Wednesday, October 22, 2008

My Own Worst Enemy, "The Hummingbird": Childhood's end

Brief spoilers for the second episode of "My Own Worst Enemy" coming up just as soon as I introduce Henry to the concept of Facebook...

Well, that was something of an improvement over the pilot. Both episodes have a fundamental logic problem where if you stop to think about anything -- why it would actually be advantageous to make agents with oblivious cover personalities, why Alfre Woodard would send Mike O'Malley out on a mission with only clueless Henry as his backup -- but the difference is that this one was just engaging enough that I didn't keep stopping to think. (Not as much, anyway.)

With the basic exposition out of the way in the pilot, we got to focus more on character this time. The whole experiment still doesn't make any sense, but at least we got to see Henry react the way an ordinary man might when faced with this ridiculous circumstance: he would do everything possible to prove the reality of his own life. That was kind of interesting, and Christian Slater did a better job of modulating between Henry and Edward than he did in the pilot. The show's still doing a lot of hand-holding about the identity switches, but that's the sort of thing you have to do early in a series. (See previous timeslot resident "Journeyman," which had to wait at least a half a dozen episodes before it could let its hero start treating time travel as a fact of life rather than an excuse to bug his eyes out and act confused.)

I still don't care enough about the show to want to watch it every week, especially with such a traffic jam of programming earlier in the evening, but maybe I'll check back in from time to time to see if it improves -- and/or if they can come up with some vaguely plausible explanation for the Jekyll/Hyde set-up.

What did everybody else think?


pgillan said...

For some reason this episode stuck with me after I watched it, and that's why I was interested in your take on it. I really liked the concept of the everyday Joe who's being overshadowed by someone he can't possibly compete with. I also liked the idea of the badass spy forced to deal with humdrum, everyday issues. Thinking about the situation also led to me to what I believe is fairly reasonable explanation for the "why" of the whole show.

The question at the heart of this is "what does a tough-as-nails covert ops specialist do during his off-hours?" When you watch the scenes with "bad" Slater trying to interact with the family, it gives you some idea how difficult it would be for him to exist in normal society, and the chance of blowing his cover, or doing something reckless would be pretty high.

Granted, the amount of effort they put into maintaining the illusion of the two lives seems disproportionately high compared the reward, I think it's a good enough explanation to keep me watching for a few more episodes, at least.

Oaktown Girl said...

Yes, they still haven't explained the reasons for the whole dual-persona thing, so at this point it doesn't make much sense. Except for maybe what pgillan said above - perhaps to help agents keep their secrets?

Anyway, I was entertained enough by the pilot to watch this episode, which I found fairly entertaining as well. Particularly liked the part about how Henry got agitated when Edward (is that the super spy's name?) made love to Henry's wife.

The one thing in this episode that really turned me off was the shameless defense of torture as a means to extract truthful information.

Anonymous said...

When he was on "Inside the Actor's Studio," Christian Slater described the premise of "My Own Worst Enemy" and he bluntly stated that the reason for the clueless alter-ego was that, if Edward were ever captured on a mission, the covert agency he worked for would flip the mental switch to bring Henry back and no matter how much he was tortured, he wouldn't be able to reveal any agency secrets...which would be a good explanation, if it weren't instantly defeated by the fact that the agency is now letting Henry be aware of his role in the experiment.

This whole premise is just...stupid. There's no excuse for it. Stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid. Bury top secret "marbles" under six feet of dirt stupid.

Anonymous said...

The show alluded to the invulnerability of Henry to torture as being a reason for the dual personality, as mentioned in the previous comment. The problem is if Edward is willing to essentially give up half his life, why not just spend his down time in seclusion? It would achieve the same purpose and cost a lot less.

pgillan said...

The problem is if Edward is willing to essentially give up half his life, why not just spend his down time in seclusion? It would achieve the same purpose and cost a lot less.

That was sort of my revelation about the show. Given the personality they saddled Edward with, I'm not sure he'd be capable of maintaining that sort of seclusion; he doesn't strike me as an inside cat.

Anonymous' explanation makes a lot more sense, though. If he were captured, and they flipped Henry on, he would have to be living some sort of life for the cover to hold up. As for letting Henry be aware of it, they were pretty clear about that: as soon as that started happening, they were supposed to kill him. Alfre Woodard is letting him live because she likes him.

Stef said...

I'm still enjoying the show, and I agree Slater did a better job this time flipping back and forth between characters. (He could take lessons from the incomparable Jon Hamm these days.) I'll keep watching, as long as I can stay up that late.

Oaktown Girl said...

Oh hey, new comment software? Just taking a test drive.

Beats the hell out of having to enter and re-enter those captchas.