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Sweatpants & TV | Taken, Season 2, Episode 5: “Absalom”

By Leslie Gayle

On the tails of the Turkish embassy ordering the beating of protesters, a Turkish diplomat goes missing. And we learn Santana’s backstory, namely that her real name is Teresa. I hope Bryan and Kilroy joke about that after a few drinks, and I hope Santana makes them pay for it.

The Turkish diplomat, Zohan Dohan (Wasn’t this an Adam Sandler character?), has a taste for brutalizing young women during sex. Needless to say, no one on Hart’s team really cares when they find Dohan dead, after being tortured.

But the team doesn’t want tensions between the embassy and protest group to escalate. In solving this murder, the team ultimately help the women of a sex trafficking ring they uncover.

Hart gives Bryan Santana’s back story. Santana was dishonorable discharge after trading arms for enslaved girls in Iraq. Her government was turning a blind eye. What Hart neglected to tell Bryan was that after Santana handed the girls over to the Iraqi authorities, the local police sold them back into prostitution.

Photo by: Panagiotis Pantazidis/NBC

The team connects the dots and realizes a counselor for a women’s shelter is the one drugging and killing the traffickers and pimps. She has gone after a corrupt police detective just as they figure this out. The local detective is quicker than the counselor, who once was a victim of traffickers herself. The detective places her in the hands of the traffickers. When they arrive on scene, Mills has to talk Santana out of shooting the detective. Kilroy finds all the financial evidence needed to put Detective Lyons away for life.

I was disappointed in this episode for many reasons. It seems Taken has still not found a groove in Season Two. Each episode is a new microcosm, unconnected to the last story. And the sense of right and wrong is flipped each week. It’s ok for Bryan to kill his sister’s murderer, or push a criminal over the edge to suicide, but then he expects Santana to do things legally.

Photo by: Panagiotis Pantazidis/NBC

The softness with which the show handled the subject of human trafficking stuck out to me. I know the movies are grittier and this series is not supposed to be the movies. But the series is based mostly on people being “taken,” and specifically abducted into sex trafficking. I don’t feel this episode did the subject of human trafficking justice. Not one actress showed signs of actual trauma from their experience. Mixing the subject with a “ripped from the headlines” event with the Turkish embassy, muddied the storyline.

It’s network, so there is much they have to censor. But the show cleaned up the faceless victims of this crime in a warm montage of tattoo coverups and group therapy. The writer and director, both male, approached the subject matter like a well-intending widower, timidly buying a bra for his developing, tomboy daughter. Namely, they don’t know how to approach the subject, and maybe they should have asked a woman for help, preferably an outraged one. The audience felt more sympathy for Norman, who lost his job and retirement funds a few episodes back. That sympathy is what made the audience believe Bryan’s rage. Santana, who has proven to be a fighter, had her outrage squelched. Maybe all the #MeToo and #TimesUp is making me sensitive. But it feels like there are different rules for the boys.

What I liked about the episode was the build-up of character chemistry. It’s been slow, but it’s getting there. Here are some of the scenes that did work for me.

My Favorite moments:

Kilroy’s Look

The team has to speak with one of the prostitutes about the murder. Kilroy tracks down the pimps contact information and makes a date with one of the girls. The team needs to send a “john” and decides Kilroy has “the look”. Kilroy assumes he has “the look” that says he needs to pay for sex. To which Hart quickly comes back with, “The look that says, ‘I’m not law enforcement.’” Sure, that’s it.

Kilroy’s Blacklight

After reluctantly excepting his position as the “guy who doesn’t look like law enforcement (and has to pay for sex),” Kilroy exhibits his obsessive-compulsive side. He brought a blacklight to the hotel room. The network must have deemed it inappropriate to show the carnage because we never see it. Or maybe the hotel set was too clean.

Bryan Throwing the Stink Eye All Episode

Bryan is amped this week for some reason. He’s a little upset Santana won’t tell him about herself. (Like he’s a open book of warm fuzzies to everyone.)

First, he makes his disdain known for the Turkish Embassy’s idea of crowd control.

Then he throws some major snark at Hassan’s hookah lounge waitress.

Then he has to be calmed by Santana when Bryan immediately grabs for a hookah pipe before talking with some fairly decent thugs, who just happen to hate the current Turkish government.

Hart threatening the Turkish Embassy

Christina Hart is at her best when she’s telling men off. This week she holds the Turkish embassy to task with the Zohan Dohan’s scandal (I still just can’t, with this name…)

Texas Chainsaw Massacre

After a week of sex trafficking women, corrupt police and diplomatic immunity allowing serial abusers to sweep crimes under the rug, Kilroy decides to comfort himself with more light hearted entertainment.

Taken will be back next week with a kidnapped Senator! He’s a war hero, so America might care if he’s missing. But I doubt Congress will notice he’s gone. I’m kidding. I understand where Bryan’s coming from this week.

Picture source: NBC & Taken

Leslie Gayle

Leslie is a one time CPA, wife and mom of twins. She’s an over thinker who loves karate, thunder, and travel. Her sweatpants are yoga pants and she takes her coffee with milk.

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