Episode Title: "A Problem Like Maria"
Writers: Dan McDermott & Andrea Newman
Director: Guy Ferland
Previously on "Human Target"
Christopher Chance (Mark Valley) and his team accepted the offer of Ilsa Pucci (Indira Varma) to bring her on board as a partner/boss, with her considerable wealth and resources at their disposal. However things have not gone smoothly and neither side has been happy with the arrangement thus far…
While Ilsa attempts to hold a team meeting at night, both Winston (Chi McBride) and Guerrero (Jackie Earle Haley) reject her offer to become figureheads of the company and Ilsa refuses to even let Ames (Janet Montgomery) consider the idea. Meanwhile, Chance has blown off the meeting to go drinking. He inadvertently attracts a young woman, who is then chased away by Maria Gallego (Leonor Varela), Chance’s old flame. He quickly realizes that Maria is in trouble when he sees that she’s been followed and the two of them shoot up the bar to drive off her attackers. They kiss each other as the police arrive.
The following day, Chance explains Maria’s situation to his partners and Ilsa is immediately ready to sign on to help Maria rescue a peace activist named Diego Garcia (Kevin Kazakoff), who is being held by a dictator named Victor Escalante (Mauricio Mercado). However, Winston and Guerrero are distrustful of Maria and voice their suspicions of her. Using Ilsa’s resources, they secure travel to Escalante’s country and invitations to the party at his estate. Although the plan is to rescue Diego from the mansion, Maria tricks them into kidnapping Escalante’s brother Julio (David Barrera) to use as a trade. The team barely escapes from the estate and afterwards, Guerrero confronts Maria at gun point.
Even Chance is willing to shoot her for lying to him, but she tells them that Diego is her husband… and she would do anything to get him back. Despite his anger, Chance still agrees to help her and boards Ilsa’s plane with Julio and Maria. Guerrero and Ames stay behind to negotiate a trade with Victor, only to learn that he doesn’t want them to give his brother back and takes them hostage as well. Back in the states, Ilsa is furious at having been used as an accessory to kidnapping and insists upon resolving the situation her way. Guerrero then calls Chance and tells him that Victor will trade them all in return for Maria. She readily agrees, but Ilsa refuses to let her give herself up and goes to the state department for their help.
Once Ilsa is gone, Winston and Chance actively go behind Ilsa’s back to take Maria to Victor, humiliating Ilsa when she returns with her state department friends to find Julio happily having the run of her office. She orders her plane to turn around just as it nears its destination, but Chance forces it to land by blowing out the cabin. After a rough landing, Chance leaves the plane with Maria, leaving Winston behind to assemble a rocket launcher… which only has instructions in a foreign language. Winston barely gets the rocket fired in time to cause a distraction which allows Chance, Maria and Guerrero to mow down most of Victor’s men. Only one of them, Hector (Jordi Caballero) manages to elude them.
Later, Chance and Maria have their "Casablanca" where they reaffirm their feelings for each other and he sends her off to be with her husband. Ilsa then arrives at the airfield to claim her plane and continue her argument with Chance. All of the other team members look for alternate transport rather than get on a plane with both of them. On the aircraft, Chance and Ilsa angrily end their partnership. But on the ground, Hector targets their plane with a missile launcher and fires.
I’ve changed my mind about Indira Varma’s performance as Ilsa. I was willing to give her the benefit of the doubt based on her previous appearances on other shows, but Ilsa’s complete lack of resonance as a character is definitely part of something that she’s just not bringing to the role. There is nothing exciting, exceptional or even compelling at all about this character. It’s a combination of bad acting and bad writing that no one working on the show seems to realize. I was actually getting into this episode because it looked like they were writing her out, but I’ve checked the upcoming episode loglines and she’s here to stay.
That can’t have been the desired response. I think the audience is meant to be rooting for the partnership between Chance and Ilsa to work and she’s probably meant to be his long term love interest. The problem (on top of those already listed) is that Varma and Mark Valley don’t have any real chemistry together. The only time any of their scenes have life is when he’s playing her as a buffoon.
Even Leonor Varela doesn’t come off very well as Maria. Maybe the producers on this show just don’t know how to make their female characters interesting. I like Janet Montgomery’s Ames, but that’s more from Montgomery’s charm than any of the writing on the page. She at least seems like she’s having some fun with the part. I understand why the producers felt they needed to add more female characters to what was a very male driven show. But so far, it hasn’t worked.
"Human Target" is also showing a disturbing lack of imagination in terms of its capers. How many of these South American estates have the team had to infiltrate… this season?! This is the only action show currently on Fox and it looks like it has no ambition. I’m not expecting it to be "24," but it could at least give us some thrills.
The one positive out of this episode is the cliffhanger ending. I doubt that "Human Target" is going to embrace a serial format, but it was at least a good way to close out a relatively dull hour. I’m also wondering if Fox has any real confidence in the series any more, considering that its burning off two episodes this week and two episodes next week.
That’s never a good sign for a bubble series like this.
Crave Online Rating: 5.5 out of 10.