For Taken Season 2: Hammurabi, Bryan Mills (Clive Standen) turns full-on villiante. With a plot that runs all over the map this has to be the worst episode of Taken to date. It makes the Taken movies seem Oscar-worthy. Seriously. It was that bad. If this is what the new direction is going to keep looking like, it’s not getting a season 3.
This was the plot summary for Taken Season 2: Hammurabi:
“When a high powered accountant is kidnapped by a laid off employee, it’s up to Bryan to help the kidnapper get justice.”
So, what’s the opening 45 seconds about. It’s a close-up on Bryan giving a monologue about the difference between justice and revenge. He’s talking to some guy who’s wearing a gas mask. He focuses on trying to define justice and discusses the Hammurabi code. (Incidentally, a quick overview of the code will tell you this is wasn’t perhaps the best choice to refer to. All the punishments were based on one’s social status and wealth compared to the victim.)
At the end of Bryan’s explanation he decides that justice can’t include “inflicting pain” because, ” violence only corrupts order, the very balance they set out to restore.”
Then comes the bombshell.
But I’m not here for justice. I want revenge.
This is, I guess, supposed to be some kind of bad*ss Bryan moment. Instead, he just sounds like an *ss. Like, this is the kind of monologue the villians in early James Bond movies spout. Only Bryan’s not supposed to be the villian.
Anyway, after that we get a flashback to “72 hours earlier.” It explains how Bryan ended up here, which is a convoluted enterprise. The story about Norman (Peter Bryant) made me realize that there’s a real art to setting up the characters in a procedural piece. Bryant did his best to make Norman more than just a long plot point, but the broad strokes of “victim here” in the writing was impossible to miss.
If Black people don’t die first, they perish later. My biggest gripe is the fact that Black characters are more times than not woefully underdeveloped, simplified tropes that, if and when they do die, are plants often for the white, central character we are to invest emotionally in.
This is the second week in a row of that TV Trope: “The black character always dies first.” (Yes, I know Jennifer Beals is biracial – but, unlike the characters being killed, her character’s racial identity is ambiguous.) Last week they singled out the black character as the lead hired henchman. He and his white subordinate get killed at the end – him first. This week, it’s desperate Norman trying to right the wrong of the greedy rich white guy stealing his pension. Of course, because at the end of his story he can’t follow simple directions given by people with far more experience, he’s murdered in his house.
Why Taken Season 2: Hammurabi Doesn’t work
It’s all about Bryan Mills, which is why we tune in. We want to watch this guy kick down doors and save his daughter. That’s what the film is about.
The Wrap Up
The only possible bright spots in Taken season 2: Hammurabi were:
- When Kilroy (Adam Goldberg) had fun taking over the bad guy’s car remotely.
- Santana (Jessica Camacho) with her island arsenal of guns.
- The fact that there’s some kind of storyline brewing about military contractors.
Hopefully point three will give Christina some authority back. She’s more interesting when she’s not just looking like she’s in charge, but actually has the power, influence, and understanding to back up her team. Her sneaking around with a gun felt like watching a woman who’s severally understaffed.
In general, let’s hope NBC remembers what’s made their shows successful. Even in the procedurals with a huge star the story’s plot engine never runs on just one character.
Taken Season 2: Hammurabi Review
ForÂ Taken Season 2: Hammurabi, Bryan Mills (Clive Standen)Â turns full-on villiante – to avenge the poor murdered black guy. Seriously – that’s the plot.