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Sweatpants & TV | Taken, Season 2, Episode 6, “Charm School”

By Lesley Gayle

This week on Taken a Senator’s wife is kidnapped by an Anti-Russian group, claiming the Congressman is connected to Russian oligarchs. Or was she?

The overt writing about Russian campaign funds and fake news, along with a typical unsympathetic politician, leads the audience to think the Congressman must be part of his own wife’s kidnapping.

Bryan and Santana find the hideout for the anti-Russian group, Red Hate, and crash their borscht party, literally.


Bryan reveals he’s a friend, having saved their men during his time in the military.

Even though the anti-Russia group, retweeted a story about the Senator’s dark campaign funding, they got the story from another source. The source, we learn, is in fact, very pro-Russian spies.

After finding his wife, we still believe the Congressman was in on it, until Bryan captures the actual Russian kidnapper and hands him over to Red Hate. The kidnapper gives up information that the Senator’s wife is actually the Russian-born, American-adopted, plant they should be looking at. She married the Senator after his first wife died.  Bryan extracted this information by promising to release the Russian. But Bryan turns tails and says he doesn’t negotiate with terrorists. The spy killed hundreds of Ukrainian protests a few years before, so things won’t go well for him. Here again, we see the choice between justice or revenge, that the show is flip-flopping on.

Before anyone finds her, the Senator’s wife disappears. But Bryan and Santana track her down based on her motion sickness medication. The public is told the Senator’s wife was ill and died suddenly. The Senator’s son remains in contact with his step-mom, the spy. (Are we supposed to believe that a highly trained Russian spy would contact her stepson via text, right after her disappearance, and expect no one to notice?)

The audience is left not knowing who to trust. Was the Senator part of the spy network too, since Anna didn’t kill him when she left? Did the spy turn the Senator’s son, or was he a Russian adoptee too? How many spies are in our everyday life? What were the Russians attempting to accomplish with their interference? And when Donald’s son was talking with Russians about adoptions in that meeting, are these the adoptions to which he was referring? I’ll never trust anyone again! Maybe that was the Russian’s intent.

This episode had a much tighter story. However, the writing was way too overt and the episode was a directing and editing mess. The interaction between Santana and Kilroy still doesn’t completely work. I’ve seen Adams Goldberg in many things. He can’t help but exude sarcasm, it’s like the only language he speaks. And I’ve seen Jessica Camacho straddle the sarcasm needed for a suspension of belief, on supernatural shows like “Sleepy Hollow”. I’m at a loss as to how their scenes fall flat, other than a director is pulling them back.

Beyond that, several unnecessarily long action scenes should have had been more tightly edited, giving more time over to story development. When Taken’s social media account tweets a 2 1/2 minute video, rather than a few ten-second action gifs, there’s an issue. Taken is first and foremost an action franchise, so the lulls are glaring.

Finally, I love Hart’s character. But having her stare out into an abyss as she pines over a betrayal from the old days, was just bad directing. Seriously, I hope Jennifer Beals slapped someone after seeing her soliloquy.


The writers still think we’re all simpletons. (“Fake News”? really? Give us a thin veil to cover our eyes! Or something to cover the private parts!)  But I can say, despite beating the audience over the head with “ripped from the headlines” story lines, a team of actors is forming. If Taken is renewed and given a consistent writing and directing team, it could be great. Here are some moments I loved.


My Favorite moments:

Hart Straightening Bryan’s Tie

The Windsor knot is NOT part of Mills’ particular set of skills.


Bryan’s Personality FINALLY shows through


Maybe the Charm School title is meant for Bryan, since he’s far more brash this episode. But no, it is a cover name for an operation to plant Russian children in America through adoptions. Good, I’d hate for Bryan to lose his personality in charm school, just as the show is allowing it to come to the surface!


Bryan’s Friendship with the Ukrainians

This is the only believable chemistry in the show this episode, maybe this season. Bryan convinces the Ukrainians that he’s on their side. His old military unit helped the Red Hate leader years before. They share “salo”. That’s cured pork fat. I looked it up. Thank goodness it wasn’t something worse, like putrefied shark. But poor vegan Santana has to partake.


Bryan Hands over the Ukrainian Killer to the Red Hate

In another flipped morality week, Bryan hands over the Russian spy to the Red Hate. I guess what happens on foreign soil, stays on foreign soil. No need for American authorities to get involved. But I better not hear Bryan telling anyone else they should take the high road!


A Plug for AirBNB

Santana gets an Airbnb rental for their time in Brussels. They do offer more options on locations for stakeouts and feel more like home. They come highly recommended by me too.


Santana Worried about her Credit Score?

Bryan just totaled Santana’s rental car. I’m sure she got full coverage and we’ll assume the government will cover any additional expenses. But can we overlook that she used a PERSONAL credit card while on a COVERT international espionage operation. That’s not traceable at ALL!

Tune in to next week’s episode “Invitation Only”. I wonder if it’s going to be an invitation to Prince Harry and Meghan’s wedding!


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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