PERSONS UNKNOWN “Incoming” Review

Persons Unknown

Episode 5 of PERSONS UNKNOWN, appropriately named Incoming, was the strongest episode to date from an exciting and refreshing series. Sure, the whole ten-little-Indians premise has been done to death, but if you dress a cliché with a good cast and directing, interesting characters, a compelling story, unpredictable plotlines, realistic writing and suspense, then you’ve an original with influential predecessors.

It starts off with the incoming of Erika, found unconscious on the outskirts of the town donning Tori’s clothes and a blonde wig. Tori’s demise should have saddened me because I quite liked her, but Erika’s beguiling awesomeness launched her as my new favorite character. Within a few short scenes she was literally kicking ass, taking Janet and Joe out in a matter of seconds before beating Blackham to a pulp and stripping him of his clothes. A savage fighter with nothing to lose, Erika went on a one-woman rampage until she was locked in a vault, crazy, bloodthirsty and wielding a knife…with Janet.

The main focus of this show takes place in this vault. As the air pressure drops, Joe, who we’ve learned to be on the inside (which was one of those moments where you more than sensed it from the beginning but when it was revealed you were still surprised) tries to coerce Carl, the Chinese waiter revealed to be controlling the entire town, into opening the vault as Erika and Janet bond over their lost children. Meanwhile, Moira and Graham’s bond grows stronger as they share their suspicions of Joe.

Where this show evolves is its shifting from a plot-driven mystery (which was its main characteristic in the rather poor pilot episode) into a character-driven suspense, slowly unravelling the characters with interesting (if clichéd) pasts-the haunted soldier, the woman with past, the bad guy romantic, the smartass selfish dude. Nevertheless, after five episodes we care about these people and the situation they are in.

With the revelation that Joe is on the inside and Mark’s connecting of Tori’s demise to Janet, questions and suspicions of our own arise. Why was Janet’s fortune cookie an order to kill Joe? What is the true significance of his allergy to bees? If Carl is watching the town, then who is watching Carl? What role does Ambassador Fairchild play in this? Why was Moira shown fabricated (or so we’re led to believe) television footage of Tori? What role does Janet’s mother play in this? With the startling revelation of the needle marks in Erika’s arm, who is she and what has she done? And, the biggest question of all, where are they and what are they doing there? If Graham’s suspicions are correct, they’re in a military testing facility, much like a sort of CIA training camp. But why them? And who the hell is the butler? If he turns out to be the grand orchestrator, I wouldn’t be surprised.

With every episode Persons Unknown gets stronger and stronger, the pace gets faster and the storylines thicken. Bring on episode 6!

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(Photo: Courtesy of NBC)