About a month ago, I was able to give you an inside look at Human Target‘s second-season premiere, “Ilsa Pucci.” Now I’ve had a look at the next two episodes, starting with “The Wife’s Tale.”
The episode gets its title from the fact that Chance is hired to protect the wife of a man whom he killed in his past life. We open with him knocking off Mr. Brooks seven years earlier, not without his reservations. In the present day, he meets with former associate Donnelly (played by Justified‘s M.C. Gainey), who tips him off that Mrs. Brooks (Deadwood‘s Molly Parker) is now the target. “If you can’t save her, nobody can,” he tells Chance. Ain’t that the truth.
Maybe it’s because I spent all of yesterday playing the Season 1 soundtrack for my review, but this new main title theme still hasn’t endeared itself to me. Because I’m a nerd, however, I do appreciate all the new technology Chance gets to play with – and find myself amused that Winston doesn’t understand any of it. I’m also loving how a temporarily blind Guerrero has to be chaperoned by Ames. (Not to mention that this episode is directed by Mimi Leder, who also directed one of my favorite popcorn films, 1997’s The Peacemaker.) Even Ilsa has a great comedic one-liner: “You don’t see any need for a tank, do you?” she asks Winston as if she’s just perusing the lunch menu. Yet as funny as Human Target can be, that’s not all there is.
The scene that gives us that great one-liner will also make some fans cringe as, over Winston’s protestations, Ilsa declares that she “can handle this” and invites herself along on the surveillance. It’s playing into the one concern many fans have expressed about her character: that she’ll stick herself where she doesn’t belong and take everyone else down with her. The fact that she likes to ask questions probably won’t endear her to some people either. By the middle of the episode, however, she wises up and it’s a credit to Indira Varma that she keeps from becoming a caricature.
There’s a very cool sequence that takes place in a parking garage, and showcases Chance’s driving skills (there is one minor nitpick, as when he hits the would-be assassin with the car, it’s obvious at least to my eye that the stuntman is suspended in mid-air by the way he doesn’t move fluidly at all; one can only imagine that’ll be fixed in the final air version). There’s also a great chase sequence through a college campus and Guerrero gets to interrogate someone (before he’s interrupted by Ames and some truly groan-worthy dialogue, which I assume is intentional, as her metaphors are horrible). Once again, Human Target doesn’t skimp on the action.
The best part of the episode, however, is the heart that the show brings in the midst of all that exceptional action. There’s a poignancy in watching Chance comfort Mrs. Brooks while knowing he’s the man who killed her husband. A sense of dread when all clues point him back to the home where he killed Mr. Brooks seven years earlier. There’s a truly compelling story here about Chance’s further redemption and an opportunity at forgiveness, and that’s what makes this episode work. Yes, I laughed and yes, I enjoyed the action, but it means nothing without heart, and I’ll admit this one choked me up, just a little.
While there are some nitpicks to be had, mostly with the new characters (hopefully Ames will do as Ilsa does here and learn to step back), “The Wife’s Tale” is a solid follow-up to “Ilsa Pucci” and another reliable outing for Human Target.