Well, that was a squeaker. I spent the first 40 minutes of this one feeling increasingly exasperated thinking that this ep was going to amount to nothing more than Team McWalkerson running around a pretty place (Buenos Aires being their final foreign shoot for season 5), trying to figure out how to rescue a character we only met one episode ago. Like I said, I'm a fan of Kenny Johnson, but that can only carry me so far, given that his character is not at all central to this series.
And then there was The Annie Problem. One that, as Shelby pointed out to me after she watched the ep earlier, tends to sometimes occur when Annie is on a mission with Dudes. Dudes not named Eyal, that is. It's a problem I also noticed in that other thing I tend to fangirl each November - Mockingjay - another situation where there is a lead female, and two dudes who would both love to win her heart. [FYI the next paragraph will NOT be spoilery IMO, but if you want to be 100% safe from any info on this movie then you can skip over to the following paragraph.]
Mockingjay Part 1 has taken a lot of flak from a good number of critics for being half a movie. And they're right, it IS half a movie. A very GOOD half, I think, but it's not whole. However, while watching it, I discovered what I think might be a major part of why it frustrated people - There is a climactic scene that comes far too close to the end of the movie that involves Katniss's Two Dudes participating in and being the center of all the action, while Katniss quite literally stands on the sidelines watching the action from a television screen. If you've read the books (or frankly if you have any common sense), you know she's gonna get back into the action immediately in the next movie, so it lessens the frustration. BUT, given that she is the main character, it does leave the viewer feeling somewhat limp during that scene that the hero of the movie is not the center of the climactic action sequence.
This is exactly how I felt for the first 40 minutes of "Frontwards." Annie Everdeen tends to her poor injured Auggie Mellark as he works on the plans to rescue Deckard, while McGale heroically saves the day by stepping directly into the center of danger at every possible opportunity. Hahaha holy shit I never realized how perfectly these three fit into the Katniess/Peeta/Gale roles. It's uncanny. But I digress. The Covert writers have done immensely better with Annie from ep 4.11 onwards than they had for far too long prior to that, so I don't have a ton of room to complain. But like Mockingjay Part 1, the reason it feels frustrating is that it's happening right towards the end - in the penultimate episode of the entire season.
BUT FEAR NOT!! Miss Walker finally got a chance to do what she does best in the last 20 minutes of the ep. And it's also simply where the ep finally hooked me in in general, with the story. Because like I said, even regardless of The Annie Problem, the ep felt like nothing more than a bunch of running around and discussing logistics in a pretty setting, until two things happened: 1) McQuaid and Deckard began their jailbreak, and 2) Annie caught sight of Belenko and immediately you saw the gears start to turn in her head. YES. Theeeerrrre's our Annie. Theerre's the girl who's sure as hell not gonna let an opportunity to catch a baddie pass, no matter WHAT she has to - wait WTF?? Did she just ... she just let that opportunity pass!! And Deckard even called her a chicken-shit for it. What in the Puma's name is this Auggie-instruction-following, stay-on-the-map Annie bullshit I just witnessed?? Not any kinda Annie *I* want to know, that's for damn sure.
Ohhh k thank god. Turns out she was just being shrewd about the best way to attack the problem - i.e. minus Deckard to get in their way. Speaking of which, poor Auggie. Awesome Joan!! But poor Auggie. Let's start with Mr. Anderson first. As much as we love to give Auggie crap for his wandering peen ... Times like this remind us that it's not easy being Auggie Anderson. When it comes to fieldwork, he's forced to be constantly on the sidelines for the rest of his life due to his blindness, and for a guy that came from a CIA Field Op and Special Forces background ... that has got to suck HARD. I don't even know that this can be blamed for him getting yanked back home in this particular case, as I think most of it was a result of Joan wanting to keep him safe after all the shit he just went through, but still it was yet another example of Auggie getting forced onto the bench. And watching him give that "company man" line to Deckard was rough. I dunno about you, but as I get older, I have more and more of a problem with feeling like a "company (wo)man." It feels less an less comfortable for me every day. So that moment and line definitely struck a chord with me.
And JOAN wtf, damn girl, you go ... err ... you tell 'em ... err ... why can't I think of the right way to say this?? Just do your thang girl, that's all I'm saying. Shelby was frustrated by this entire ep, but the one thing she said she loved was Joan. And now I see why. Joan was doin' WORK, she was cracking skulls and gettin' shit handled. Like a BOSS, son. Literally. She was even bossing around her boss. Right? Calder is her boss right? It's so hard to keep track of all the promotions and demotions anymore. She fixed the Russia problem after Calder screwed it all to hell, she realized that the Russians had ulterior motives with Belenko, and she put the smack down on her favorite Tech Op when she wanted to keep him safe. She was Joan at her very Joan-est here, in the best way possible.
And Calder. Calder Calder Calder. With the (real life) CIA torture reports being released this week, I couldn't help but be reminded of this as Calder beat Mashkov's face in (just like Annie with poor ol' Omar and his leg-crotch last week). Not that creepy Mashkov didn't deserve it, he certainly did, but beating the man to a bloody pulp is also crossing a line that the Russians were obviously not happy with. I certainly understand his motives though, with Sydney being on death's door. I'm curious what they'll do with her next week, and also curious what will come of Calder's retaliation plan on the dog walker.
Aannnnd obviously I can't end this review without touching on the "I love you." Or, the "I love you"ssss, plural, considering that if McQuaid had not responded properly to Annie there, heads were going to effing ROLL. Luckily for everyone involved, I did not have to do any head-chopping. Clearly Annie's declaration was motivated by McQuaid's heroic prison break + his immediate "all-in" response to getting Belenko, but I don't think it was just that. Auggie's verbal approval of McQuaid to Annie just prior to this was a huge part of it. I think it's just human nature to feel validated when you get that confirmation and approval from someone you greatly respect and/or love. But it certainly could not have been easy for Auggie to give the approval to begin with. So. "Poor Auggie" was a definite theme in the latter half of the ep.
- Things that are magically no longer a problem for our characters: Joan's Balkans secret, Belenko's deadly ALS-type disease, Annie's heart condition. If these aren't followed up on in SOME way in the finale, I'm going to be angry. I'm going to be very angry. Spoiler: They won't be followed up on. At least I'm certainly not holding my breath for it.
- With all the cop-vs.-citizen situations that have been in the news here lately, I couldn't help but think of this when McQuaid intentionally provoked the cop to get himself arrested. That certainly wasn't difficult, was it? Nope.
- The "lice-check in the church" scene (a.k.a. another excuse for Auggie to take his shirt off) was just as awkward and uncomfortable for me in this ep as it was in the preview from last week. But I was extremely glad they didn't play up a jealousy thing when McQuaid walked in on it. It would just be too groan-worthy. That's not to say they won't try to go for the love triangle thing next week in the finale, because that's absolutely the type of thing TV writers love to do in finales, but we'll have to wait and see.
- If I have to hear one more GODDAMN thing about Chrisley Knows Best, I'm gonna cut a bitch. NO, USA, I am NOT watching A Very Chrisley Christmas!!!! You can take that Chrisley Christmas and SHOVE IT UP YOUR ... chimney. Or something.
The last third of the ep saved it. On second viewing, I actually quite enjoyed it, knowing what was coming. If it had never kicked in, this grade would be much different. Next week's ep is going to make a HUGE difference as to how I view this season as a whole; probably much more so than was the case in season 4. So ... we shall see.
What'd y'alls think? Throw a Santa suit on me and shove my fat ass up a chimney in the comments.
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