Archive | May 2018

Harrow–Season 1 Finale (Mens Rea)

The purpose of a season finale is to conclude the season’s story arcs and set up potential new ones for the next season…Harrow certainly achieved this effortlessly.

The episode kicks off with the case of the week in a way unique to Harrow. We see Tom (Joel Tobeck) walking around an office, looking out the window and watching a police car and ambulance van speeding down the street to an emergency of some kind, when Tom turns around we see that he has killed someone via stabbing. The choice to show the murderer and then his crime is not unheard of, although it’s not common either, but what truly makes this scene and the crime unique is when Tom makes the choice to commit suicide or so we think.

We then cut to the morgue where Harrow is about to confess his crime to a now deceased Jack only to be called away to the bodies of this week’s case. The atmosphere at this point is ominous as it’s unusually silent, the case is unusually simple and there is a strong focus on the fact that Harrow has placed his phone outside of the lab. Harrow continues with his pre-autopsy routine which abruptly ends when he makes the startling realisation that the murderer is alive and has unzipped his body bag, quickly making his way to Devlin’s body, grabbing the knife. This reveal, complete with the graphic wounds and the realistic and unsettling sound effects of broken bones, was executed beautifully.

The first half of the episode then focuses on Tom holding Harrow hostage as Harrow figures out that Tom’s wife, Katie, had two blood diseases and that Devlin diagnosed but couldn’t do anything for her. The performances between Tobeck and Gruffudd in these scenes were spectacular, with Tobeck perfectly pulling off Tom’s combination of a highly charged emotional state and horrific injuries (Tobeck actually informed me on Twitter that it was a very hot December day in Brisbane when these scenes were filmed), and Gruffudd perfectly balancing between a terrified hostage and a dutiful and skilled pathologist. However as thrilling as these scenes were, a subplot like this can only go on for so long before they become too much for a viewer to handle and need to have a satisfying ending. Tom’s leg finally giving way, which enabled Harrow to break the lab door and call for help, whilst just managing to keep Tom alive was the perfect ending.

Throughout the hostage subplot, scenes between Saroya and Simon are interweaved as they do their own investigation of Harrow as Quinn’s killer. Simon goes to Stephanie to ask her about the wedding ring, where it’s revealed that Quinn hit Stephanie hard and she was kept in the hospital overnight and the ring arrived in her mailbox two days after the murder. Whilst Saroya shows Nichols the pawn shop CCTV footage, unsuccessfully trying to convince him that the surgical shears in Harrow’s kit are those which severed Quinn’s finger. After trying their own methods to solve the murder, Saroya and Simon meet each other on the Bettie, an odd choice, comparing notes unaware that Fern is watching.

Simon and Saroya go their separate ways again, with Saroya finding the file that Harrow took from Dr Whittemore and Simon finding the key to Harrow’s surgical kit, which he opens just as Harrow returns and ultimately confesses to the crime.

My mother and I both watch and discuss Harrow and she said something interesting about non-American crime dramas—that they usually have a twist of some kind and it’s not always what you think it is—it’s not that American crime dramas aren’t like this at all, but they tend to focus more on the action, as I stated in my review of the pilot, Harrow is an intellectual slow burn rather than an action-packed wildfire. So following my mother’s logic, what is the twist in the story arc?

The first twist is in Harrow’s intention. While it was no surprise that Harrow killed Quinn and that Quinn did in fact molest Fern, what was a surprise was exactly how Quinn was killed. Harrow put two-and-two together when he saw Fern and Quinn together and he invited him to the Bettie, Harrow eventually gets Quinn to confess however he doesn’t take responsibility for the molestation and shockingly, he tries to kill Harrow to keep his secret. Harrow eventually kills him by strangling him. The contrast between the violence of Quinn and Harrow’s battle, and the level of calm as Harrow confesses to Simon was executed beautifully with the perfect amount of tension and thrill.

The second twist comes in the form of Simon making the choice to cover Harrow’s tracks to prevent his conviction of Quinn’s murder. While you could argue that this twist was a slightly obvious outcome as, if Harrow does go to jail there’s no show, at the same time, the twist was effective as it was executed quickly and injected character development into Simon, that being said the quick execution felt slightly unrealistic. As Harrow points out, Simon is too good a pathologist and now they are in it together. Simon has always been written and portrayed as a likeable character, and he still is, however now that he has made the same decision that Harrow made without a second thought and quick execution—essentially crossing over to the dark side—it will be interesting to see where his character goes next season and will make a great story arc. I have a feeling that Simon’s choice will come to bite Harrow in the arse at some point next season.

Once the dust has sort of settled, Harrow comes back to find Fern waiting for him on the Bettie, breaking down and finally telling her side of the story. The performances between Gruffudd and Newton in this scene were incredible, portraying the heartbreak between them in a realistic manner without going overboard. It will also be interesting to see where Fern goes next season, as while she will never get over what happened to her, she seems to have found a peace of sorts.

Just when Harrow and the audience think all is well, Harrow is enjoying a much-needed drink when the glass smashes in his hand from a bullet which lands in his torso. We see Harrow start to bleed but we don’t see his shooter and then it fades to black. While I’m not really a fan of season finales ending on a cliffhanger, it does mean that the next season shows promise as it will kick off with a thrilling start.

Overall this was one of the best season finales of a crime drama that I’ve ever seen—the season story arc was wrapped up, most loose ends were tied up, the cast performed brilliantly and flawlessly, and a story arc has been established for the next season. However on a minor note, I did find the ending to the case of the week slightly unsatisfying as it wasn’t made entirely clear whether Devlin really did stuff up. In terms of this episode’s MVPs, it’s a four-way tie between Ioan Gruffudd, Remy Hii, Joel Tobeck and Ella Newton. Overall as a first season, it was mostly well done and without fault, although it was slow to start but gained much needed momentum and traction when it approached the halfway mark.

I’m looking forward to reviewing Harrow‘s second season.

 

 

 

 

Harrow–Season 1, Episode 9 (Lex Talionis)

So we’ve reached the penultimate episode of Harrow‘s first season.

The case of the week focuses on Stan Wagner, an elderly man from the Czech Republic, who is smothered to death in the nursing home he lives in. Most of the episode is set in the nursing home as Harrow and Jack conduct their investigation, from making observations on Stan’s body, to discovering one of the nurses, Rallings (Dan Ewing) is a white supremacist who mistreats the residents, to ultimately discovering that Wagner was Nazi and had a connection with another resident, Mrs Adams (Maggie Blinco) a Hungarian Jew during WWII, who ultimately killed him. The revelation that Mrs Adams killed Wagner due to him deciding the fatal fate of her sister, and the audio flashbacks of Auschwitz were thrilling and well executed. In all honesty, I found the outcome of the case surprising, but in a good way, as this is a murder you don’t usually see committed in crime shows.

The episode didn’t just kick off with the case of the week, it also kicked off with Saroya seeing Jack whilst the crime was being committed. Saroya visits to ask Jack questions about Harrow, showing her doubts of his character, where he tries to reassure her but also evades her questions. During her visit, we’re also given Jack’s back story, with the reveal that him and his wife, Pamela, couldn’t have children.

Saroya isn’t the only one having doubts about Harrow’s character, Simon also starts to lose trust in Harrow as Maxine discovers an issue with the office login system and asks for Simon’s help to clear it up. He reassures her, only to ask for help from tech support. Whilst he waits for answers, he distances himself slightly from Harrow, putting the words “think twice before you answer” over his caller ID photo of him. I felt that Simon’s distrust was played beautifully by Hii, it will be interesting to see how it’s played out in next week’s finale as it wasn’t fully resolved in this episode.

The build up of Fern being Quinn’s murderer was ultimately resolved when it was finally revealed that she didn’t kill him as she was bailing Callan out of jail at the time. The scenes between Callan and Nichols were slightly comedic with Callan fooling Nichols into giving him the chance to call both Fern and Harrow to warn them about the investigation. Callan has generally been used a minor character, however this episode is the first time he is actually a three dimensional character as he tries to help Fern and Harrow and reveals his concerns for Fern to him, which marks the first time Page-Lochard and Gruffudd have shared scenes together. I felt that these moments were well executed and long overdue.

In the background of the Quinn homicide investigation and the case of the week are minor moments which are leading to Harrow possibly being revealed as Quinn’s murderer, such as Fern paying Lewison to decipher a mystery phone number, which leads her to discover a phone box by the pier where Harrow’s yacht is, and Simon finally hearing from tech support what the issues were with the logins. The episode ends with Saroya looking at the surveillance footage of Fern and Harrow in the pawn shop, which was a scene shown in the pilot, and seeing the surgical pliers from Harrow’s surgeon kit.

Overall this was a solid penultimate episode with a solid case of the week, Maxine accepting Nichol’s marriage proposal, Jack’s death, and more clues leading to Quinn’s murderer, which looks like Harrow, however this still to be confirmed. Despite the main cast doing a terrific job as always, the episode’s MVPs are the guest cast—Maggie Blinco for her gripping and realistic portrayal of Mrs Adams, and Dan Ewing for his brief but convincing portrayal of a white supremacist.

I’m looking forward to reviewing next week’s finale and finding out whether Harrow did in fact murder Quinn, especially as it has been implied but so far all of the evidence is circumstantial.

I would also like to congratulate the cast and crew for being renewed for a second season.

 

 

Stray Observations:

-Jack’s investigative skills are finally shown when he works with Harrow to solve Wagner’s murder.

Best one liners:

  • “We’d all break the law for the right reasons” (Jack to Saroya).
  • “No I’m dead, I decided to haunt you through the mobile network” (Jack on the phone to Harrow).
  • “Harrow’s not the only rebel around here” (Fairley to Saroya).

 

Sando–Season 1 Finale (Family Business)

As it’s the season finale, this episode kicked off with a Sando’s ad, only Tony’s version for a current ad.

The contrast between the Sando’s ads from the 90s and Tony’s ad and plans for Sando’s now and in the future were clear as day. Obviously the board weren’t going for it and before they could tell him this, Sando walks in and tries to win them over. She makes a deal to shoot the ad and if they don’t like it, she’ll go on her own accord.

Sando then has to complete the task of convincing her family members to participate in her old ads again. Susie refuses as Sando’s Warehouse is her competitor and Kevin has sold his car to invest in her company, Don refuses as Nicky got him a singing gig at the same time, and Eric refuses as he’s too upset over Nicky rejecting him. However she eventually gets the numbers as Eric is jealous at the thought of Vic Junior taking his place, Don sees the ad as an opportunity to promote his song to a larger audience than the singing gig would provide, and Kevin’s car was stolen and the buyer wants his money back so Susie has no other options.

The scenes of Sando and the family filming the ad gives an insight into their dynamic and what it’s like being a famous family. However this isn’t the highlight of the episode, the highlight of the episode comes right after this when Susie joins in.

The secrets come out and the story arcs of the season come to a head when Rian overhears Don and Sando via the studio headset talking about sleeping together, which leads to Susie telling Nicky this information over the phone, then Tony comes in and asks Susie how Sando convinced her to do the ad, which leads to Tony revealing that Sando’s assets are frozen and she can’t give her the money she needs, which leads to Susie losing it during filming with Eric following her lead moments later, and Nicky arrives to confront Sando, which leads to her telling Eric about the affair and Susie finding out, which leads to a brawl between them all. This chain of events was pulled off seamlessly, with every emotion portrayed realistically and beautifully.

The episode then cuts to an ABC News Breakfast crossover with Sando making an appearance revealing the edited ad, complete with the brawl, as part of her “re-branding strategy” changing Sando’s Warehouse to Crazy Sando’s. Sando then reveals that Susie is the head of the company, with Kevin and Gary working for her.

The episode and the season ends on a rather dark note with Susie partially revealing she plans to destroy Sando, Tony being fired, Eric being admitted to a mental hospital of some kind after a breakdown, and Nicky having opened her therapeutic practice and revealing to an unknown person over the phone that she’s writing a tell-all about the family. Obviously these moments were hinting at time jumps and possible story arcs for the next season, if the show is renewed. The episode and the season also ends in a full circle of sorts as the pilot started with an old Sando’s ad and this episode and the season ends with Sando turning on the TV to watch her new Crazy Sando’s ad with Don.

Overall this was a well done season finale as all the story arcs for this season were successfully concluded with no loose ends, while the final minutes of the episode perfectly set up story arcs for the next season. Whilst the season overall got off to a shaky start by going overboard with outlandish jokes and slapstick moments, but thankfully turned a corner at the fourth episode where the season focused more on the family dynamic, character and subplot development, which lead to a natural and fitting season finale.

I’m hoping this isn’t the last I see or review of Sando.

 

Stray Observations:

–This episode marks a crossover with Sando appearing on ABC News Breakfast.

Best one liners:

  • “Vomiting my guts up at the back of our yacht at the start of the Sydney to Hobart was not a good look.” (Sando to the board).
  • “Mentally he’s still in year 8” (Don describing Eric to Nicky).
  • “How can I advertise furniture when my heart is broken” (Eric to Sando).
  • “Eric’s walking like a re-animated giraffe!” (Sando to Susie)