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Intelligence 1.04 "Secrets of the Secret Service" Review: One Big Happy Family

    Intelligence 1.04, “Secrets of the Secret Service,” was written by Matthew Lau and directed by Rob Bailey. Lau has also written for that other computer-enhanced super secret agent, Chuck. Bailey is no stranger to action and effects with shows such as Grimm, Criminal Minds and CSI:NY on his resume. This episode is the first “stand alone” episode and gives a good idea of what the show is really going be like going forward – in between the inevitable mytharc episodes.
A lighter moment on set

    Once again I loved the dynamic of the entire team, and that is going to be the strength of these types of episodes. The entire cast is good and when they all have to carry their weight in an episode they can. One case in point is when Gabriel (Josh Holloway) learns that Finnegan (Bill Smitrovich) is the one who initially signed off on Clockwork. Like any good little brother, Nelson (PJ Byrne) immediately dons his best Darth Vader voice and intones the famous line “Luke – I am your father.” Shenendoah immediately jumps in to jealously assert that technologically, he is Gabriel’s father. It’s fun to watch the sibling rivalry between Nelson and Gabriel, but even when he’s proving he doesn’t need a chip in his brain to disable an alarm, you can see the concern for Gabriel on Nelson’s face. It’s great watching the whole team build a profile to help Gabriel pinpoint Susan Hawkins (Samantha Smith) in the photo of the crowd – to identify the four leaf clover in a cloverfield.

    Once again, Lillian (Marg Helgenberger) is the one to be concerned for the bigger picture – if they fail to extract the journalists, the US will be at war. It’s Gabriel, echoed by Nelson who focuses on the two lives actually at stake. This is a nice tension, but also a realistic one. Lillian attempts to block them from the prison break, but it’s half-hearted. Gabriel expresses surprise that she’s got a heart, but I suspect he never would have agreed to work with her if she didn’t. Of course, in the end, her acquiescing has long term negative consequences as she loses control over the unit.

    Finnegan quickly endears himself to Riley (Meghan Ory) and Gabriel through his concern over avoiding war and bringing the two journalists home. I actually thought at first that Gabriel would object more to becoming a bit of a party trick when Finnegan asked him to “show him how it works,” but that really isn’t who Gabriel is, and he indulged the man who played an important role in creating him. 

    We get to see a bit of Riley’s backstory in this episode as she is reunited with some of her secret service detail. I loved the moment when one of them suggests they thought she might have been dead or on a desk, and Jameson (Michael Rady) chimes in with “Is there a difference?” Given how much he’s been tied to a desk up until this episode, it’s easy to see he’d much rather be seeing some action – hopefully, we will see the entire team doing what they do best more often.

    Ory is once again a delight to watch. It’s nice to see her in her element.  She has great chemistry with Michael Trucco as Agent Griffin, and the two do a great job ramping up the tension between them. The chemistry between Ory and Holloway is terrific as always – I really like these two characters as good friends who respect each other as colleagues. I expect that a romance between the two is inevitable, but part of me really hopes they don’t feel the need to go there. I loved watching Griffin trying to figure out if Gabriel knew about Panama – how close Riley was to him – like any former jealous lover. For his part, Gabriel teases her like any friend would over an embarrassing ex. When Gabriel realizes that Griffin has screwed Riley out of a deserved promotion, however, he exposes him to her. Right before going into battle! The prison break was terrific. Loved Griffin trying to block them and Finnegan telling him that he’s going with them. It was also a nice nod to their equal partnership to have Gabriel drive on the way to the prison and Riley to bring them home. I particularly loved Gabriel telling Griffin not to be a baby when he got stabbed.

    One of the fun aspects of the show for me, is watching Gabriel glean as much from a room as he can, as he does about the negotiators for Finnegan. It’s almost like a moment out of Sherlock. The show is easily able to maintain its tension because Gabriel is still human – he can make mistakes and be hurt, and he can’t do everything himself – for instance he needs Nelson to help with the security feeds while he concentrates on getting to the journalists.

    The undercover journalists (Tania Raymonde as Emily Tyner) are a nice parallel to Amelia – undercover agents that even Lillian’s boss Weatherly (Tomas Arana) doesn’t know about. Is it possible that Tetazoo (Lance Reddick) knows a lot more about Amelia than he’s disclosed? There’s a nice moment when Finnegan asks Gabriel why he agreed to let them put a chip in his brain and Riley answers for him: “Love.” She then qualifies it as love of his country, but it’s clear that she knows that he did it for love of Amelia. She understands him as well as he understands her.

     It’s interesting that Lillian is musing over Hawkins file and the fact that she was trying to protect her daughter when she realizes that the CIA never had any intention of bringing her home alive. Shenendoah has just come in her office to check on the Op and she says to him “The things we do to protect our children.” Shenendoah thinks of Gabriel as his son as I’ve already mentioned, but clearly Lillian thinks of her agents that way too. However, by protecting her family, she blocks the wrong people: Tetazoo. When Tetazoo tells her that Emily wasn’t acting on orders when she tried to kill Hawkins on the plane, Lillian calls him on it. He tells her “I won’t tell you how to parent, so don’t tell me” – bringing us right back to the family analogy.

    I also liked that the episode ended with Lillian having to defend Gabriel for being human – more human than Emily, Tetazoo’s agent, in fact. However, Weatherly is clearly not happy with the amount of autonomy Gabriel has and remarks that improvisation is too close to insubordination. The President is concerned about not being able to control Gabriel. This brings up the question of whether any human can be “controlled.” It’s a nice question going forward that ties in to the questions of family and duty and what it truly means to be human.

    Overall, I really liked this episode. What did you think of the episode? Did you enjoy this as primarily a standalone episode? How much trouble do you think Tetazoo is going to be going forward? Do you think they will be able to sway him to the “good side” as he already thinks of his agents as his kids? Maybe he’s not too far gone? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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