagger—a bit too much to be taken seriously. That she mistook Janet’s maternal concern for hints of love or devotion or dropping the soap, well…maybe she’s not as smart as she pretends. Janet fooled her, after all, even if Joe didn’t. Erika seems to ascribe to Blackham’s philosophy that “Control is power, and power feels pretty damn good.” Guys? Real control isn’t smashing stuff or claiming dibs out loud. There’s a lot more to it than that.

Joe’s poisoning was mildly interesting. Well, not the poisoning, but Moira’s reaction to it: she pretended to have this vast medical knowledge of poison, but even I know there are pretty much two possible over-the-counter remedies for ingested poisons, and some work for some stuff, and some work for others. Putting them in beakers, though, makes it seem scientific. Pulling the ipecac out of the medicine cabinet has less glamour. The thing is, though, that I’m not sure if we’re supposed to notice that Moira’s medical knowledge is all hat and no cattle. The subtlety of the first few episodes is gone.

Renbe and Kat in Rome…well, it was a Mexican standoff in a Catholic church between Italians and Americans. And then there was a religious-themed costume party, which seems in poor taste after a funeral. Renbe and Kat know they’re getting close because people keep trying to kill them. Which makes the people who are trying to kill them look foolish for tipping their hand so obviously. And none of the Italians were wearing Italian-tailored suits. (You can tell by the flaps in the back.)

Is this good, and I’m just not getting it? Let me know if I’m wrong, or if you agree that right now Persons Unknown has all the subtlety of:

One out of four sledgehammers.

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


  1. I wanted to love this show, but it's starting to get that Happy Town vibe. If you dropped it, I'd completely understand.

  2. Aha--I get it now! When I first read your comment, I read "It's starting to get that Happy Days vibe," and I was incredible confused about what I'd missed.

    I won't drop it. I'm too stubborn. But only 1.7 million people watched it this weekend. That's 2.3 million fewer than watched Cops on FOX. I didn't know Cops was still on TV.

    1.7 million people is about 1/70th of the number of people who have watched the first Sneezing Panda video result that pops up in a YouTube search. Just for reference, and because pandas are the secret theme of the show.

  3. I'm with you on this one, Josie. This episode felt incredibly off from start to finish. I didn't even like the acting, I think it was the worse of the series so far.

    All the scenes in Italy felt forced and rushed. Even the scenes with Joe getting poison and confessing felt weird. I don't know what happened here, it's like everyone wanted to be somewhere else when they wrote/shot this episode.

    I'm also stubborn and wont' stop watching, but it's true it keeps getting uninteresting.

    It's just a few more episodes until it's over, right?

  4. Just saw it. And I didn't fall asleep. But it was predictable. I knew immediately that Erika poisoned Joe, and I rarely guess whodunit. And I've realized that I don't care much about any of the characters, and that's a problem.


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