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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Earth Final Conflict Review: 1x05 Old Flame

So, about two years ago, I started doing my own little reviews for Earth: Final Conflict. I lagged out, basically because I'm a lazy sort, but considering that I've posted next to nothing on this blog for ages, I thought I'd try doing it again.

This has nothing to do with my strange desire to watch a hyperaged alien baby, a homicidal FBI agent and androgynous aliens or anything like that.

Especially since at least one of that is a spoiler for much later in the series.

Now since it's been a few years, I'll warn you that my reviewing style will probably have changed. But to follow along, there's still the helpful little index page in my sidebar. Enjoy!



"I want that second chance."

So this episode starts with a fancy gala affair of some sort. Boone and Lili are there, looking spectacular. Seriously, Lili's dress is amazing. Boone even says that she looks lovely, for a Marine. They trade some banter before parting and Boone goes to find Da'an, who stands out in the crowd in the way you'd expect an alien to stick out among a group of really rich people in fancy dress. Sandoval is there too of course.



Everyone heads outside for a speech. Apparently the Taelons have donated a conservatory...which apparently consists of three modern art sculptures on the front lawn. They make pretty sounds though, and grow as attractive people touch them.



I suppose a dirty joke is a bit too easy there.

And actually, the sculptures have grown into a building which is purple and cathedral like (of course), and Da'an resumes his speech inside. Apparently some human musician has mastered a very difficult Taelon instrument. And Boone recognizes her name: Elyse Chapel.

Elyse is a very pretty brunette, and playing the Taelon instrument seems to work like everything the Taelons do: pretty purple lights and lots of waving your arms around. The audience seems to enjoy it, and Da'an looks pleased. Sandoval glances up at Boone for some reason, but I doubt it's for romantic reasons.

At least I hope not. Boone would crush him.

Anyway, Boone and Elyse definitely know each other as, after the performance, she greets him warmly. (She calls him "Will" even!) He compliments her playing, awkwardly, while she bluntly tells him that she's here for the week and asks if they can get together. I like a woman who knows what she wants. He demurs, but she insists. And he'll meet her tonight.

Da'an has noticed the sparks of rekindled romance and asks for a history. Short answer: he worked security for the UN, she was a harpist with the NY Symphony, they knocked boots. Da'an looks like he's wondering if he'll have to fridge another of Boone's ladies.

Later on they eat dinner and there's the usual television ex-lover bickering about who broke it off with whom (does anyone ever have this conversation in real life? I certainly haven't.) Of course they discuss his marriage, Boone seems to have made it to the quiet acceptance stage. Maybe due to some of the events in the last two episodes. Maybe because he's across from a beautiful woman. Who knows. Anyway, as it happens, the Taelons want her to stay and run the conservatory, she 's decided she only wants to stay if it's okay with him. No pressure, huh? He needs to think about it.

In a nuclear facility, guys are loading mysterious boxes onto a truck, and as it drives off, someone lands on said truck by way of rope and bridge. Through a nifty ruse regarding fake radiation levels, the truck-jumper lures the two drivers around back where they're ambushed by the jumper's friends, who get it open.

Back at Boone's awesome office, Lili (who's back with her normal awful 90s hair instead of the nice do from the party) teases Boone for details and reminds him that the Companions must be number one. A surprisingly jovial Sandoval enters and joins in on the mischief.



Fortunately Boone is saved by old-partner Bob who tells him of the truck hijacking. We find out the contents of the truck (some fissionable plutonium), and Sandoval deems it a threat to Da'an and recommends Boone head the crisis team with old-partner Bob.

Old-partner Bob gets a rank this episode: Lieutenant. Go Bob!

Boone wastes no time getting details and issuing commands to Bob and Lili. Sandoval announces that he'll seal the lakefront (they think the thieves are still in the city) and heads off.

Since Bob's already done what Boone's supposed to be doing, Boone's knocking on Elyse's door. He wants the second chance. But she 's weeping and declares that it won't work. He's near tears and she's crying.

Back in the office, Lili and Sandoval are reporting to a pacing Boone. After Sandoval leaves, Lili confronts Boone. She'd checked with Metro (where Boone was supposed to be) and he'd never showed up. He asks if Doors had anything to do with the threat, but Lili denies it. "We have no use for plutonium." Boone tells her to prepare the shuttle, they're going to DC.

Boone is now confiding in Dr. Belman, whose hair has grown back nicely since last episode, who looks as though she really doesn't want to be hearing this. Boone wants to know if the CVI is why he can't concentrate on anything but Elyse. Belman points out his lack of Motivational Imperative makes him free to love. Boone is unhappy with this, but Belman is thrilled at the implication that the CVI may be enhancing his emotions and wants to run some tests. It's not exactly impromptu brain surgery, but it does lead to some fun freaky flashbacks. Belman verifies that everything's normal. Boone is not happy with this as it means the issue is all his.

Boone is in the process of confronting Elyse, when he's interrupted by Lili and the actual plot of the episode. He tells her to stay put, while he goes to investigate.

Three young men who are not conspicuous at ALL are carrying a case through the platform. This ultimately leads to a firefight between hoodlums, police and Boone, who skrills one. Unfortunately, Elyse followed him and is taken hostage. But Elyse redeems herself by biting the guy and getting free so Boone can skrill the guy. Lili and the cavalry come running to see them making romantic on the stairs.

They find a private place and make out, while Lili pays a visit to an appealingly shirtless Augur. (I love this show.) There's some flirting on Augur's part, but he's willing to help. Lili wants info on Elyse and wants to keep it between the two of them.

Boone and Elyse have done more than make out, it looks like. They're in bed. He's happy and he's also shirtless. (I still love this show!) Elyse is weirdly morose, and she REALLY doesn't like his skrill, equating it to a leash and collar. She seems to apply to the Jonathan Doors school of thought re: Taelons.

Back at work, Lili and Boone discuss where the thieves (thief?) will go next. Boone's planning to lessen security and set up a trap. He then reveals to Lili that Elyse is also anti-Taelon. She's relieved to know he hasn't told her about the Liberation, but she thinks he's not thinking clearly. She makes the mistake of bringing up Kate and he blows up at her.

Augur calls Lili in, he's found the goods: Elyse is on the FBI payroll. And there's something else that we don't get to see.

Lili comes back to Boone's office and shows him the file. Boone is in denial, but Lili has something else: a file on two FBI officers, both of which are Elyse in very bad wigs, proving she's done the espionage thing before. Boone is in shock, but he's interrupted by Bob who's got some results re: their trap. Boone is even more wooden with shock. Lili looks guilty and sympathetic.

Lili, Boone, Bob and others are at the checkpoint, dressed as security. Bob questions one, and Boone glances over and CVI-flashbacks onto the guy's watch. The ambush is successful, leaving Boone more time to brood in his office.

Actually, he's looking at old photo albums (Facebook as imagined in 1997!). Lili comes over to find out what he was doing and make fun of his tux. He takes her through some of the old photos (including the great one I used as teaser image). He also has letters that he'd sent his mother, which he'd scanned onto disk after she died. The important thing however is that there's no reference to Elyse, even though this was the period they were supposed to be together.



They stop at a picture of Boone spending his birthday with friends, and Lili coaxes him to work with his CVI to remember. He remembers her at his birthday all right: celebrating a private romantic birthday with her.

Back at the conservatory, Da'an approaches Elyse, who is playing the Taelon instrument. He notes the anguish with which she's playing. They have a quick cryptic conversation about hiding things. She looks upset.

Meanwhile Lili's brought coffee to Boone. Boone calls back to Lili's statement from the pilot about how once he knew her, he'd never question her loyalty. He says that she was right. She thanks him and tells him that Dr. Belman's investigated. Then Sandoval shows up, looking oddly earnest. Boone's got some questions about the interrogation of the thieves, but Sandoval has no good answers.

Elyse meets Boone at her apartment. They embrace. They talk about her fears re: the Companions, and Boone traps her by asking her about something they said on the way back from the Statue of Liberty. He's never been there, which I find oddly sad. Even though I've never been there either. He confronts her about the made up past. She comes clean: she's playing a role for the Companions, but she didn't count on him. She claims to be genuinely in love with him.

Back at the Embassy, Boone brings Elyse to Da'an and Sandoval, telling them that she's confessed to working against Companion interests. She's taken away by security while Boone watches. Sandoval, who looks hard and grim once more, paces around and questions Boone about Elyse. Boone explains that he kept quiet to find out about her allies and mildly points out that altering memories is a good way to test the CVI. Da'an looks pleased though he questions Boone on how he discovered the tampering. Boone gives an earnest explanation of his comparison of CVI memory with his photos and his deduction that it was a quality control test.

Da'an is pleased and tells him no other implant was able to look within as he did (Sandoval looks v. displeased). It's also revealed that Da'an engineered the theft of plutonium to measure his efficiency during the emotional turmoil. Boone IS upset that he'd killed a man in the test, and asks if that truly served Companion interest. Da'an says that some sacrifices are necessary in developing the Taelon/Human bond.

Later, Lili finds Boone who expresses his feelings of violation. He thinks they've invalidated everything. Lili disagrees. They talk about how she figured out what was wrong, then Boone looks pensively at a picture of Kate and stares out the window.

--

New Characters/Developments:

Elyse Chapel: FBI agent/Taelon stooge, theoretically William Boone's ex-girlfriend

CVIs: can be used to implant false memories. The use of memory is a recurring theme in the show. We'll see them a lot: inherited memories, implanted memories, repressed memories. They're generally important.

Boone: apparently keeps a record of everything. And is a dog person.
--

Review:

I've got mixed feelings about this episode. The action plot was weak, but it's supposed to be since the Elyse/Boone plot was the core of the episode. I'm generally not a fan of romantic subplots, but this one had an actual point.

I didn't like how the episode had Elyse declare that she'd fallen in love with Boone. I hate the plot twist of the hero being the one man to reach the femme fatale. Yes, he's a great guy, but really? And no one briefed the woman on which fake memories were planted in his head? I call shenanigans.

Where did they find an FBI agent who can play a Taelon instrument anyway?

That said, it was interesting to see Boone in the "falling in love" phase, even if it was artifically induced. He was a little dorky, and openly emotional, a nice change from his usual cool block of woodness.

Lili was wonderful in this episode and I liked the way the show made it clear that her distrust of the situation with Elyse had nothing to do with jealousy. Lili's attracted to Boone, yes, but she was perfectly happy to tease him about his dinner with Elyse. She only got worried when he started acting out of character. And then she confronted him, and when he behaved irrationally in response, simply went to Augur (who is always great) and got the proof she needed.

I liked that the ep also fleshed out Boone's partnership with Bob Morovsky. Even though they're no longer partners, they still understand each other. Bob doesn't mind Boone's abruptness, Boone knows what steps Bob's likely to have taken. It's clear they've been working together a long time.

Sandoval and Da'an didn't have much to do this episode, but Sandoval did have some interesting bits. I especially liked how, when Boone took command of the theft situation and issued orders to Bob and Lili, Sandoval made a point of saying what he was going to do. It was probably exactly what Boone would have ordered anyway, but it was a nice emphasis that Bob and Lili are subordinates, but Sandoval is Boone's equal. Sandoval was acting very strange during the episode, from jovially asking about the date to his youthful earnestness when reporting the results of the interrogation to Boone. But that makes sense within the context of the test. Once the test was over, Sandoval was back to normal.

And actually, Dr. Belman's comment about how an MI-less CVI might react to anger or hate may explain a lot of a certain character's actions in later seasons of the show. But that's a spoiler. :-)

Ultimately, this episode re-enforces my opinion of Kilner as an actor. In the quiet scenes, he's amazing. Whenever he's with Elyse, he shines. The way his voice shakes and his eyes glitter during the first speech about wanting the second chance is wonderful. His shock and violation during the reveal is very believable, and the confrontation scene with Da'an and Sandoval is great, especially when he lets slip his unhappiness about having killed a man.

But again, explosive anger does not work. I cringed when he yelled at Lili, and not in a good way. He was much more believable when talking to Sandoval about the interrogations. The quiet anger feels much more appropriate to the character than yelling. I hope the writers realize that soon.



So what did we learn this episode: CVIs still suck. And rekindling old romance is never a good idea.

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