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Manhattan - "Behold the Lord High Executioner" & "Human Error" - Double Review: "The Spies on the Hill"



Manhattan Season 2 Episode Guide
2.01 - "Damnatio Memoriae" - Review
2.02 - "Fatherland" - Review
2.03 - "The Threshold" - Review
2.04 - "Overlord" - Review
2.05 - "The World of Tomorrow" - Review
2.06 - "33" - Review
2.07 - "Behold, The Lord High Executioner" - Review
2.08 - "Human Error" - Review
2.09 - "Brooklyn" - Review Coming Soon
2.10 - Jupiter (December 15 2015)

2.07: "Behold, the Lord High Executioner"
Directed by Jennifer Getzinger & Written by Lila Byock & Vinne Wilhelm

Okay, we're almost done with the second season of Manhattan now and as it stands, the show itself is going to be in my Top 10 of 2015 because it's certainly going to be well deserved. Each episode so far throughout the season has been consistently awesome, and that continues with Behold, The Lord High Executioner, the seventh episode of the series as it switched its attention to the spy network on the Hill, showing us more of Jim Meeks, the spy for the Russians, who's been leaking them crucial documents in order to, from his perspective, save both America and Russia, because he believes that if both sides have access to the Atomic Bomb then there's less chance of them actually using it, which turned out, was exactly what happened once America dropped the bomb on Japan at the end of WW2.

We open with a bit of gossip in one of the homes in Los Alamos as things aren't looking good for Meeks, with some of the wives of the scientists have been discussing a spy on the hill and whether or not that they should report something. We learn that Colonel Darrow now has a witness to help him identify who went into the woods on the night that Avram Fischer was killed, in the form of Pablo, a young son of a Native American maid who saw a man in the woods burying a box. Darrow turns to Theodore Sinclair (Corey Allen), in order to uncover the code that they found in the tin box, claiming that he went to Sinclair because of his excellent mind but in actual fact, what was more likely the scenario was that Darrow is going to the only scientist who he can be sure is not leaking secrets to the enemy, because Sinclair is the only African American on the farm, and the Colonel is fully aware that he's looking for a man with white skin. So that automatically makes Sinclair cleared.

The episode itself served a fantastic job of building up the tension as to the identity of the spy on the Hill - the audience knew who is the mole, but the soldiers don't, and as a result, it led to a frantic moment of information gathering as Darrow attempted to work out who was responsible for Fischer's death that came earlier in the season. It felt like the show was handling the spy stuff and tension very well indeed, and explored some big Meeks centric moment in the series. His and Fritz's newlywed, Jeanie, started to work out that there was in fact problems with Meeks' hastily attempt to clear the evidence that implemented him, and showed us that she was able to eventually work out that it was Meeks after his attempt at hushing up the witness's mother backfired, but this worked in a way that actually allowed us to gain sympathy for Meeks. A cold-hearted spy would have simply killed off Pablo and be done with it, as Nora wanted to do initially, but Meeks even rejected that approach which was ultimately his downfall, as Jeanie later makes a discovery, finding the pitch pipe that Meeks used in the rehearsals for his play in the backyard of Pablo's house, so naturally, the game is up.

Jeanie can't sit still during the performance of The Mikado and she knows that if Meeks is a spy that could lead to disastrous consequences. However when inevitably confronted, Meeks comes up with a lie to plant some doubt in her head. Jeanie isn't quite sure whether Fritz really got Meeks into the spy ring or not, but even Meeks recognises that something has to be done with her at this point and so eventually relents to Nora's promise to take care of Jeanie, who is hit over the back of the head by Nora. It's an interesting end to the episode and certainly shows us that Meeks is now in a deeper hole than ever before.

As usual though, we did get to spend plenty of time with other characters on the Hill even if they weren't the main focus of Behold, the Lord High Executioner, and Frank got involved with Liza's research at the Trinity test site despite orders forbidding him not to, Helen met the man who brought her a drink in 33 when she presumed it was Charlie at the bar, and Abby spoke to Darrow as she further went down a path towards Religion when she went looking for answers about her miscarriage. She told him about the fact that she called Jean Tatlock, Oppenheimer's mistress, and believes to be responsible for her suicide and as a result that caused her to lose her child. She was thinking about making payment to the Tatlock family, but Darrow tells her that God doesn't accept money, telling Abby that there are other ways to redemption.

Overall Episode Verdict: A
Positives:
+Meeks being painted as the good guy.
+Big moment for Jeanie.
+Nora's handling of Jeanie at the end of the episode.
+The net closing around Meeks.

2.08: "Human Error"
Directed by Julie Ann Robinson, Written by Mark Lafferty

The eighth episode continued to move things closer and closer to the end of the second season. We returned to the main characters after time spent with Meeks, focusing on Charlie who was experiencing some daddy issues on this week's episode. He was released from prison but it wasn't going to be a happy reunion for them even though he sought out Charlie close to the Hill, Charlie rejects him and tells Eli to get out of his life. Eli starts to plant seeds of doubt in Abby about Charlie's trustworthiness after Abby goes and takes Joey to meet him. However, Eli is the least of Charlie's problems this time out.

Human Error saw the first test of the bomb at the site but it backfires, and Darrow, recognising that they need a contingency plan in case Charlie cannot complete the test, reluctantly agrees to let Frank back as a scientist. If he fixes the bomb, he can see his wife again. However, Frank wants a seat on the targeting committee, which is something that Darrow's not willing to do even though Frank ends up finding a solution to Charlie's problem with the bomb, even though naturally Charlie is annoyed at first at the prospect of working with Frank, especially as Frank withheld the solution until Charlie convinces the committee to test the bomb on an uninhabited Island. Charlie eventually agrees, but doesn't know that Frank and Lazar were responsible for the test failing in the first place, so that Frank could find a way back into Darrow's good books.

Two parties were affected by Jeannie's death this week, both Meeks and Fritz who handle their reactions somewhat differently. Meeks goes to Nora and later finds out that Pablo didn't see Meeks, but apparently another spy on the base, presenting the question that he is not alone in working for a different team. This naturally means that Jeannie's death could have been avoided after all, but it's of small comfort to Fritz, who is hit hard by the loss of Jeannie, even if he doesn't know the true reason for her death. Fritz believes that an accident at the construction site lead to her death and not only shaves his moustache, which was something Jeannie wished he'd do but also volunteers as a test subject for Liza's work as he spirals down a path of negativity.

The plot also made some forward momentum with the British spies this week when just before they were about to leave Crosley betrayed Hoggard, who planned to bring all the confidential documents to Britain that he'd been gaining. However, they never made it out of the gate and it was revealed that Crosley had been working all along, particularly after the picture of Crosley's child that was shown to him was not actually as it turns out Crosley's child, and Hoggard was lying to him all along. Crosley it turns out was working with Darrow, and it made for a solid twist that affected these two characters' story development well.

Oh, and something else important happened this week in the overall scheme of things of World War Two, and that was the death of Hitler, which was celebrated by pretty much everyone on the base, with Europe now being freed from oppression. However the war with Japan is not over yet and that will play an interesting part in how things play out going forward as it comes to the forefront with just two episodes left in the Season and one of them having already aired.

Overall Episode Verdict: A
Positives:
+Crosley betraying Hoggard.
+The end of war in the European Theatre.
+Frank pressuring Charlie/Darrow to get back on the project.
+Meeks and Nora.

Now that my review is out of the way for both of these episodes, (I'll do my best to try and get coverage of Brooklyn up over the next couple of days, so stay tuned for that), what did you think of these two episodes? Which one did you enjoy more? Are you looking forward to the season finale? Let me know in the comments below.

About the Author - Milo MJ
Milo is an Arsenal FC supporter and loves TV shows like Battlestar Galactica, Justified, The 100, The Americans and Person of Interest. He reviews Black Sails, Childhoods End, Hell on Wheels, The Knick, Manhattan, Murder in the First, Narcos and Veep for Spoiler TV as well as books, films and games for his own blog The Fictional Hangout and contributes to comic reviews on a weekly basis for All-Comic.
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