Stitchers: Hack Me If You Can – A Hacking Ninja (Recap/Review)

Kirsten and the team are still adjusting to her new-found emotions in Stitchers: Hack Me If You Can. Camille makes a move to learn self-defense, Fisher is back on form and Cameron is undergoing a second childhood/midlife crisis thing since his return from the dead. The team get their first “proper” stitch since Goodkin’s death defying stunt.

SALLI RICHARDSON-WHITFIELD, KYLE HARRIS, EMMA ISHTA, ALLISON SCAGLIOTTI, RITESH RAJAN

Kirsten and the team are still adjusting to her new-found emotions in Stitchers: Hack Me If You Can. Camille makes a move to learn self-defense, Fisher is back on form and Cameron is undergoing a second childhood/midlife crisis thing since his return from the dead.  The team get their first “proper” stitch since Goodkin’s death defying stunt.

A man, who was blackmailing a “cheating website” is murdered by someone hacking into his  insulin pump  causing him to pass out in front of a moving  car.

Linus has moved out of his parent’s house and into his own “high tech” place. Cameron wants a Harley and Kirsten is mulling over what Stinger (her father) meant about moving the asset.  Cameron urges her to give it a rest  and  the two go through a bit of calling each other by  “love” names for the saleslady at the motorcycle shop.

Getting a call from the lab, Cameron asks the sales clerk to put the bike on hold. Back at the NSA facility  the team, sans Camille and Fisher, learn about the death and Les Turner’s boss who wants to meet  with Maggie.

Linus and Cameron have their bro-thing going again as evidenced with their little “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” gag.  The team want to meet the new big boss, Mitchell Blair (John Billingsley),  but Maggie says no.  

Fisher offers teach Camille how to take care of herself although he questions why. She points out that he was shot and Turner is dead. Camille then goes out to hack their first suspect in the insulin murder and she is surprisingly effective in the field.

Blair turns up and Maggie pulls a gun on him and Turner’s boss congratulates her on being promoted into the vacancy left by Les’ death. She asks Mitchell about Stinger killing Turner and Blair evades the question.

The team work out that the murdered man’s insulin pump was hacked by an expert via cellular connection.   As the investigation continues, it boils down to Kirsten versus the killer;  a woman in the dead man’s life.

Ellie (Cassidy Freeman) is the murdered man’s ex-wife who takes the whole team on. She depletes Cameron’s bank accounts and credit cards, sends the police to Kirsten’s to arrest her for prostitution and almost kills Linus in his new app controlled apartment. 

Kirsten calls Ellie a hacking ninja and she  enters  into the dead man’s memories again and learns that he cheated on his wife, who reacted badly.

This episode, which had  an impressive  number of comic/amusing moments features a villain whose life was ruined by her husband’s infidelity. Ellie has an accident which leaves her partially paralyzed and alone.

At the end of the episode Kirsten asks Ellie how to find her father and, just like the earlier Star Trek reference Ellie makes, both women have  indeed developed a grudging respect for one another.

Pop Culture references:

Cameron calls Kirsten “easy rider” after the Harley scene and before the first stitch, referencing the cult film of the same name.

He also  references the  I Love Lucy show, and Desi Arnaz  with his “Lucy’s got some ‘splainin’ to do.

Ellie references the old Star Trek episode Balance of Terror (1966), where Kirk and a Romulan commander battle each other and develop a grudging respect for one another at the end of the episode,   to Kirsten who states that she has no idea what the woman is on about. Cameron, listening in on the conversation nods his head and says, “I do.”

Cameron outside the elevator tells Camille to “Release the Kraken.” which is from Clash of the Titans (1981) and Norse mythology.

Comic moments:

Cameron tackles Linus in his new apartment (Ellie has turned on the gas so the whole place would explode when he accessed his app tablet) and he asks Linus:

Cameron: “Do you smell gas?”

Linus: “Well you startled me.”

R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

Linus and Cameron’s reaction to Kirsten’s “ideas in the shower” question and Camille’s reaction to them.

The Harley buying scene.

The whole NSA secret facility gag along with the windowless van reference…Twice.

Honorable Mentions:

Linus’ parents and the apartment tour.

Camille brushing Linus aside, muttering “get out of the way” as she goes to hug his mother.

Camille, again, hacking the owner of the cheating website via his phone.

Linus having to explain that he owns stock in the cheating  website.

Final thoughts:

The writing on this episode was tight and offered a “baddie” with depth and a sadness that was touching. Stitchers this season is slowly allowing us the chance to get used to Kirsten’s new emotions and the “new” Cameron.

All the humor from season one is there and, as mentioned in interviews with the cast and show creator Jeff Schechter, a darker feel is also there. Camille wanting to learn self-defense after the violence and death of season one is a perfect example of that.

Clearly there is no love lost between Maggie (Salli Richardson-Whitfield) and Blair.  Also, while Maggie is in charge officially over the whole Stitchers program, Kirsten still  pushes hard against authority when she feels it necessary. 

Thus far season two is offering the same sort of top notch performances from the first season and the writing is tighter than ever. We have the cases themselves to focus upon but there is also the whole “Stinger” issue and an interesting new “big bad” in the organization, aka Mitchell Blair.

Stitchers airs Tuesdays on Freeform.

Stitchers Interviews: Emma Ishta, Allison Scagliotti, Salli Richardson-Whitfield

This is the first of the Stitchers Interviews. As in all things chivalrous it will be ladies first, blame my mother, followed by the fellas and then capped off with the creator/executive producer.

SALLI RICHARDSON-WHITFIELD
This is the first of the Stitchers Interviews. As in all things chivalrous it will be ladies first, blame my mother, followed by the fellas and then capped off with the creator/executive producer.  Certainly the world is, overall, consumed with all things Oscars at the moment. Leonardo finally getting  a little golden guy, Mad Max taking six for the Aussie contingent and Brie Larson winning, quite deservedly, for her film, Room.

Still, Stitchers fans must be curious as to what transpired “on the day” so here is the first of three. These busy people took time from shooting the second season finale (Do not ask;  I saw very little and can only tell you that John Billingsley is awesome in terms of energy, focus and professionalism, as are the rest of the cast.) to speak with Mike’s Film Talk and they were all informative and fun.

The very nature of the beast had the regulars, and Billingsley, shooting the same scene repeatedly, for angle changes, reactions shots, et al. All the while each performer, and the dedicated crew, took breaks from the action and either, like Allison texted someone and watched the set mechanics from the viewing room, or spoke with Mike’s Film Talk, aka, moi, or disappeared to one of the nooks and crannies to either rehearse or shoot the breeze.

In the all purpose conference room, where the interviews took place, the order of actors actually had Kyle Harris as first in the queue.  However, since it is ladies first, Salli Richardson-Whitfield followed on the heels of Harris so she gets to go first.

MFT: “Hello I’m Michael Knox-Smith, nice to meet you.”

Salli: “Hi, nice to meet you!”

MFT: “I’ll start by telling you what I’ve told all the other cast members I’ve met so far, you look exactly the same off screen as on.

Salli: “Why thank you, although a lot of times people are disappointed. Plus you didn’t see what we looked like when we got here, before hair and  makeup!”

MFT:  “Just to let you know, I’ve been a fan since episode two and I have to tell you; I distrusted your character through the entire first season!”

Salli: (laughing) “Good then.  Good.”

MFT: “Before we carry on. Did I see your husband out there?”

Salli: Just now? Oh no, he’s not here now, but…my husband does guest-star this season on one of the episodes. I’m not sure I can say what he does, but he will be on the show. We try to appear on one another’s shows where and when we can. (For the record, Salli’s husband is Dondré Whitfield who will be playing a character called Sam Lewis in season two.)

MFT: Most of the season you could be seen as a bit of a baddy in the group but then, things began to change. Your character has access to a lot of secrets so  I’ll ask pointblank, is Kristen’s mother still alive?

Salli: “We think she may be.” 

MFT: “Okay…Obviously, your character was very  connected  with not only Kirsten’s father,  stepfather and her mother. Rather than being the “bad guy” of the piece your character is  more of a protector. Is that right?

Salli: I think that’s who Maggie is. I think that what you saw in the first, and more in the second season, is that things are never cut and dried, good or bad. Like getting a new president sometimes things are dirty. Sometimes you have to do things that are contrary to what are as a person or how you do your job. So there are times when you mistrust Maggie because of the things that she has to do.  She is an agent, but…Maggie, on the whole has the lab and the kids that she loves and she wants to protect them, while trying to keep her job. 

MFT: “That definitely came across towards the end of the first season.  How much has Maggie changed this season? Is she still on the same track?”

Salli: I believe she is. Although Maggie’s been given  more power this season and I’ve given out more power to them so they can do the things they need to do. So  I think we’re all just growing in the roles we fill in the show. 

MFT: So what do we see this season, more of the “big bad?”

Salli: Let me see, it’s all starting to become a blur. Well, we do learn more secrets this season.  For example we see some people who “should” be right, not be right. There are also some definite twists that we have to figure out.  And it looks so much better. The show looks great; darker, edgier and more interesting as well as more “filmy.” 

MFT: “Brilliant! Leaving Maggie and Stitchers aside for the moment, do you guys, as in the cast, get to “schmooze” around much away from the set?”

Salli: “Not a lot because, you know, I have children. I think they hang out a lot more than I’m able to. I have two under 12s but we all had dinner the other day and had a great time getting to hang out. We all like each other which is great. I’m sure you heard, on the set, when we’re stuck in the “stitch” area, it’s a long day. It’s better if we can get along. 

MFT: “I was amazed at how small it actually is compared to what it looks like on television.”

Salli: “It can make for a long day. I know I never seem to have a lot of dialogue in the stitch thing and  suddenly there is like two pages and it’s like ‘what did she say?’ (laughs) So it gets a little silly and you should have fun.” 

MFT: “Everyone was having a laugh as we came in this morning and that’s always a good sign. I’ve been on sets before where no one was laughing.

Salli: “Yes that is generally a sign that something’s wrong, luckily we all get along.”

MFT: How long did it take you to work out where you needed to be as your character? Did it take awhile, or did you step into Maggie’s shoes pretty much knowing where you wanted to go?

Salli: “I’d like to tell you that it took me a really long time to get there but, I do this kind of role a lot.  For instance, my last series was “Eureka” and that was, pretty much, the same kind of role. Although in that show you knew pretty much where I was coming from, I was a good heart. In “Stitchers”  I’m a bit more stern and you don’t necessarily know where I’m coming from.  But it’s still; agent, spy, head of government scientific kind of thing so it’s a role I fall into pretty easily.

MFT: “Do you like playing roles in this type of genre, Sci-fi/fantasy?”

Salli: Well it seems to like me. I enjoy it although I don’t like the dialogue sometimes. It can be very hard for me so I have to work a little harder. But I do like the genre, I am a sci-fi kinda girl and a Marvel girl, I like those kind of shows. So it works well for me. 

MFT: “It’s the season finale you’re all working on today. I guess the big question is whether or not we learn even more about where your character stands in the verse in terms of good or bad?

Salli: “Oh definitely. I believe that by the time this season ends you’ll have a very clear idea of who I’m working with and my intentions with the kids. This is a good one for surprises, like ‘uh-oh sh*t! What’s happening now?’ I’m really happy with it as it is a very well written season finale. 

At the end of the interview, we talked about the pop culture references. I mentioned that I had congratulated Kyle Harris on who well he delivered these.  I was very impressed at the Buckeroo Banzai reference. (Kyle admitted that he had to look up the vast majority of these in his interview.) Salli explained that many of the “kids’ had to do the same.

Salli: For instance, one set of references were from The Archie Digest and I was “wow that was my cartoon book! Most of the kids know a few but Kyle doesn’t know a lot of the most significant ones, (that you should know as an actor) so we’ve made a list of films that he needs to watch!

After remarking about the attractiveness of the cast, which many critics took umbrage to at the start of season one, Salli graciously allowed me to take a “selfie” with her and thus endeth her portion of the interview, but not before assuring her that her character did not look old enough to be playing “mum” to all those youngsters.

IMG_3822 SALLI RICHARDSON-WHITFIELD
Salli Richardson-Whitfield

The Whispers: A Hollow Man (recap and review)

Sean, Claire and Thomas in The Whispers
Last week in The Whispers Sean and Claire went on the run after apparently “killing” Drill and Frommer ordered Jessup to kidnap their son. In A Hollow Man, things heat up as all roads lead to a man named Thomas. Secretary Frommer proves yet again that he is a man drunk with power. The rock being destroyed almost sends him over the edge and he initially threatens Wes Lawrence with charges of treason.

Jessup ignores his orders and takes Henry to Claire and Sean, although Bennigan punches his wife’s former partner at first. After their son is returned, Claire starts to tells Henry that Drill is dead. To their shock and dismay, the boy tells them that the alien entity is not dead, he just spoke with him. Sean tells his wife that regardless of whether Drill is dead or not, they all need to stick together.

Wes tells Lena that Drill is dead and once he explains the time frame, his wife responds that she spoke to Drill around an hour before he came home. Lena then confesses that she had been playing with Drill via Minx. They go into their daughter’s room and Wes asks Minx about Drill. She tells her father that she was pretending all along, that she was not playing with Drill. “I was just trying to make you feel better mommy,” she says. Lena is upset that her daughter is lying to them.

Wes prefers to believe Minx, as this backs up what they did at the black facility. He recommends they all get some rest and talk about it later, Lena looks shocked and is visibly disturbed.

Claire and Sean are in a motel room. They put Henry to bed and Claire plugs in the untraceable phone that Jessup can reach them by. As she goes into the bathroom to clean up, Sean and Claire talk about the last time they shared a hotel room together. The memory consists of food poisoning, laying on the bathroom floor of the other hotel room, and talking. Claire asks what Sean wants and he reveals that he wants them to be a family again.

Jessup calls his former partner. He has been going through the case studies from outside the FBI database that Claire ordered about kids with invisible friends. One child, in the files, reportedly had a friend named Drill who spoke to him as well. The kicker is that this took place in 1982 and the entity is referred to as a “malevolent” presence.

Wes calls Claire to relay that he is working on Frommer. She tells Lawrence that the secretary is the least of their problems, “Drill,” she says, “survived.” Wes stammers back that Lena tried to tell him the same thing. Bennigan tells Wes about the address they have for the 1982 lad and Lawrence immediately calls Lena to relay what he’s learned.

Lena is huddled in a closet and Minx tells her mother that she is sorry she lied to “daddy” but Lena was not supposed to tell anyone about their games. Minx also points out that Drill is mad at Lena and her mother responds that they should not be friends with Drill any longer.

Minx tells her mother that Drill has an important message for her. Downstairs, the two sit either side of a coffee table and Lena has some letter squares in front of her. She asks why Drill cannot just tell her what he wants. “Drill says it is a secret message,” Minx replies, “just for you.”

Minx also says that if Lena does what the letters say, Drill will give her what she wants. Lena rearranges the letters and the first three are K-I-L. She grabs the tiles up and after Minx asks if it is fun, Lena says no and that she will not be playing…ever.

Claire, Sean and Henry reach the address for the boy from the case file. Mr. Harcourt, the boy’s father, answers the door. When he learns it is about his older son (Thomas), he asks the FBI agent to leave. The agent responds that she is there as a parent and Claire explains that their son Henry talks to Drill, Harcourt replies that his son’s imaginary friend was called that and she tells him that Drill is real.

Secretary Frommer is grilled about what happened at the nuclear plant by Capital Hour, a news based program, and the man says that he will not comment on rumors. Wes comes in to tell him that Drill is not dead s they thought. Frommer is not pleased and fires Wes, he takes away Lawrence’s clearance and takes him off the case. “Go home,” Frommer says, “and look after that family of yours.” A not so thinly veiled threat from the king of douchebags.

At the Lawrence home, Minx has been sent to the roof by Drill, the entity has told the girl that there is a kitten there. Lena sees her daughter on the top of the building and a sparking electric wire is just over her head. Asking if Drill will leave them alone if she does what the tiles requested, the sparks stop and Lena agrees to his task.

Harcourt explains about his two older sons and that he worked as an astronomer at NASA in 1982. His sons were fascinated about a narrow band radio signal received from the Chi Sagitarii star group that he told them about. He tells the Bennigan’s that his son Thomas came in two weeks later and said that the alien who sent the signal was here, in his head.

Claire asks what Thomas did next and Harcourt reveals that he killed his brother Eliot and that Drill told him to do it. Wes arrives home to find Lena gone and he goes upstair to speak with Minx. He puts cameras and other equipment on his daughter’s bedroom floor and tells her that he knows Minx lied about Drill.

After Wes tells Minx that there are to be no more secrets in “this family.” She tells Wes that he needs to know what Lena is doing. “I think she’s gonna do something bad,” Minx says. Meanwhile Harcourt tells Sean and Claire about Eliot’s death and Wes discovers that Lena has taken a gun.

Harcourt brings out some home movies of the two boys and the bit that Sean and Claire watch contains footage from the day of Eliot’s death. In the movie the two boys head to the pond, Eliot goes first and just before Thomas starts through the fence to Hanger’s Pond, he faces the camera and mouths “I’m sorry.” Claire spots it and shows Sean.

Claire calls Jessup and asks if there are any other addresses for Eliot or Thomas. He finds one for Eliot and Bennigan explains that Thomas has taken on his brother’s identity, it is a coping mechanism and that they will find him there. Sean and Claire go to get Henry and drive to the address. The projector showing the home movie flickers, Drill is there and he burns the film with Thomas on it.

Wes comes in to see Jessup and after telling the FBI agent that Frommer is not pleased with him, he asks Jessup to help him find Lena. He realizes that his wife is going after Claire and Sean because “that’s what Drill wants her to do.” The Bennigan’s reach the address and ask Henry to stay in the car and lock all the doors.

Sean and Claire go into the house and find that there is no electricity in the house or electric appliances. They find a door with a symbol that Sean recognizes. Claire does also as she saw the same thing on the tree house where Harper’s mother fell. The door leads to a basement and the two find a replica of the pond with two figures meant to be Thomas and Eliot.

Thomas sees the Bennigan’s in his basement and Claire says they just want to talk. Lena is still heading to the address and she stops at a gas station. Wes leaves a message on her cell phone telling her not to do what Drill wants. A small girl knocks on Lena’s window and asks if she is okay, Lena says yes. The small child’s voice changes, “Then why aren’t you doing it?” she asks. Lena is confused and asks “What?” “My friend says you need to hurry. You’re running out of time,” the child replies.

Wes and Jessup are rushing to intercept Lena who is heading toward Sean and Claire. Thomas thinks that the Bennigan’s are from the hospital and Sean explains that he is just like Thomas; they have Drill in common. This opens the man up and he asks how they found him.

Outside the house in the car, Henry watches nervously as the car door lock goes up and down and overhead electrical lines spark. Thomas explains that mankind called Drill. He tells them that the 1,703 nuclear tests done between 1945 and 1982 acted as a beacon to Drill’s planet. Thomas says that the message his father got at NASA was the reply to earth’s beacon.

Drill was sent out to interact with mankind and could only talk to children. Thomas tells them that he knew what would happen if the Drill succeeded. He asks Sean when Drill stopped talking to him. Claire explains that Drill is talking to their son and Thomas says that it is not possible. He realizes that Henry is talking to “Drill 2” another one sent after he killed the first one.

Just as Sean and Claire begin to question Thomas, Lena comes in (Wes and Jessup are seconds behind the woman) and takes a few steps down the basement stairs. Wes and Jessup rush in the house while Lena begins firing the pistol. Claire shouts, “No!”

Thomas is shot and apparently dying. Claire rushes to learn how Thomas killed Drill and Wes tries to help stem the blood flow. The person that Lena was meant to kill all along was Thomas. It looks as though she has succeeded and now the secret of how he killed Drill number one is lost.

In this week’s episode, the writers have neatly and cleanly wrapped up Drill in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial cling film. The year 1982, the death of Thomas’s brother Eliot (Elliot), which is also the name that Thomas assumed when he left the asylum, and the whole “phone home” theme that has been an underlying theme with the children from almost the beginning of series come together beautifully.

This was edge of the seat viewing along with a nail biting finish. All the suspense and tension makes this the apex segment of the series thus far. Kudos to Lily Rabe and Kristen Connelly for their stand out performances in this episode. (Only Rabe can stand there and look so horrifically fascinated in front of the camera.) Jay Paulson as the grown up Thomas is riveting, full stop. It was also very nice to see John Billingsley from Star Trek: Enterprise as Thomas Harcourt’s tortured parent, another spotless portrayal.

Drill’s real face has been revealed at last. His coldblooded attempt to harm Minx proves that his intentions are deadly towards everyone, not just adults. Sean has always known this, as does (Did?) Thomas. Sidetone: The last part of The Whispers where Thomas is shot occurs during a rainstorm. Just like Drill’s death in another rainstorm took place years before. Is this karma, kismet or just the entity being ironic? The Whispers airs Mondays on ABC and continues to excel as top notch science fiction and drama.