Saturday, February 11, 2017

REVIEW: 'Timeless,' 'The Fosters,' 'Chicago Fire,' 'The 100,' 'Code Black' and 'Chicago Med' (February 6-10)

Some brief reviews for various shows from February 6-10:

NBC's Timeless - Episode 1.14 "The Lost Generation"
Freeform's The Fosters - Episode 4.12 "Dream a Little Dream"
NBC's Chicago Fire - Episode 5.12 "An Agent of the Machine"
The CW's The 100 - Episode 4.02 "Heavy Lies the Crown"
CBS' Code Black - Episode 2.16 "Fallen Angels"
NBC's Chicago Med - Episode 2.13 "Theseus' Ship"

Due to the demands of Peak TV, it is becoming more and more difficult for this website to devote the time to full length episodic reviews. And yet, there are still thoughts to be had about the ongoing adventures on a number of series. So I thought it would be good to still write down a couple of brief thoughts about each episode on a weekly basis. Of course, you can still probably expect full reviews for premieres and finales. If the networks should make screeners available, those episodes would get detailed analysis as well. But for now, this will be the way to continue to provide content for these shows while also being a lighter workload for me.

Timeless - "The Lost Generation"
As Lucy grapples with her newfound identity, Flynn disappears to 1927 France on the day that Charles Lindbergh completes his transatlantic flight. Rufus, Lucy and their new soldier scramble through the City of Lights and team with young reporter, Ernest Hemingway, to keep history intact. Locked in an undisclosed location, a despondent Wyatt gets a visit from Agent Christopher, and the pair is left wondering if their enemies are closer than they realize. Written by Kent Rotherham & David Hoffman and directed by Craig Zisk

All three members of the time travel team start this episode lost and adrift. But through their experiences of this hour - a trip to 1920s France for Lucy and Wyatt and some time in a black site for Wyatt - they all finally reach some clarity at the end of this episode. And that final moment is very important as the show heads into the end of its first season. Lucy, Wyatt, Rufus and Agent Christopher have joined together knowing that they are right and Garcia Flynn, Rittenhouse and Mason Industries are all wrong. Now that presents itself as quite an uphill battle for just four people to take on. But it also gives the show a nice clear direction that is concise and understandable from all of the characters' perspectives. Plus, this episode's story has a lot of fun with its period design and questioning the choices one can make. It's fun to see Rufus bond with Ernest Hemingway who is more of an over-the-top drunk than Rufus can handle. It's also great to see Lucy try to plea with Charles Lindbergh to break free of Rittenhouse. Of course, nothing changes at all. History is still maintained. So Lucy wasn't successful. But that only brings the team together and stronger in the end - even though it's clear they can only trust each other moving forward. B+

The Fosters - "Dream a Little Dream"
As Stef and Lena stand vigil over an unconscious Jesus, he dreams of an alternate world wherein he tries to save Mariana but can't get to her. Already stretched thin, the moms receive news that Callie is in serious legal trouble. Mariana seeks comfort in Mat's arms, while Brandon tries to hold the family together. Written by Joanna Johnson and directed by Rob Morrow

The nightmarish world that Jesus finds himself in throughout this episode is just so odd. It's a weird narrative move. It's made even weirder by just being a small part of the hour as well. The final blend of story just doesn't work. It just shouldn't have occurred at all or it should have been the main story for the entire episode and leave all the other character stories until next week's episode. As it currently stands, it does nothing but find a way to keep Noah Centineo an active actor while still having Jesus' fate uncertain. It's still up to Lena and Stef to provide a strong emotional center for this episode - which they do as they struggle waiting for Jesus to wake up again. Meanwhile, it's not surprising that Callie's legal concerns have worsened. That was the tease at the end of the midseason return. And now, it's hitting the rest of the family. She's more than likely going to spend this half season in juvie. That's a fascinating story idea. She has grown so much but she's right back to where she started. More importantly, her actions now could carry more consequences. Just because she was trying to do the right thing doesn't mean she went about it in the right ways. Of course, the case itself seems pretty weak with Troy Johnson just being the latest creepy white guy the family has had to interact with. He'll fit in the same mold as Liam and Nick. That's just lazy though. It's not all that compelling to see how this story will twist and turn moving forward. C+

Chicago Fire - "An Agent of the Machine"
The team is on high alert when a previous incident during a fire call leaves a dangerous man on the loose with a vendetta to target Casey and Firehouse 51, and prompts CFD to step in. Dennis Mack, a buddy firefighter of Severide's father, comes to town to shadow the squad but may have ulterior motives. Brett and Antonio's relationship hits some bumps in the road when his ex-wife surfaces. Casey has a present for Gabby. Written by Jill Weinberger and directed by Jann Turner

The moment that the retiring chief from Springfield was introduced it was clear that the show was setting up a big decision for Severide to make. He could chase Anna to Springfield and try to make things work with her. Or he could stay at Firehouse 51 and the family he has known and led for all of these years. Of course, it seems unlikely that he'll ultimately leave - unless Taylor Kinney wants off the show. Plus, Charlotte Sullivan brought enough spark to Anna that she would serve as a fine long-term romance for him. But right now, it's just questions up in the air. The episode's bigger priority is Firehouse 51 being targeted by the man Casey left to die in the fire. It's a very serious story that gets all of its thrills and tension out of an unpredictable and crazy man targeting the firehouse. It's not really all that nuanced. Without that tension, the call to the gas leak really isn't that exciting. However, the final shootout between this man and Casey is quite compelling. Meanwhile, Antonio and Brett hitting the pause button on their relationship largely just feels like a scheduling thing as Jon Seda needs to help anchor Chicago Justice and focus on setting up just the work story there without having to juggle a romance as well. B

The 100 - "Heavy Lies the Crown"
The burden of leading weighs heavily upon Clarke and Bellamy when different challenges force them to determine who will live and die. Written by Justine Juel Gillmer and directed by Ed Fraiman

Four seasons in, does The 100 really need to keep explaining that these characters are faced with impossible choices? Jaha tells Clarke that a leader has to make the best decision given the information they have and hope there's a forgiving god. Yes, all of that works in explaining the themes of the show. It's just been a plot beat the show has already hit numerous times over the years without needing to be this blunt about it. This episode features the characters having to make difficult choices once more. It analyzes the true cost that comes from being a leader. Roan has to keep things civil in Polis while animosity against Skaikru grows. That story works because of the moving story of the grounder who killed his whole family because of Alie. That will likely continue being important this season. Meanwhile, Clarke needs to figure out how open she should be about the world ending. It's great that Jasper calls her out for acting just like Jaha and the council when they sent the kids to the ground. But it still feels like she does the right thing in the end by telling everyone in Arkadia - even though her plan right now would only safe her people. But of course, the big moment of the hour comes from Bellamy once more needing to make a life-or-death decision. On one hand, he's incredibly stupid for blowing up the machine his people need to survive on the Ark. He chooses to free the slaves (which also highlights how brutal the Ice Nation is compared to the other clans) mostly because of his guilty conscience from last season. That makes sense even though it could still be seen as yet another foolish mistake. At least, the motivation seems more clear this time around. B

Code Black - "Fallen Angels"
The doctors work with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention to find an antidote to the deadly viral outbreak at Angels Memorial. Leanne makes a life-changing decision. Jesse welcomes a new batch of residents. Written by Jessica Ball & Julian Meiojas and directed by Michael Seitzman

I liked Code Black in Season 1. I still liked it in Season 2. But there was a very clear shift in the storytelling as well. This season focused more on big stunts instead of character drama. Yes, there were still some character arcs like Angus and his brother, Mario and his dad, and Campbell and his daughter. But this season was all about the big and crazy stunts in each episode. The addition of Rob Lowe meant adding a character who seemed crazier and more bold than Leanne. At times, that made Ethan and Leanne an effective time. At others, it was just a formula of Ethan going offsite to some crazy accident where the patients' injuries could get the doctors killed as well. This season was also defined by death. Yes, that's a huge part of the medical genre. People die at hospitals all the time - especially in the emergency room. But so many characters either died or were touched by death this season. Mike fell out of a helicopter and was clinging to life. Charlotte was shot and killed in a very random accident at Halloween. Guthrie had a whole episode dedicated to his risky surgery to cure his Parkinson's. And just last week, Heather was killed in the big quarantine. Death just hangs over this finale. It's a very easy way to derive tension. But it's also just as moving to watch Leanne and Ariel be there to support each other during the most grueling experience they've ever had to deal with. Sure, it was inevitable that they would survive and Leanne would foster Ariel. That brings the show to a nice full circle moment as well. Ariel's journey opened and ended the series. This may not be the last episode of the show. Of course, the ratings once again suggest it's on the bubble and could go either way. And at least, the show actually did a number of big and bold things this season. B+

Chicago Med - "Theseus' Ship"
Dr. Rhodes convinces Dr. Latham to join him for a medical trip out of town, which puts Latham's personality issues to the test. Dr. Manning treats an 8-year-old cancer patient who wants to give up on his battle until she makes a surprising discovery. An unhealthy woman with heart problems is brought in and doesn't want to listen to doctors, much to the dismay of Dr. Halstead. Dr. Choi, Dr. Charles and Dr. Reese work on a complicated case involving a woman with a personality disorder. Will and Nina work through their first relationship test. Written by Jeff Drayer and directed by Kenneth Johnson

Who honestly remembered that Will and Nina were still dating? They are such a forgettable couple. This is really the first episode of 2017 that remembers they are a thing. And this hour largely just serves as a remainder that it won't last because Will still has feelings for Natalie. Again, that tortured romance is just way too forced and not good at all. Natalie has an interesting story that is very separate from Will. And yet, it lingers a little too long on the murky morality and makes the final reveal that not doing chemotherapy is actually saving the young boy a little rushed. Meanwhile, Will's story with the cat lady just showed how odd diseases can actually be. It was weird and led to an awkward moment between Charles and Robyn. It was suppose to be seen as a bonding moment between them. Instead, it came across as an awkward and forced way for them to talk. Plus, Charles was off being a great mentor to Sarah as well. It really is so amazing how much I've turned around on liking Sarah since the start of the series. She's the character who has grown the most. Her emotional center is so right in ways that the other characters' are too broad or lame. Sure, this is about the tenth time she's questioned whether she's actually good at being a psych resident. That's followed by her proving herself when the time comes for it. It's good but it's a beat the show has already hit a number of times this season. And then, Connor's trip out of town with Dr. Latham was just hilarious. It probably wasn't intended that way though. It was just so bad and horrifying to watch. C