Saturday, March 25, 2017

DRAMA ROUNDUP: '24: Legacy,' 'The Fosters,' 'Switched at Birth,' 'The 100' and 'Designated Survivor' (March 19-23)

Some brief reviews for various dramas from March 19-23:

FOX's 24: Legacy - Episode 1.08 "7:00 PM - 8:00 PM"
Freeform's The Fosters - Episode 4.17 "Diamond in the Rough"
Freeform's Switched at Birth - Episode 5.07 "Memory (The Heart)"
The CW's The 100 - Episode 4.07 "Gimme Shelter"
ABC's Designated Survivor - Episode 1.13 "Backfire"

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.

24: Legacy - "7:00 PM - 8:00 PM"
Keith and CTU try and track down Carter, as Andy is forced to do something he doesn't want to do. Rebecca's interrogation techniques lead John to question her judgment. Isaac turns to his friends for help. Written by David Fury and directed by Bronwen Hughes

The terror threat at the start of a season of 24 is rarely the terror threat at the end of the season. It's always an evolving situation that takes on different forms and villains. That's once again the case here with the situation with Jadalla seemingly resolving itself. That's great because Jadalla hasn't been that entertaining or compelling as a villain. Of course, the new terror threat comes out of nowhere as Carter recognizes an even more infamous terrorist as a member of Jadalla's group. That's weird and awkward. But mostly, this hour is about the action and the tough choices the characters have to make. It's not surprising that Carter and Andy survive their suicide mission. But it is harrowing to watch as CTU is forced to sit back and watch a missile strike take out everyone inside. Meanwhile, it's Isaac who's actually the hero who gets Carter and Andy to safety. However, that action sequence is a little too chaotic. It's never totally clear who gets out in time and where everyone is in the aftermath. Elsewhere, it's surprising to see Rebecca and Tony's questioning of Henry not lead to any new information. Sure, it is anti-climatic given what's happening elsewhere. But it also opens up an interesting discussion about the tactics people are willing to use in times of crisis. Rebecca believed in this even though it may have cost her marriage to John. B

The Fosters - "Diamond in the Rough"
Stef starts a new assignment in human trafficking where she meets a teenaged girl named Diamond who is turning tricks on the streets. Lena deals with the repercussions for holding an off-campus LGBTQ sex ed class for Anchor Beach students. Callie's relentless pursuit of justice starts to impact her relationship with AJ. Mariana tries to cheer up Jesus with a special project after he's prescribed a special pair of glasses due to his traumatic brain injury. Written by Cristian Martinez and directed by Lily Mariye

Stef and Lena have always been good at their jobs. So, it's great that Stef has been promoted with Lena seemingly on that path as well. Lena just has one more obstacle in the manipulative Drew. Meanwhile, it's great that Stef's new job also ties back into Girls United. The show is always at its best when its focusing on the foster care system. Girls United provides that vantage point now that all of the main kids are happily in the Adams-Foster family. Of course, Callie continues to be a frustrating character. The show wants us to see her as smart and capable when it comes to the murder investigation. She's not. She's obsessive and reckless. But more importantly, it makes it weird when the audience is just suppose to accept that she didn't hear that Diamond was making a phone call in the bathroom. She wasn't even distracted at all. Similarly, it's hard to care about her breakup with A.J. because of her recent actions. Of course, it all stems from this show's tendency to always make Callie's life as difficult as possible no matter what. After four seasons, that has grown incredibly tiring and hasn't even forged a character who has learned from all of her mistakes. Meanwhile, Mariana's story with Jesus just felt predictable. Did no one in the family think that Jesus would be held back in school because of his injury? B-

Switched at Birth - "Memory (The Heart)"
A mysterious young woman has Bay and Daphne flooded with memories of their deceased father Angelo, and they must decide if they should let her into their lives. Toby is caught between his mother's wishes to baptize his son and his wife's feelings about faith. Melody asks her sons to make amends so the family can be together for her birthday, but it might be too late. Written by Linda Gase and directed by Lea Thompson

It's been awhile since Switched at Birth has mentioned Angelo. "Memory (The Heart)" is the 100th episode of the series. So now, it feels like the appropriate time to remember that part of the family's past. The family has changed and grown so much since he died. They reacted in many different ways to his death. But now, everyone seems stable and on a healthy path forward. And yet, the introduction of Allie is enough to bring these complicated emotions about his death to the surface once more. This hour is a fine reflection on family, identity and religion. It's so wonderful to see Angelo in that opening sequence as a part of this family in the present-day. It shows the life that could have been. He left the family too soon. Everyone has a different reaction to Allie. It's difficult to know if she's someone who should be trusted. But it's just great to see her as this woman who is able to bring comfort to the family even though she's not perfect. Meanwhile, Kathryn and Lily's fight over religion could seem disconnected from the main story. But it too highlights how much the family has grown together and just how open and accepting they are of their differences. That's ultimately one of the defining qualities of this series. A

The 100 - "Gimme Shelter"
Clarke's arrival on the island quickly takes a turn for the worse. Bellamy tries to avoid further tragedy in Arkadia. Written by Terri Hughes Burton & Ron Milbauer and directed by Tim Scanlan

"Gimme Shelter" is a taut and intense action thriller. It's easily the best episode of the season as well as the most genuine and nuanced hour for Bellamy since the second season. It works because it is so extremely focused on two stories. One centers on a group of people dealing with the effects of the pending apocalypse. Black rain has been talked up a bunch this season. But now, it's here and has devastating effects on Arkadia. It's heartbreaking to watch Bellamy try to save two people trapped in the woods but be unable to get to them. It works because it has the time and focus to tell a whole story that doesn't feel shortchanged to hit a certain plot beat. It shows the cost of this reality. The another story focuses on how far people are willing to go to save everyone from this apocalypse. It's just the latest life-or-death choice the characters have to make. Plus, it's problematic that it is once again their "only shot" at survival. But it's a story shown through a new lens by focusing on Murphy and Emori instead of Clarke and Abby. Emori is the one to craft a tale to make sure she's not the one in the radiation chamber. That cold reveal at the end is perfect because it shows just how great and similar Murphy and Emori are as a couple. A-

Designated Survivor - "Backfire"
An investigative journalist shocks the White House when he reveals classified information during a press briefing and leaves Seth struggling to contain the damage from the leaked story. Hannah unearths a key connection between MacLeish and the conspiracy. Written by Sang Kyu Kim & Pierluigi D. Cothran and directed by Tara Nicole Weyr

Last week's episode had such a pivotal and tense climax with Peter and his wife being killed in a murder-suicide to prevent Hannah from learning more about the conspiracy. This hour is about all of the characters reacting to the Vice President's death. It's great that reporters are starting to speculate about the connections between all of these stories. That's absolutely the truth even though the team is trying to spin it as conspiracy theories. The extreme weight and pressure Tom feels at the moment brings a nice grounded quality to this story. However, most of this episode is just introducing new conflict for the next stage of the season. Rob Morrow debuts as a skilled reporter with a complicated past. Emily learns that a former president is looking to get back into politics. Seth meets with some friends for some random reason. Aaron learns that the former of chief of staff is still alive. Hannah is also monitoring Aaron and learns more about Peter's mission in Afghanistan. It's a lot of information and story. Most of it just isn't that exciting though. At least, the show has a new explanation for why the Kirkman children aren't going to be seen as much moving forward. B-