Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Invisible Man 1.1 - Pilot

Plot: What we have is Darien Fawkes (Vincent Ventresca), who considers himself quite the accomplished thief. In the middle of robbing a high-rise apartment, he causes its tenant - an elderly gent - to have a heart attack, and stays to save the man's life. Which gets him arrested, and sentenced to life in a maximum security prison. Added bad news, that's how his girlfriend, Casey, learns he's actually a thief.

A failed breakout attempt lands him in a more secure holding cell, where his brother Kevin comes to visit. Kevin is a genius working for the government, and if Darien agrees to play guinea pig, he'll receive a pardon. With a general lack of options, Darien agrees, and is driven to the desert in a shitty package van, where he meets the rest of Kevin's staff, most off whom are bland and inoffensive, except Arnaud de Thiel (Joel Bissonnette), to whom Darien takes an immediate disliking. But there's not too much time for that, as the procedure must go on, and Darien wakes up to find his brother has implanted a ridiculously large gland in his brain. One which produces a light-bending substance called Quicksilver, which can make Darien invisible, along with a few other nifty tricks. Though initially resistant, Darien gradually grows to enjoy learning how to control it, though he doesn't always use it wisely. The problem is that it turns out the gland also secretes a narcotic substance which removes Darien's inhibitions, making him violent. Oh, and they can't remove the gland because his brain's already developed a dependency on it. Good thing Arnaud was able to devise a counteragent that blocks the effect - for a few days at a time.

It's about this point Arnaud is revealed to be planning to steal all the data on the gland, and has an armed assault team, led by his cowed brother Huiclov, ready to attack. Darien is able to escape, but not before Kevin takes a lot of bullets. With no source for the counteragent, Darien attempts to have it removed, first by an old mob doctor, then by Casey. neither path pans out, and he's eventually captured by the people Kevin was working for, a group called the Agency, led by the Official (Eddie Jones). They've determined Arnaud de Thiel is actually chemical weapons designer and dealer Arnaud de Fehrn (meaning "savage Alpine wind". or hair dryer), and he's holding an auction for the gland at his safe house somewhere in Mexico. The Official would like Fawkes to go there, retrieve the plans, and capture Arnaud. And hey, maybe Fawkes will get the counteragent formula. Fawkes grudgingly agrees.

What they don't know is that Arnaud can't make another gland. See, the micro-discs he downloaded all the files on had to be swallowed when Fawkes caught him in the act. One disc didn't pass, and despite Arnaud performing surgery on himself to remove it, the disc was too badly corroded. Good thing the only existing, working gland is on its way right to him. And good thing Fawkes doesn't bring his new partner, Bobby Hobbes (Paul Ben-Victor) along when he comes after Arnaud, who has posed as a fed to draw Casey down there. At any rate, Fawkes is able to maintain control long enough to fool Arnaud into being blown up by lots of grenades, and Casey has shown enough kindness to Huiclov in the face of Arnaud's sadistic indifference that Huiclov comes through with some counteragent. But there's still no one to remove the gland, and that was the last of the counteragent. Or not, because the Official's boys found some notes going through the remains of Arnaud's stuff, and if Fawkes comes and works for them, they'll keep him hooked up with counteragent. Which was the whole reason Arnaud devised that flaw in the gland, to keep his customers dependent on him. As the Official notes, it's a good scam.

Quote of the Episode: Arnaud - 'No man can do enough for his brother.'

The "oh crap" Count: 9 (9 overall)

Who's getting quoted this week? Nietzche, Mark Twain, though Arnaud didn't give credit for the latter.

Times Fawkes Goes Into Quicksilver Madness: 2 (2 overall). This is a little iffy, but I'm going to go based off his behavior, rather than simply the presence of red eyes.

What department is the Agency affiliated with this week? Department of Fish and Game!

Other: I know, that was a lot of plot summary, but it's the pilot, so it was longer than a typical episode, and there's a lot to introduce, though I'll mention right now we won't see Casey again.

I kind of gave Hobbes the short end of the stick there, but I thought the directors and Paul Ben-Victor did a good job giving us a lot about Hobbes very quickly. He's kind of a smart ass, but in a put-upon way, as he believes himself to be this great agent who is completely unappreciated and saddled with some rookie (Fawkes). He's kind of bitter, isn't going to admit to being impressed, but he is good at his work.

I love Arnaud. He might be one of my favorite TV villains. He looks like this unassuming geeky guy - the "Swiss Doogie Howser" as he puts it - but he is ice cold. He's so calmly casual about killing people, but there's this undercurrent where you can tell he enjoys it. I don't even think it's the killing he enjoys, it's that the way he does it emphasizes how much more clever he is than everyone else. Plus, he cut himself open to retrieve that disc. That's hardcore. As he told his brother, 'Question my bowels all you like, Huiclov. But never, ever, question my will.' I'd stopped doing that as soon as he cracked himself over the head with a fire extinguisher to make Fawkes look bad.

The interplay between he and Darien. That Darien, as a con artist himself, is the one who sees through Arnaud instantly. That Arnaud can't resist letting his cheerful act slip more and more around Darien, can't resist saying spiteful things. Of course, saying that stuff sets Darien off, which helps sell him as being delusional from the Quicksilver Madness. I especially like how, in the scene after Darien first loses it, we don't even know Arnaud is in the room with the Fawkes brothers, until the moment he mentions the Q.M. Through a lot of Darien and Kevin's conversations, Arnaud is there, lurking in the background of the shot, usually watching the whole thing over Kevin's shoulder. The scientist observing the proceedings for his own gain. And those interjections, which butt into their conversations, also are his attempts to lever the two apart, because Arnaud realizes Darien suspects him, and is trying to discredit him before Kevin grows suspicious.

The whole bit with the pair of brothers - Kevin and Darien, Arnaud and Huiclov - is well done. Kevin and Arnaud are the smart brothers, and both can be exasperated and disappointed in their brothers. But in Kevin's case, he believes in Darien, and is trying to save him, albeit in a way that also furthers his research. But at the end, he saves Darien, and urges him to run, to stay safe. He trusts him with the gland, even as Darien's the one pointing out how dangerous it is to give a thief a way to turn invisible. Arnaud doesn't trust Huiclov, doesn't even bother to hide his contempt of his brother. His brother's concerns for his well-being are rejected, his concern for others is scorned, all his attempts to do as Arnaud wishes are nit-picked for not being precisely right. When their assault begins, and Huiclov rides up in the dune buggy, the look on Arnaud's face as he stands there waiting scream, "I could just kill you." Because Huiclov is a few minutes late, if that. Arnaud already killed every guard on the base with his "hide explosives in the walkie-talkies" strategy.

There's a moment where Arnaud tries to convince Darien to throw in with him, telling him Kevin hasn't removed the gland because he's worried about hurting it, not Darien. Darien considers it for a moment, but understands his brother enough to know its bull. But it's exactly what Arnaud would do, view his brother as nothing but a suitcase for the all-important gland. I'm pretty sure Arnaud knows Kevin isn't like that, but there's a part of me wondering if he really believes that's why Kevin's taking the path he is.

I'll tell you right now, the strength of this show is going to be the interactions between the cast, the development of relationships, more so than the stories.

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