Thursday, November 01, 2007

"Powerless" - Life, episode 1.6

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When the promos for this week's episode promised that Det. Reese and her addictions (which so far cover alcohol, drugs, and sex with strangers) would be at the foreground of the story, I was hoping for some hard backstory on how Reese ended up at the bottom of the detectives' food chain and partnered with Charlie Crews. After all, most of what we know about Reese's background came from her encounter with the Russian mobster Roman last week, and he's not exactly a reliable narrator.

That was probably too much to expect from a show that is going to depend on doling out information slowly over the course of a season. Instead what we got was something darker, more troubling, and a little less credible. On her way to an AA meeting, Dani stops in for a cold one and makes eye contact with a handsome stranger across the bar. The guy, Rick, introduces himself and it turns out they're both headed for the same meeting. Just as Dani is about to bail on the meeting early, Rick gets up to share. (Sneaking out of AA meetings is the new shorthand to denote a well-meaning character who hasn't pulled it together yet; see Things We Lost In The Fire) Rick shares that when drunk he had previously assaulted a woman, but he's suspiciously vague on the details. Dani nails Rick on his withholding after the meeting, but Rick correctly figures out that Dani isn't opening up about her history either.

While Charlie and Dani search 911 records for Rick's victim, Charlie is also trying to figure out how the 15-year old Bank of L.A. shootout (and the disappearance of millions of dollars afterwards) might relate to his false imprisonment. Last week Roman had hinted that Charlie's ex-partner Stark might know something about the case. Stark had always claimed to have been at the center of the shooting, but Charlie learns from Lt. Davis that the shooting was done by SWAT and the uniform cops merely manned the barricades. Stark admits his exaggeration and the whole thing seems for the moment to have been a red herring. Brent Sexton continues to play Stark with an overgrown-boy energy that makes the idea of his being a cop just a little scary.

The ending of "Powerless" zig where it should zag; Rick (after making bail on that old rape charge) pays Dani a visit. He doesn't attack her, instead he forces her to drink and open up about her history. We know from "What They Saw" that Reese's insight into other addicts' behavior is pretty strong; she plays into Rick's vanity and need to see himself as troubled while the cavalry pulls up outside. At the end, we find Dani back at AA admitting her powerlessness.

Could the character of Ted (Adam Arkin), Charlie's ex-con financial advisor/boarder, be traded to another show? Maybe to Big Shots for Nia Long's character. This week Ted is stranded in his own story when his ex-partner in crime writes a tell-all book. I hope someone figures out a way to integrate Ted into the central stories. Adam Arkin does have one very good acting moment when it appears he's about to wallop his old friend.

I'm mixed on "Powerless." Sarah Shahi got more screen time, but the show spun its wheels on the central mystery. Next week Dani goes up on Charlie's wall, as he continues to untangle the mystery of his murder charge.

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