Episode Title: "Marshall Pucci"
Writers: Heather Regnier & Matt Miller (II)
Director: David M. Barrett
Previously on "Human Target"
Christopher Chance (Mark Valley), Winston (Chi McBride) and Guerrero (Jackie Earle Haley) agreed to work with a recently widowed billionaire named Ilsa Pucci (Indira Varma), who afforded them better equipment and more access than they previously had. At Winston’s insistence, they also offered a job to Ames (Janet Montgomery), an accomplished thief he knew from his time in the police. However, their way of conducting business often clashed with Ilsa’s sensibilities and the team almost left her service several times.
More recently, Ilsa became aware of a photograph of her late husband, Marshall Pucci (Steven Brand) with a woman who appeared to be his mistress. But an investigation into the woman’s identity came up empty. Emotionally drained, Chance offered Ilsa some comfort and they kissed for the first time.
We open with Ilsa in the office, drinking by herself as she recalls her last conversation with her husband as he was taken to his death. Chance happens upon her in the office and the closing moments of the previous episode are repeated. After they kiss, she pulls away and things get awkward. The next day, Ilsa announces that she’s moving back to London to run her charity. Later, when Guerrero leaves the building, he is approached by Julia (Emily Foxler), who claims to need his protection because she is the woman from the photo with Marshall.
Shortly thereafter, Chance speeds out to stop Ilsa from boarding her private plane and tells her they finally have the girl who can tell them who really killed her husband. Back at the office, Julia explains that she wasn’t Marshall’s mistress, but she worked for him in Africa when they discovered weapons being smuggled in their supplies. She tells them that he was killed to stifle that discovery and she’s been on the run ever since. Ilsa sympathizes with her plight and promises to help Julia reclaim her life. With Chance’s very reluctant help, they set up a meeting in the park between Ilsa, Julia and the organization that she’s running from.
However, Chance soon realizes that there are several undercover operatives at the park monitoring them. Bill Fickner (Jake Weber) contacts Ilsa via phone to lure Julia and herself to the subway while scrambling Chance’s ability to listen in. Almost too late, Ilsa realizes that it’s a trap and Julia is in on it. When Julia pulls a gun on her, Ilsa jumps out of the train and gets stuck on the track. Chance barely saves Ilsa from an oncoming train before Julia’s train departs. Later, the team realizes that they must be up against the CIA itself. After cutting off their cameras, the team slips out while Fickner and his men move in. Using his own devices to eavesdrop on them, Guerrero learns that Fickner has targeted his child.
While talking with Ilsa, Chance realizes that Marshall anticipated his death and sent his wife clues to find the proof she would need to take down the men who had killed him. The team runs an operation to sneak Ilsa into her favorite hotel suite where she locates the hidden files. She eventually gets the drop on Julia and tries to avenge her husband. But Julia won’t break. Chance arrives just in time to be surrounded by CIA agents. To save their lives, he and Ilsa jump off the roof with no safety net or assured landing. Meanwhile, Guerrero makes it his personal mission to capture Fickner and he forces his men to surrender.
Ames and Winston secure the area and find that Chance and Ilsa survived the jump… and that Chance is hanging on to the building with one arm while using the other to save Ilsa. Later, Guerrero straps Fickner into a car and blows him up for daring to threaten his kid. At the office, Winston chides Chance for letting Ilsa leave again without saying goodbye. Using their captured CIA tech equipment, Winston makes sure that Chance catches all of the green lights on his way to the airport. Once he finds Ilsa, they share a romantic moment as he asks her not to leave. But her pilot inadvertently reveals that she changed her plans before Chance arrived. Chance and Ilsa then part, promising to see each other tomorrow.
And that ladies and gentlemen is the end of "Human Target."
Not the satisfying ending of a show like "Terriers," that had compelling characters come to an interesting crossroads in their lives. Or a conclusion like "24," which used to be a great series and still had enough gravitas at the end that we still cared about Jack Bauer.
"Human Target’s" main failure is that we don’t care about the characters. NOT ONE OF THEM.
And it’s truly a shame. Mark Valley, Chi McBride and Jackie Earle Haley are all very talented performers. If Fox cancels this series (as they seem likely to do, given the ratings), they’ll bounce back from this. As for Indira Varma? Probably not. And honestly, I blame the writers for her troubles more than anything else.
Seriously though, are the writers on this show just completely unable to write female characters? The co-writer of this episode is a woman and yet Ames, Ilsa and even Evil Julia still seem flatter than flat bread!
But ultimately, I think the reason that "Human Target" is heading for cancellation is the same reason that it deserves its fate. The producers on this show made several changes between seasons, like changing the opening theme to a fairly generic piece of music, tweaking the setting, softening Chance and Guerrero and bringing in regular female characters.
Any of those changes could have worked, but the producers of this series were tone deaf when it came to realizing when something wasn’t working. It became apparent very early in the season that Ilsa was never going to be either interesting or compelling, as well as the fact that the performance simply wasn’t there. And rather than attempting to fix the course of the show, the writers went forward anyway with a romantic angle between Chance and Ilsa.
I’ll give Valley credit for doing the best he could with the material, but I never bought into Chance’s relatively fast infatuation with Ilsa. His character works best opposite a dynamic female character like Emmanuelle Vaugier’s Emma Barnes and Leonor Varela’s Maria Gallego. If either of those actresses had signed on for the full second season, the final result might be the same. But I don’t think we’d be as tired of them as I am with Ilsa.
There are actually things about this show that I liked. In the early part of the episode, the CIA seems incredibly overpowering to Chance and his group; which it should be. I’m all for stacking the odds against the heroes and right up until the BART escape, the episode was looking really solid. I think it first lost me when Chance and Ilsa escaped death by BART train by diving beneath an oncoming train (!) and just keeping their heads down.
Another "get the f*** out" moment came when Guerrero captured the black ops CIA villain really easily; which I could have lived with had the next scene not been about trying to paint Guerrero as a super Michael Bay style badass by blowing up said villain and then walking towards the camera in slow motion with the explosion behind him.
I hate…. HATE that cliche.
I think "Human Target" could have been a great action series. And maybe it still could be. Maybe Fox will hang on to it and make the necessary changes. Or the network will decide to listen to the fans and restore its lost season one luster. What do you think, America?
Yeah, I didn’t think so either.
Crave Online Rating: 4.5 out of 10.