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Ratcheting up the complicated, part 2

This would have been up by this afternoon, but coworker was buying, and "I need to stay here and write up my BT ep review while eating my packed lunch" just wouldn't work. Besides, free lunch. (Yes, I know there's no such thing as a free lunch. But collectors who make extra effort to stay on the good side of She Who Makes Them Look Literate come very close. ;-> )

Last week on Blood Ties: "Popcorn TV" to "holy CRAP!!" in about 20 minutes flat.

This week: About 67 minutes of story crammed into 43. Seriously. Somebody got confused and thought they were writing a feature.

Which is not necessarily a bad thing, if it results in the caliber of character development we got in this two-parter. Unfortunately, it also resulted in some interesting developments getting shortchanged, notably the introduction of Dr. Sagara. Love the character, love the reminder that Henry has a recent past too. And she's the perfect evidence against Mendoza's claim that Henry inevitably kills his lovers. But, erm, Vicki knew to call her how, exactly? At first I thought she must be one of Coreen's professors, but then Coreen introduced herself as working for Vicki and then launched directly into it being about Henry. (Also, I suspect Coreen might not have dropped out in that case.) Have we seen/heard about her as a contact/resource before, and I just spaced it? Me = confused.

[ETA: Erm, never mind. Nothing to see here, move it along. *facepalm* Note to self: move pilot higher on rewatch priority list.]

Also glossed over is the final connecting of the dots to confirm what happened to "Champagne"... y'know, the victim all this started with? This one is less problematic since we could figure it out easily enough (I would have been stunned if my prediction about it had been wrong) and once Vicki and Mike found Delphine, I'm sure they did too. But they never got around to actually stating the conclusion that Mendoza hired this woman off the street, fed her to the chained-up starving vampire, and dumped the body. Which is worthy of comment for a couple reasons, not least being that Mike is now stuck with a case he can't officially solve, even though he knows what happened. And it was also part and parcel of Mendoza's strategy to manipulate Mike into bringing down Henry for him. I'm all about trusting the audience not to need every little thing spelled out, and I'm the last person to argue with rescuing Henry being the top priority, but that felt just a bit rushed.

So, yes, my objections to this ep? Pretty much boil down to "Too much of a good thing." My first instinct was that it might have been alleviated by cutting back a bit on the torture sequences, but I'm not sure that would necessarily have improved the ep as a whole. (For reasons having nothing to do with the Shirtless Henry Factor. Although the remnant affixed to him with the sun talisman was pretty entertaining.) So much of the ep's power comes from watching Henry gradually but inexorably breaking down, alternating with Vicki and Mike's frantic search for him. We would have been able to tell what was happening to him with less lingering on the process, but I think we would have sacrificed some of the glimpse into his soul that we've been needing. Just as last week really solidified Mike for me as a character with Somebody Really In There, this week did the same for Henry. BT will always be Vicki's show for me, but it has officially ceased to be just her show. And this two-parter is, to a large extent, a bit more the guys' show than hers.

Nothing like dropping the Very Young Actor into the deep end to see what you get! Now this is a reason to cast this guy. O_O Granted, a lot of it was the ultra-high-octane emotion that's easy to ride, but the really killer moments were the quiet ones. It's looking like he hit a breakthrough with the big stuff, and is holding onto that solid connection when it's dialed down. "I confess," of course, and I'll get into that in a minute. But before that, I was almost more struck by his reaction to the video of Delphine. Nothing Mendoza could have done directly to him would have made the arrogant prince vanish so instantly and completely. The repetitions of "I forgive you," willing Delphine to hear him when he knew she couldn't and didn't even know whether she was still alive, broke my heart like nothing I would have expected based on Kyle's work up to this point. Bravo.

I need to give a nod to the direction here -- the scripts may be getting a bit lax on making Vicki's vision an issue, but the subtle reminders are still there: studying the map on a light table, grabbing the Big Damn Maglite when Mike was grabbing a shotgun... and, oh, yeah, Henry stalking her from the shadows and off to the side, both of which he knows make him effectively invisible to her. Gheeeeee!

Before that, though, you have to get through the point in Mendoza's systematic dismantling of Henry's psyche where he actually believes -- for a fleeting, taunting moment -- that giving Mendoza his confession might earn Vicki's freedom. He'd never seek the release of death for his own sake, but he'll do it to keep from killing her. And then he's humiliated himself for nothing, and that is the final straw that tears him down to the point where he can't help going after her. Mendoza is a prizewinning whackjob, but he knows his business. ~shudder~

And he's had plenty of time to perfect it, which I suspected. The way he was talking last week about how he'd never be able to get close enough to Henry to use the talisman, it just seemed like there was more history there than would be warranted by a normal human lifetime. Also guessed that he was using the blood of the vampires he captured, which just tells you I've been a fan of this genre for too long. ;-) This was a creative twist on the device, though, that nicely pulled together several pieces of a VERY busy plot.

I'm a bit on the fence about the flashbacks -- good Henry stuff (he really is getting some nice subteties in there), but I'm thinking maybe this is where we could have borrowed a minute or two for the lost exposition. I like that it's ambiguous just how sincere he is when he's reeling Maria in; I don't think he would have killed her if he could help it, but I also don't think he was as concerned by it as he might be now. Still, it's a valuable comparison to the present-day storyline, where he's in much worse shape but does less damage to Mike. Granted, that might not have been the case if not for Vicki begging him to stop, but he still managed it.

It also shows that, even back then, Mendoza didn't have much regard for anyone's life. What possible purpose could be served by leaving Maria alone with a starving vampire, with nothing but a few bars between them? As far as I'm concerned, he murdered her. Twice, when you count staking her. If that's how cavalier he was with an innocent girl whose death he supposedly takes so personally, no wonder he doesn't bat an eye at sacrificing a random streetwalker -- or a very worldly woman who's chosen to share her blood with an "abomination."

Vicki going back for the talisman: Keeping it out of hostile hands? Keeping it on hand just in case? As phantomminuet pointed on out bloodties_tv, her worldview has taken a bit of a lurch. She's not one to throw away an insurance policy just because she sincerely hopes there's never a need for it.

All this Big Wow is crowding out all the comments I want to make about the little moments -- the ones that would have made any episode before this. Like Vicki and Henry stereoing "vampire" in the briefing room. Or "God, that HURTS!" Poor Mike. And poor Dylan, apparently; according to TH's blog on the Lifetime site, Kyle told her he got a little overexuberant and actually drew blood. That "Son of a BITCH!!!"? Not entirely acting. *wince* He also broke the chains and almost broke the cross. (Which probably didn't surprise anyone after the BED. Which I'm still simultaneously giggling and boggling about. If I were the carpenters, I think I'd be setting up a conspiracy to keep the sugar away from him...) Is it Bad and Wrong of me to desperately want bloopers now?

So, now they're bored with the triangle and need to add another vertex? I mean, I like Kate and all, but what's that about? Guess we'll find out soon enough, and until then I'll just hope it doesn't get too soapy. I kinda think everything's complicated enough as it is, especially now with Henry having fed from Mike. Which wasn't an act of compassion toward Henry like Vicki's, but taking the fall for Vicki's sake is the next best thing in Henry's world at this point. (That snark about having stopped too soon notwithstanding. *snerkle*)

Well, that was...long. OMGHEROES will have to wait. :-)

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Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
hildy
Apr. 24th, 2007 12:42 am (UTC)
Dr. Sagara appeared briefly in the second half of the pilot episode. She was the one who gave them names of students interested in demonology.
wiliqueen
Apr. 24th, 2007 09:25 am (UTC)
Okay, now it's ringing very faint bells. Someone on the comm just said she was in it, and I was still drawing a blank.

Stress Does Bad Things To Your Brain, Exhibit A. Apparently I was more fried from all the Pirates drama than I thought! Thanks.
ceridwyn2
Apr. 24th, 2007 02:19 am (UTC)
Yes, and it's also a nod to a good friend, and fellow author, Michelle Sagara West (also just goes by Michelle Sagara), with whom Tanya worked at Bakkaa, THE SF/F bookstore in Toronto (Queen St. West).
wiliqueen
Apr. 24th, 2007 09:28 am (UTC)
I thank you and my faltering brain cells thank you. :: points up to reply to hildy :: I figured I had missed a detail or two, but I'm a bit wigged that I completely spaced the existence of an entire character, no matter how brief the appearance.

And considering that I've been to Bakka twice, and don't even live there, yep, I'd say it's "THE." ;-D
taraljc
Apr. 24th, 2007 12:13 pm (UTC)
I think the pacing of the ep would have been better had they not spent so much time in the flashback with Random Chick WHo Can't Act But Has Impressive Hair. And would it have killed them to have hired an actual Latina???

Mike really came into his own for me in this one. And I am officially shipping him and Kate. Just to piss Vicki off.
wiliqueen
Apr. 24th, 2007 06:04 pm (UTC)
And would it have killed them to have hired an actual Latina???

Enh. It'd bug me if they'd been on this continent, but not so much otherwise. (Or did I miss a place-stamp?)

And I am officially shipping him and Kate. Just to piss Vicki off.

Always an entertaining pursuit. *snerk*
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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