“Athens”, this week’s installment of “Intelligence”, is my favorite episode of the series to date. In addition to featuring the usual roller coaster ride of action-packed twists and turns, which always makes for fun viewing, it also further explored the theme of trust, which is one that we’ve explored in previous episodes. Who can be trusted and who can’t be trusted? And, in particular, can we trust our government? The events of the episode also served as a test for the CyberCommand team members – can they be trusted to take action as needed when they come under attack?
The episode opens with a familiar face from the show’s pilot, Jin Cong, being broken out of a Chinese prison. While we have no idea at this time what his intentions are, we know that we can’t trust him. No good can come from Jin Cong being a free man.
Back at CyberCommand, Lillian and Jameson have the unfortunate task of dealing with a pair of Department of Defense Security Auditors as they question all of the safety protocols in place at the agency. There is a brief moment of levity when one of the auditors, while looking for security flaws in CyberCom’s live tissue palm recognition software, inquires as to what the protocol would be if a user “gets their hand cut off in a freak gardening accident?” Without missing a beat, Lillian’s sassy response is to order Jameson to conduct a hand count: “Make sure everyone has two.” And then with a big smile at the auditors, she quips “I feel safer already.” Clearly dealing with government security auditors is one of the necessary evils of Lillian’s job so why not have a little fun with it?
The fun ends almost immediately, however, when CyberCommand faces a very real threat and their security protocols are put to the test. An aggressive virus attacks and takes down their entire network and it becomes apparent that whoever is behind the attack is after the country’s most sensitive information. Also problematic, however, is the fact that the attack has also erased Gabriel’s memory and in essence taken the country’s most valuable intelligence weapon out of commission. Lillian and her team know they’re in trouble when Gabriel starts to panic and asks, “Who the hell are you people?”
What I particularly liked about this episode was that the women were the ones who took charge at nearly every opportunity. Lillian and Riley, brilliantly played by Marg and Meghan respectively, are two of the strongest female characters I’ve seen on television in a long time and they are thrilling to watch each week. When Gabriel loses his memory, and along with it, his trust of those around him, he physically lashes out at Jameson as he tries to escort him to ClockWork. He easily takes Jameson down with a sucker punch and it’s Riley who steps in and stops Gabriel. It’s also Riley who takes the lead in trying to calm Gabriel down and remind him who he is, that he is part of their team, and that he can trust them. While Riley is taking the lead when it comes to Gabriel, Lillian takes the lead when it comes to dealing with the threat at hand. Back in the control room, while Nelson, clearly overwhelmed by the speed and severity of the cyber attacks, is frantically running around and announcing each new assault on the network while simultaneously making nervous jokes to the auditors — “How are we doing on that security audit?” — it’s Lillian who takes matters into her own hands. She quickly and calmly assesses the situation and realizes the attacker’s true intent. Knowing that sensitive data must be protected at all costs, she makes the decisive call to neutralize the threat: “Okay, that’s it. I’m formally instituting the Orion Protocol.” When the security auditor balks at her decision because “Orion is a protocol of last resort,” Lillian swiftly neutralizes her as well: “Take a look around. There are no resorts left.” Once she has put a muzzle on the auditor, Lillian commands Jameson to “cut the trunk,” effectively cutting CyberCommand off from the outside world and thus stopping the cyber attack. When the auditor once again questions her judgment, Lillian’s defiant response is: “Put it in your report.”
It’s hard to believe we’re already through eight episodes of “Intelligence” already? I guess the old saying is true – time flies when you’re having fun. Last night’s episode ‘Delta Force’ delivered yet another wild ride to its viewers as Gabriel, Riley, and Jameson are sent on a mission to Bolivia to protect a presidential candidate that the U.S. government favors who is the target of an assassination attempt. As Lillian is filling them in on the details of the mission, Gabriel is shocked to learn that his best friend from Delta Force, John Norris, is the prime suspect. Throughout the episode and as revealed through flashbacks, Gabriel struggles to separate what his friend was while they were together in Delta Force with what he has potentially become, a hired gun. In a series of surprising twists and turns, Gabriel and the viewers learn that all is not as it seems, including Norris, and that the CIA is yet again right in the middle of it and an obstacle to CyberCommand’s mission.
Highlights of ‘Delta Force’ for me:
1. Lillian was in full badass mode in this episode. Even Jeffrey Tetazoo was impressed when she firmly reminded Gabriel who’s in charge at CyberCommand:
Gabriel: “So what, I’m an assassin now? You press a button and I kill a man?”
Lillian: “Yes, as a matter of fact, I press a button and you kill a man. That’s how it works. Are we clear?”
Gabriel: “Yeah, we’re clear.”
Jeff Tetazoo: “You and I might become friends after all.”
2. Chris Jameson revealed that he is also a bit of a badass when he demonstrated his expert marksmanship, both at the firing range and out in the field when it really counted. I’d love to see him out in the field more.
3. What Lillian and Jeff Tetazoo have possibly shared is particularly intriguing to me. I can’t even begin to guess what their backstory is, but I’m interested in exploring it further because the two of them are definitely getting under each other’s skin. Love the sparks flying between them.
Jeff Tetazoo: “Without trust, you and I have nothing.”
Lillian: “We’ve shared a lot of things, Jeff. Trust has never been one of them.”
4. The scene where Gabriel helps his friend navigate his way through a minefield was one of the most unusual and thrilling uses of the chip so far. I was practically holding my breath until Norris made it safely across.
5. The growing relationship between Gabriel and Riley continues to be a highlight of each episode. I love watching the trust and familiarity grow between them. Whether this ends up taking a romantic turn or not, they are a fun pair to watch.
‘Delta Force’ was yet another stellar episode from “Intelligence” so be sure not to miss it!
“Intelligence” delivered another rock solid episode last night. As we’ve come to expect, the storyline was full of twists and turns as Gabriel and the CyberCommand team set out to find and neutralize a lethal threat to the greatest artificial intelligence scientists of this generation. The threat comes in the form of microscopic robots called nanites, which when unleashed, infect and almost immediately kill their target. The team is even more invested than ever in tracking this killer down because one of their own, Shenandoah Cassidy, the brilliant scientist who designed Gabriel’s chip, is a target.
Just as interesting to watch as the team track down and stop the killer, however, is the philosophical debate that runs throughout the episode. What does it take to be human? Is Gabriel any less human because he has a computer chip in his brain? From the moment he realized what he was witnessing as he watched Gabriel work, Cassidy’s protégé seemed to enjoy trying to make Gabriel feel like he was less than human. He even referred to him as being a completely different species. I’m not sure if he got under Gabriel’s skin and made him start to question his own humanity or if those questions were already on Gabriel’s mind, but it definitely seemed to stick with him through the course of the episode. At one point, Gabriel even tells Lillian that she has a ‘freak’ of her own, meaning himself. I liked that Riley was the one to keep reminding Gabriel that he is human, reminiscent of a scene from the pilot when she reminds Lillian that Gabriel is “him, not it”. I think Riley reaching out to Gabriel to help push the doubts about his humanity out of his head went a long way to solidifying their partnership.
Highlights of the episode for me were:
1) John Billingsley’s performance – he was amazing in each and every one of his scenes. If you don’t cry when Shenandoah becomes infected by the nanites, there is seriously something wrong with you. Another great moment for Billingsley is at the end when Shenandoah confronts his former protégé. Just good stuff.
2) PJ Byrne was also excellent in this episode. Just as we got to see a different side of Nelson last week because of his concern for the sick child and his family, we got to see even more of that side of Nelson as he frantically worked to save his Dad’s life.
3) Watching the entire team pull together to save Shenandoah was perhaps my favorite scene from the episode. I love the team/family dynamic that is starting to show itself as we move through the season and it seemed fitting that Gabriel and Nelson abandon their ‘sibling’ rivalry to work together to save their ‘Dad. This scene was also my favorite Lillian moment. The episode was Lillian-lite, which is why I haven’t said much about her, but watching the emotions play across her face as she thought she might be losing one of her own was just so heartbreaking. She’s normally so tough as nails that it was nice to see that more vulnerable side of her personality. It also made me wonder about her relationship with Shenandoah (or Shen as she calls him). Are they just long-time friends and coworkers or is there perhaps something more there?
4) The final scene between Gabriel and Riley. I still can’t decide if a romance is the right move for these two since it would obviously complicate their working relationship, but boy, they sure are adorable together. I love the flirtation and the light banter made for a fitting ending to remind us of just how human Gabriel is no matter how powerful that computer chip in his head is.
I’ve come to expect a wild and entertaining ride each week when I sit down to watch Intelligence and this week’s episode “Patient Zero” lived up to that expectation. The basic storyline for this episode is that there is an outbreak of a deadly, rapidly spreading virus in Texas. Lillian and her CyberCommand team are contacted to see if they can be of assistance in containing the virus through identification of the virus and identification of Patient Zero, who is the carrier of the virus and who is infecting everyone he or she comes into contact with. When Gabriel cyberrenders ground zero of the outbreak to isolate who Patient Zero might be, he and the team are shocked to see that their suspect is a dead man, a criminal believed to have been executed a week earlier. On Lillian’s orders Gabriel, Riley, and Nelson head to Texas to see what they can find out. And the ride just gets even wilder from there…
Before I get to all of the Marg-related highlights, because you know that’s where I’m ultimately headed, let me start out by saying how much I enjoyed the chemistry between Gabriel and Riley in this episode. I’ve enjoyed their banter throughout the series so far, but I definitely felt like their relationship has moved a bit beyond the mere ‘coworkers’ stage at this point. The line “Either we’re partners or we’re not.” seemed to hit home for both of them. I don’t know if we’re headed for a romantic relationship or just a good friendship, but either way, I enjoy the two of them together.
Okay, on to Marg and Lillian Strand…
Wow, how fierce was Lillian this week?! I think all of my favorite moments involved her kicking ass and taking names. From her first scene, when she comes in to view Nelson’s demonstration of a mind-controlled quad copter, you can tell Lillian is not to be messed with. Nelson offers to give Lillian the quad copter technology if she will apologize for accusing him of conspiring with Chinese terrorists to steal the second microchip Nelson’s father had secretly made. I’m not sure how exactly Nelson envisioned this conversation playing out, but Lillian’s response quickly shuts him down: “Well, Nelson, maybe you and your father should apologize to your country for duplicating top secret technology, for exposing the most valuable intelligence weapon in this nation’s arsenal, and for nearly getting the prototype killed.” With those words, she turns a grown man into a child. All Nelson can retort with, once she is too far away to hear him of course, is that “she’s a Disney villain.” Granted this scene was all in fun before the real action starts, but it definitely sets the tone for how Lillian interacts with everyone.
She immediately shows her badass side again once the call about the deadly virus comes in. After assessing the situation and in spite of the protests from both Cassidy and Riley because of their fears Gabriel could become infected, Lillian determines that sending Gabriel to Texas is the best course of action to quickly find Patient Zero and contain the virus. I loved how she abruptly puts an end to their protests by reminding them that she’s the boss and it’s her judgment call: “I’m not asking.”
Another favorite scene for me was during the inter-agency briefing led by Director of National Intelligence Adam Weatherly. Lillian holds her own against the heads of Homeland Security and the FBI, and especially the Director of Defense Intelligence who seems a little put off that he doesn’t know anything about Clockwork. Lillian’s interaction with Weatherly afterwards is a particularly defining moment. Weatherly tells Lillian that while he understands her reasoning for deploying the asset (meaning Gabriel and Clockwork), he wants to make certain that she is aware of what a huge risk she is taking by potentially exposing Gabriel to the deadly virus while he’s trying to stop it. Lillian, still secure in her belief the reward (i.e. stopping the virus and saving countless lives) far outweighs the risk, responds “If we’re not using this program to save American lives, then why have it?” Weatherly, in what might be an attempt to rattle Lillian and make her fear for her job, reminds her that Clockwork will be perilous as long as there’s only one Gabriel. “You want a hundred of him? A thousand? Then the program must not only continue to prove itself, but it must endure. And by it, I mean him.” Lillian doesn’t back down but assures him that she understands the risk.
In addition to presenting exciting storylines that have left viewers on their edges of their seats each week, Intelligence has also begun to delve a bit deeper into the personal lives of each of its main characters. The first few episodes focused primarily on Gabriel Vaughn and his obsession with locating his wife, Amelia, and proving that she was not an enemy of the United States. Then we moved on to Riley Neal and got to sneak a peek into her former life as a Secret Service agent. As we got to know Gabriel and Riley better, Marg’s character, Lillian Strand, however, had remained somewhat of an enigma until last night’s episode. “The Rescue” is the episode that Marg fans have been waiting for — where we finally got a glimpse of Lillian’s personal life, specifically, her relationship with her father. While this relationship doesn’t fully unravel the mystery that is Lillian, it does shed some light on what has made Lillian the woman she is today.
As soon as Lillian’s father, Leland Strand, brilliantly played by Peter Coyote, comes on the scene to request CyberCommand’s help in rescuing a senator’s daughter who has been abducted by a Mexican drug lord, you can tell that he and Lillian have a complicated and somewhat strained relationship. When Lillian starts to question Leland about why and how he is involved since his role is unclear, he undermines her credibility in front of Adam Weatherly by calling her ‘Rooster’, which one can only assume is a ‘pet’ name from when she was a child. The tension radiates off of Lillian, who looks like she wants to strangle Leland. She then questions his respect for her. His response “If I didn’t respect you, would I be here?” doesn’t seem to convince her. Leland then goes on to tell her that she is “relentless” and that it’s a trait she gets from him. Lillian doesn’t appear especially comfortable with the idea of being just like Dad either, but once she realizes that the President is the one who sent Leland to her, she agrees to help rescue the senator’s daughter.
Lillian butts heads with her father again when she realizes that he has been withholding information from her. Because she remembers everything her dad taught her when she was younger, Lillian pieces together that not only does Leland know Hector the drug lord, but Hector is actually one of Leland’s ‘assets’. In exchange for ‘intel’ that can bring down his drug dealing competitors, Hector has basically been allowed to do as he pleases, unchecked by authorities. Leland deems that letting Hector roam unchecked in exchange for his ‘intel’ is the lesser of the evils and balks when Lillian tells him that he needs to get his ‘asset’ under control. This difference of opinion comes to a head once the rescue mission is complete and Riley and Gabriel have the opportunity to bring Hector into custody. In an unexpected move that places both Leland and Weatherly at odds with Lillian, Weatherly tells Lillian: “We have the girl. Your agent is safe. Hector Vi Riall is not your concern.” Against her better judgment and because she feels she has no choice, Lillian follows the order and allows Hector to go free. You can tell by the look on her face that it kills her to have to give in and that she is also disappointed by her father. When she next sees her father, she point blank accuses him of having climbed into bed with evil.
Lillian has the last word though and proves that while she might be relentless like her father, unlike him, she is not willing to make deals with the devil. In what has to be the best scene of the series to date, Lillian, dressed to kill in a sexy red gown, literally does just that. She phones Hector, tells him that he should have taken the deal he was offered. She tells him that he crossed the line when he crossed our border and took those girls and that his services are no longer needed. The lovely young woman who is relaxing in the tub with Hector then stabs him to death, carrying out Lillian’s orders. Lillian’s father walks in at that moment and asks Lillian if everything is all right, she replies with a sly smile, “Better” and off they go to enjoy a night at the opera, Leland blissfully ignorant that Lillian has just put the ‘all boys’ club’ of Weatherly and Company on notice.
I really loved this episode. Marg and Peter Coyote were so great together. I loved the tension that was present in all of their scenes and that it was hard to read how father and daughter truly felt about each other. I hope that we’ll see more of Leland because I’d like to see their relationship explored further. Marg was also just fantastic throughout the episode. She is definitely channeling Hillary Clinton, who is another of my own role models, and I’m loving every minute of it.