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Human Target “Ilsa Pucci” 

Photo Credit: Liane Hentscher/FOX

I loved the first season of Human Target a ridiculous amount. When it was renewed, I was excited because finally FUX (misspelled on purpose) hadn’t cancelled a show I took a chance (punny!) on. Then I read that they were bringing in a new co-EP, changing the music, and adding two female characters and my joy was tamped a bit. The three main actors, the brilliantly cast Mark Valley, Chi McBride, and Jackie Earle Haley, would remain intact. Beyond that, all bets were off. Well, I’m goofy giddy to report that the (delayed by two months) season premiere tonight was AWESOME.

What’s the same:

  • The camaraderie (and grudging affection) between the three men
  • Winston’s general exasperation
  • Chance’s laid-back confidence that everything will somehow shake out OK
  • Guerrero being a scary bad ass by reputation and just as threatening by what he can promise to do
  • Case plans are still assigned familial code names
  • Vancouver filling in for a range of locations—like a Nepalese Ashram and Geneva (the green roofed building in the background at the end is the Fairmont)

What’s different:

  • No Rottie (past the opening—so I don’t know if they’ve dropped him/hope not)
  • Tim Jones’ theme music is louder and more on top of the show than Bear McCreary’s understated score (which I so want a CD of) last season, but it fit the big action scenes here
  • Two new women who will be part of the crew—moneybags Isla Pucci (Indira Varma), who begins the episode as the client, and Ames (Janet Montgomery), a former juvie burglar who has a history with ex-cop Winston
  • The boys will have a budget, and a boss

Let’s break it down:

We pick up immediately on the heels of the finale, with Winston still a hostage. He’s being prepped to enter a bank, while elsewhere in the bank, Chance and Guerrero are positioning themselves to intervene. They don’t count on Winston being strapped with a bomb. That slows Guerrero down for a moment until they call “Aunt Suzy,” which involves Chance shooting through Winston to get to Timothy Omundson. Guerrero goes a few steps beyond that and takes the guy apart with a sawed-off. It’s a fairly violent opening (especially just after 8 pm) vs. the rest of the episode.

After the bad guys are down, Winston is in tears and asks Chance if he can defuse the bomb. Chance says either way, it’s goodbye. He defuses it, and disappears and when Winston realizes he’s not ticking anymore and opens his eyes, Guerrero tells him Chance got too close and he’s gone. The next time we see Winston, it’s a week later and he’s sweeping up the office and commiserating with the Rottie about their mutual abandonment when Tahmoh Penikett sashays in looking for Chance. Winston says he can search to the ends of the earth for him because he’s gone and Tahmoh says they will. Cut to six months later, and we find that Chance has buggered off to a Nepalese Ashram to gain inner peace. That’s where Isla finds him. He turns her down for a job and she essentially calls him a coward; which he sloughs off, but the Buddhists have his bags packed, so he goes home.

Isla lost her billionaire husband to a plane crash eight months earlier and inherited his enemies along with his fortune. She wants a normal life again so she hires Chance to ferret out her would-be assassin. Isla is of course her own gal with her own mind, so she very shortly shakes loose of his ideas about security and finds herself kidnapped (after Tahmoh is ventilated, sigh). There’s a very good scene with Isla where Chance thinks she might have been poisoned and he’s looking for pin pricks or rashes and the way he’s searching her person requires him to sort of tango with her.

The distraction that sets all this in motion is Ames, a petty thief hired to swap Isla’s jewels so Isla could be tracked and kept safe during a diversionary shooting that would get her out of the building. Winston takes chase after the girl, but it’s Guerrero who gets to knock her out (literally, right hook and all) and then threaten her with fishhook fingernail removal or bullets to the knees. When she says she was hired just to swap the jewels, nothing else, and her story checks out, they go back to looking for why Isla would be taken alive, and settle on her money.

They head to Geneva, with Ames in tow, just as Isla is being marched into the bank by her lawyer, who killed Mr. Pucci and has kept his eyeball on ice (shudder) for eight months so they could use it for a retinal scan, alongside Ilsa’s, to get into the bank. Sidebar: in this scene and at the beginning, the bad guys, in a group, waltz into the vault area. I’m fairly sure you can’t take a party of ten in like that, so, bullshit?

Once the team is in place in Geneva, Ames snags a security key card from a guard and Chance barges right into the fray and rescues Isla. Guerrero starts shooting from across the street, breaking out the glass so Chance can run Isla right out a window into the water below, where Winston scoops them up in a boat. The scene is just as show-stopping as the scene in the pilot where he and Tricia Helfer parachuted out of the train.

After she’s rescued, Isla finds a letter from her husband that hits home and she softens a bit. Chance regroups outside with the boys as Guerrero begs off to stay in Geneva for a spell and Winston’s looking for a comfortable, and Chance, a quick, way home. Isla saunters out and offers to bankroll them, putting her resources, planes, automobiles, and access at their disposal with a promise she will be hands off (again, I call bullshit). Not much to turn down there, so they go home to fancy renovated digs, and Chance says he’s done running and hiding. He throws the blinds open and stands fully in front of the window to look out at the world that’s not as intimidating anymore.

The little gemmy moment were still intact. Chance does apologize to Winston for leaving him high and dry, so they get that sorted, although it doesn’t occur immediately—Chance just shows back up in the elevator with Ilsa and Tahmoh in tow and finds out that Winston really was left in the lurch when he bailed six months earlier. Isla also calls out Chance on his making amends lifestyle and he doesn’t tell her she’s wrong.

I loved that the things I expected to happen did happen, so they didn’t muck with the show on a cellular level. Small example: when Chance tracks down Guerrero to bring him onboard, Guerrero is driving and says he’s in, but will have to move some things around. I knew that meant there was a guy in the trunk, and after Guerrero hangs up the phone, he pulls over in an alley, pops the trunk, and lets a bound-and-gagged guy go, telling him it’s his lucky day. When he shows up for work, he’s packing a huge rifle. I loved that the character was still the same.

I hope audiences find this show this season. I’m grateful that we got a second season at all, and two more episodes were ordered last month, so, viewers, it’s your ball.

Next week, the fabswellgroovy Molly Parker (six degrees note—she played Omundson’s wife on Deadwood)!

You can catch the episode again online starting Thursday on Fox and Hulu.

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