Sunday, November 19, 2006

TV Review: Intelligence - "Pressure Drop"

(Spoilers for the episode that aired Nov. 14)

The latest episode of CBC's Intelligence leaves maimed and dead bodies in its wake and proves that intelligence is a cold, cold game.

Mary Spalding (Klea Scott) continues to be fearless in taking risks, but cautious about counting on what the payoff will do for her. Good thing, too.

She gets warm fuzzies from CSIS over her success in turning Lee, the mole in her wireroom, much to the consternation of her deputy Ted and the man whose job she's poised to take and who hired Lee in the first place, Roger Deakins.

"She's gonna have your job in about five minutes if we don't do something to rip the rug out from under her," Ted subtly taunts Deakins.

Those fuzzies are bound to turn frosty when word gets out that Lee is killed on her watch - literally, as he's shot in cold blood before her eyes. Hmm, just how much of a nasty bastard, is Ted, anyway?

Nasty enough that he's sold his soul to the Americans, who have agreed to snare Jimmy Reardon (Ian Tracey) and help install Ted as the head of CSIS's western and Asian region instead of Mary or Roger. "Anything I can do for you?" Ted asks his DEA contact. "Not yet. The time will come," is the reply.

Mary's relationship with informant Jimmy is threatened through her own actions - or, more accurately, inactions. She wants him to not only help stock broker Randy Bingham free his arms shipment that's stuck in Panama, she wants him to agree to get involved in the next arms deal.

He'd like to see some useful information from her for a change, and she's stonewalling him on information about Colin's death and its connection to the bikers. "Nice knowin' ya," he calls to her before driving away from their meeting, causing her to go to Ted for information on that case. Their man on the Island has a suspect, though not much hope of a conviction. Also, as Ted says, "he thinks Reardon is losing control of his organization, and it's a matter of time before someone offs him."

Things do seem to be spiraling out of control in Jimmy's army. The Vietnamese deny any connection to the shooting in his nightclub. The bikers are muscling in on his drug trade, but are also laying claim to the illicit bank machine business in Vancouver. This show is really making me look askance at the ATM when I draw cash.

In a nice little domestic scene that mirrors Reardon's professional woes, we see Jimmy in dad mode. In what he fears is the calm before the storm, Francine has let Stella stay with him for the week, and she needs help with her homework.

"Should we go to war?" is her social studies question.

"What, the country?" her dad asks. Focus here, Jimmy. You thought your 13-year-old daughter who doesn't know what you do for a living was talking about the bikers?

Her assignment is to find good reasons to go to war, and the only one she can think of is for protection against an attacker. Jimmy only offers reasons not to go to war, touting negotiation as the first line of defense.

Meanwhile, in Jimmy's own battlefield, Ronnie is the more cynical and pragmatic of the two, insisting that Reardon needs to respond to the opening salvo of Colin's assassination with a shot of his own. Instead, Jimmy insists on negotiation over the bank machine territory. So they meet with scary biker leader, who went to the my way or the highway school of negotiation.

Neither Jimmy nor Mary seem to be winning the battle on the personal front either. Mary's husband Adam accosts her on the street, hoping to work things out without resorting to lawyers. "You sacrificed me. What did you expect?" he asks about his affair. "I expected faithfulness. I expected to raise a family," she replies. She also expects to get a restraining order to prevent him from contacting her again, though I wonder if she's genuinely afraid of the man or if she's exerting her power over him.

Jimmy's own personal wild card, ex-wife Francine, shows up at his lumber yard to reminisce about old times, when he proposed, when he left her alone with baby Stella, when they had adulterous affairs. Gee, no wonder she thinks it was a match made in heaven. He apologizes for his part in their rocky relationship.

"I feel like the devil took my soul and now I want it back," she says, and before I can wonder if she's calling him the devil, she kisses him and says, "You're a good man. I miss you." To add to the mixed messages, she flashes a devious smile as she walks away. Definitely the calm before the storm.

Another storm is brewing, though. Mike Reardon, Jimmy's over-eager puppy dog of a brother, has gotten deeper into the business, making a connection with some growers and running the money for the bank machines. And while Ted's surveillance team looks on, he gets his throat slashed. They go after the slashers and leave Mike to crawl to the Chickadee for help. Cold.

The next episode airs Tuesday, Nov. 21 at 9 p.m. on CBC, replaying Friday at 11 p.m. Check out the Intelligence website for a video mashup contest, with a grand prize of an Apple MacBook Pro and a copy of Final Cut Studio.