And after a few months off, we are back with Westen and friends! "A Dark Road" picks up a few weeks after we left off with a lot of reminder about the previous half of the season, and the result of working with Tom Strickler. Someone is currently hunting down all of Strickler's old contacts to clean up any loose ends he might have had. Fiona doesn't have much play in the episode as she continues to recover from getting shot during her rescue, while Sam doesn't have much to do just because he doesn't do much anyways.
The main plot is to help a window who was the victim of an insurance scam where her husband died. The insurance scammers are now forcing her to file for wrongful death and collect a large award from the city. It was a pretty generic and weak plot overall, but the who purpose of the episode was to reunite Tyne Daly with Sharon Gless (Madeline) for a Cagney & Lacey reunion. The chemistry is immediate and works well.
If it weren't for the desire to put Daly in the episode, I can't help to wonder if it was not easier to just break into the insurance office and get the records in the first place, negating the need for Maddy to befriend and then betray Tina the clerk. It would have been a lot faster and easier I think.
For takeaways, we do get a small clue as to our new bad guy for this part of the series, Mason Gilroy, a ruthless and cunning assassin. In the end, this episode gives the viewer plenty of high energy car scenes, a few explosions, and a lot of run of the mill social engineering to provide a pretty low key start to the second half of the season.
- Firebombing a hotel room is a good way to get someone's attention.
- "The day that the cell phone call log was invented should be celebrated as a national holiday for spies."
- Michael's identity for the week, "Alex" the sleazy wheelman.
After last December's gripping reveal, we find Neil back in the office trying to oust the truth from his partner Peter. In case you had forgotten, the last scene from the previous episode before winter break showed Peter meeting with Kate with the very same ring from the photograph on his finger. It was pretty hard evidence that Peter was potentially pulling all the strings. In reality though (or is it?) that final scene was merely a red herring.
As for the main plot line, we have Neil going after Wall Street scammers in an opportunistic jab at modern news. It is a pretty throw away plot when the real interest is in the truth behind Peter and Kate. According to Peter, he met with Kate not to go over his nefarious plot, which he really oversold I think with the dark hotel room meeting, but to get information about Harding, the true mastermind behind Kate's actions.
The writers leave us with an interesting conundrum. We the viewer never got to see that particular exchange in the hotel room for real. What we see is Peter's recanting of said exchange. Is Peter telling the truth? Was he truly meeting with Kate to help Neil? Or is Harding telling the truth, and Peter is actually conning Neil? Perhaps I have watched too many shows where the best friend betrays and have become jaded, but would it not be a twist if it were true? This show is about the long con-game, so how do we know the writers are not conning the viewers?
I think it leads to some interesting thoughts as the show goes on to finish it's first season. While the series itself might not be the most deep show on the air, as you watch you will no longer be help looking for clues as to who the true man in the shadows will be. It makes you question every move Peter makes, and, perhaps brilliantly, will engage the audience to a deeper level than the show might even deserve.
- "You could sell light switches to the Amish" - Peter to Neil
- What's so special about the music box? I hope we don't end up with some silly Lara Croft type thing.
- Peter has actually caught Kate (who is also a thief) before. Does Neil know this?