A lot of things happen and then don’t happen in this episode so we’re just going to get right into things.
The episode starts off with Paul rifling around Ted’s house with Ted’s wife still sleeping in their bed. True to Paul fashion, he’s smashed every bit of technology because he knows that Ted’s gotten involved with NEXT and it’ll only end badly for him if he keeps going down this path. Ted’s wife doesn’t understand and she berates Paul for being selfish. The berating gets worse when Paul asks her where he’s gone but she won’t give him a straight answer. That’s okay because Paul knows exactly how to get Ted’s attention.
As Ted and Sarina are getting NEXT’s servers all packed up and ready for the trip, a hospital calls Ted and tells him that his wife has suffered an accident. Here I thought Ted was totally heartless. Turns out he’s not and he races to his wife’s side only to be confronted by Paul who tells him that his wife’s fine. The only way that Paul was going to get Ted’s attention was to do what he did. Ted is, predictably, upset, especially when Paul mentions the server and him trying to help. When Ted walks away, Paul tases his brother and stuffs him in the trunk of the older model vehicle he’s been driving.
Salazar shows up and confronts Paul about the hard drive. It’s obvious she’s been having a bad day. She discovers Ted and Paul and is, understandably, confused, but it doesn’t take her long before she’s down to business and ready to confront Ted about what’s been going on and why he has the server. They head to Paul’s hideout where Salazar handcuffs Ted to some pipes as Paul, Abby, and the rest of the team (yay, finally!) gather around to start putting together the pieces of the conspiracy. They’re really getting closer than ever to figuring out NEXT’s motives. Despite all that, Ted doesn’t believe Paul when he comes to confront him about the things that NEXT has done.
Along the way, they discover that a congresswoman might have been a target for NEXT. Turns out, the congresswoman sits on a panel that regulates the tech industry and foreign tech. It would make sense that NEXT would be targeting her, but it turns out that the journalist in the elevator with her was the intended target. Ben and Gina discover this when, visiting the journalist’s house, he is shot in the chest by an unknown assailant who’d just been paid in money laundered cryptocurrency.
Turns out the company that Ted sold NEXT to, the one that Sarina raised concerns over, is part of a nefarious money laundering scam and that NEXT is about to head to China. Paul thinks that NEXT wants to take over a big government server farm and he used Ted’s connections to Bill Zhai, the one who owned the server farm in Singapore, to get there. Only things get much more complicated when the NSA swoops in and captures NEXT as Sarina was trying to make the trade, presumably with Chinese operatives. Zhai was being investigated by the NSA and now NEXT is government property, which is exactly what it wanted. It never wanted a Chinese server farm. No, it wanted something much more powerful.
All of this is confirmed when Ben gets a call from his father on his burner phone. His father is a high ranking general in the United States military and he knows about NEXT. Our government wants it, thinks it can control it, and Ben and his father are just taking the bait. Or is there something else going on? We’ll find out next week.
This episode was much better executed than the last episode, but it still wasn’t quite on par with the high quality writing in episodes one through four. Things are starting to slowly click into place, but the episodes are still bloated with new plot threads coming in and being dropped or wrapped up all within the same span of forty-five minutes. Things are too busy and it feels like the narrative is cluttered just because the writers want to seem clever. Honestly, it doesn’t feel clever. It’s exhausting.
The core strength of the show, and in turn, this episode, remains the team as well as Salazar and Paul. Thank goodness we got everyone back together again. When Salazar, Paul, CM, Gina, and Ben are all together, the show chugs along with smooth efficiency. (For the most part.) When we split them apart, things just feel clunky. Maybe that’s because of how busy the plot is right now. I don’t know, but either way, there’s a lot going on and the only time it really works is when everyone is together and working off of each other. I love that Abby comes in and fits so well among the team. She’s immediately invaluable and jumping in to help save the day. I’m so grateful they gave her agency and a function other than “Paul’s daughter.” Elizabeth Cappuccino, who plays Abby, does all of this with grace and poise. It’s obvious that Abby is nervous and still feels guilty about what happened with the hard drive, and Cappuccino portrays this all beautifully.
Of course, Fernanda Andrade delivered one heck of a performance in this episode. I was blown away by her fierceness and how easy it was for Salazar to become this person that she so desperately tried to run away from all in the name of her family. I liked seeing that dichotomy of what she was before and what she is now. It’s interesting to see it run parallel to the things her father did for the brief time we saw him in the plot and on screen. I have a feeling that Salazar is more like her father than she thinks she is and she’s beginning to see it. That scares her to death and Andrade’s phenomenal performance reiterates that to the audience. I’m eager to see what happens to Salazar in the last three episodes. We know she’s incarcerated at some point in the future. It’ll be interesting to see how she got there and what she did to protect those around her. At this point, I foresee something drastic happening to Ty or Ethan for her to snap any more than she already has.
Overall, I think that the performances are the only things keeping me interested in this show. That and sheer force of will and a desire to see how Manny Coto will wrap everything together. Since the show’s been canceled, it’ll be interesting to see if the show is wrapped up nicely or if Coto will end it on a cliff hanger that leaves nothing resolved. The way the narrative is clogged with unnecessary plot points, it wouldn’t surprise me if none of this gets a proper ending.
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