Life - 201 - Find Your Happy Place

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Episode written by Rand Ravich

"You didn't say three, you didn't even get to three, you shot me on two!" - Man
"He's right you know, you didn't get to three." - Rees
"I rounded up." - Crews

Life will be one of the TV series which I'll be writing an episodic review of as I'm very fond of the show despite it's apparent underrated status and impending move to the Friday dead zone slot. It's an attractive looking show with a powerful lead in Damian Lewis (WYSW here) and it's shown a lot of promise. In the premiere episode of the second season we have a man who is suspected of suffocating people by locking them in trunks and an amusing scene with ice cream truck driver who's selling more than ice cream.

Read about fruit, zen teachings and an unusual way to use luggage beyond the link...

Fortunately for those people who have either forgotten what's happened in the first season or didn't watch it this episode is designed as a nice easy entry point. The show recaps the important parts of the first season before getting right onto the cases or trunks if you like. It also should be noted that there has been one cast change from the first season Donald Logue has been brought in as Captain Brian Tidwell, as a replacement for Lieutenant Karen Davis (Robin Weigert) - I'm still not clear on the need for the change as Robin was very good in the first season. But ultimately as long as Damian is attached to the project this change is not a huge threat to the consistency of the show.

So, trunks - specifically the ones people have started turning up dead in - it seems that the killer has bought ten of these trunks and the opening scenes establish the victims of three. I'm not sure what happens when this killer runs out of trunks; maybe he stops, maybe he goes shopping for more, maybe he sticks himself in the tenth one. I don't know, because it's not very well thought out, and that's the overall problem with this episode. There is a serial killer who is taking life in an incredibly impersonal and cruel manner, leaving them locked in a tiny, overheated trunk with almost no air and just walking away. But the reason behind his actions at the end is tenuous at best. The way in which he's choosing his victims was solid and the method had a beautifully sinister symmetry to it - they were celebrating very personal events and choosing to share them with others, so he killed them by leaving them alone to die - but I just don't know. It wasn't gripping, things felt a little too convenient.

That's not to say the episode was a total duff, far from it. Damian Lewis continues to craft a character who is complex in every way, Charlie Crews is like a diamond; one stone, many facets. And there are some great scenes in the mix, especially the ice cream truck scene and the bathroom scene that follows it (I'm not tired of the Charlie doesn't get new technology joke yet). But the show cannot hold itself forever on the back of Damian's acting ability, the other characters need to be developed more than they are and brought into the story closer. Ted (Adam Akrin) is excellent as he is, but Donald and Dani both need to be fleshed out more while Constance is involved closer with the story (apart from just the talking head interview she had so far.)

The end of the episode does bring the young lass Rachel potentially into the fold as a character, if Crews and Ted decide to look after her and protect her then there is another relationship to be developed there. Which is something the show really needs. Right now we have a superb lead who is backed by some charismatic actors but the development of those characters isn't strong enough, combine this with any cases that are a little weak (like this one) and the whole package suffers. Damian is amazing, but one man alone isn't enough here.

Hopefully in the following episodes events will be built upon and the show will deepen itself more, if the other characters in the show can be given a depth and sense of reality then Life will be able to move up and become something special. The only other way to go would be by providing a strong case each week with talented guest actors in the witness or suspect roles. I really like Life and I want to see it succeed, but right now I'm not totally sure it will. It really needs to bring an A game with it when it moves to that Friday slot, Homicide struggled there for years and Life is nowhere near the same league as that show. Yet...


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