Agent X: Finale – A TNT Slap in the Face

Perhaps the fashion that TNT handled the last ever Agent X, with its two hour finale, clearly shows how the network feels about their “former” series.

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Perhaps the fashion that TNT handled the last ever Agent X, with its two hour finale, clearly shows how the network feels about their “former” series.  The last two episodes were put together for a two hour, in reality slightly less, extravaganza where John Case questions would be, hopefully,  answered.  Sadly, as the old saying goes John Case and his world was fleeting, so much so that only one of the two episodes can actually be viewed upon “demand”  from the TNT website, the day after.

What a slap-dash approach toward the fans of the show.  Where if they did not have the wherewithal to record or watch live the demise of their series, TNT gave no option to view the last two episodes the day after on their own network site. Is it any wonder that the show was doomed to fail?

Agent X was beginning to feel like the red-headed stepchild of TNT, before being given the axe.  There were things that could have been done to improve the overall “awesome” factor of the show. For example, having Fred Dryer (old “Hunter” himself) showing up, not once but twice and having some excellent comic banter with Gerald McRaney was a good thing.

Sadly, like the reintroduction (finally) of Olga Fonda, it was too little too late. On a sidenote here, it was great to see that busy, busy actress Kristina Klebe as a cornrowed villain (Do not tell Amandla Stenberg…Kay?) who got to kick a little butt before Fonda’s character won…

Fonda and Jeff Hephner made a great team and should have been put together as much as possible while on the same token less could have been seen of Ms. Stone and her “boss” John Shea. Neither of these two ever really meshed properly.  Sharon Stone is understandable, she is “big screen” and downplays as a matter of course, sadly this worked to her disadvantage in the series.

(There are other examples of “big time” stars and actors who have a hard time performing outside the medium of film. A perfect example is Lance Henriksen. On the big screen, Henriksen is a master at what he does. *He was also damned brilliant in the small screen “X-File Clone/wannabe” “Millennium”  as Frank Black – 1996-99.*

In 2009, Lance played General Shepherd in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. At least one CoD player was super excited that Henriksen was on board as an “in-game” character. Until, that is, Shepherd opened his gob in the game and spoke.  The actor downplayed his performance so much, he seemed to be reading his lines and was apparently bored out of his skull while doing so.  Big screen technique just did not work for the video game VO and this seems to be what Stone has suffered from.)

Shea, however, is a flat out miss. The actor is a TV performer, but he just failed to “spark.” C’est  la vie.  Some things just do not work in the area of casting…

Sadly, Agent X being terminated after its one season, leaves Jeff Hephner out in the cold. Hephner was more than capable in terms of acting and looking damned impressive whilst doing his stunts.  As stated before, McRaney (an old hand at the game) was spot on and Hephner had no apologies to make at all.

Andrew Howard as the  villain, did a good job given the OTT dialogue he was given and considering that in the last episode (available to be seen from TNT thus far – Penultimatum and not the “real” end episode Fidelity) he worked in pitted him against an abysmal acting partner the actor did very well.

It is harsh and unpleasant to point out, but  John Case’s gal Pamela (Carolyn Stotesbery) may be lovely to look at and delightful to hold, but the young lady’s acting skills would leave her trapped inside a wet paper bag.  To be fair to the performer, perhaps the lines never felt right, or…something. 

How sad that Agent X has gone out on a note where the wooden love interest of Agent Case is saved  (In the first half of the final episode that is).  Not wishing her harm but, if Pamela expired in that cargo container, Olga Petrovka and John Case would have made a “killer” couple…

So long to John Case’s short lived world, t’would have been nice to see the entire two hour end episode, but the end result is the same, another one bites the dust. TNT slaps its show in the face, or more accurately the show’s fans. Nice one chaps.

 

Agent X: Sacrifice – Moving on Up (Review)

After Agent X has spent a lot of time building up John Case (the agent is one tough customer) a Mayan battle axe takes the man down. Surprises all around as the vice president’s personal weapon of choice seemed, apart from his poisoning last week, pretty much too tough to tackle.

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After  Agent X has spent a lot of time building up John Case (the agent is one tough customer) a Mayan battle axe takes the man down. Surprises all around as the vice president’s personal weapon of choice seemed, apart from his poisoning last week, pretty much too tough to tackle.  Sharon Stone finally moves up and out of the White House and into a helicopter which allows her to move away from the somnambulistic acting style that the Oscar nominated actress has adopted thus far.

Before going into a closer look at the show, mad props to whoever decided to make John Case (Jeff Hephner) a disciple of MacGyver (for those who have not had a television glued to their face since birth, MacGyver, played by Richard Dean Anderson, was the all time master at improvisational weapon making) as proven when he boobytraps the crashed chopper with petrol, a flare gun and the fire extinguisher. What ever else happened in this episode, this was its crowning moment. 

A flashback, which becomes very important later on, has John and Millar (Gerald McRaney)  in a marina observing a takedown being orchestrated by fellow agent, and friend of Case, Ray – whose face we never see. Ray is blown up while onboard his sailing vessel, via a purse bomb and his body is charred beyond recognition.  John feels responsible and Millar lets him.  Malcolm tells the then vice president and later president, Eckhart that he will be of more use “that way.” 

Fast forward and Natalie Maccabee takes on the task of mediator when negotiations break down between the Mexican president and an insurgent who sells drugs to buy weapons.  The VP take the two parties on a helicopter ride, over Mexico,  where they cannot just leave when things get rough.

Unfortunately, Nicolas Volker (Andrew Howard) and his team steal an E.M.P cannon and shoot both Maccabee’s chopper and their escort bird out of the air.  Luckily for all on board the vice president’s ride (except for the pilot and co-pilot who die in the crash)  Case is on hand.

The Mexican president is badly injured and the insurgent, along with his daughter (played brilliantly by Gabrielle Walsh), and  Maccabee move the wounded man to a Mayan archeological site for treatment and to call for help. Case stops off to “arm” the fallen chopper and takes out most of the villainous Volker’s crew. 

Another “mad props” moment is when, after the explosion, only Nicolas and one henchman are left alive. The henchman has a leg that has been pretty much shredded by the blast.  Cue a The Wild Bunch moment.  In true Sam Peckinpah style, the wounded baddy tells his boss that “I can walk.”

Staggering and falling the wounded man moves away from Volker. While this leader does not shoot his injured minion in the face, he does smash his skull with a rock. The implication is different in Agent X than in the Peckinpah film.  Pike  shoots his gang member for two reasons, to put him out of his suffering and because he will slow them up.

Nicolas kills his one surviving team member, one feels, just because the man will hinder his mission, both acts are cold-blooded and shocking.

Volker, who would make any Bond villain proud, was at the Mayan dig  before the survivors – they shot down the helicopters from the  site, and Maccabee and co.  find all the workers dead, murdered by Volker and his men.  The villain shows up later and when he leaves, Case is his unwilling travel partner.

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Gerald McRaney and Sharon Stone

This episode marks a turning point for Agent X. While it still shows off Gerald McRaney and star Hephner in a good light, it also allowed Sharon Stone to drop the sleep walking performance that has marred the series thus far.  For a start, her Maccabee is allowed to get out of the White House, or that secret office, and do something other than be a figurehead.

She works well in the negotiation scenes and later, as they all scramble for safety, Stone rises to the occasion as Maccabee.  The VP is even allowed to use Case’s service pistol to shoot, and wing, Volker.

Up north of the border, McRaney discovers that a trusted colleague “betrayed” the brotherhood, by leaving a hole in their computer system’s security software.  This realization leads to a discovery that Case has already made.

An interteresting note is that Eckhart (John Shea) turns up when Maccabee goes missing, it seems that when the current VP dies, or is “lost” the previous one steps in. While this facilitated the plot of Sacrifice, it also screams “plot-hole.”  Trying to imaging a prior VP, who could well be from another political party and no longer in office suddenly being in charge of Agent X again is stretching the old suspension of disbelief envelope to breaking.

Overall this episode worked, despite the show makers putting John Case in peril again. After last week’s episode also put Case in a life or death situation, this could be seen as a lack of creativity. This is not, however, the case (no pun intended) this  week’s plot device makes sense when the flashback and the storyline are all put together.

While Olga Petrovka’s absence is still keenly  felt, Nicolas Volker as villain is fun to watch and his larger than life “Big Bad” actions make him a real treat. Hephner still sells it as the “super” agent, who is more Jason Bourne than James Bond, although a bit more “human” than Bourne.

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Jeff Hephner

Agent X  is moving up the scale.  The actors are settling in and hitting their stride, some quicker than others but this is starting to come together. The series airs Sundays on TNT;  tune in and see how the Yank’s do “licensed to kill.” Cracking entertainment that just leapt up a notch.

 

Agent X: The Devil and John Case (Review)

Agent X: The Devil and John Case continues to suffer from the same lethargic pacing that this TNT action/drama has exhibited since its pilot debut. Jeff Hephner as John Case, aka Agent X, still manages to deliver the goods.

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Agent X: The Devil and John Case continues to suffer from  the same lethargic pacing that this TNT action/drama has exhibited since its pilot debut. Jeff Hephner as John Case, aka “Agent X,” still manages to deliver the goods, although his dialogue had been halved this week.   Thus far the new series seems to take itself far too seriously with a tendency to manufacture gravitas and Sharon Stone as the vice president, who has a secret agent all to herself, is almost glum in her portrayal of the widowed right-hand of the president. 

The show, despite its creeping delivery,  has enough plot devices to sink a stereotypical trope ship.  Agent X does have  a dearth of talent available, Stone and  Gerald McRaney represent the big and small screen in terms of acting talent and the guest stars as well as recurring role “fillers” are not small potatoes either.

The “Jack in the box” villain, who shoots the captive man and woman at the end of the episode, who also appeared in the Agent X pilot, is a regular on another “Agent” show. Andrew Howard, who plays Banks on the opposing team to Phil Coulson’s gang on Joss Whedon’s small screen Marvel series, Agents of SHIELD. This Welsh actor proves here that he can be menacing in just about any scenario.

It was also nice to see Carlos Gómez (Gang Related, The Glades) in a cameo role as the corrupt local police chief. The plot of this episode of Agent X takes Case down south of the border to take on a Santeria type cartel boss who is terrorizing the locals and responsible for the death of a undercover DEA agent.

Arturo Del Puerto plays El Diablo, a Bruja (Or Brujo?)  leader of the cartel who seems omnipresent until he faces Case at the end of the episode.  The drugs lord is searching for a ledger which can incriminate him and his gang.  Case has to, find the ledger, stop the cartel and look good while saving the day.

Sadly,  the entire episode, with its subplot of the vice president trying to find out if her late husband the senator was having a affair, feels like one long cliche with worn out tropes being shuffled into the plot. With all the reliances on stereotypes it was a little surprising  not to see Danny Trejo on board as an aging enforcer…

On a positive note, it was very nice to see that the cancellation of Constantine did not keep Angelica Celaya (she played Zed Martin on the short-lived NBC series) from doing an impressive job as Luna, the local cop who befriends John Case and later fights El Diablo in the dusty street.

In the area of vice presidential subterfuge, the “dead husband having an affair” subplot indicates that there are some governmental things going on that  may need Natalie Maccabee’s “Man X” to step in do some bad guy bashing.

Sadly, Olga Fonda as Olga Petrovka, was missing this week and because of this sinful omission, the show felt a bit flat as she is the only performer who seems capable of chewing up bits of scenery, while everyone one else underplays their parts so much they appear comatose.

Energy is needed in this new TNT offering and if the viewer’s interest is to be piqued, then adrenaline needs to be forcefully injected…Stat. Agent X airs Sundays on TNT. Tune in and see just how well film star Sharon Stone translates to the small screen.

 

Agents of SHIELD: Many Heads, One Tale (Review)

Agents of SHIELD: Many Heads, One Tale has Phil and Rosalind finally getting to the crux of their relationship, that pesky lack of trust (on both sides) and whether or not these two really liked one another or not.

CLARK GREGG

Agents of SHIELD: Many Heads, One Tale has Phil and Rosalind finally getting to the crux of their relationship, that pesky lack of trust (on both sides) and whether or not these two really liked one another or not. The subterfuge of Gideon Malick (Powers Boothe) is finally brought out into the open to Phil, Rosalind and to Grant Ward. 

Ward, in turn, learns that SHIELD brought someone back out of the monolith portal, although he does not know that it deals with he two former colleagues he attempted to kill, Fitz-Simmons.  Andrew Garner meets Ward and after some preliminary verbal sparring, Grant lets mustard gas into the cage for in order to trigger Andrew’s transformation into Lash.

Speaking of Fitz-Simmons, these two hesitant suitors finally lock lips and share a passionate kiss.  They kiss not once but twice. It does  not appear that this has cemented their relationship as Leo breaks away and repeats his assertion that the two are “cursed.”

Mack finally approaches Phil about the director’s dalliances with Rosalind and whether the ATCU head can be trusted. Coulson takes the intrusion pretty well since, as he tells Mack, he has never trusted Rosalind, even after they did spend some “sack-time” together. Phil also puts his “paramour” in a holding cell on his flying fortress and tells her that it could be her home unless she comes clean.

As the two spar verbally, Price comes to understand that Malick is the spanner in the works and that he actually is HYDRA.  The presidential advisor has infiltrated her organization for his own ends.  Malick also attempts to take Grant Ward (Brett Daltonout of the picture but fails and ultimately offers Ward a place at the top of HYDRA.

Fitz tracks down the image/logo that he discovered on the astronaut’s patch and learns that it is the same group who initially studied the monolith and that the logo is the forerunner to HYDRA’s octopus.  This then brings up whether Will, Simmons’ is an astronaut in shining armor, or whether he is a willing member or the organization.

Jemma actually believes that Will was a “blood sacrifice” and gets angry at Leo for trying so hard to rescue the man.

Lance and Bobbi go undercover to get into the ATCU computer system, Lincoln (Luke Mitchell) and May team up to follow clues discovered by Daisy and Hunter’s hacking of the system of their competitor. 

As Bobbi and Hunter continue their surveillance and accommodate Daisy’s monitoring of the ATCU database, it is revealed that the president’s new agency is not curing Inhumans but exposing normal people to TERRIGEN. Malick speaks with Dr. Garner, still playing both sides against the middle as Banks enters the facility and blows Hunter’s and Morse’s cover.

Price proves to be a “good guy” after all once she realizes that Gideon has been playing both her and the president. She instructs Banks (Andrew Howard) to assist Phil’s two agents in escaping the facility. 

Lincoln Campbell and May rescue Lance and Bobbi in the nick of time and Grant Ward begins the process of turning Andrew into Lash.  Somewhat disappointingly, Banks is not the big bad he seemed to be and neither is his boss, Rosalind.

Kudos to Powers Boothe for being the ultimate smarmy bad guy and to Brett Dalton for continuing to make Grant Ward a real nasty bit of work that one loves to hate.  The Fitz-Simmons triangle is still a good underlying story thread and hopefully Rosalind and Phil can now “kiss and make up” after their search for the truth.

Agents of SHIELD airs Tuesdays on ABC. Tune in and try to keep up with all the twists and turns.

Agents of SHIELD Among Us Hide: Melinda May is Back (Review)

ADRIANNE PALICKI, MING-NA WEN

Lance is in the doghouse in Agents of SHIELD this week. Among Us Hide has relegated to the bench and May is not best pleased with his actions and she is not alone. While everyone is concerned for Dr. Garner and annoyed with Hunter, the real surprise is that Lash has been uncovered and Melinda May is back.  The reveal of the episode is that May’s fella is the big Inhuman monster that has been killing other Inhumans all over.

The team are still divided with how they feel about a number of things.  ATCU being the main issue.  Phil finally gets to see the facility and his visit is witnessed by Daisy, Mack and an “on the bench” Lance.

Simmons is still determined to go back and rescue Will (Dillon Casey) and Fitz, despite Lance’s warning about not helping the competition, looks ready to help. Although he is checking out the NASA employee’s background.  Bobbi (Adrianne Palicki) shows off her Mandarin skills as she and May (Ming-Na Wen) track down Werner Von Strucker (played by the grown up Spencer Clark from Gladiator) and converse in the language to hide their intent.

With Hunter in trouble, he offers to drive for Daisy and Mack when she follows Banks (Andrew Howard), Rosalind’s right-hand man whom Daisy believes to be the Inhuman Lash.  Coulson and Price (Constance Zimmer) continue to dance around each other as each begins to admire the other. 

Someone breaks into Rosalind’s home and Phil tags along as she surveys the “damage.” He suspects her and also accuses the ATCU head,  of trying to “make him like her” and he learns that Price is  a huge  Margaret Thatcher fan.  Daisy, aka Tremors, is horrified at the  facility where Inhumans are put in some sort of cage to be incarcerated. Mack and Lance agree with her assessment and all are concerned that Phil does not seem to be affected by the sight.

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Mack, Lance and Tremors in the HTS Home Theatre van…

Von Strucker seeks help from Gideon Malick (Powers Boothe, who had a cameo in The Avengers) and the man turns young Werner/Alexander over to Grant Ward by telling the new HYDRA head where he can be found.  Later, May and Bobbi attempt to rescue the lad but fail.

Not before Werner can tell Melinda May what really happened in the corner shop when they went to kill Andrew and not before Bobbi learns that she really is ready to be back in the field.

Lance and Daisy learn that they each have issues, in Hunter’s case it is anger he has problems with, and Phil is starting to like Rosalind. May is understandably upset to learn that Andrew is Lash and Lincoln gets in touch with Daisy.

Garner and Simmons share a moment and later the doctor quizzes “Tremors” on the whereabouts of Lincoln (Luke Mitchell).  The big reveal at the end of the episode was only shocking for those  not paying attention to the episodes thus far. 

The fact that Garner survived his encounter with young Werner, who looked suitably freaked out as he cowered behind that car in front of the exploding shop, was a definite clue.  As was the fact that Daisy has never been touched in all her encounters with Lash.  While Banks was “Tremors'” favorite suspect, the man has no Inhuman DNA and she now knows it is not Price’s lackey, she does not yet know that Andrew Garner is the big bad monster that puts holes in Inhuman chests.

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Gideon Malick (Powers Boothe)

Malick makes it clear to Ward that he has chosen HYDRA as his “side” and it is nice to see Powers Boothe still plays a great bad guy. His character will be around for  number of episodes and it will be interesting to see how Malick and Ward will get on.

After the swimming pool fight between Morse and Kebo (Daz Crawford), Ward seems to have lost his right-hand man but Bobbi has, as May suggested, learned from her experience with Grant and become stronger.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs Tuesdays on ABC and things look to be very interesting for May and the rest of the team.  Tune in and see how Andrew Garner turning out to be Lash changes the dynamic now that Melinda May is back as well.