What a difference a simple production staff change makes, eh? Please welcome into the fray Mr. Mark Verherden, the man responsible for penning some of the greatest (among many great) episodes of Battlestar Galactica in the last couple of years; thankfully, he's now been poached by Kring and is setting his mind to scribing beauties like 'Trust and Blood'. Granted, there's nothing particularly awe-inspiring about the plot: the premise retains the air of simplicity struck up in last week's volume premiere, focusing on individual efforts to escape the clutches of the dreaded Nathan/Andre Drazen machine (oh and Sylar's hunt to find his father) but this is, in itself, breathing life into the tapestry of the show. Verherden's script just orchestrates the whole thing with such flair and panache that you can't help but be impressed. I mean, check out the dialogue man! How much of an improvement is this! Aside from a slightly mawkish final scene between Peter, Hiro, Ando, Matt and Mohinder, the clumsy one-liners delivered cheesily to camera and coming across forced and unbelievable are gone. In their place, we have intelligent conversation (such as the social debate between Nathan and his Hunter) and words that flow from the actors' mouths and,, more importantly, that are damn well in character. Matt, Hiro and Mohinder's lines as a trio in particular are indicative of this but, to be honest, it's difficult to pinpoint specific examples because the quality permeates the entire script.
Verherden is a master at making something interesting out of the apparently mundane. His narrative doesn't simply coast along on fabulaic auto-pilot, revealing events in a standard syntagmatic fashion. Instead, he interjects the plot's development with flashes of a future (in terms of the story chronology) piece, in which Nathan is relaying the details of 'Trust and Blood's contemporary sequences to an unknown listener, later revealed to be the sinister Angela. This not only gives credence to some of Nathan's actions and begins to allow us to see why he's turned into a mini-Hitler (just without the blood-lust... yet), it also lends the narrative an original sheen that has perhaps been missing from previous episodes. It displaces the viewer for it is outside of the chronological story development and that's just the kind of thing the show should be doing more: surprising us in whatever ways possible.
Speaking of surprises, poor poor Daphne. Gone bye bye... well, we think. And we barely knew her. I quite enjoyed her character and I question the sense in getting rid of someone with so much potential so flippantly (shock value, much?) but, there again, the desired effect is achieved: it gives us all the opportunity to sit bolt upright and scream "you what?" at the TV. There's also the final scene with Tracey which seems a little ominous... what are they doing to her/where are they taking her? Nathan remarks 'don't fight it' and the anchoring/presentation of the scene seems to suggest there is something significantly bad going on: is it just that she's being carted off to some concentration camp or are they actually going to kill her? Nicely ambiguous that one. And so, for that matter, is Sylar's story which finally, after all these weeks, is actually becoming interesting again. His screen time is kept to just the right level and his dialogue is replete with the kind of unrelenting, warped malice that made us all love to hate him back in season one. No cheesy one-liners, no questioning his own innate evilness... just backwards psychology and manipulative b*****ddom. Zachary Quinto is wonderful when he's psychoanalysing the crazed mother/son relationship and thankfully, the child that he's been given to play off seems to be a very competent young actor too... so no cringe worthy moments to come, hopefully. I like this development in all honesty because it really is something completely new. It offers u a whole wealth of possibilities for Sylar's previously stilted narrative... oh, and how cool was the torture? That **** looked nasty...
Last week, I wrote that that I was fearful that 'Fugitives' might end up becoming a victim of its own simplicity, turning into one long, drawn out chase narrative that could bore the tweed off a Physics lecturer. While 'Trust and Blood' keeps the story simple, certainly, it circumnavigates this problem by keeping the writing strong, believable and, most importantly of all, finding fresh ways to present it. Well done Kring: poaching Verherden was a masterstroke. Now just get him to write the rest of the season. Ta.