Spoilers for Friday night's "Life" coming up just as soon as I melt a plastic bag...
Though there were a couple of flaws that I'll get to in a minute, "Not For Nothing" was easily the strongest episode of season two. (And unless the numbers take a dramatic uptick soon, it may be one of the last. Sigh...) No university would ever allow someone to conduct the Stanford Prison Experiment today, but if you suspend your disbelief on that, the scenario was a powerful way to spotlight just how much Crews learned during his time in a real prison.
Three superb moments: Crews tries to silence Nate the poseur, realizing how close he is to starting a riot; Charlie and Ted putting on their hard prison faces to scare the bad professor into showing them the hidden footage; and, especially, Crews sitting down with the killer to prepare him for the rest of his life ("The first three years will be the hardest"). Damian Lewis is always terrific, but the writing really played to his strengths in those moments.
The B-story in which the new boss met the old boss finally started to give Tidwell some humanity, and I liked Lt. Davis a lot more here than I ever did last season, where the writers didn't know what to do with her. (I think they introduced her, like Stark, as a red herring for the conspiracy, and once that story moved away from her, they had no plan B.) I particularly liked that Tidwell had photos of all his exes in his wallet, as well as his disbelief that Davis' partner had married a stripper for his first wife.
As for the two flaws, the first was the lack of urgency displayed by Crews, Reese and the writers. Despite Tidwell making a big deal that they had two hours to close the case before the university lawyered up all the kids, the detectives never acted like they were on a tight deadline, and the story seemed to take place over a much longer span. (The trips to the mascot's dorm room, her boyfriend's house, and the frat(ernity) house, plus waiting for the pizza and fruit delivery should have been almost two hours by themselves.) If the writers weren't going to really deal with the deadline, they shouldn't have introduced it in the first place, since I spent a lot of scenes during the episode wondering why Charlie and Dani were acting like they had all the time in the world.
Second, Charlie and Ted realizing that "there could easily be four" was a threat wasn't quite the stunning revelation that the episode seemed to think it was. It was obvious Jack Reese was being threatened when the line was first uttered on Monday.
Still, one of the show's stronger episodes overall, and I'm gonna miss it when it's gone. Right now, the only thing it has going for it is that virtually everything on NBC is doing terribly -- the network can't cancel everything, right?
What did everybody else think?