On the heels of a White House announcement about meeting with North Korea, this week’s Taken goes to North Korea. And on the heels of the national high school walk out, a North Korean teen wants to change his entire country before walking out. It’s eerie how all these stories have lined up each week. It’s like America is a scripted reality tv show or something. 😭
Santana and Bryan sneak into North Korea to save an Israeli scientist, captured almost 30 years ago. Our fearless duo poses as Canadian tourists. (Because Canadian are the most trustworthy of all tourists in the world.)
The mission is complicated when the scientist thinks his saviors are testing him. After thirty years in captivity, that’s a fair assumption that should have been expected by Hart’s crew. But. It. Was. Not.
Things are further complicated when Hart’s Chinese contact doesn’t want to risk their agent in North Korea. (Raising my hand) Why didn’t Hart secure a plan of getting her people out, BEFORE they went in? The rather long flight time from D.C. to China gave her plenty of time to plan her team’s escape.
Another issue arises when we learn the scientist has a sixteen-year old son, who may be fully brainwashed by the propaganda he’s been spoon fed all his life. The boy doesn’t want to leave. He has a girlfriend and he wants to save the whole country of North Korea. Whew. That’s going to be a tall order for Bryan and Santana.
The skittish Chinese helicopter pilot leaves, giving no more than the extra sixty seconds they promised Hart. Who can blame him. He’s pretending to be a delivery service. But he can’t make returns when a customer changes his mind and runs off.
Then, instead of trying to get out, Bryan and the asset head to a radio tower to reprogram it and Santana lets the boy say goodbye to his girlfriend without actually saying goodbye. Stress levels are supposed to rise, wondering if the boy will rat out the Americans, and if the North Koreans will figure out what is going on in the radio tower. But there is no real stress level. This section of the show only made me wonder why Mills didn’t put the boy out with a choke hold and throw him into the helicopter.
Instead of going on about what was wrong this episode, here is a rewrite I came up with five minutes after air.
How do you save one person, walking away from millions, but still help an entire country make sense of the outside world? There’s a line, from a movie, starring the guy who played the original Bryan Mills, that goes, “Whoever Saves a Life, Saves the World.” You don’t need to save the entire country in that moment. You save the kid, the kid dedicates his life to helping North Koreans. Simple.
Make the team bide their time while the helicopter arrives the next night, dad goes to his day job, and the boy speaks to the girl one last time. Have the girl accidentally tip off her policeman dad. Then get the assets out, with less casual conversation on the stroll to the helipad, and more swirling searchlights and dogs.
This scene between Kilroy and Hart works well. But rather than minor lines between Kilroy and Hart resulting in Hart removing Kilroy’s ankle bracelet, Kilroy’s freedom should have been a major plot of the episode. After cutting the radio tower scene, add this: Kilroy, who supposedly hacked his ankle bracelet long ago, should remove his monitor to help a friend in need. He almost botches the whole mission when he isn’t at the helm. Meanwhile, Hart learns from back channels about Kilroy’s “day out.” Give Kilroy the opportunity to escape, but have him realize the work he’s now doing is more important than himself. He can then return and help the North Korean teen hack North Korean media from America. Santana watches Kilroy educate the teen on the finer points of being an obnoxious American teenager. As she looks on, Santana says, “You’re actually a good guy. You’ll make a great dad one day.” While everyone enjoys pizza and Coca-Cola, Hart throws Kilroy the key to his ankle monitor. Bryan looks pensive about this decision. Boom. Done.
Despite enjoying my own fan-fic for the show more than the actual writing, here’s what I would keep from this week’s episode.
My Favorite moments:
New Catch Phrase
Far from the “I will find you,” last season Bryan’s only consistent dialogue was “I’m good.” This season he’s fallen into a regular line. “I’ve got your back.”
Playing a Tiny Violin to an Audience of One
Kilroy makes the comparison of the abducted scientist and himself. Hart ignores it all and moves on without missing a beat.
Captain America versus Captain Obvious
No explanation needed.
Bryan may forget himself and show so much empathy that he tosses the entire mission out the window to save a kitten stuck in a well. But he’ll also surprise you, and use whatever means he finds amusing in the moment, to accomplish the mission.
That’s So Kilroy
Kilroy sends out the message of hope to the North Korean people. He can’t help but sign his work.
Tune into next week’s episode “Strelochnik”, when Hart goes after the comrade who betrayed her years before. It looks like she gets trapped in a prison in Russia, so be prepared for Mills to go all “Hulk smash!”
Picture source: NBC & Taken