PERSONS UNKNOWN “Smoke and Steel” Episode 7 Review

Persons Unknown (NBC)

In, PERSONS UNKNOWN “Smoke and Steel” Episode 7, Joe’s cover is blown, Renbe and Kat take a million meaningless detours trying to board a plane to South America, Moira learns some of McNair’s deep dark secrets and we say so long to our chef/big brother Tom. Quite a lot happened in the seventh episode of Persons Unknown, yet most of it was revealed at such a plodding pace that the episode was a sag in this decent conspiracy series.

Perhaps the most glaring contrivance was the amateur unfolding of revelations; Joe tries to elaborate on what his role is but she is `too angry’ to listen. Really? She’s stuck in a big open-air prison, what else is she going to do? Again, when Joe is put in prison after Janet discovers photos of her daughter in a dossier hidden in his drawer she refuses to allow him to explain, instead taking the `I’m too wounded to listen’ route. When Moira learns McNair has had some shady dealings (he assassinated an innocent man and apparently went temporarily mad afterwards) she initially storms away from him in disgust. One would expect the writers to be able to come up with better filler than pouting. Five minutes in one episode of The Wire was dedicated with hilarious effect to trying to squeeze a desk through a doorway. The writing does not have to be solely about the plot and a little humor would not go amiss in Persons Unknown.

Tom’s death was unexpected but timely. His purpose was served and it’s time to move on to new antagonists next week. Charlie was shot (after informing Joe that he was worth $80 million, some of which could go to Joe if he was to be released) in the leg by Tom, who held Joe at gunpoint, ready to execute him. Janet rescued Joe, sloshing Tom with boiling water and causing him to stumble into the stove, lighting himself aflame.

Janet later asked Joe if he abandoned the plan because of her, which he confirmed. She then told him that she missed her daughter’s sixth birthday, but “the hardest thing of all” is that she “should hate [Joe] too, for being one of them” but she doesn’t. Am I the only one who wanted to slap her and scream `priorities!’ in her ear? First child, then the secretive, deceiving dude who kidnapped you. Mothering 101, duh.

I implied last week that I wish Kat and Renbe had stayed in the car while it exploded. This week, I am more than implying. Their plot this week was literally going to the airport, getting randomly strip searched, and boarding a plane to South America. Perhaps their Amazing Race journey will improve next week as they meet the sole person to have escaped the 50 year old anonymous organization.

Persons Unknown is not a bad show, but this was a poor episode. Most of the storylines were too fabricated to engage my interest (the dossiers, really?), but there were good moments. The scene where Erika and Bill tortured Joe was like something straight from Lord of the Flies. When confronted by Erika, Janet firmly placed herself on Joe’s side, segregating herself from the group, casting her onto her own lone island as the episode closed with Joe’s kidnapping. Oh, the irony.

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(Photo: Courtesy of NBC)