Writer: David Greenwalt and Grant Scharbo
Director: David Greenwalt
Air Date: 09/17/03
In the first episode after the pilot, ANGEL's David Greenwalt is brought in as showrunner, the cast is trimmed (Matt Czuchry's wacky roommate Darin Metcalf is transferred to another country), and several key patterns are set. "Training Day" firmly establishes the series as spy-fi, up to and including a little fantasy in regards to the NSA having a holodeck (which unfortunately undermines the credibility of the episode quite a bit). Also, it's important to note that it's not Jake using the nanites that solve the case and save the day so much as Jake using his brain. Also of note, Diane's visit to Jake's apartment firmly establishes both their friendship as the central relationship in Jake's new life, and sets up a juxtaposition between Jake interacting with Diane, and how Jake interacts with Sarah. Also, Diane shows that despite her sympathy for Jake in the first half of the episode, she's more than willing to point out when he's being an idiot. Nice to see that she's not blinded by her crush.
Unfortunately, another pattern which gets its start here seems to be Sarah Carter's fascination with beer and her longing for college life--which makes the audience question Jake's sanity in his romantic pursuit of someone a touch on the shallow side. However, it does hit in with the theme of the episode, which is Jake realising that life is not the movies, and whatever cool dreams he had regarding being a spy before now, in reality, it means lying to people he cares about and the very real possibility of being killed while in the service of his country. Kyle is very much in mentor mode in this episode, putting him temporarily in the position of "bad guy" who appears to be coming down too hard on Jake. However, as the episode progresses, Kyle is in fact revealed as Jake's greatest supporter, having fought hard with Lou for Jake to receive his active agent status in the first place. It's an excellent bit of character development, and starts Kyle on the road over the next few episodes of transitioning from Jake's mentor to Jake's friend.
The changes made from the pilot are all smart ones. As fun as Darin is, it's wiser to trim the cast and keep Sarah the one character Jake must keep in the dark. It raises the stakes of that relationship, and makes that plot thread more compelling. Plus, Sarah's investigation into the reassigned DOD funds is a recurring plot thread that has the potential to actually hurt Jake and the team, which also helps justify the characters existence outside of the love triangle. And speaking of the love triangle, kudos to the writing staff for immediately recognising the chemistry between Gorham and Tracy, and expanding the role of Diane. It's great to see a writing team willing to recognise chemistry and run with it, whether or not it was in the original plan.
Quotes of the Week:
Diane: "It's technology at its best. It's ... it's beautiful."
Lou: "It's unpredictable."
Lou: "Diane, he was dropped to his knees by one of our metal detectors."
Diane: " Yeah, I'm, uh ... I'm working on that."
Sarah: "Okay, I know you're going to think I'm a total idiot, but where is my "C:" Drive?"
Jake: "Uh, it's in your computer."
Diane: "Jake ... do you know what happens if you don't make it?"
Diane: "I don't get my Nobel Prize, and I really want my Nobel Prize, you know-- I-I want the-the fame, and I want the money, and I really want the medal. So this whole 'I don't think I can make it' thing -- I think you better lose it, or I'm going to have to kick your nanobot butt, okay?"
Sarah: "That's this town, Jake. That's what it does to you. Do you remember when the most important thing was how to get beer on a Friday night?"
Jake (to Tiranzi): "You should always count your shots. 12 in the mag..."
(Jake nails Tiranzi with a length of metal pipe)
Jake: "...One in the pipe."
© Tara O'Shea 2003