Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders Reviewed: The Matchmaker (S1E9)

Yeah, forget about whether or not this episode sucks too much to deserve to be quoted, this episode is just too fucking creepy to deserve a quotation. This episode is literally about carefully watching a teenaged girl get destroyed in a manner that can still be both rated TV-MA for broadcast (which in reality is equivalent to less than PG-13 and therefore meaningless) and in a way that still comes up with some bullshit "happy" ending that still can't undo the fact that a teenaged girl effectively got destroyed, and Islamo-phobia. Fuck that shit. I ain't elevating a quote about that to header status.

What is it? Hour-long (44 minute) single-cam crime procedural WITH A (international) TWEEEST!
Where did it air? CBS, the network with the acronym that speaks for itself (say it out loud slowly)
Who stars in it? Gary Sinise doing the Gary Sinise-on-CBS thing, some other peeps, that one girl who played Meadow, Taylor's best friend on Haunted Hathaways, for this one episode.
Why did we review it? Just like with Minority Report, it just looked so fucking derpy I just wanted to see if and how bad it ended up being. The fact that Meadow happens to be in it is a happy coincidence that makes it marginally and tangentially related to this blog.

So yeah, again, for the fourth time in a row we're veering away from our usual material from Nickelodeon and Disney Channel to review something decidedly and markedly different. During the four out of five total times so far we've went "off-network," it was at least still tangentially related to what we usually review here (The Mysteries of Laura, Undateable, Crowded and Grandfathered - all of which prominently featured a prominent actor of Nickelodeon and Disney Channel fame - with the one and first time that still doesn't match, Minority Report, just being so bad I just wanted to use the then-very-much-young blog as a convenient platform to rant about it). I guess I could still justify it as being part four/five out of the "Where are they now?" tour that unofficially began with Mysteries of Laura and officially with Undateable, since the actress who played Meadow, Taylor's best friend from The Haunted Hathaways, plays a central role in the episode, but, eh, who are we kidding. This is just another instance of something grabbing my sheer curiosity, for good or bad, and I'm just using the blog as a platform and opportunity to explore/rant about it.

Criminal Minds is such a popular and well-known show (and really, the title kind of gives it away anyway) that I don't think I need to spend much on summarizing: it's about a criminal investigative group that, um,investigates crime. Duh. The big "gimmick" with Criminal Minds (after all, these procedurals usually have one, especially the team-centric ones on CBS) is that, where CSI focuses on the physical forensics of investigation, CI focuses on the psychological forensics - i.e., criminal profiling (an extremely controversial science, as it should be - in fact criminal profiling is outright ruled inadmissible as evidence in a criminal investigation in many jurisdictions across the country, something that started happening a bit before mainline-CI even premiered). CI: Beyond Borders is...well, again, the title more or less gives it away. It's CI, but, um, beyond borders with an international team capable of going wherever the hell the writing staff feels like they should be going based on whatever locale sounds the sexiest for that episode. This particular episode focuses on a girl played by aforementioned Meadow actress Juliete Angelo who is basically seduced by an ISIS/ISIL terrorist (for the purposes of this review I'll just refer to them as ISIL from now on - yes I accept the official state department line, plus I'm of the movement to try to reclaim Isis as a girl's name and not as the label for what amounts to 21st century suicidal Nazis) and duped into becoming a potential suicide bomber herself - and given that both ISIL and the "phenomenon" of Western girls being seduced to join ISIL are hot topics in Western media right now, it's hard to not confront these issues head on and, yes, expect a lot of my infamous barely tangential rants in this one. In fact perhaps this whole exercise is to just compile a whole bunch of them together. And why waste time? Let's jump right into that straight away!

First I want to address just how "common" the issue of random American/Western teenage girls defecting to ISIL to become terror brides or worse, actual terrorists and suicide bombers themselves. As your common sense is hopefully telling you right now, it's exceedingly uncommon - for the few parents reading this (I suspect probably one of my old teachers and/or professors reading this blog out of pity) you have a far greater chance of winning a nine-figure Mega Millions jackpot plus having your daughter get a full-ride scholarship to an Ivy League school plus graduating from said school to get immediately recruited by the CIA to become real-life female Jason Bourne (or real-life KC Cooper if you will), then have a movie made about her life ("Better than Bourne!" exclaims the Chicago Sun-Times) then to worry about her being seduced by some ISIL turd and then turned into a suicide bomber and have to learn about her death through NBC Nightly News. For starters, the number of Western teens defecting to ISIL, regardless of the background of those teens to begin with (that's usually an influencing factor, but in the larger scheme of things the "threat" isn't even large enough to open that can of worms for discussion) is estimated to be about 200 or so total of both sexes, but extremely, overwhelmingly favoring males. This is 200 teens and young adults out of the entire population of the Western World - the combined 600 million population of the United States, Canada and Western Europe (and at least 100 million more if you include South America, a very large part of the world the affairs of ISIL seem extremely little concerned about). I don't know how many of those people would be teens and/or young adults per se, but I don't think just halving that number - 300 million (roughly equal to the total population of the U.S. period) tweens, teens and young adults - is an unreasonable number - and in fact it's probably closer to 400 million. So that's 200 young potentially murderous morons among a population equal to the total population of the U.S., Canada, and probably a whole 'nuther Western European country on top of that. You very literally have a greater chance of winning Powerball and Mega Millions multiple times consecutively then worry about your daughter joining ISIL.

And even if she does join ISIL, if it's any small consolation the chances of her actually being killed are very slim - in fact the chances of her returning and coming right back home are actually really great. You see, as it turns out ISIL kinda sorta has a very fundamental and deep-running hatred of women and tends to treat them very, very horrible. As in, they're literally committing crimes against humanity directed at teenaged women. Fighting for the "fundamental right" for men to commit literal crimes against humanity against any-aged woman, but teenaged women in particular, whenever they happen to feel like it is one of the very foundations upon which ISIL is founded upon. Even if for whatever reason or somehow a teenaged girl feigns ignorance of this, once she actually encounters ISIL she discovers right right quick that ISIL is a very horrible group of people to be associated with for anyone, but for women and particularly teenaged women especially. Even if a teenaged girl "joins" ISIL, most of the time they're either caught before they can go in "too deep" or get enough of a taste of the real ISIL to turn around on their own volition before that point. The number of Western women of any age or Western teenaged girls specifically who have actually managed to "legitimately join ISIL" is, speaking strictly realistically here, as high as "just high enough so that you can count them on one hand" to as low as exactly one, and in that case it was of a teenaged girl who had been successfully seduced by an ISIL sympathizer and consequently stabbed her mom to death in her home - in Denmark. 

So yeah, out of all of that, of all these stories of ISIL "terror brides" who are mass-murdering and blowing themselves up in the name of more mass-murder, we have exactly one verifiable case of that happening, and it was a single non-suicide bombing stabbing murder, and didn't even happen in actual ISIL! Two, if you count the female half of the San Bernandino shooters as a Western woman. We also have maybe verifiable reports of a middle-aged-ish British blonde woman who may have participated in ISIL-sponsored mass murder in sub-Sahara Africa and may either still be alive, may have sacrificed herself while in the act of mass-murder (whether blowing herself up or being shot and killed in the act) or may in fact been killed by her own ISIL "allies" (again, murdering any woman on the basis of just feeling like it is practically a national sport in ISIL) and the sister of the Paris attacks mastermind who blew herself up in order to kill...a police dog. That's pretty much the entirety of verifiable ISIL-sponsored attacks committed by women, period, and only half of them - two of the whole whopping four- have been committed by women who were actually born and raised in the Western world. For those of you who are betting on there being a greater statistical probability of ISIL-sponsored terror attacks being carried out by women of "terrorist descent" (click the link before you start accusing me of anything, please), keep in mind that those also amount to a whole whopping two in the entirety of the Western World. In conclusion, grow up and stop worrying about ISIL stealing our daughters, or women becoming terrorists period, regardless of their creed, ethnicity or background. Speaking strictly statistically it might as well not even exist.

Now, that's not to say that there haven't been acts of terror and mass-murder committed by women in actual ISIL-held territories, although that's a particularly tragic story in of itself as the reports I've heard indicated that the vast majority of female terrorists committing suicide bombing within actual ISIL-disputed territories (in fact these reports seem to indicate it might as well be 100%) are the result of said young women basically being brutalized and literally tortured through rape until they've completely lost all sense of self-worth and therefore it becomes easy to talk them into becoming suicide bombers. I really, absolutely don't know how else to emphasize how much, on a deep fundamental level, ISIL hates and actively despises women. I don't think it's any exaggeration at all to claim that at least certain elements of ISIL, highly influential elements of ISIL no less, actively want to bring about the literal extinction of women, and they simply do not care about the implications regarding that and the extinction of the rest of the human race, including the ISIL state itself.

Also note that I've been talking about ISIL specifically - NOT Muslims, or Arabs, or anybody by religious or ethnic lines. Let me make it clear - ISIL is not an Islamic organization. Not any more than Nazi Germany was a Catholic state (it wasn't, in case that wasn't intrinsically clear). To even use "Islamic" in the name "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria/the Levante" is at best a misnomer playing into ISIL's own propaganda (but since it's the term mostly familiar to this blog's audience I'm kind of stuck using it - although in the actual Middle East and North Africa, the preferred term to use by ISIL's Islamic and non-Islamic Arabic enemies (and needless to say there's a lot of them) is Dahes  - which not only sounds very close to Daesh, which is what ISIL translates to in Arabic, but also just coincidentally and conveniently is the Arabic word for, well, roughly, "asshole infidels" which fits ISIL to a T. Remember, something like 99.9998% of all the victims of ISIL are Muslims and/or Arabs themselves, including ISIL's female victims. The horrific crimes ISIL committed against humanity and women in particular are so bad it's actually inspired the Peshmerga women of Kurdistan to form their own army to fight ISIL, literally out of fear of their very own lives otherwise. 

That said, preventing these asshole infidels from even contacting our teen girls and from even using social media period is still very important to the point where it's a valid strategic goal in fighting ISIL, and I've been advocating heavy use of outright, absolute and literal total cyber-war against ISIL to include everything from hacking and blocking their Twitter accounts to just simply finding the physical locations of where these Twitter accounts are originating from - and then dispatching a few F-15s to there and drop a few GPS-guided bombs on them, which will naturally stop their attempts to seduce teen girls in creepy fashion right real quick.

But almost as dangerous as ISIL actively recruiting and stealing away our teenaged women is the media's obsession with this "phenomenon." Anything involving teen girls, and especially the idea of putting said teen girls in mortal danger and especially the idea of these teen girls outright committing suicide and mass murder at the exact same time is the perfect storm to create mass hysteria - in fact I can't think of any more perfect recipe that will create mass hysteria in America almost literally immediately than headlines along the line of YOUR DAUGHTER WILL DIE A TERRORIST AS SHE BLOWS HERSELF UP TO KILL GOD-FEARING PATRIOTIC AMERICANS, p.s it's probably your fault for raising her to be a God-hating murderous terrorist pinko Commie and the whole country hopes you and your family will be reunited with her in Hell.

That headline will probably be repeated verbatim in an actual New York Post edition some time in the future, by the way. Image from HuffPo because there's no way I'm going to give the New York Post traffic of any sort. Doing so is more un-American than ISIL.

Of course, the reason why the mass media is so obsessed with Teen ISIL suicidal terror-brides is, well, sadly demonstrated perhaps by the mere fact that the New York Post even exists - mass hysteria is the bread and butter of the news media and it makes having to sell their news, regardless of the format or end-price for the consumer and regardless of how reckless and outright dangerous feeding this mass hysteria is, virtually effortless (and this type of show - "maximum-shock" crime/procedural drama - trades in exactly the same sensationalism, especially when it comes to this type of show on CBS). In fact, there's this new show on FOX called Houdini & Doyle - yes, someone thought it would be a good idea to team up history's greatest magician and the creator of Sherlock Holmes into a buddy-cop procedural - and to their credit and despite the throwaway, doomed-from-the-start freakin' May premiere date, it's surprisingly entertaining and I might actually miss this show once it's gone forever in a few weeks - anyway, their most recent episode very succinctly exactly explains why this type of mass hysteria is outright dangerous (you can see the episode in its entirety for free, here, well, at least for the first few weeks after this post's initial publication date while this show is still a thing, period - so say until August-ish 2016).

So, yeah.... That's just over 2,300 words so far (about the length of a feature-length magazine article) and I haven't even pressed play on the episode to be reviewed yet. Yeah. I told you this was going to be even more rant-y than usual, just given the nature of why I'm reviewing this in the first place, and this is by far my most politicized post on this blog so far. But this is still first, foremost and only a review blog of some sort at least so I guess I better shut up and press that play button.

Over 68 million Americans leave the safety of our borders every year - when danger strikes, the FBI's International Response Team is called to action, as every episode of CSI: BB opens up. Of course the implication here is if you leave America YOU MIGHT FREAKIN' DIE! (from a teen ISIL suicide bride WHO HAPPENS TO BE YOUR OWN DAUGHTER!)  The episode opens up in Turkey with Meadow (yeah that's what I'm a-gonna call her for the whole episode, even though the actual character's name is...I dunno *checks the link to Juliete's IMDb profile that I posted in this very review earlier before all that heavy ranting*...Emma Peters. Ok, I can alternatively call her Peyton then) hopping out of a cab and absorbing all the sights and sounds of being in a foreign land and damnit I don't know why but the episode is already giving me a very uncomfortable, xenophobic/ethnophobic vibe. I can't explain it exactly - it's almost as if the show wants us to think that this land is extremely and inherently hostile to Americans, and yet at the same time is already actively seducing this girl to be hostile to her own home country even and in fact especially at the cost of her own life. 

Ok it's yet another rant time, although hopefully a short one - but after 15 years (actually much longer) the whole obsession with the Middle East and Arabs being our inherent enemy, like literal 21st century suicidal Nazis (see ranting about ISIL above to see what actual 21st century suicidal Nazis would be like - and yes I know they also happen to be Arab and in the Middle East but beyond the point) is getting to be not only very tiring but very creepy. TV shows like this suggest that the proper way to live as an American is to live exactly like we had been on September 12, 2001 and to do that nonstop for the rest of eternity. Ugh.

Ok so it turns out Meadow (yeah I'm sticking with that) is in Turkey specifically to visit her "boyfriend" which means, yup, it's as an absolute a straight-line to the (il)logical conclusion of teen ISIL suicide terror bride mass hysteria fear-mongering as you can possibly draw with a NASA precision ruler. Oh, and then she gets kidnapped (off-screen, all we hear is a recording) and we go to our IRT and Gary Sinise who's obvious worst life choice is leaving CSI: New York as he clearly misses the CBS action show life. 

To shorten what's already becoming a ludicrously long review about not much at all, pretty much the "techie"/"procedural" parts of the show can be summed up thusly:

For the record, it amazes me that Troian Bellisario's dad does this for a living to the point where he can buy Troian Bellisario a television career. But seriously, I think Troian Bellisario is a great actress I just wanted an excuse to name-drop her.

It turns out Meadow is trying to find this exchange student she fell in love with back at school who, well, whether or not she tracked her down to Turkey or was just simply duped into coming there is ambiguous even for our investigative heroes at this point. Also, this show is now one of three where it has a positively-portrayed main character female redhead, and considering that the other two are How I Met Your Mother and...freakin' Jessie, I guess I'm forced to give kudos for that (oh, and Mad Men, almost forgot about that one). 

Love is very powerful, especially first love, it's an impulsive force. This is yet another thing that tends to get handled to varying degrees of success/ineptitude in popular media. Yes, on the face of it that statement is true, but...the most successful TV shows/movies to explore it, well, actually bother to explore it  (one of the best explorations of that subject I've yet seen in a TV show actually just happens to be what is effectively the series finale of 100 Things to Do Before High School - damn you, Nickelodeon, for canceling that show!) - the least successful ones basically just use it as a plot/motivation excuse for something else, and in a way that just hurries it along to get to the big action/dramatically exploitative scenes - like this one! And speaking of exploitation they go straight to the point of OMG Meadow I mean Emma might have turned terrorist! (actually they're thinking Meadow er Emma is being held for sexual exploitation which...well, yeah, that's no freakin' improvement). 

The parts of the show that can't be summed up with handy YouTube videos poking at this genre's neophyte attitude towards how the Internet actually works can be laconically summed up as being not only uncomfortably exploitative (as in, I'm starting to wonder if I'm watching a Serbian's misinterpretation of a Quentin Tarantino film) but ludicrously so (again, Serbian misinterpreting Tarantino). Again, the IRT has concluded that Emma is being sexually exploited against her will and we soon find out that is not far from the truth at all (and again, sadly, it's not far from the truth of what actually happens to teen girls who do end up at the hands of ISIL, willingly or unwillingly). 

Whether or not this will unseat Undateable's then-short reign as worst thing ever reviewed on this blog has yet to be seen, but six minutes in, just before the actual intro credits and it's already by far the creepiest thing we've ever reviewed on this blog. And we've reviewed a show that has slut-shamed Suite Life on Deck-era Bailey Pickett, and also reviewed Family Guy.

As soon as we get back from commercial we have an image of a mosque and Sinise quoting a Turkish proverb: Those who have never been burned by the sun will know the value of shadow. I'm not sure what to make of that in whatever context it's even trying to establish, other than it's just making it even more creepy (the phrase being written in Turkish across the screen...just makes it creepy, sorry). And the creepiness is two-fold here: the thought of Meadow from The Haunted Hathaways being tied up and raped and eventually brainwashed into being a suicide bomber, and how the show seems to be suggesting that yeah, of course this is what they do in the Middle East, it's like their national past-time! I'm just at a loss for words and just shocked that this is what is popular on American television? Again, it's just straight-line base feeding into not even our deepest fears, but in fact our most shallow ones - the thought of seeing our female loved-ones be destroyed, both figuratively and literally (and just to be clear, sex crime and especially rape qualify as being literally destroyed, I've seen the results first-hand and you can go back to my Debby's DUI post if you want to know what I mean), to the point where it's so horrific it paralyzes people who aren't even directly associated with the victims, and Islamo-phobia. I mean, there's just no other way around it. The entire appeal of this episode is entirely revolved around seeing a teenaged women be destroyed, and Islamo-phobia. Not rescuing said teen girl from being destroyed, and certainly not in combating Islamo-phobia. No, we're watching this episode very specifically to see a teen girl get destroyed, and to engage in Islamo-phobia. 

We're introduced to the IRT's Turkish attache, and the missattribute a quote to Terminator 2. Hey guess what the idea of fate not being written yet and there being no fate that we ourselves don't determine way predates anything Arnold and James Cameron ever collaborated on (in fact it goes back at least to Greek antiquity). I actually appreciate the attempt at levity - and I'll even admit both the quip and the reaction to the revelation of the source comes off as actually realistic and natural - but sometimes a realistic, natural reaction just comes off as lame and cheesy and just sucks. Literally - well, still figuratively - but it doesn't just suck the tension out of the moment, but the seriousness - and not the seriousness the scriptwriter is aiming for, the seriousness of how this audience is taking the episode as a whole. I mean, it's so conspicuous I legitimately don't know if it's a sign of bad writing or actually a sign of good writing.

Now, there are attempts to actually address the issue of Islamo-phobia (basically xeno/ethno-phobia in general) but they come off as very pat and After School Special-like (or perhaps Girl Meets World-like - ayoh!). And it's more than undone by the sheer creepiness that follow's Emma's predicament. I mean, again, we're witnessing a teenaged girl get psychologically tortured, face sexual assault and rape, and in the culmination of the process at least get psychologically destroyed and in the end narrowly avert getting literally destroyed, by a bomb she wears.

Ewwww ewwww ewwwww ewwwwww ewwwwwww.

Look, another thing - I really like Gary Sinise. He's done legitimately admirable things, both on the large screen, the small screen and very far away from the screen. He's a possible candidate to have his portrait in the dictionary next to the entry "Stand-Up Guy." I like him so much that the episode isn't coloring my view of him at all, but still, this episode is creepy. Ewwwww.

Naturally Emma's would-be boyfriend Emir is both safe and innocent and the whole reason why he beat up a guy at school that resulted in his expulsion was because he was defending Emma's honor - because the boy had been using racial slurs against her and, oh yeah, physically assaulting her. "Defending Emma's honor isn't exactly how school administrators put it." Yeah, well, physically harassing a teenage girl isn't exactly on the list of "permissible activities" in any American school, either. When this episode tries to not be creepy, it's just conventionally awkward. And engaging in more hokey tech BS.

Lots of hokey tech BS with extremely questionable basis in reality. Enough to make Q-branch from a Roger Moore-era Bond film blush. And enough faux-"badass" fights to make Daniel Craig-era Bond blush.

Before we get into the final scene where we have Emma wear a suicide vest, yes of course we have to drive home the fact that she's also in danger of becoming a sexual slave too. Again, this is actually not far from the truth - but this is still far from trying to really expose the evils of ISIL towards women and their heinous sex crimes and murder of Islamic and Arab women and how they want to do the same to Western women, and more about the voyeurism of, well, I think I said watching a teenage girl get destroyed enough times in this review already.

And again, more lip service to the effect of not ALL Muslims are terrorists that does little to assuage the tone of the rest of the episode that says otherwise. 

Ummm...ok. Wow. Ummm....

I really, really am starting to run out of words. At this point, 29 minutes in (DVR recording with full commercial breaks) now they really are starting to suggest as much as broadcast TV is allow to suggest of Emma being sexually exploited and raped as part of torture and sadism, including having her clothing forcibly removed on-camera (including as much toplessness as said broadcast TV will allow), while she suffers verbal beratement.

Yeah. I in good consciousness can't...just.... Yeah this is hard for me to even freakin' type at this point. I mean, at least a good part of me in all good consciousness can't condone this type of narrative construction aiming almost strictly and solely at prurient destructive voyeurism of a teenage girl (I don't know how hold Juliete is in real life, just that she's been in Haunted Hathaways and another short-lived show, Malibu Country, since 2013) and while a part of me just wants to tell that other part to grow the hell up it doesn't remove the fact that it's creepy and disturbing enough to just make watching the show extremely uncomfortable. 

And the thing is, beyond the creepiness and discomfort, the actual dramatic tension really isn't much existent at all. When we're not seeing a teenage girl go through various progress towards being freakin' destroyed, we see a bunch of guys and two women just dick around and fill out a 44-minute run time. We're thrown a curve ball of a dead girl's body that may or may not be Emma's (obviously just halfway in it's not) and seeing yet another girl (and yes a redhead one but that's not the point) lying face-down dead is just making it increasingly disgusting. Again, it'd be excusable if the show had earned it - and so far it hasn't, not when it's just the whole fucking point of the episode to begin with.

We now encounter the show's big twist - Emma is in fact being held captive but a clearly Western, non-Muslim woman who is proceeding to emotionally and psychologically destroy Emma further. It turns out this woman is the head of a Western security consulting group whose main clients are none other than MI6 and the CIA, so it's needless to say it's strange she's actually helping terrorists (or what your actual reaction should be, WHAT A TWEEST!) She informs Emma that Emir is dead, in order to prep her to turn her into a suicide bomber. At this point I'm betting she's trying to use Emma and her now-murdered doppelganger in "false flag" suicide attacks to ensure her anti-terror consulting business is booming (bad pun I know). It also turns out that she'd been an interrogator at Abu Grahib and various classified CIA blacksites, so they speculate that doling out such depravity had made her in turn simply depraved - and hey, to the episode's credit there is a whole bunch of legitimacy in that. Also, profit motivation (it always is).

The scene where the IRT confronts Crazy British Bitch is as every bit as exceedingly ludicrous as the rest of the episode has been, but unlike the rest of the episode and the creepy treatment of teen girls this whole scene just veers straight into cheesy-dialogue, mustache-twirling-villainess comedy down to including the most famous quote from Josef Freakin' Stalin. Oh, and a little rubbing in the American Revolution into British noses for good measure.

Remember, TV-MA stands for Mature Audiences Only!

So yeah, now Emma is being set up to be a suicide bomber and to assassinate an ambassador who's a major player in uniting Iraq and Turkey to go load up some F-15s and bomb a whole bunch of ISIL asshole infidels before they can keep doing the one thing ISIL asshole infidels are interested in doing at, spreading the absolute most of human misery that they can. We get a really creepy shot of Emma being dressed and prepared for her "mission" (yeah pretty much nearly everything involving poor Meadow is creepy here) and she's given a purse with a bomb and a push-button trigger while the IRT guys and two women just stand around the embassy looking as if they have nothing better to do but dick around. And then the most ridiculous showdown happens with Gary Sinise staring down a teenage girl dressed like she's late to a Young Republicans convention, and then they have a ridiculous exchange of dialogue where Sinise tries to prove to Emma that Emir is still alive, and fortunately they're smart enough to actually bring Emir so that there's undeniable proof he's alive, unfortunately they also brought with them a real dumbass of an "elite military sniper" who ignores a post-prod voice-over telling him to not shoot the teenage girl, so said sniper shoots at the teenage girl anyway (I should note that the camera focuses on Sinise who then turns his head to the sniper so it looks like his own body language is contradicting his verbal orders, hooray consistency!), forcing Emir to take the bullet for her - but fortunately he's smart enough to wear a bullet-proof vest! Yeah, sure. Also I'd like to note that in real life, unless someone was smart enough to give Emir what's known as "Level III" body armor (basically reserved for stationary, elite snipers like aforementioned dumbass and bomb disposal guys) the bullet of a high-powered sniper rifle would likely penetrate right through Emir's vest, kill him, then pass right through his body to kill Emma - and then pass right through her body to kill Sinise but well that kind of nitpicking is just piling on at this point. But yeah, Emir's still alive, Emma's still alive and through that she helps the IRT round up all the terrorists including Crazy British Bitch, and everyone has a happy ending where Emma is reunited with her family and Emir and pretends that she wasn't at all emotionally and psychologically destroyed, sexually abused, and very nearly both blown up and shot at.  And of course, let's go home. Yes, let's. Back to Nickelodeon and Disney Channel and question whether it's worth venturing out ever again (seriously, this type of super-creepy TV on broadcast is a reason why I have great difficulty even venturing back to broadcast TV and away from Nick and Disney after my cancer and breakup...and yet I love watching Game of Thrones, Justified, Boardwalk Empire and The Sopranos. Go figure). 

Episode Grade: I don't know what to freakin' think here. This episode (and the show presumably) is very singular-focused, and it's focused on elements that, well, I just don't find to be compelling or entertaining television, or television that's even comfortable to watch in any way, or for that matter that television that's good to make you feel uncomfortable (in the way say South Park can do). Quite honestly, this episode is incredibly exploitative and otherwise just pure, unadulterated bullshit. I think I'm going to have to give it the AV Club Gentleman's F, which depending on what interpretation you follow is either a C- or a D- (maybe I'll split the difference and give it a D+?)

Episode MVP: Juliete Angelo has a surprising amount of screen time in this episode - in fact probably more than absolutely anybody else in this episode, including Sinise. Plus, she doesn't do too bad a job in her role per se, especially the tense emotional parts, so I suppose that makes her MVP by default. That, and I'm awarding co-MVP status to Jenna C. Johnson whose sole contribution to the episode is to provide a headshot and to lie face-down on some extremely uncomfortable-looking stone steps and pretend to be dead. Also, hell with it, I'm awarding triple-co-MVP status to Troian Bellisario just because I feel like it. I've awarded Episode MVP to actresses who have nothing to do with the episodes being reviewed and to co-hosts of YouTube parody channels including one called Regular Car Reviews, so why the hell not?

Troian Bellisario


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