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Salvation - Fallout and Détente - Reviews: Ratcheting Up the Intrigue

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***Warning- This review contains spoilers

Last year about this time, the CBS television network launched an ambitious sci-fi centered series with the premise of what would happen should an asteroid be on a collision course with earth. Their gamble paid off with a fast-paced, intricately plotted series that grabbed viewers and took them on a wild, intrigue-filled ride. Based on the first two episodes of Salvation's hard-won second season, this year we're in for an even wilder time. Salvation centers around the unlikely team, of Grace Barrows (Jennifer Finnigan), Harris Edwards (Ian Anthony Dale) and Darius Tanz (Santiago Cabrera) and their combined efforts to save the world. When last we saw them, Harris and Grace were in an underground bunker safe from an impending nuclear attack from Russia. Darius and his assistant Liam Cole (Charlie Rowe) had made a discovery about the approaching asteroid that could possibly help them stop the collision. President McKenzie (Tovah Feldshuh) was in her command center imploring her Russian counterpart to stop the missiles descending on the United States.

By the end of the episode, Grace and Harris have taken charge of the people in the bunker but failed to prevent the accidental death (or was it murder?) of a man named Riggs (Aaron Douglas). Harris once again hooks up with Fiona, his bartender one-night stand who just happens to be a scientist. The President convinces Russia to destroy their missiles, unfortunately, one doesn't obey commands and denotates in the geographic center of the United States, only to discover it was redirected there deliberately by the radical hacker group Resist who now claims control one final missile armed with 13 nuclear warheads. Resist demands the world be told about the asteroid and that the governments of the world send their best scientists (including Liam) to work on the problem of they will detonate the missiles. Did we mention that the former Vice-President Bennett (Sasha Roiz), charged with poisoning the President, has escaped custody? And finally, Darius has been named the new Vice-President of the United States who seems to gain the trust of a panicked country with his first speech in his new position. Wait, what????

The show doesn't miss a beat, picking up literally right where it left off nearly a year ago. It feels as though the viewers were just holding their breath for a very long time before the action begins again. The writers do a great job of building the suspense in not only the premiere (Ep. 2x01-Fallout) but in the subsequent episode, (Ep. 2x02-Détente) and if possible have added even more twists and layers to keep viewers engaged. Resist's announcement has sent the world into chaos. Liam is trapped at the new Resist headquarters, Tanz Industries with his traitorous former teacher, Malcolm Croft (Dennis Boutsikaris) and a mysterious Greek scientist, Alycia Vrettou (Melia Kreiling) who claims to not only be a former Tanz employee that was blacklisted by Darius, but that he also stole her greatest creation, Darius' super special computer, T.E.S.S. Harris, at the direction of the President, is searching for the fugitive former Vice-President and Claire Rayburn (Erica Luttrell) (whom Grace killed last season before Claire could kill Harris). His life is complicated by the arrival of a D.C. police detective, Alonzo Carter (Ashley Thomas) with a special interest in Claire's missing person's case.

Meanwhile, Grace, now a special advisor to the President, has been sent on a secret mission to Reykjavik, Iceland with current Vice-President Darius. While adjusting to his new duties and responsibilities as President Darius is at heart a scientist with an idea how to stop the impending asteroid collision. He quickly proves himself to be an unusual VP when he selects the attic of the White House as his office and one of his first steps is to name Jillian Hayes (Jacqueline Byers) as his assistant. He then commandeers a stealth jet to take him to Reykjavik to convince the scientists of RISC that the only way to stop the asteroid is with science. And in true Darius form, he survives an assassination attempt by wearing the bullet-proof shirt.

Grace, in the meantime, has her plate full in her new role as special White House advisor, juggling the puzzling way Darius, excuse us, the Vice-President, is handling their burgeoning romance not to mention having to advise him in diplomacy while accompanying him to Iceland. And if that wasn't enough she's being haunted by Claire Rayburn, especially after she is given Claire's old office at the White House. She wants to confess to the President, but Harris convinces her it's in their best interest to keep quiet. Combine her guilt, on top of her PTSD from killing Claire to save Harris, and her new duties and responsibilities, it's a wonder Grace is still standing and sane. But, as we quickly learned last season, Grace, as befits her name, is a strong and resourceful woman.

Ian Anthony Dale, Charlie Rowe, and Santiago Cabrera all, are on the top of their game in the season's first episodes but it's the ladies who command the attention. Jennifer Finnigan, as Grace, continues to shine, adding layer upon layer to her character. She'll easily take her place among kick-ass women of television with this portrayal. Grace stands out among kick-ass heroines thanks in part to her two greatest weapons, her quick mind, and her words. They're weapons she wields as efficiently as the weapons other television heroines carry into battle.

Alongside Finnigan, Tovah Feldshuh is especially effective as the forceful and decisive President McKenzie. She's a take no prisoners leader, who doesn't hesitate when making a decision, issuing an order and expecting it to be carried out. She counteracts Resist's demands with a bold move of her own, naming Darius Tanz as her vice-president. She's tough and solid, and it's a wonderful performance to watch. It's great too watching Jacqueline Byers give Jillian more depth and responsibility.

The show has added a handful of additional intriguing ladies.Taylor Cole is bartender/scientist, Fiona. Just how DID she end up in Darius' bunker? There's the previously mentioned Alycia Vrettou, (Melia Kreiling), will her knowledge of T.E.S.S be the key to Liam and the others outsmarting Resist? And lastly, the head of RISC and former MIT classmate of Darius', Dr. Rosetta Stendhal (Anjali Jay), whom Supergirl fans will remember as the evil Kryptonian priestess, Selena, from that show's recent season finale.

As our core team deals with saving the world, the writers and producers have taken delight in throwing in several delicious twists and turns to throw roadblocks in their way. Jillian finds that Riggs was not the real name of the man who died in the bunker; the fugitive Vice-President has gone public declaring himself to be the true president and has amassed loyal soldiers who are joining him in staging a coup, starting with taking back the White House, and the detective investigating Claire's disappearance turns out to have a secret of his own, which Grace discovers when he comes to see her. Turns out he's Claire's brother! Oh, and did we forget to mention there is still an extinction level event asteroid bearing down up the world and will strike earth in 121 days and that Resist still has an ICBM with 13 nuclear warheads? It's going to be an exciting time on Salvation this summer, any bets on who causes the greater disaster, Resist or the asteroid?

The intrigue is building to an all-time high this summer on, this high-octane thrill ride that is Salvation! What are your thoughts on the first two episodes? Share them in the comments below.

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