Thursday, July 5, 2012

Blood Ties Season 2, Episode 1: D.O.A

Vicki starts the new season with a new client. Paul Deeds, an undercover cop who wants her help in a murder investigation since she has a reputation for handling odd cases. Whose murder? Why that would be his – he says as he walks through the door.

I love how the interact within 5 seconds – he’s a ghost but she’s mocking him for his marital problems. Rarely do actors have that kind of instant chemistry. I also love how they poke fun at that classic ghost depiction – how can he not pick things up but he can still sit down?

Back to investigating, Deeds doesn’t know how he died nor does he know where his body is, but he does know that he was undercover in a bike gang and his supervisor was Fry – but for some reason he can’t remember the last time he check in with him. Coreen, alas, cannot see him – but is excited about the whole thing (of course she is) and not skeeved about the fact the ghost proves his existence by spotting her red thong and passing the info onto Vicki (I was skeeved, thank you).

Vicki has 2 methods of dealing with a mystery – ask Henry for help or ask Celluci for help (and yes, I am tired of that) and this time it’s Celluci’s turn, to go ask the nice undercover police people to spill all their information to someone not involved in their case. Because that’s going to go down well. She tells Celluci all she knows (he has his obligatory sceptic moment, but at least it only lasts a couple of seconds); makes it clear he didn’t like Paul “dirty” Deeds since he has a reputation of securing his convictions “no matter what” (that sounds ominous. Even worse on a detective programme, since most TV detectives wouldn’t know proper law and procedure if you beat them about the face with a legal ethics book). But he agrees to speak to the undercover guys who are sure to be forthcoming.

Next step in the investigation is to talk to Henry (yes, really. This hereby concludes Vicki’s investigative skills) learning not much except that Henry is suspicious and also can’t see Deeds. But Deeds does remember the biker bar he was last in before he died, one of Henry’s hunting grounds. Henry and Coreen do some research but we largely see Henry’s worry – sure it looks like Deed’s ghost, but there are plenty of creatures

Celluci talks to a woman from the undercover unit who happily spills that Deeds was undercover with the Wolverines bike gang who were importing drugs. The Wolverines have had a lot of bad luck, drugs being stolen, gang members killed and this makes the more extreme – so there’s a lot of pressure on Organised Crime to get them in the court and into prison. She does let slip a past tense referring to Deeds – he “was” a good cop – but not because she think he’s dead, but because he is being investigated by Internal Affairs- and that the information he has been giving for months has been useless. But everything is scuppered when Celluci looks out the window at the biker gang and sees… Deeds. Alive and in the flesh. Ah, a twist!

Celluci “arrests” Deeds so they can question him without breaking his cover and brings him to see Vicki. Already I think the ghost Deeds is the real one, since Alive Deeds cracks his neck – what is it with supernatural programmes using the neck crack as a sign of possession? You ever see someone with a crick in their neck, exorcise them just in case. He’s also considerably less pleasant than his ghostly equivalent, taking annoying lechery to a much less pleasant level. He’s also running a massive fever which is probably indicative of something. Celluci questions Deeds about the Wolverine murder and talks again to undercover lady – revealing that, again, Deeds’ information is poor, which leads them to suspect a conspiracy of some kind

Henry makes his way to the biker bar and uses his special vampire persuasion to ask about Deeds (so if he was undercover he probably isn’t now) learning that 2 nights ago, Deeds went into the bathroom with a woman, when he came out he left and she collapsed and died.

Which brings us to Vicki talking to Deeds’s ghost about him being possessed and having his spirit evicted (that was the last twist folks, we’re back on the predictable train). They discuss how ruthless they both are and the many people who want Deeds dead (he’s been possessed, not murdered, why assume killing him is the motive) before Vicki takes a trip to the morgue to see the awesome Dr. Mohadevan about the woman who died in the bar (who was, no doubt, possessed before Deeds by the same entity). Just in case you hadn’t put 2 and 2 together, Mohadevan reveals that not only has the body worn out on the inside, but also she had a diet of raw meat (earlier we saw Deeds eat a rare meat sandwich. In case you missed it, Vicki expressly pointed it out in conversation once with him and once with Ghost Deeds and then points it out again now. Bright flashing lights and the word “clue” may have flashed up on the screen as well, but the writers wanted to be subtle).

Alive/possessed Deeds shows up at the morgue, as you do, just to throw some creepiness around to convince us how wrong he is (and the actor is really not pulling this off) before he leaves to go make a very public and obvious contact with a member of a rival gang, the Dragons (yes, it’s an East Asian gang and yes, his contact is an attractive Asian woman, a “Dragon Woman” and yes she fits the stereotype as well) who is he giving information and help too both from the Wolverines and from the police. Thankfully, by doing all of this in a very public place, Celluci gets to photograph everything while providing explanatory notes in case your brains have leaked out your ears and you can’t follow the very obvious events on screen.

Celluci decides it’s time to talk to Chuntao Fang, the woman in question (because the whole concept of “undercover” escapes him) in which he… does nothing except warn her that he’s on to her. Which I’m sure is very helpful.

Vicki, meanwhile, has found out that dead woman has a dead boyfriend who died shortly before she did. And, again, in case your brain has been reduced to porridge, she posits the theory that some entity is jumping bodies. Thankfully there is flirting with Henry so I don’t have to focus on the appalling lamp-shading going on. That jumping entity in Deeds, by the way, is shooting his fellow Wolverines with an uzi and doing more of the neck-cricking as well.

Celluci’s office is jumping with activity with the fresh murders and, just in case you’ve fallen asleep, Vicki lays out her entire body hopping theory to Celluci again. Celluci lets slip that Deeds was being investigated by Internal Affairs (did I mention how bad he is at secrecy?) and has another warning about Deeds being crooked (after all, IA has been investigating him for longer than the few days he’s been possessed). He also points out that “cutting a few corners” quickly goes into worst things as police do worse and worse and then claim the “end justifies the means” and he wants Vicki to confront Deeds’s ghost (remember that undercover thing?)

She does confront him and presses him masterfully about his corruption – but he refuses to give and insists she’s trying to smear him. He storms out and Vicki returns to flirting with Henry and continuing her chain of petty criminals who have been possessed and murdered and they see that it is moving from petty criminals and steadily climbing the chain to more and more serious criminals. Henry names it an Ikimu from his research – a Babylonian critter that thrived on chaos and loves raw meat. They need to catch it mid jump so they can trap it and allow Deeds to return to his body.

Vicki and Celluci go through the records to see that months of information on the Dragons is missing – they decide this means that Deeds must have been working for them from before being possessed (they actually present it as the only option – not even considering that the file could have been tampered with after the fact as we know happened). Then Possessed Deeds shows up, neck crick and all but she fights him off before the nasty tentacle thing inside him gets her
Henry goes to Chuntao Fang’s massage parlour and has a dual monologue with Deeds’s ghost – him lecturing Deeds’ on morality (assuming he is there) and Deeds responding despite being inaudible. Yes it’s slightly contrived.

But what he says moves Deeds to go see Vicki in her office where she is working out (seriously, she has nothing better to do?) She confronts him about Chuntao Fang and he says he gave some information from the Wolverines to the Dragons, got paid and got some gang members killed – which he considered a win-win situation for getting results. He justifies it under “ends justify the means”.  Before the argument advances further, Henry arrives with a cedar dagger, designed to kill Ikimu and it’s time to move out.

And they arrive in time to see the Ikimu moving from Deeds’s body to Fang’s – but Henry splits them up and Vicki makes with the stabbing. Allowing the ghost to return to his body – and an apology for being so corrupt, before he dies (for real) as a result of the demon possession.

Ok, as can probably be guessed, I’m not a big fan of this detective show showing and telling then showing us again then drawing attention to the showing with a big neon sign in case you missed it. It’s contrived, it break the flow and removes the mystery from the mystery

I’m also not a fan of Vicki’s entire detective arsenal being summed up with “which man should I ask to help me?”

This show did, however, redeem itself massively in my eyes by calling out the endless “end justifies the means” we see on detective programmes (even if we did have a rather weak “redemption” scene). It’s a staple of police, detective and mystery programmes to repeatedly have the protagonists break the law to get their convictions – and this is generally seen as a good thing. I’m glad to see at least a partial refutation of it.