Saturday, September 5, 2015

REVIEW: 'Hand of God' - Pernell Buys a Fish, KD Gets a New Job and Crystal Voices Her Opinion in 'Inside Voice'

Amazon's Hand of God - Episode 1.02 "Inside Voice"

Pernell continues to follow his visions in his quest to find out who raped Jocelyn, convinced it will wake his son from his coma. After a questionable verdict involving KD, Mayor Bobo is left to confront the Brooks Innovations team, who are having doubts about the city deal. Jocelyn and PJ's best friend, Josh, recruit a hotshot lawyer, Nick Tramble, to defend taking PJ off life support.

"Inside Voice" is a lot less audacious in its storytelling than the series premiere was. It wasn't as obnoxiously cocky and over-the-top with its themes and broad character moments and proclamations. There is nothing in this episode that is genuinely despicable. But the show doesn't replace any of those qualities with anything of true substance. "Inside Voice" is largely just boring. It does nothing to establish how this story arc is going to play out across ten episodes this season. In fact, it's not even confident what the narrative story actually is. That's a huge problem considering this episode doesn't take the time to build off of the developments that the end of the premiere teased it would. A strange direction to take the series in.

If nothing else, this show continues to showcase just how great Dana Delany is. Her character, Crystal, is such a non-entity here. And yet, Delany brings out a level of emotion and humanity that actually makes her interesting to watch. Crystal does have a point-of-view in this whole setup. The narrative has been so focused on plot instead of character in these first two episodes. So, it's hard to believe that the story is what led to these key moments of humanity from Crystal. It's largely just Delany doing her best to elevate weak material. But it is very impressive to watch. She seems to be having a lot of fun. It's great watching her react to things in a very blunt way. Whether it's the parents across the parking lot trying to get a too large box into their vehicle or learning that Jocelyn plans on suing her and Pernell to take PJ off of life support, those reactions are amusing. Those moments need to happen in order for something of true substance to slip into this show. She has a right to be heard in this narrative. Sure, her big blowup at Pernell in the end was a little too derivative for anything of actual value to happen. But it did show that she is a woman who doesn't want to sit back and just support her husband - especially in a time where he's increasingly losing his mind.

The narrative is also seemingly creating a mystery with the core hallucinations Pernell is experiencing. Are they the voice of God telling him what to do? Or are they simply his conscience telling him about the lifetime he missed with his son? Pernell believes that everything he is seeing has a divine and religious purpose to it. But there's no real reason to care about what's really going on within his head. The big thing he sees in this episode is a corny commercial for a local fish store. It's nothing more than that. Pernell is trying to deal with the morality of what he and KD just did for seemingly no reason. But the show never allows a meaningful conversation to exist because it has to keep its characters apart in order to continue driving the story forward. It makes no sense.

Pernell stays committed to his cause for no real reason except that Reverend Paul is filling his head with some very weak religious explanations. The show isn't even trying to suggest that Paul really is a good spiritual man. This is nothing more than a cover with Pernell as his target. He is hiding out from a troubled past. But that doesn't make any of it interesting. In fact, there's no reason why someone like Pernell would take anything Paul says seriously. It's all just generic stuff that isn't specific to religion or to Pernell. It's just very poorly done. It does nothing but make Pernell seem like a bad character for believing Paul. Something the show doesn't think is as transparent as it really is. That's a massive problem. Pernell and KD are allowed to be shady because of their devout commitment to the cause. But there's no reason why Pernell should be on his religious crusade as much as he is.

Pernell and KD killed a man. They believe that he was the one who raped Jocelyn and made PJ kill himself. That's a horrible thing for main characters to do. The show simply hasn't earned the two of them not caring about the thing they just did. They would rather move onto the next thing because a conspiracy has been established and PJ hasn't woken from his coma yet. It's a bad way to tell this story. Pernell is designed to be seen as a powerful and influential judge. But his morality is very much in question due to his actions. That's not something the show really wants to explore though. He is a despicable person who is capable of avoiding consequences. But that's not engaging to watch. Why should the audience want him to avoid punishment for everything that he does while in this crazy state? The show hasn't established him as a character who the audience should be curious about. Instead he's simply the man at the center of a show without absolutely no intrigue to it.

The show also thinks it can just continue to exist at a casual pace. The series premiere gave the show a 48 hour time clock to do something in. And yet, a throwaway line basically disregards all of that so that the show can have the luxury of time on its side to pace things out. That's not captivating. Urgency creates action which can help better define characters. It does give Jocelyn the ability to stand up to Pernell in a way that could be interesting to watch via a lawsuit. But again, that entire story hinges on what the central mystery of the show is suppose to be. It's unclear what the show is trying to do. Not even great actors can compensate for that fact.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Inside Voice" was written by Ben Watkins and directed by Marc Forster.
  • Pernell gets KD a job at the Hand of God church where Alicia is quickly intrigued by him and Reverend Paul is threatened by him. As if the sexual dynamic wasn't transparent enough, Paul and Alicia later had to actually have sex on top of their new piano which was intercut with images latter of him playing and her singing.
  • Crystal also returns to work but it's literally just a generic office setting. What is her job even suppose to be? At least it was fascinating watching as she shredded every sympathy card she received without even reading them.
  • Everything about the Mayor Bobo and Brooks Innovations story is just so boring. It's so clear that it will tie into the main story eventually. But how does that even make sense? Also, Bobo is clearly having some health problems but he's not a well-established enough character to actually feel anything towards because of it.
  • Pernell needs to start having consequences for his actions. Instead, he is allowed to just be intimidating in order to get what he wants. That doesn't make him or the show watchable. It just addresses a concern the audience should have in the shortest amount of time possible.
  • At least, the police are aware that something is amiss and that one of their officers is missing. They are capable of doing some police work it seems.

As noted in previous reviews from this series, every episodic review was written without having seen any succeeding episodes. Similarly, it would be much appreciated if in the comments section, the conversation would only revolve around the show up to this point in its run.