Salvation episode 5 is titled “Chip Off the Ol’ Block” for a couple of reasons. I suspect the writers didn’t think about the addition of John Noble as one of them. Noble is playing Nicholas Tanz, uncle of Darius Tanz (Santiago Cabrera). Nicholas seems to have the same kind of ruthlessness as Walternate on Fringe.
Then again, maybe the writers did think of it. Last week Salvation hinted strongly that the show is about lot more than an asteroid on its way to destroy the earth. Having Noble in the cast adds to the idea that there’s a whole other story being unfolded. That other story gets more pieces added to it in Salvation episode 5.
Salvation Episode 5, “Chip Off the Ol’ Block” Recap/Review: A Lot Of Blocks
The phrase, a “chip off the ol’ block” normally refers to a child being similar to a parent. Although I opened up talking about Daris’s uncle, the really big surprise was learning about the father of the Pentagon’s Press Secretary. It’s this relationship where the phrase is actually used. It turns out that Grace Barrows (Jennifer Finnigan) is the daughter of Hugh Keating (Mark Moses) – a U.S. spy!
We never learn exactly what agency Hugh works for. but it’s got to be a very covert operation. It’s so secret that apparently no one at the Pentagon knows about Grace’s father. This includes Harris Edwards (Ian Anthony Dale) – the Deputy Secretary of Defense who is her boss and secret boyfriend.
Listening to Grace and her Dad talk is illuminating because now Grace’s character makes sense. She has this strong sense strong sense of right and wrong – yet she breaking the rules left and right for what she sees as a greater good. Then there’s her attraction to powerful secretive men, and being in a secretive relationship – even though she hates secrets. She’s a chip off the ole block alright.
We meet her mother briefly as well. The one thing we learn about her is that she used to drink to deal with her husband’s profession. After meeting both parents, we can see Grace is obviously a daddy’s girl. It’s her father that points out that Grace is a workaholic – just like him. He also recognizes that his daughter is involved with something way beyond being a press secretary. When he initially asks Grace about what’s really going on, she rebukes him.
You of all people should know not to ask.
The Russian Problem
We meet Harris’s boss, the actual Secretary of Defense, Randall Calhoun (Brian Markinson). His temperament is more aligned with the advisor to POTUS, Claire Rayburn (Erica Luttrell). She’s in the room when Randall interrogates the , former MIT student who’s now Darius’s protege Liam Cole (Charlie Rowe.) Grace, Darius, and Harris are also there. After pushing Liam for information. Liam ends up saying that he could recreate it – except for the fact that the crystals to make it work were one-of-kind and have been used up. Randall then turns his attention to Darius – blaming him for the stolen EM drive. (They still can’t find the plane the Russians took off in.) He then severs the relationship with Tanz Industries. Darius seems fine with this. He and Liam walk out.
After they leave, Claire says POTUS is ready to put pressure on Moscow by moving two warships into the Baltic sea. Grace is shocked that they aren’t using diplomatic channels first. She’s informed that Russian has shut down the “deconfliction line” and cut off all communication. Grace has a personal relationship with Katya Veselov (Irene Poole) – the Russian ambassador (what?!) and offers to reach out to her. Claire’s against it, but Harris backs Grace.
In that short exchange we get to see, once again, that Claire does not like Grace – not one bit. It’s also apparent that everyone but Grace has some idea of why the Russians may have cut communication. The Secretary of Defense goes with Harris’s judgement. Grace will meet with the ambassador.
When Claire secretly met with the ambassador in a park she learned that the Russians stole the EM drive in retaliation for project Atlas. They want nothing to do with America now. What’s worrisome about the scene is that it’s shot as if someone was watching the two women. Is that just to have a cool and mysterious shot? Probably not.
It’s not exactly a surprise that Atlas is the cause of the Russian problem. We know Claire is in on whatever project Atlas is. The tension in the room earlier made it feel that everyone but Grace knew something – and not just that the Russians shut down communication. It’s likely that in the earlier meeting everyone but Grace was already thinking Atlas was the cause of Russia’s actions.
What was ironic, or just plain silly, was Grace’s naive argument to Claire, Harris and Randall about why they should try diplomacy first. She asked why wouldn’t Russia want to work with the US on this common problem. Did she develop amnesia? She seems to have forgotten that prior to this EM theft the US was keeping the Sampson asteroid a secret while trying to break it into pieces so it would pulverize Russia!
If Russia knew to steal the EM drive, and to destroy all the possible satellites that could crash into Sampson they obviously knew the plan. That alone would be enough to infuriate them! The fact that the ambassador knew it has something to do with project Atlas means Altas is even worse than that! It makes me thing Atlas had something to do with trying to wipe Russia off the map….
About the Timeline
Before getting into that, let’s just acknowledge that there’s a timeline question in this episode. Liam has a fight with his his girlfriend, sci-fi writer Jillian Hayes (Jacqueline Byers) the morning after the shooting. He wakes up from a nightmare about it, but lies to her about what’s going on – including about the scrapes on his back. Grace is up with her daughter Zoe who’s making breakfast. When Darius tells Liam he has to put the past behind him Liam bitterly says he didn’t know “12 hours” was the past.
This means that at best the questioning is super early in the morning. It’s a 7 to 8 hour flight from DC to London. They they have to get to his uncle’s estate, be shown around, and fly back. Yet Darius is back in D.C. in time to be at Grace’s house after dinner? Likewise, Jillian says she’s going to meet reporter Amanda Neel (Shazi Raja). Well she meets her for lunch, but they’re still there by dinner. I guess she never went back to work – and no one noticed.
I know, it’s broadcast TV. Still, these kinds of things do register. At least the events do fit within the 36 hour window they had before going after the Russian plane grounded somewhere in the frozen tundra of Russia due to bad weather!
Darius, Liam – and Jillian
The reason Darius is fine with things after that meeting is that he knows the meteorite that Liam used to extract the crystals from was from a much larger one that belongs to his uncle. His uncle lives in England so off they go to…get a chip of the ole block..
In this episode we learn more about Darius’s past and he gets to realize that he has become more like the man he despises. Darius was born England, but moved to Philadelphia at seven. When his alcoholic father washed out, his uncle paid for him to be schooled in England and for a full ride to MIT. Nicholas comes off as angry and bitter – in a polite British sort of way – about the fact that Darius bailed out on forming a company with him in England. (Apparently though, he’d been that way in general long before.)
Back in D.C. Jillian goes to have lunch with Amanda to vent about her concerns about Liam. Amanda tells her about the story she’s doing and asks Jillian to be “a source.” Jillian goes home, looks through Liam’s things, and finds the bloody shirt. Although she lies to Amanda and says she hasn’t found anything she confronts Liam about it. It doesn’t go well.
Jillian threatened to leave if Liam didn’t tell her what’s going on. After he does, she’s not only shocked. She is furious at him for not telling her. The excuse that he was “protecting her” doesn’t fly.
It’s my life. I get to decide how I want to live my last days – not you.
With that, Jillian walks out. They’re done – for now.
Later we learn that Nicholas Tanz gave Darius the money to start his company – on the condition that he give up the love of his life – Tessa. This proves to be important for the relationship between Darius and Liam. Darius finds himself facing Liam’s anger about Jillian walking out on their relationship.
Liam reminds Darius that he’d begged him to not bring Jillian to Tanz because he didn’t want to have to lie to her. The confrontation makes Darius take stock of himself and his callousness about love and relationships being expendable. He bares his soul about this to Grace.
Nicholas thought love would get in the way of “my greatness.” I was…his investment. He wasn’t about to let his loot be squandered…over a girl.
Darius won’t let all the blame fall on his uncle either. He describes Nicholas as the “snake in the garden” – but himself as taking “the bite of the apple.”
Grace is clearly taken by Darius’s story. She won’t let him call himself what Liam did – a prick. Her reasoning is that if it were true Tess wouldn’t be his greatest regret. At the end of the episodes Darius tells the story to Liam and apologizes for doing what was done to him.
Like Darius, Liam also grew up without a father – but in Rhode Island. The moral compass he has must come from his mom, who’s a nurse. In terms of how to be a man though that lack of a father-figure issue is going to be a theme for him. First the professor turned out to be a traitor. Now he’s working for Darius. Adding to the mix, at the end of the mission (there’s a mission) Harris reaches out to Liam and offers to be an ear if he ever needs to talk about the shooting.
Overall though, Liam’s not doing badly for himself. We’ve seen he has good instincts – and instincts to do good. Right after that fight with Jillian he went to Darius, Harris and Grace and insisted that he had to go on the mission to get the crystals out of the meteorite. It’s not out of bravado. The point he makes is that he’s the only one who has experience extracting the crystal and they’ve got one shot to get it right.
The plan itself only works because Grace is able to get clearance for the jet with Harris, Liam, and some special ops guys equipped with Darius’s high-powered knockout guns. She gets it via her father, but neither Darius nor Harris know it. (That was a fun moment.)
As dire as this scene looks, the team does manage to get out of there – and with the crystals. All should be right with the world. Now the government doesn’t have to send a team to Moscow! That would be way too easy though. Over in England Nicholas Tanz isn’t happy and is promising retribution for the theft. The next morning Grace wakes up to the news that Russia has opened its nuclear silos, closed the US embassy and started moving out all of their diplomats! Her friend Katya appears on television saying that Russia is sorry to have to take these actions, but that America knows what they did.
The Salvation Episode 5 Wrap Up
Even with the timeline question, this was another solid episode of Salvation. What’s emerging is that whatever the show is building up to has a ton of moving parts. Bringing on John Noble immediately brought up thoughts of Fringe.
It’s not that Salvation is similar in content to Fringe. The actual story the direction of Salvation seems more akin to the themes of Battlestar Galactica or Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Speaking of those two shows, did you notice who’s playing the Secretary of Defense? Brian Markinson was Commander Silas Nash on Battlestar Galactica and was in an episode of Deep Space Nine! He’s of course done far more than that. The list is long, but one the more recent roles was Inspector Dillon on Continuum.
Markinson has strong connections to many sci-fi fandoms. Actually, many of the cast have connections to the sci-fi world – and they were all willing to sign on to Salvation. Despite the show’s shaky beginning, it should give sci-fi fans pause to realizes these actors all saw something about this show that made it worth doing.
The question for viewers of Salvation is will get the same chance Fringe did to unpack their full agenda of an alternate universe. Most agree that Fringe didn’t start to jell as a series until about halfway through its first season. Salvation – which is a 10 episode summer show, got much better after episode three. Hopefully more people will catch up with Salvation and push those on-demand viewing numbers up!
Despite a timeline question, this was another solid episode of Salvation What’s emerging is that whatever the show is building up to has a ton of moving parts. It wouldn’t be the first ultimately good show with a shaky beginning.