Thursday, August 5, 2021

REVIEW: 'Departure' - A Series of Events Leads to a Massive Train Derailment That Kendra Must Investigate in 'Runaway'

Peacock's Departure - 2.01 "Runaway"

Kendra Malley is called to the U.S. to investigate a high-speed train crash in rural Michigan.

In 2020, the television industry aired 493 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the season premiere of Peacock's Departure.

"Runaway" was written by Vincent Shiao & Malcolm MacRury and directed by T.J. Scott

In its first season, this drama was a very effective mystery thriller. It loved throwing twists on top of twists. Every episode ended with a shocking reveal meant to provoke the viewer into watching the next episode immediately. It was an effective strategy. Moreover, the show itself didn't outstay its welcome. It was six episodes and out with its core story. Now, some of the developments weren't always necessary. However, it was a solid examination of the technological advances in transportation as well as the brutal and cynical nature of those who benefit from innovations even in the wake of tragedy. The first season had a high bar to set for itself in establishing dread and worry right away. In the second season, it's already clear that the audience should be experiencing those emotions as each passenger gets onboard the high-speed train. As such, the show blatantly uses each of them to set up mysteries. It doesn't really have a lot of time to develop characters. When it does, it's mostly accomplished through visual clues. A couple is eloping and that's all they can talk about. A woman is pregnant and ready to start a family with her husband. A child is concerned about where his mother is actually taking him during this trip. A man is handcuffed to a federal officer. Another is very protective of a briefcase. A lot of these clues are visual. The dialogue is very blunt regarding many of them too. Plus, it all runs the risk of being too much. It's clear right away that the train derails due to more than one error happening at the same time. Through the nature of the show's storytelling, it's likely that each of those events is more complicated than they initially seem. First, a man has parked his truck on the tracks. It appears like suicide. Moreover though, the brakes on the train don't work. Plus, the train is actually speeding up as it goes through this turn and makes the collision. So again, it seems likely that the technology was hacked to produce this deadly outcome. The crash was inevitable. It's a way to prove a flaw within the system. A warning shot was signaled previously with the emergency break being activated. The captain couldn't see any flaw in the system when he physically investigated. The journey continued. All of these clues are important. They help paint a basic idea of what happened. It produces plenty for Kendra and her team to investigate. Of course, the show has to devote some time to explaining why Kendra is investigating this crash for a new organization in America. It's also just a convenient way to include Howard once more. His addition also highlights the privilege that exists within the criminal justice system. Yes, he is the one who made a deal and exposed the truth about the missing plane. He served time in prison. He's under house arrest already. He is trying to atone for the past by making his presence known to Kendra once more. That's unnerving. And yet, so is the sight of the missing boy showing up in front of Kendra's hotel. So is the escaped fugitive getting into Kendra's vehicle and holding her at gunpoint. That immediately proves just how personal all of this becomes for her. She was purposefully left in the dark by the FBI agents who took over the crime scene. Kendra is starting to dig for the truth. It seems like she'll have to investigate some dead ends that could possibly explain what happened. But plenty of people are hoping to use this crash for their personal benefit. As such, it's all in service to a larger conversation about automation and the acceptance of losing a certain number of lives in order to make progress. Many people could ultimately be guilty. It's just a mess trying to sift through everything happening in each individual life. Kendra certainly has the expertise to do all of that. She has a team working the case alongside her. Of course, the premiere doesn't really spend much time with them and establishing the service they can provide every step of the way. It actually seems as if the show feels constrained by what it can produce due to limitations with the actual production. The scale of the train derailment is epic and immediately felt. That too serves as a contrast from the story that happened in the first season. It's important for the show to provide a pattern for how it operates. That way the audience can trust and understand the viewing experience. But it's also necessary for the story to do something different the second time around too. Enough inspiration is present to inspire hope once more. But again, it could all go awry with any given twist or any annoying character with murky motivations. Archie Panjabi continues to do a lot to keep it all grounded though.