Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Forever, Season 1, Episode 6: The Frustrating Thing About Psychopaths

Today’s murder, a woman having a “good night” and tipping the footman generously heads for a taxi and doesn’t make it, ending with a scream.

Over to Henry at the morgue doing his routine work and Lucas lamenting the lack of city destroying monsters to keep life interesting which is Jo’s cue to call – the police have received a package. And it’s bleeding. I’m sure there are several organisations you would call before and ME in that circumstance but Henry’s called in for everything including interviewing witnesses so I suppose this is at least somewhat close to his job description.

Inside the bleeding, gift wrapped box is a human heart. Time to examine it while Henry does a voice over about murderers including the worst kind being those who feel nothing. This also leads to henry happily expositioning to Detective Hanson about serial killers sending trophies to the police because they craved attention – just in case the audience was unaware of the fact. Henry tells Jo, Hanson and Reece that the dead person is a woman and had her heart removed while still alive.

They go through various missing women and Henry discounts them with ridiculously vague Sherlockian nonsense (I have dark circles under my eyes – it isn’t iron deficiency, it’s lack of appropriate levels of caffeine). They find Laurie Pettefor who has a record as a prostitute (and sparks Henry’s old memories about someone called Mary Kelly).

The go see the footman at the hotel where she often worked (the one she tipped well). Using Henry powers they track where the killed dragged Laurie. Henry looks around and sees Dorset street meat factory and realises the connection – the killer is a copycat

Yes, historians “Mary Kelly”, we’re having a Jack the Ripper flashback. Henry investigated the crimes in Whitechapel where he was super pathologist then as well

And back to the present where they find Laurie’s body sliced open in a similar brutal way to Mary Kelly. Examining the scene, Henry is impressed by how closely the crime resembles Jack the Ripper’s crime, pointing to very long study. And Henry gets a creepy phone call from the other self-proclaimed immortal, Adam, almost taunting him about the body. Hearing the siren on the phone and outside Henry realises he’s close and runs to try and catch him – only finding his phone left open.

Henry talks about it with Abe who confirms the phone is a burner and untraceable and they briefly consider that Adam may have been Jack the Ripper, especially given the way the current murder was such an exact copy. Obviously Henry can’t share this with the police so he has to do his own investigation – including looking up the super-duper-rare antique blade he is sure the killer used; which involves Abe having to speak to another antique dealer called “the Frenchman” who Abe considers “creepy”.

The Frenchman turns out to be a Japanese woman who flirts with Abe. Abe steals her contact book

Henry examines the body in more detail and comparing with his original notes, Henry realises the killer made a mistake – one of the cuts is shaped how the newspaper’s described, inaccurately. So the killer must have had access to copies of that now long defunct newspaper – to the library (which is apparently very well stocked indeed).

There, after some handwriting comparisons, they realise the killer is in the building which leads to a chase, a  conveniently dropped bag (including antique surgical implement) and him being caught by Jo; so this guy definitely didn’t do it – far too soon.

Henry also gets a call from Adam who has gone to the crime scene to point out Henry has missed something – the killer is copying other murderers and has left a Black Dahlia at the crime scene (and notes in the conveniently dropped bag).

Nope, definitely not the killer – he’s an author of graphic novels about demons that inspire murderers and it was all research. He adds that he has some scary fans who terrifying him – leading to a new investigation into the comics (Lucas owns them) which are extremely accurate and an easy guide for any copycat.

Time for the next murder – a Black Dahlia copycat with clues to the next murderer being a copy of the Boston Strangler. Comparing random clues Henry found in the park with fan messages on the comic forum they narrow down a suspect. An 18 year old called Devon.

They take him into custody and question him – he’s creepy and obsessed with his profile in the fan group. And outside Henry makes me cringe twice – blaming the dad for Devon’s obsession with violence for buying him comics and blaming his mother – or some other woman who caused a “traumatic experience” for his misogyny. While they argue, Henry smugly reveals his antique dealer clue – which is news to Reece and Jo (though Jo covers for him).

Jo isn’t happy with Henry – having Abe steal a book doesn’t make it evidence – it makes it all easily challengeable in court and easily thrown out. Which is why having amateur medical examiners investigate crime is a bad idea. Jo tells him to stay put while she tries to fix things – and Henry ignores her and goes to see The Frenchman anyway and begs her not to mention their little… theft. She grudgingly agrees – but also reveals that the purchaser was not a teenaged boy – but Devon’s father.

Henry runs out the shop – and Devon’s dad ambushes him and stabs him. He then goes inside to tie up (in like, 10 seconds – by the time line of the episode) the Frenchman and begin to strangle her to complete his Boston Strangler copy-cat. Henry staggers in to stop him. they struggle and fight, Henry with a knife in the back, until they fall down some stairs and both are still.

Jo arrives with her court documents. She decides to go in with gun drawn (wait… why?). She goes in just as Devon’s father manages to stagger upstairs. He reaches for a weapon – and she shoots him. She finds the Frenchman, frees her and calls for help

While downstairs Adam finds Henry’s paralysed body – he tells Henry that dying in front of Jo would be very bad for them – so he takes out the knife and cuts Henry’s throat.

Henry is rather disturbed by this the next day, even as Abe tries to put a positive spin on things – but Henry is worried, especially since this cold, callous killer knows everything about him, including Abe.

At the police station, Reece congratulates Jo for stopping a killer but also recognises how killing someone must have affected her. Henry takes her to a bar for good whiskey to help add to their bonding and he apologises for nearly ruins the case. She is more worried that he could have been cornered and killed (hah)

Henry gets another call from Adam and Henry is paranoid and scared while Adam – murder and killing means nothing to him. He’s sure, in time, Henry will be the same

So we had “comics cause murderers” which was then very neatly veered away from. What is still hanging there, glaringly, is Henry’s accusatory comment to Devon’s mother – that if he’s a misogynistic killer then he has had some traumatic experience involving women. And it was accusatory –it was an outright accusation that a serial killer who kills women does so because a woman has hurt them – he was blaming his mother for the crimes they thought he committed.

So close to Jo learning Henry’s secret. I know it’s only episode 6 and there’s plenty of time but there needs to be more of this unique element to set this show apart – otherwise we have a sherlockian crime drama. And, quality acting aside, it’s not that great of a quality crime drama, Henry’s intuitions are just too extreme and too great a leap, the storylines too simple. I think it also suffers from giving very little time to the supporting cast. Abe gets some but it’s not much – while Jo and Hanson and Reece are really really pushed into the background, rather unnecessarily. It also means none of them get developed, they don’t have any real talents or personalities or capabilities shown because they are so secondary.