Saturday, March 28, 2015

Forever, Season 1, Episode 18: Dead Men Tell Long Tales

I don’t know what it is with Forever’s scheduling, it’s so random it could be on Fox. If it gets any worse it could be called Firefly (I’m not bitter)

Amusingly, a sailor tells his crew to be quiet about the treasure they’ve just found – conveniently expositioning that they’d found treasure. The guy gets stabbed, probably for being too gabby while telling everyone to keep shtum.

Time to catch up with Abe and Henry snaking over Henry’s many stories and how Abe can quote them back to him. Jo drops in to take him to the murder because apparently dead bodies aren’t urgent enough to warrant using the phone.

The dead man is Rick, he has been killed with a harpoon and everyone is delightfully snarky. The autopsy not only confirms that being impaled with a harpoon is deadly, but also that Rick has been diving lately and since his job is to salvage wrecks, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out what he was doing. They also find that he found gold which means Lucas now simply has to do a pirate impression. I can sympathise, so would I.

To his warehouse - and of course Henry goes with them, crime dramas never confine pathologists to the morgue or doing their job (it could be worse, he could be Nikki Alexander). They find the latest artefacts Rick has salvaged – it’s from the slave ship that Henry was on when he first died.

Henry goes back to Abe, shaken, in part because the ship was found far from where it should be. And after previously talking about all of the stories Henry has told, Abe pokes him about keeping this one, his first death, so quiet. Henry’s secrecy is because the ship was owned by his family. Flashback time, in which Henry tried to help the slaves escape and take over the ship.

He failed, of course, and this causes him considerable guilt weasels, especially since the ship went down and everyone on board died. He also considers himself cursed – despite his general disbelief in woo-woo, except his own immortality.

To Rick’s memorial at the bar where Henry’s genius identifies 2 guys who were on Rick’s ship and his bothering the bartender highlights her as suspicious as well. Time for arrest and questioning where they learn that only Rick knew where the gold was hidden. Henry is part of the questioning and he is far more focused in the condition of the ship and how it sunk than he is in learning about Rick’s murder. Lt. Reece quickly calls shenanigans and sidelines Henry.

Forbidden from the investigation, Henry and Abe break in to Rick’s warehouse. Of course they do. There they find the shot body of the slave Henry tried to rescue before someone else breaks in and starts causing a bit of havoc around the place. Of course Henry intervenes which is foolish because, naturally, Jo and Hanson are watching the warehouse. Everyone who broke into the warehouse is arrested

Including Henry and Abe. Or they would have been if Jo hadn’t covered for them – though she wants an explanation and she isn’t buying the fact his obsession is linked to the murder. His excuse is pretty flimsy and Jo gently pokes him to get his head back in the game and on the case.

They question the other guy who broke in, George,he’s an old friend of Rick’s who was cut out of finding the ship because he objected to trying after they lost a diver on their first attempt (the ship, the Empress of Africa, was too deep). They also learn that Rick had a rich investor – because without one he wouldn’t have been able to reach such a deep sunk ship.

Henry keeps investigating the dead slave when he and Lucas realise that he had been buried in a coffin – which wasn’t the fate of dead slaves on a slave ship.

Time to chase down the investor, called Isaac Monroe, giving a speech to the explorers club which Jo and Henry invite themselves too. Though Henry is most put out she doesn’t let him dress for the black tie affair. Isaac’s speech means reveal the millions in gold they salvaged from the Empress of Africa – and Issac’s plan to donate it to an education charity. He also winks at Jo which causes her jaw to drop. He flirts with Jo while she rebuffs him – but Henry gets a call to draw him away. There’s another guest at the event: Adam

He rather sinisterly recites Henry’s history (and, of course he knows that Henry was on the Empress of Africa) and among the artefacts recovered he shows Henry the captain’s pistol – the same weapon that killed Henry in his first death – and tells him it’s very precious. Jo’s arrival and Adam’s disappearance stops any further revelations.

Isaac continues to flirt with Jo and sends flowers (his alibi checks out putting him on Jo’s radar). While Adam sends Henry a different present – the gun. Lucas decides to joke about how terrible a weapon a flintlock pistol was and how ridiculously useless you were if you got shot by one. Ouch. Henry has a revelation while poor Lucas is trying to claim Watson to Henry’s Sherlock. Poor Lucas.

Since Jo is on a date with Isaac (dinner at his house. Hmmm that’s a… gutsy choice of first date), Henry has to give his revelation that the dead diver (remember him? He was mentioned once in passing) is related to the bartender, Margot (remember her?)

Margot is seeking more vengeance and decides to target Isaac since he financed the dive. Hanson and Henry arrive but hesitate to break down the door during Jo’s date while Marvin Gaye is playing because there are some things that you do not interrupt a colleague doing.

Inside Jo and Margot fight (Isaac is unconscious) and the noise they make need some interpretation before Henry and Hanson are convinced they’ll be interrupting a fight and not sex. Margot is arrested, Henry snarks at Jo bringing a gun on a date

At the police station I kind of love how Lt. Reece makes sure Jo and Isaac have some alone time (hey she even pretends not to be listening!) Isaac and Jo agree to a second date.

Henry speaks to Isaac about how he knew where the Empress of Africa was – he had a map, hand written by one of the salves who was a scholar before being enslaved. He also has his history – after Henry died the key he stole dropped from his hand and the scholar, Obi, managed to achieve what Henry wanted; escape, taking over the ship sailing it north where it sank and escaping to shore. Isaac is one of their descendants.

Henry is elated that they survived, that he didn’t get the slaves killed.

Adam calls to add a sinister note – he tells Henry his belief that the weapon that killed them the first time is the only thing that can actually kill them. Adam lost his dagger so can’t prove it. Adam reveals all this while happily balanced on girder over traffic

Henry also fixes on a clock ticking which Abe says is always ticking – I think I missed this. The relevance of the clock?

I’m a little annoyed at Henry’s expertise identifying suspects and people to speak to in the bar let alone beyond part of the questioning (even if he was inept there, though his ineptitude was more due to his own agenda). Yes, he’s a genius and he knows a great deal – but at least let his man-out-of-time thing make him a little awkward in reading modern people. Or put this well beyond his experience. Or otherwise reserve one small element of investigation where Henry doesn’t render Jo and Hanson utterly superfluous. It really hampers both characters to be in Henry’s shadow at all times

I do like the bringing of Adam back into the story because it gives the plot a point, along with Henry’s history, beyond being a crime drama with a different crime every week. I think Adam is such an excellent character, so wonderfully sinister with a lot of shady motives (can we even characterise him as an antagonist?) and wonderful moments like playing above the traffic to really bring home what an alien creature he is.

I don’t think the show has done a great job of depicting Henry as cursed, sure he talks about it sometimes and he has some pretty bleak moments (that were excellently well done) but most of the time he seems to enjoy life and take a lot of joy from his day to day existence.

I do wonder what killed by the original weapon means – could Henry bludgeon himself to death with the gun or would he have to be shot? And if the latter, is it even possible for that gun to fire?

The history of the slave ship – on the one side it’s intriguing, I’m glad to see a Black face, a modern Black character, attached to that story and it makes some very nice points (I liked that one of the slaves was a scholar and a person rather than just a faceless mass of “slaves”). At the same time we have a story of a slave ship, slaves escaping, taking over the ship and finding freedom all being written as, basically, the emotional journey and back story of a white character.