Saturday, August 7, 2021

REVIEW: 'Departure' - Kendra Discovers the Corrupt Motives of Everyone Involved in Crashing the Train in 'Witness'

Peacock's Departure - Episode 2.06 "Witness"

As the case winds down, Kendra feels there's still a missing piece of the puzzle.

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 finale of Peacock's Departure.

"Witness" was written by Nikolijne Troubetzkoy & Vincent Shiao and directed by T.J. Scott

In a shocking turn of events, the racists and xenophobes turn out to be mass murderers. A direct line can be drawn between the correlation of those ideologies. That immense level of hatred and bigotry can easily make way for fatal actions to take place. As such, those underlying conditions must be addressed and treated with the severity the situation deserves. All too often though those viewpoints are encouraged and coddled. Kendra is brought in to lead the investigation of the train derailment. She is targeted with viciousness because she is a foreigner coming in to disrupt the American way of life. This season is all about the toxicity of patriotism and the idealism of returning to some past glory that never actually existed in the first place. So many characters spoke out against the developments of innovation because of the devastation and isolation it brings to the families pushed out of the way. It's easy to blame the people who are perceived as unfairly having a leg up on the hard-working people of this country. The working class will always be oppressed by the people who run the world and create so many disasters. No one has any trust in the system that can bring about accountability and consequences. People are inherently distrustful of the process. They operate with that mindset and so they believe everyone else does as well. Kendra just wants to get to the truth. She does that too. Moreover, this season offers no ambiguity in the end either. The only uncertainty comes from whether or not she will take a job in the U.S. government. It's heavily implied that she will. Theo and Charlotte treat it as an inevitability. Kendra operates in the same way as she also offers a job to Agent Hunter. As such, the viewer can basically walk away knowing what Kendra will do next. She impresses people with the job she does here. Of course, her yearning for something new in this profession was really only established in one scene prior. She talked with Dom about how this job felt different and challenging. The show hopes that's enough so that those big plot developments can happen. It basically means the characters are still rather thin at the end of the day. This season actually has so much going on that it can be tiring and exhausting trying to keep track of it. It's clearly fascinated in depicting the American perspective this time as opposed to the British sensibilities of the first season. It still has a very Canadian production value to it. Moreover, the plotting is very heavy handed as it pertains to the fundamental inability of most Americans to recognize the conflict of race in every day life. That doesn't make the storytelling bad. In fact, the argument can be made that it has to be direct because subtlety doesn't accurately reflect just how dire some of these subjects have gotten as of late. The show provokes this conversation. It does so with grand ambitions. It also spends a significant chunk making everyone believe that a Mexican cartel is behind everything that happened. That mostly occurs so the big reveals can happen in the finale. It was always clear that more was going on with the Bright political drama and the local sheriff. Max simply had to be the priority early on in order to deflect from suspicion and steer the investigation elsewhere. It was still obvious given the central themes of this season.

All of this also highlights how these investigators need to trust the people they are working with. Kendra had to prove her value to Agent Hunter before they started trusting each other. Even then, they still take risks that easily could have gone awry any number of ways. The organizations they serve may also be too big to offer any kind of effective change. They simply offer the air of authority and responsibility that serves a greater purpose than the trivial, individual concerns on the ground of this local Michigan community. That conflict is apparent as well. It's easy to manipulate people when they know which strings to pull. It all connects back to the greedy and influential people yearning for more even though they have shaped this landscape for generations already. Now, some true accountability is coming. More lives simply had to be lost along the way. Of course, the show grows repetitive in making that point. It's striking just how much trauma Lucas is made to endure. He survives the train crash that kills his mother. He sees another man murdered. The team has to prevent him from being sent back to an abusive home. And then, he gets hunted down by the corrupt sheriff because he can connect all of this back to him. It's overwhelming and exhausting. And then, it's just suppose to be fine when he runs off with his grandfather. He was the point person for dealing with the crucial details of what happened in this crash and passing them along to the investigators. But the show never wanted to treat him as someone dealing with trauma. That basically makes him a plot point who doesn't exist as someone with genuine reactions and character motivations. Everything that happened was just forced and inevitable. Again, that's the storytelling ambition of this series. It wants to be positioned as an effective thriller built around a core mystery. It asks questions about the current state of the world as it pertains to technology and transportation. It targets people in positions of power and authority. No one is capable of evading responsibility forever. However, only one storyline from the first season is really continued here. It's fairly tangential as well. Howard's return isn't really necessary at all. The show figured it had Christopher Plummer for another season and had to use him. Now, Howard and Kendra's final conversation is flowing with emotion because of the sentimentality of knowing it's one of Plummer's final performances before his death last year. It holds resonance as it's clear Howard is also reflecting on his life and trying to atone for his past mistakes. Kendra goes on a journey in terms of forgiveness. It didn't necessarily have to be tied to his ability to get information quickly to help her investigation. That is limiting to a certain extent as well. It's something the show felt it needed to do. It never got in the way of Kendra as an effective and efficient investigator. She impresses plenty of people. It was just clear throughout six episodes that the creative team thought the way to offer a more complicated season was to add in more twists at the expense of consistent character development. That's unfortunate even though it never creates an unwatchable show. It's very consistent. It's just not as propulsive and engaging as the first season was - even though that was the season with the annoying teenager in it.