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Human Target “The Other Side of the Mall” 

Photo Credit: FOX/Michael Courtney

I keep a lot of TV and movie clutter in my head, so I immediately twigged to “all the action’s on the other side of the mall” as a nod to Fast Times at Ridgemont High, and then I was alarmed to realize 28-year old trivia can bounce out of my head like that.

I digress.

It’s Christmas time for our intrepid team of protectors. We begin with a suburban family heading home at night as their van is run off the road. They’re descended upon by gunmen, who retreat when sirens approach. The next morning at HQ, Chance is bemoaning any semblance of holiday cheer as Winston is gleefully sizing the foyer for a tree. Ilsa sweeps in and out long enough to tell Chance she’s heading off to do holiday relief work and wish him and their crew a “Happy Christmas.” He conjectures that she’s trying to get away from an unhappy holiday season without her husband and she begs off that he’s wrong before she leaves.

The family from the van show up, and they’re the Applebaums—Richard and Rachel, and their teenage son, Joel. Richard works for a pharmaceutical company and he recently gave the FDA skinny on his company which assumes is why they were targeted. Winston takes the case, and when he asks Chance where Ilsa went, he responds, “away,” and Winston says they’re going “away,” too.

Next, we see Winston, Chance, Guerrero and Ames rolling through a pretty high-end neighborhood where Christmas has exploded, and not altogether tastefully, in their blacked-out SUV as they marvel about the spectacle and Chance announces they’re in hell. When they arrive at the Applebaums, Richard and Rachel are arguing about breakfast and Winston whistles them out of their distraction to get down to business. Guerrero and Chance are going to work with Richard, Winston is staying home with Rachel, and Ames is going to high school with Joel. We’re thankfully saved from that awkwardness, catching up with them later at his mall job, at a hot dog stand, where he apologizes to Ames for the nerdfest because the action’s on the other side of the mall, and she says no worries. Free hot dogs means it’s all good.

At Richard’s work, Chance is an overzealous office temp and Guerrero is a janitor, which he complains indignantly about before pocketing the contents of the supply closet. Chad Willett (who needs to be back on a series now, please) is Applebaum’s smarmy boss, who Richard thinks is behind the death threat but turns out he’s not, he’s just a corporate stooge.

At the house, Rachel is prepping for book club and Winston is reading (The Secret Life of Bees) ahead so he can participate. She’s trying to use Joel’s computer for her blog and can’t find her files, so she asks Winston to help and they commiserate about ungrateful partners (hee!). Then they’re descended upon by the goon squad again, who burst in and begin shooting up the house.

When he gets home, Richard is understandably alarmed because on top of the shootout, Chance tackled him at work in a misguided attempt to remove him from perceived harm. Upstairs, Ames and Joel are talking about a party invite he received and declined (from Jamie, a cute classmate he’s obviously sweet on but oblivious to the fact she likes him, too) and Ames says they should go, so they sneak out with his laptop (because it has his music on it). Right about that time, we realize the laptop is the target. Chance and Winston have to go save the duo from the party and Chance impressively throws down while the wasted partiers look on, considerably elevating Joel’s cool status.

Then we get the exposition that the laptop was used for a virus that tracked back to Richard’s company and Joel got annoyed and hacked into the company that sent the virus to delete their files and now they want the computer. Guerrero finds out the head goon’s info by stapling the head of Applebaum’s boss. The caveat is that Joel has to personally hand off the laptop, and after much back and forth between the parents and Chance, Joel agrees to nut up and they head for the mall. When Jamie gets in the way, Chance and Guerrero have to throw down again to save the day, with Chance riding a sleigh down the middle of the mall. Everybody gets out okay, Jamie shows up at Joel’s front door to tell him he’s all kinds of awesome and smooch him under the mistletoe, and Winston tells Rachel he’ll see her at the next book club meeting.

Back at HQ, Chance, Guerrero, Winston, and Ames marvel at the decorated Christmas tree and split a bottle of scotch. One by one they beg off, leaving Chance alone with the tree, which he immediately unplugs. Then the elevator dings and he pops up to plug it back in, to find Ilsa’s back and telling him he was right. He offers her a scotch and suggests they take down the tree and she says no. She bids him, “Happy Christmas,” he corrects her that it’s “Merry Christmas,” and then as soon as she leaves, he unplugs the tree anyway.

I liked that we had a holiday episode and that we got to see that everybody had their own tics about the season. It was fun to see the gang as horrified about suburbia as their clients usually are about them. And yay that Guerrero actually got to bust a move on some bag guys. We don’t normally get to see him fight anybody. I liked that Ames bolstered Joel’s confidence so he could be a proper teenager and that it didn’t end with him crushing on her. All in all, a highly enjoyable outing. Two new episodes this week!

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