Monday, November 12, 2007

Life—A Civil War

For us, this series keeps getting better and better. This week’s episode had a strong script, expert direction, an urgent plot and two lead actors who rose to the occasion while furthering their individual character’s development.

The Upshot from NBC: When two Persian Americans are killed and a third is kidnapped, Detective Charlie Crews (Damien Lewis) and Dani Reese (Sarah Shahi) believe they have a hate crime on their hands. They race to meet the kidnappers’ demands before it's too late. What unfolds is a complicated scheme involving drugs, money and ultimately a young mans desperate attempt to win his mother's affection. Meanwhile, Crews' dream about solar panels prompts him to want to buy a solar farm. Crews' roommate and financial advisor, Ted Earley (Adam Arkin), questions his impulsive nature.

Crews and Reese report to a gas station food mart, where two Persian American students have been shoot in the head and stuffed in the freezer. The murderer has scrawled "Go Home" with motor oil, highlighting ethnic tensions of the area.

A white store clerk knows there were three shooters, who can be seen in security camera footage. Beside herself, Persian Roya Dervishi and her daughter Shahnaz push through the crowd. They ID the victims as friends of Roya's son Amir, who would have been with them.

In the elevator, Reese hears Stark (Brett Sexton), Crews’ former partner, mutters something about the Bank of L.A. robbery and asks him to repeat it. He tells her to step back, because she's crossing a line and Crews sees that it’s a sore point for Reese.

Crews (and the viewers) later find out that Dani Resse’s father Jack was the head of the SWAT team on the day of the Bank of L.A. robbery, thus earning his new partner a space on Crews’ conspiracy wall.

Reese also tells Crews that her mother was Persian, but her father wouldn't let them speak Farsi around the house and there’s an undercurrent of resentment with her father.

Meanwhile, the missing young man’s mother receives a cell phone photo of Amir and a message—they want the drug money, or they'll kill Amir too. So it’s gone from a hate crime to a beef between two drug dealers, prompting Lt. Davis (Robin Weigert) to repeat her mantra that “it’s always about drugs and money.”

We think this is the storytellers’ way of clueing the viewer into to something beyond this current case.

After searching his room and computer, the cops grab game console after seeing a mysterious file on there but to access it they have to get to Level 10 of the game. It’s an amusing scene to see a room full of cops cheering on the computer geek playing a game knowing its official business. Eventually Crews gets the kidnap victim’s sister to play and she gets to Level 10 forthwith.

The secret file turns out to be financial records noting lots of hidden money. After a couple of unforeseen twists, Crews and Reese end up in a confrontation with the kidnapper/killer at the bank where he is promptly cut down.

At the end of the episode following an day and all night chase of the bad guys, Crews and Reese are exhausted but we see her starting to thaw to him—a simple gesture as giving him a cup of coffee—all the more is the pity just as he has added her to his conspiracy wall in the every widening mystery of who framed him for the crime he didn’t commit.

A Civil War was Episode 7 in a 13 Episode commitment for Life. We’re hoping that despite a weak lead-in from the disappointing Bionic Woman, stiff competing shows and the current writer’s strike, this show will make it through the fall schedule and beyond as it’s really finding its groove.


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