"Dead Man Talking"
Writer: Mark Wilding
Director: Leslie Libman
Airdate: 05/20/04 (UK)
Christopher Gorham...Jake Foley
Keegan Connor Tracy...Diane Hughes
Philip Anthony-Rodriguez...Kyle Duarte
Judith Scott...Louise Beckett
In the first episode since "Whiskey Tango Foxtrot" to focus on Lou, the audience gets some fantastic back story that shows how much Lou gave up in order to get where she is at the NSAand how her decisions have at times haunted her. Her relationship with Alex Brandt is complex, and while it shows that Lou has a sensual side that may not be immediately apparent, it also shows that she is ambitious, driven, and unwilling to compromise who she is. Not for a man. Not for anything. At the same time, those decisions do not come without a cost. Lou could have had the life Jennifer Brandt has, had she wanted it. And there is a sense in many ways that Jennifer is in fact doomed to be forever in Lou's shadowsecond choice, second bestand that Lou was very right to break it off with Alex when she did. Clayton Rohner plays Alex with just the right mix of charm and smarm. It's easy to see why Lou was drawn to his sense of confidence and easy-going manner, because beneath it there is still a slight edge. He also plays haunted particularly well, and that helps draw out the tension, keeping the audience guessing as to the real villain well into the third act. Consciously, we know Jake wouldn't really murder anyone. However, the structure of the script sets up enough plausible reasons why Jake might, before all the clues are revealed.
Also? FOr the record? The smoking exit wound? Hella cool. The moment stands out as truly shocking.
Given Jake and Diane's relationship post-"Get Foley" it's interesting to see a story which illustrates exactly why the NSA frowns upon fraternisation. As in "Blackout" and "Get Foley", Lou and Kyle are forced to play Devil's Advocate, while Diane remains 100% true and loyal to Jake. However, in this case, the real Devil of the piece remains Warner. Poor Ben Wilton was just cannon fodder. Cameron Bancroft was likeable as Ben, and it's almost a pity his character was killed off. However, given the limitations of the script (the episode, which was shot in early January 2004 was structured in such a way as to give series star Christopher Gorham time off to spend with his wife as their second child was born) Ben was an excellent red herring because all the signs could have pointed to Jake's subconscious mind perceiving Ben as a threat to his position on the team. Not to mention, Ben was cosy-ing up to Diane. It's telling that Diane is the first person Jake attempts to communicate with. It's a testament to their relationship that even doped up on opiates, Jake knows Diane is in his corner and has his back.
Knowing only one episode remains in the series, fans may be frustrated that, except for two scenes early on in the episode, there is little reference to the events of "Get Foley." However, at the time this episode was written there had been no hint that the production would be shut down after episode 16, and the two part series finalewhich no doubt would have given the fans the closure they cravedwould not be shot. So in context, the forward motion of their relationship is perfectly in keeping with the patterns established thus far. The good news is, Jake remembers everything, and wants to discuss it with Diane. Diane admits that while Jake might not have been himself, she was, which is a major turning point given she had never articulated her interest in him to Jake himself thus far. And the scene in the men's' room, although partially played for laughs, is touching. Television conventions means of course they must be interrupted before they can actually finish their conversation. But that doesn't make what was said any less important.
Lastly, thought he is not given too terribly much to do in this episode, "Dead Man Talking" does a nice job of showing how loyal Kyle is to Louand how, in his own way, he is there for her every bit as much as Diane is for Jake. While Alex Brandt was threatened by a woman being more driven than he was, Kyle has nothing but admiration and respect for Lou, and that clearly comes through in all their scenes together throughout the series.
Quotes of the Week:
Jake: So.. ah... been busy?
Diane: Yeah. Yeah. Yourself?
Jake: Yeah. Same old. Ran away. Had a shoot to kill order out on me. Almost slept with my best... colleague. [Pause] Had a nice Ethiopian meal.
Diane: Well, you have been busy.
Jake: Diane! Men's room! What are you doing?
Diane: We have to talk.
Jake: Okay. Okay. Okay. Look. I've been thinking about this a lot. That kiss waswell... I know things were crazy, but I meant it. You're beautiful. But I just keep coming back to the fact that we work together, and it's the NSA, and I think that we both understand that... that we just can't. Ah... what?
Diane: I didn't come into the bathroom to talk about that.