Episode Title: "Communication Breakdown"
Writer: Jonathan E. Steinberg
Director: Steve Boyum
Previously on "Human Target"
Christopher Chance (Mark Valley), Winston (Chi McBride) and Guerrero (Jackie Earle Haley) accepted the partnership offer of billionaire widow, Ilsa Pucci (Indira Varma). But the relationship has been rocky, to say the least. After tensions simmered during several cases over Chance’s methods, things came to a head when Chance’s ex-lover Maria Gallego (Leonor Varela) tricked the team into kidnapping a drug lord’s brother to trade him for her husband.
When the drug lord captured Guerrero and Ames (Janet Montgomery) as well, Chance and Winston decided to defy Ilsa and free them on their own even if it meant severing their ties with her. During the successful operation, Chance killed the drug lord and most of his men save for Hector (Jordi Caballero), who lost his brother in the battle. Ilsa then confronted the team in South America, but only Chance got on the flight back with her to terminate their partnership for good. On the ground, Hector prepared a rocket launcher and aimed it at their plane as it took off.
On the plane, Chance and Ilsa continue their argument. Chance angrily quits, but Ilsa insists that she’ll have no trouble replacing him and tells him that Winston will stay with her because of his contract. On the ground, Hector fires his rocket and takes out the plane’s engines. Chance instantly realizes what’s happened and makes his way to the cockpit. He assists in an emergency landing, but the pilot is killed on impact. Chance and Ilsa barely escape the burning plane before it explodes. Back in America, Ames, Winston and Gurerrero find Chance’s friend Harry (Tony Hale) waiting for them. He explains that he took on a P.I. case that backfired on him and that he needs Chance’s help.
What Harry neglected to do was make sure that he wasn’t followed, as 12 armed men surround the building. Ames is oblivious to the situation as she sunbathes on the roof, leaving Winston and Guerrero to handle the siege while sniping at each other. Back in South America, Chance escorts Ilsa through the wilderness. He chides her for not having any survival skills aside from marrying rich before she spots a drug running cabin. Inside, they find the former occupant dead and Ilsa begins tending her wounds from the crash. Chance notices some bullet scars on her body and asks about them. She throws his earlier words back in his face moments before Hector opens fire on them.
After getting Ilsa back inside, Chance heads to the roof to attempt to get a radio signal. He leaves a gun with Ilsa, but she’s unable to shoot Hector when he bursts in under cover of darkness. Chance keeps him from killing Ilsa, but Hector throws refining chemicals into his face and temporarily blinds him. Ilsa manages to knock Hector into the basement before she and Chance flee on foot. Hector pursues them and nearly throws Chance off a cliff, but Chance stabs him and sends him falling. Back in the states, the siege gets worse as Winston and Guerrero fall back to the saferoom with Harry.
Harry eventually works out that Guerrero and Winston are bitter against each other over a case that took place years ago. He tells them that Chance must have saved them and let them believe that they had saved each other. Up on the roof, Ames finally notices the men breaking into the building and makes contact with the guys. Elsewhere in the city, Chance and Ilsa arrive outside of her place before parting on good terms. Back at the office, Ames comes down from the roof in her bikini to distract the gunmen while Winston sets off an improvised bomb. Chance arrives at the end of the ensuing shootout and kills the last gunman before asking what’s going on. When he sees Harry, all of his questions are answered.
Back at Ilsa’s place, Hector shows up and forces her to call Chance. Rather than draw him into a trap, she tells Chance that Hector is with her. He responds by beating the crap out of her while Chance battles traffic to make his way there. Stuck in a traffic jam, Chance literally runs the rest of the way while Ilsa fights for her life. Chance arrives too late to keep a gun from going off, but it’s Ilsa who has killed Hector. Chance holds her closely as she comes to terms with what she did.
Watching "Human Target" this season has been kind of a chore, but this was one of the better episodes in a while. And again, I have to revise my opinion of Indira Varma, whom I’ve often given a pass due to the poor writing in the earlier episodes. A lot of this installment was built around the rehabilitation of Ilsa Pucci’s character (which was badly, badly needed) and for the most part it was actually effective. But Varma’s performance is just not working on this show. This was the best chance to date for her to show off her acting chops, but when she was relating her story about being shot in Ireland, it didn’t ring true.
Ilsa’s fight with Hector was compelling, probably in part because Varma didn’t have to talk during that scene. The editing cuts between the action and Chance’s attempts to get there were really well done. If Chance had actually gotten there too late after successfully patching things up with Ilsa, it would have been a great dramatic moment for the series. In fact, it was strong enough that it might salvage Ilsa as a character… maybe. It depends on the writing and whether Varma will be able to finally breath some life into her.
Also, I have to ask… what the hell was up with the magic Hector? Jason Voorhees has nothing on this dude! First he falls into a basement before breaking free practically in no time and then he falls off a cliff!! But he not only survived that, he made his way to San Francisco from South America and broke into Ilsa’s apartment within a few hours?! Give me a f***ing a break. This show has a real problem with its depiction of time. At the end of the last episode, Chance’s team should have still been in the vicinity of the plane when it was about to be shot down, but in this episode, they’re back in the USA before the wreckage is cold!
The sequence leading up to the crash was exciting, but we were robbed of seeing the plane actually crashing. Budget limitations, Fox? The B-story of the episode was essentially a bottle show as the action stayed pretty much in the office building sets. Tony Hale’s Harry wasn’t that interesting, but I liked the tension between Winston and Guerrero. Their story about what happened in Bangkok sounds a hell of a lot more fun than what we usually get on "Human Target." For example, it seems like the writer didn’t know what to do with Ames in this episode other than to put her into a bikini and serve as a distraction for the generic hitmen. And while Janet Montgomery is gorgeous, eye candy is no substitute for character or action.
We may be holding "Human Target" to too high of a standard by expecting it to be a show on the level of "24," but there were at least some positive things to come out of this episode. I’d really like to enjoy it on a regular basis.
Crave Online Rating: 7 out of 10.