Emergence is my favorite of the four new dramas I watched this week (also Prodigal Son, Stumptown and Evil). It has a compelling mystery with its own twist, characters I already care about who aren’t dark and cynical and a diverse, gender-balanced cast.
I really like the philosophy the show exhibited in the pilot. It’s not overly sweet or dark, but there’s a certain warmth and optimism. I get the sense that Piper is the main clue to a larger mystery, not a unique magical child who’s meant to save the world by herself. Hopefully the characters and mystery plot will stay in the forefront, while shoot outs and gore will be kept to a minimum.
And I love this new mother-daughter team of soft-hearted, unlikely bad*sses, who are part of a family of flawed but caring people. Real moms with good judgement for the win. I was so proud of Jo for being the one with the gun who could protect her family when an intruder broke into their beachhouse, but also for getting the family out without firing a shot. She put the safety of her family and solving crimes and mysteries first, as she should.
Emergence begins late at night in the sleepy Long Island, NY town of Southold, when there’s a town-wide power outage at the same time that a plane crashes on the beach. Police chief Jo Evans (Allison Tolman) is awakened by the outage. She and her family go outside to see what’s going on and notice an ionized glow, similar to the Aurora Borealis, rising from the site of the plane crash. Jo gets a call about the crash and says she’ll be right there. She tells her young teen daughter, Mia (Ashley Aufderheide), and her father, Ed Sawyer (Clancy Brown), that she’s leaving and sends them back to bed.
Hanna season 1 reaches its conclusion with episode 8, Utrax, which takes place at the Romanian facility where Hanna was born and where the program was restarted after Marissa helped shut it down. Erik and Marissa continue to face their pasts while Hanna learns more details about who she is. Marissa and Sawyer face off. Erik and Hanna attempt to set the new trainees free, but there are complications.
Episode 8 begins with the trainees still in lockdown at the Utrax facility. As they sit on their beds and fidget, the voice on the loudspeaker reminds them of the rules: Stay in their rooms. Stay away from the windows. They’ll be told when the lockdown is over. Even the most obedient of the girls is growing anxious from sitting still too long.
249 goes to the window and listens to a conversation between two guards in a room on the other side of the courtyard. One tells the other that something went wrong during the operation at the motel, she can’t find Sawyer, and they’ve lost Erik and Hanna. She doesn’t know what’s currently happening out in the field.
After their triumphant exit from the motel, Erik and Hanna have paused somewhere in the woods for Hanna to remove a bullet from Erik’s arm, using a knife and her teeth. She catches a rabbit with her bare hands for their breakfast.
“The road is my home; my home, the road.”- Hedwig Robinson.
Episode 7 of Hanna, Road, brings Erik and Hanna back together for a nostalgia filled road trip. They each visit a birth parent and discover that the road is their home now and they are each other’s family. To be together, they must be on the run, but that’s likely Hanna’s fate no matter what, now that they know what she looks like.
Marissa also continues to confront truths about herself, the road and family. She has a reunion with Erik at the hotel where he and Johanna brought Hanna when she was an infant. Marissa proves once again that she’s meant to do more than work 9 to 5 and be a Parisian housewife.
While I’ve enjoyed the Sophie interludes, Hanna is at its best when its 3 leads are together in some combination. This episode might be the best episode of the season for overall character development. So many secret truths are revealed and so much of Erik, Marissa and Johanna’s pasts are explored. Hanna learns more about herself than she has all season, both factually and genetically. All three leads face moments of truth that will define them from here on. Hanna has been renewed for season 2, so that’s a more meaningful statement than it would have been a week ago.
Episode 6, Mother, reunites Hanna and Erik. But first, Erik is held prisoner by Sawyer and tortured, while Hanna has a fight with Sophie, then agrees to leave quietly with Marissa as her daughter/prisoner. There are some good character moments and fun action scenes, plus a major reveal. But the main reasons for this episode are to give Marissa and Hanna a chance to meet face to face at last and to move everyone toward their place for the final two episodes.
The episode opens on Sawyer visiting Erik in the basement dungeon where he’s keeping Erik nearly naked, on the floor, with an air conditioner blowing on him. The torture is made worse by throwing buckets of cold water on him at frequent intervals.
Sawyer wants to know where Hanna is. So does Erik. “I don’t know where she is because she didn’t tell me. She’s smarter than all of us. Don’t look so surprised. You made her that way.”
Sawyer is really nothing more than a glorified flunky with an out of control ego. Definitely not part of the team that made Hanna. Probably hasn’t even bothered to read the file. He’s gotten lucky so far. Marissa is the smart one, and I don’t think that Hanna actually is smarter than her. That makes me wonder, again, if Marissa is an early prototype for the Utrax project.
In episode 5, Hanna has made it to London and is hiding out in Sophie’s garage, sleeping in the family’s camper van. She’s thrown head first into the deep end of normal teenage social life in this episode, which she does her best to navigate. Between her sheltered upbringing and her heightened responses due to her manipulated DNA, she has a tougher time than most girls her age. As always, Hanna’s common sense and abilities also come in handy when she needs to read people or defend herself.
Both Hanna and Erik struggle to deal with the consequences of Hanna’s discoveries about her background. Erik is seriously wounded, which stops him from searching for Hanna, leaving him in despair. Hanna is depressed, grieving the relationship she thought she had with Erik.
Sawyer and Marissa develop a power struggle over the case. Sawyer continues to use heavy-handed methods and takes Marissa off the case, despite the depth of her experience with Erik. As usual, Marissa takes matters into her own hands.
Episode 4 finally brings Erik and Marissa (Joel Kinnaman and Mireille Enos) together for an extended confrontation. While Erik holds Marissa hostage and they reflect on their shared history and the ramifications of Erik’s decision to rescue Hanna as an infant, Dieter brings Hanna home to stay with his family. She’s exposed to another version of a typical family, this one functional and happy, with a very involved, kind-hearted father.
She’s also exposed to a range attitudes about her father, including the skewed information Marissa has fed the public. Hanna begins to question who Erik is to her and who she wants him to be.
After rescuing her from the chaos of the fighting, Dieter brings Hanna to his family home to stay with him for a couple of days, until things settle down. He introduces her to his sons, Armin and Bijan. The police search the area around the hotel, looking for Erik and his gang. Jacobs and his main henchman, Costigan, return to their hotel room, where they find the story is all over the news, with Erik Heller given as the suspect in the murder of Lukas Taylor.
As befits an episode called “City”, episode 3 of Hanna picks up the storytelling pace and keeps the characters in motion. Hanna and Erik are reunited and must work together against their nemesis, Marissa, who finally gets enough screen time in this episode for character building and to reveal her backstory with Erik. The episode also has some parallels with episode 2, as Hanna is thrown into another established, troubled family. In this episode they work with Erik’s old Army gang, where she’s again relegated to the role of child, even though she’s much more than that.
Hanna’s train pulls into Berlin, as Jacobs visits Sophie’s family to question them about her. He falsely claims that Hanna’s mother is alive and has asked him to find her daughter, because Hanna’s father, who she’s been staying with, is dangerous and unstable. Then he shows the family a photo of the two guards Erik killed on the Polish-German border.
Since the family don’t know they’re in an action-suspense series and this sort of thing is to be expected, it’s very upsetting for them. Jacobs and the family all keep pushing Sophie for any information she might be holding back, out of loyalty to Hanna.
I knew episode 2 would be very different from episode 1, Forest, since Hanna’s previous life has been broken beyond repair. But after waiting a month and a half for the next installment, the image that was stuck in my mind from the first episode was the tall, forbidding forest and dark, imposing cave Hanna was raised in. I expected episode 2 to show her escape and the beginning of her education in the wider world.
And it does. It’s a splash of immersion into the life of a typical 21st century teenage girl, which only serves to highlight how out of touch Hanna is with not only her peers, but everything in our busy, urban, mechanized world. You know from the moment you see Hanna’s future friend, Sophie, covered by a dog filter app, that there’s no way Erik Heller could prepare Hanna for this. She’s on her own in the modern world, and will have to sink or swim based on how quickly she can adapt.
Sophie looks like she’ll be an excellent wing-girl to Hanna as she adjusts.
Bodyguard is a 6 episode BBC crime thriller that’s been released globally as a Netflix Original. Created by Jed Mercurio (Line of Duty) and starring Richard Madden (Game of Thrones) and Keeley Hawes (The Durrells in Corfu), Bodyguard has no connection to the 1992 Whitney Houston/Kevin Costner movie The Bodyguard. Last fall, Bodyguard became a ratings sensation in the UK, where it was shown as a weekly series and broke viewing records.
There is good reason for that. The show is gripping and intense from the first minute, when we meet main character David Budd, an Afghanistan veteran with untreated PTSD who is currently working for London’s Metropolitan Police Service as a Principal Protection Officer (PPO), or as we layman think of it, a bodyguard, for important members of the British government. He’s traveling on a train with his two children and discovers a suicide bomber, Nadia (Anjli Mohindra) hiding in the bathroom at the end of their car. In the powerful opening sequence, David takes it upon himself to talk Nadia down so that everyone comes out of the situation alive, disobeying orders from the bomb squad as he works with Nadia to ensure that she’s captured instead of killed.
After his heroic success on the train, David gets noticed by his superiors, and promoted to protecting the controversial, right-wing Home Secretary*, Julia Montague. Montague is pushing for legislation that would allow increased surveillance by law enforcement agencies, an idea that’s unpopular with many in the public and in the government. She’s also ambitious and widely believed to be considering an end run around the usual channels in order to become Prime Minister.
Dark, episode 2, Lies, picks up 9 hours after Mikkel’s disappearance. There’s still no sign of him. Large search parties fan out over the area, methodically covering every inch of the countryside.
The hooded man who exited the cave in episode 1 stands on a hillside and watches one of the search parties. He’s covered in dirt and grime, still wearing his hood, and carries a battered suitcase and a backpack. He looks down and notices a dead bird on the ground at his feet. He doesn’t seem surprised by the bird, but he is interested, and bends down to examine it.
Jonas startles awake in bed. He sits up and realizes that blood is running out of his right ear (or possibly an oily black substance?). When he gets up to look at his ear in the mirror, a man whispers his name. Jonas turns toward the mirror, and sees his father’s reflection. Michael looks the same as he did when Jonas saw him the night before in the woods- covered in blood or something else that’s dripping and black.