This is a really fun season. Some of my all-time favorite episodes are in here, and it was hard to pick my most favorite ones for this recap. My least favorites were relatively easy to pick, but only thanks to me reviewing them. A lot became clearer then.
But first, let’s talk about the characters and their development now that we’ve known them a little longer.
I’ve gushed about Joss Carter a bit, but not nearly as much as the powerhouse that she is, and that Taraji is as an actress, deserves.
In the first season she was a well enough rounded character, but she felt a little boring to me, mostly because I like my fictional women on the chaotic end of things, and Carter was the immovable moral compass, but also extremely lawful. One of the Big Bads from the very beginning was a group of corrupt cops who follow little rules and don’t pull any punches, so if Carter was to be a match for them, she needed to be a lot more ready to get her hands dirty.
The second season finally saw Joss realizing this, getting as angry as it was necessary, and starting to make more dangerous but necessary choices. And it wasn’t even a story of the good guy gone rogue. She is still very much the same person. Her moral compass is still the same, but she was given the space to go a little darker, a little stabby. And I love character development that goes darker and stabby, while still believable.
Shout out to Fusco who I will properly gush about in Season 3. Hi, cinnamon roll!
I continue to be in awe of the subtle genius that is Jim Caviezel’s acting as John Reese. His facial expressions and humor are minimalistic and completely adequate for his character. His loyalty and gratitude towards Finch is something poems should be written about (it’s a surprise to me but also not really that one of my most used tags so far is the one for John x Harold musings). He is believable as an efficient soldier but also believable as a person who cares a lot, who carries emotion in everything he does.
We are introduced to another brilliant soldier, and in many ways a character companion to John, Sameen Shaw. I’ve alluded to her and John as siblings, and as Mayhem Twins (a reference to later episodes), and that is something that I am looking forward to exploring and expanding on. I adore the fact that there is never any suspicion in my mind that the writers were thinking of pairing Shaw and Reese up. They sound and act like friends, like siblings, from the very beginning. The banter is never flirtatious, their looks are never sexualized, their chemistry is that of comrades. This was a solid decision on the writers’ part.
And then we have Root.
Amy Acker blows me away every time she comes on screen in this show. Her character says the most chilling, the most honest, the most philosophically dense things. We are also not at the peak of her character yet, but the beginning and end of this season are both enough to make me love her, and be infinitely interested in following her along for the ride. It is very clear that in many ways she is a counterpart to Shaw – Shaw has all the feelings at very low volume, Root allows herself to feel all the things and scream them from the rooftops – and in others a counterpart to Finch – both tech geniuses with very particular views of humanity and of the future, but with seemingly opposite views on ends justifying means. And her relationship with the Machine! Fuck, I love it so. And the season finale was just a tiny sample of what’s to come in that regard.
It’s interesting because the female characters in the show are played super well and are super important to my heart, and the male characters are not people I hate at all, which makes me forget sometimes how badly this show has done so far as passing the Bechdel, and how much this is still very much a guy show. This does get better and I cannot wait.
This season shifts the gears more out of the procedural crime show, into the serialized “futuristic” (like 5 seconds into the future, but anyway) show. Some threads from season 1 were pulled, some questions were answered, and some new questions and threads were introduced. It becomes 100% clear that almost nothing is accidental, and that a bigger story with higher stakes is being told. Many fans dropped after this happened, and I don’t get it. It’s when the show gets real and intense and powerful.
Without further ado, though, let’s do my top 5 least favorite episodes. This was relatively easy to figure out, as there were episodes that you can tell in the reviews felt kind of like homework. At #5, we get All In (2.18), because I wanted to like this more than I did, is all. I wanted to care more about the number in #4, which is In Extremis (2.20), but the out of character shenanigans from John and Reese distract me a lot. Then at #3, I would say Triggerman (2.04). It’s just not important to me that a hit man is going to get killed by another hit man. At #2, the intense and absurd heterosexuality of Till Death (2.08). And at an obvious #1, One Percent (2.14), where I actively wanted the victim to be killed off as soon as possible.
As for my favorite ones, it was a little harder, and so I cheated a little.
It’s my blog, I can cheat if I want to. In 5th place, I would put The Contingency (2.01), where we get introduced to so many amazing minor characters – including a dog! a dog always wins – and a lot of information is also revealed. Then in 4th, I would put Dead Reckoning (2.13). The only reason this isn’t higher is because there are other great episodes, but this one is a stressful and fabulous ride. For #3, I want Prisoner’s Dilemma (2.12), which brings us close and down and dirty with both John and Carter, who are both treasures. At #2, I cheat and put both Zero Day (2.21) and God Mode (2.22) because they’re a two-part season finale technically. Finally, my #1 favorite episode in all the season is Relevance (2.16): it’s bold in its focus away from the people we know and love, it brings back the disturbingly amazing Root, and introduces my wife Sameen in a fantastic way.
So yeah, that is my recap, and I am so so looking forward to more!! Are you? Well, share my reviews then 😉