Intelligence 1.05, “The Rescue,” was written by Barry O’Brien and directed by Alrick Riley. Among Riley’s credits are Hunted, Hustle and MI-5, which amply prepare him for another government covert affairs show. O’Brien’s writing career began with Happy Days and includes Touch, CSI: Miami and Judging Amy. O’Brien is best know, however, as one of the creators of Hannah Montana. This may have served him well in the plot about the two kidnapped girls, or the introduction of Lillian’s (Marg Helgenberger) fraught relationship with her father, Leland Strand (Peter Coyote).
I was concerned about introducing “family” members, but Lillian and Leland’s personal relationship really just adds another layer, without slipping into, to my mind, needless melodrama. We learn that Leland’s nickname for Lillian is Rooster, but that’s really all the personal information we’re burdened with. Leland’s backhanded compliment to Lillian is that she must get her relentlessness from him – really just complimenting himself. Part of the distance in their relationship is, no doubt attributable to the fact that both are heads of highly classified departments.
The case at the heart of the episode is complicated enough to keep it interesting. The action is split between the kidnapped girls, command, and Gabriel (Josh Holloway) and Riley (Meghan Ory) in the field. My one real disappointment with the episode is that we don’t see Shenedoah (John Billingsley) or Nelson (PJ Byrne) in the entire episode. Lillian is supported by Jameson (Michael Rady) and Weatherly (Tomas Arana) at Cyber Command.
In the end, Leland underestimates Lillian, who figures out that her father is actually the Obregon that Hector (Carlos Sanz) refers to. There’s a great contrast between the two Strands. Leland is willing to do whatever it takes to achieve his ends. He is completely focused on the big picture with no thought to the actual people who could be hurt. This is in direct contrast to Lillian who has shown time and again that the individuals under her command are just as important to her as her assignments. She tells him a great man taught her that they could make the world better – throwing what he taught her back in his face.
Gabriel speculates that Lillian is still seeking Leland’s approval, and Riley credits him with the cause of her being so driven. Gabriel then goes on to say that he’s the only one in his family who didn’t die on the battlefield. Fathers leave footsteps to fill – but that isn’t always healthy either emotionally or physically. An absent father prevents there being any closure to that formative relationship.
Riley and Gabriel work alone together in the field and have already formed a great team. Riley is most often the cautious one, forcing Gabriel to stop and assess the situation before running in. She holds him back from simply opening the car trunk for example. While she cautions him at the cabin, she is also hot on his heels when he storms in to save Samantha (Kimberly Whalen).
The episode contains a lot of great action and it’s nice to see how much of their own stunts Holloway and Ory are doing. I also liked that it was Riley to go in for the exchange. There’s a nice moment when Riley is clearly miffed that Gabriel is a better shot with the long range rifle – just a little jealousy on her part! One of the best things about this show, for me, is how equal Gabriel and Riley are. Riley ultimately can’t leave the girl when the exchange goes bad, ending up as a hostage herself. Her using her watch to send a clue to Gabriel was brilliant – and something they might not have been able to do if their partnership wasn’t already well established. The watch itself is a nice little joke between them. Even when it's Gabriel's turn to rescue Riley, she still doesn't come across as the damsel in distress which is incredibly refreshing!
There’s also a nice moment as Lillian is forced to abide by the orders from those above her to order Gabriel to let Hector go. It’s also a nice moment to demonstrate that Gabriel isn’t a loose cannon as he was accused of being last episode. He abides by Lillian’s orders. It’s another nice moment when Riley shoots Gabriel a sideways glance before lowering her own weapon when it’s clear that that’s what Gabriel is doing – she has his back whatever the play. Their final scene is Gabriel taking Riley home for a change and her teasing him that he was worried about her.
The final scene of the episode is fantastically directed and choreographed. Lillian has agreed to accompany her father to a “Washington event” and as opera is performed in the background, she does her part to make the world a better place and stamp out the evil that her father has allowed to grow. I thought it fantastic that Lillian’s operative is a woman – who Hector has clearly underestimated. She kills Hector in the bath, leaving him surrounded by burning candles with his arms draped over the white bathtub in an almost crucified position as the water in the tub turns slowly red. This mirrors both Lillian’s red hair and the blood red dress that she is wearing. When Leland asks her if everything is alright, she answers, simply “Better.” In other words, it’s better than how you left it.
Overall, this was a really well directed episode with a strong central plot. This was another good example of how strong this show can be. They introduced a familial element but made the relationship richly textured and integral to the main action. What did you think of the episode? Do you want to see more of Peter Coyote as Leland? Did you miss Norman and Shenendoah as much as I did? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!
Don’t forget that Intelligence is all new tonight – one of the few shows to soldier on as the Olympics airs.