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The Player - The Norseman - Review

This week’s episode had a slightly different formula than we’ve grown used to. It was more case-of-the-week than B-stories. Also, there were more quite character scenes than usual. I still found it pretty entertaining.

Alex’s niece sneaks into his apartment. It’s a good thing that Alex is trained enough to remain calm in the face of the unexpected, because his gun was close at hand. Turns out his niece, Dani, has run away from home after an argument with her mother over a tattoo. The 15-year old traveled from Phoenix, AZ to Las Vegas. I will avoid the rants about what could have happened to her on the road. So does Alex.

Dani declares Alex “the best uncle ever”, which is teenaged girl for ‘pushover she can con to letting me stay at his place unsupervised’. Alex isn’t the type to give orders or lectures, but he does have her number. He lets her stay, but will let her mother know where she is. He also lets her cool her heels in a holding cell after she’s picked up for shoplifting. I think Alex would make a good dad.

Unfortunately, their ‘serious’ conversation about what’s going on with her is interrupted when he’s called away for “work.” The game this week involves a serial killer that’s been stalking Las Vegas for almost 20 years. The only cop who really believes it’s one guy is Cal, who almost caught the guy in 2005. What was interesting was the fact that this case actually got a reaction from Mr. Johnson. The Norseman, as Cassandra named him, offends Mr. Johnson because he is chaotic and messy.

The Bet: Can Alex Kane stop The Norseman from completing his ritual before midnight on October 31st.

Cal conducted a pretty good investigation in 2005. Especially considering he was a rooky detective back then. Cal got so close to the killer that the killer sent him a skull and hand bones that didn’t match any of the victims they’d located at the time. Cassandra uses Cal’s information about how The Norseman hunts found his victims to find the next victim and location of the attack. Alex takes on this giant of a man, in the middle of a nightclub, and eventually herds The Norseman into the arms of the LVPD. (Alex didn’t call them, so I’m guessing they used Cal’s information as well.)

Everything about The Norseman was mildly creepy. His make up, his height, his voice, and the fact that he was just too still all made him uncomfortable to watch. Exactly what I want from a Halloween villain.

The Norseman doesn’t deny his guilt. He’s serving his deities. The skull and hand bones were from Cal’s first suspect, Bran Torvald, The Norseman’s foster brother. He blames Cal for his brother’s death because after Cal questioned about the murders, in 2005, Torvald got curious and discovered what The Norseman was doing.

The Norseman escapes from custody (he was prepared for the possibility. ) and grabs Alex’s niece as his next sacrifice. Of course Alex goes after Dani. Cassandra genuinely wants to help (I wonder if Cassandra cared about the work she did with other players as much as she seems to with Alex.) but can’t find The Norseman on the grid. Alex, given he had Dani’s number, planted a tracking device on her. So, he follows Dani without Cassandra’s help.

Alex’s rescue hits a speed bump when he falls down some kind of shaft. He manages to climb out of the shaft despite an injured arm. The scene is a bit of false jeopardy in that we know he’s going to get out in time to rescue Dani. We’re not even shown his complete escape. This was the only moment that made me look cross-eyed at the screen. It’s a minor nit-pick but it did pop me out of the episode for a moment.

Alex manages to keep Dani alive past midnight. Just before we discover whether The Norseman will accept defeat gracefully, Mr. Johnson arrives. He informs Alex that he’s won the bet (Does Alex get anything out of winning?) and suggests Alex get Dani out of there. Alex does just that.

Then we learn that “tidying up” is an official part of Johnson’s job. I loved this fight scene. But I think the way he left The Norseman for the police was maybe just a tad too tidy? That final image was one of ‘justice served’ as The Norseman suffered the same fate as his victim. The only difference is that The Norseman’s head and hands are surrounded by those of his victims. I will say that Mr. Johnson did leave the display very orderly.

I’m thinking that Wesley Snipes had a ‘my character gets fight sequences’ clause placed in his contract. (It’s happened on productions before.) If so, I’m glad he did because his fight choreography tends to be a lot of fun. This one definitely was. I’m not sure what to call it. I don’t believe it was technically a staff fight. What ever it was it was a nice change from the standard fists and martial arts fight.

Cal and Agent Nolan share notes on the pictures of Cassandra that have her face blurred out. Cassandra is using some type of high intensity infra-red device to mask her features. I cannot figure out where she’s wearing it. Is it in her make-up? A necklace? I have been wracking my brain and cannot figure out where the device is. Do you guys have any theories?

Ultimately, Agent Nolan’s visit this week is centered around Mr. Johnson trying to get her removed from her ‘off-the-books’ case. Surprisingly, he cannot. Someone is protecting her and that protection is so strong that she barely blinks when Johnson tries to intimidate her by joining her in a bar and making a veiled threat. What a better way to prove that she’s on the right track, and he’s given her a face to work with. Not a particularly wise move on Johnson’s part. Could he have gotten a little too arrogant?

The other major revelation is that there, apparently, is life after being a Player. Johnson was The Player back in his day. I shouldn’t have been surprised, but that one took me aback.

Alex returns from taking Dani home to find Mr. Johnson sitting in his apartment. Alex slipped Johnson Ginny’s, now defunct, phone number. Johnson was able to find surveillance footage of Ginny, and a handler, in the Miami airport. It’s a trail that he promises to pursue.

As I said the episode gave us another change up in tone. The scenes between Alex and Dani gave us a glimpse at the more paternal side of Alex, but these scenes also gave us a quieter more character driven episode. I'm a huge proponent of character stories so this was all good for me. The villain this week was just creepy enough to give me the heebie jeebies. What did you guys think?

About the Author - Prpleight
Prpleight is a screenwriter and senior software engineer with solid geek cred. When not writing code, screenplays, or watching TV (sometimes she does all three at the same time), she uses her broadsword Bessie to battle evil. She's been a frequent contributor to the SpoilerTV discussion boards for several years now.
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