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Salvation - Abre Sus Ojos - Review: Sleight of Hand

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***Warning- This review contains spoilers

Everyone loves a good magic act. We love watching skilled masters of illusion entertain us with surprising tricks. In this week's episode of Salvation, Episode 8 – Abre Sus Ojos, have proven themselves to be master magicians. They've brought us an episode where the story reveals surprising twists as several characters practice their own special style of sleight of hand. Let's not forget the immediate threat at hand – Resyst is demanding President Darius Tanz (Santiago Cabrera) stop the railgun test and turn over the rail gun to them or they will drop one of the nukes they control on the satellite on New York City. One problem. The president is missing, seemingly having pulled his own disappearing act from the Oval Office.

Those left behind in the White House, primarily Harris (Ian Anthony Dale) and Grace (Jennifer Finnigan) must pull off a bit of magic themselves to keep the country from finding out the President is gone. They enlist the FBI, who in turn reaches out to the local authorities for help in finding a missing person. That's quite a trick, getting the locals to help search for a man whose description matches that of the President without telling them they're looking for the President.

An intense "woman to woman" chat between a determined Grace and captured operative, Fiona (Taylor Cole) takes place ending with Grace ordering Fiona's chip to be re-implanted. Nice work as usual from Finnigan, this time showing Grace's harder, calculating side and Cole, matching her bit for bit. Following their ‘chat" Harris and Grace concoct their own bit of deception by convincing Fiona's colleagues that she's dead and following them back to their hideout after they retrieve her body. Unfortunately, the result is finding out there is a new, dangerous player in this game, Q17, a paid for hire, CIA level black ops mercenary group. This sequence saw some very solid work from Dale as well, particularly his concern and momentary panic when the drug to revive Fiona initially doesn't work. It's a shame the show had to lose Taylor Cole's Fiona, as she is taken off to jail following a bittersweet farewell with Harris. Cole and Dale had nice chemistry and before finding out she was a traitor, she had proved to be a great match for Harris. It would be nice to see if they can someway bring the character back.

Liam (Charlie Rowe)'s journey this season has been a rocky one. This episode redeemed the character for the season and featured some of Rowe's best work of the series. He and the writers fooled everyone into thinking that Liam was so angry at Darius that he'd convincingly betray Darius by revealing his deception. Instead, it was all part of a larger plan to help Darius destroy T.E.S.S and end Resyst's control over the nukes. Kudos too to Rowe's work with Dennis Boutsikaris as Malcolm Croft. Croft also found some redemption by sacrificing himself to help Liam.

However, the Grand Master Illusionist of this episode with Darius Tanz himself. He pulled off a very convincing physical transformation into alter-ego Raul Aguirre, manages to infiltrate Resyst, mend fences with Liam and concoct an elaborate scheme to wrest control of the nukes they were being used to blackmail the government.Santiago Cabrera has been at his very best these last two episodes, first as Darius finding himself thrust into the role of President following the assassination of his friend, then as his alter-ego, Raul Aguirre, the seemingly alcoholic, bumbling scientist that has created the nano-technology Resyst needed to save their solar sail project. There is a wonderful irony in the fact that the very scientist to save the project was the scientist Resyst was determined to defeat. One highlight was the confrontation between Darius, tied to a chair after his deception was exposed by Liam, and Alycia (Melia Kreiling). The intensity of their dislike for one another crackled, and their verbal sparring was exceptional. Though the idea that after Darius successfully destroyed the nukes and disarmed Resyst, Alicia would be allowed to just pack her bags and leave is a bit implausible, maybe it leaves the door open for her return later in the season.

Meanwhile, back at the White House, Jillian (Jacqueline Byers) is still reeling over breaking things off with Liam, fighting with Darius and being publicly berated by the Speaker of the House is feeling beat up and defeated and decides to return to Boston. Later, Nate (Madison Smith) brings cult leader Bass Shepherd (Luke Arnold) and some of the other Children of the Earth to Grace's home, where Jillian is staying to stage what can only be described as an intervention. There is just something creepy about Shepherd and particularly his interest in Jillian. Is he a wolf in sheep's clothing, making him and his cult the biggest illusion of them all? While still not sold on this storyline for Jillian, let's be willing to wait a little longer to see how it is going to play out.

President Tanz magically returns to the White House in the nick of time and later urges Harris and Grace to celebrate the small victory they have earned. Then he and Grace start their own private celebration that begins with the passionate reunion fans of the couple have been waiting for. An asteroid is still going to collide with Earth is less than 3 months, but for now, we are celebrating. The writers, actors, and producers of Salvation are keeping us glued to our seats with taut, well-written, well-acted episodes week after week. Being the master magicians they are, there should be no doubt that they could continue making magic well into a much deserved third season.

What did you think of Abre Sus Ojos? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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