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Title (S01, E010): The Path to War Part Two: The Impact of Propaganda on Congressional War Votes
Director:  Félix Enríquez Alcalá
Written by: created by Michelle King, Robert King, written by Lawrence Kaplow
Starring: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Aaron Tveit, Nikki M James, Johnny Ray Gill, Danny Pino, Tony Shalhoub, Charlie Shamin, Jan Maxwell, Zach Grenier, Megan Hiltz, Beth Malone and more
Executive producers: Ridley Scott, Michelle King, Robert King, David W Zucker, Liz Glotzer
Episode length: 42 min
Network: CBS

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The vote for war has yet to be decided by congress in an episode that’s all about manipulation and how everyone’s doing it in one way or the other.

This was an odd episode in this series with a subtle way of making a point about manipulation, not just regarding public opinion, but how people use it in personal relationships and beyond.

This was another Gustav-free episode, and it had little to do with the invasion by the alien bugs, except in a peripheral way. It was more about Laurel stepping up and emerging as a heroine by outsmarting their attempts to push us into war, simply by using her wits and talents as a film maker to communicate a message of common sense.

Here’s a recap, laced wth commentary (*warnng, spoilers follow*)

The episode begins with some familiar faces from earlier in the season, Noah Feffer (Michael Esper), and Jules (Natalie Gold), the two regular voting age professionals infected by the bugs who immediately became extremists and formed grass roots political groups to advance their agendas: No Way, and One Way.

Thye meet again when they are called into the offices of Red Wheatus where he and Ella Pollack (Jan Maxwell) bring them together to manipulate them into both being in favor of the war. They remind them they have something in common, they both want to bring down the government. As we know Red and Ella contain the queen and king of the bug species in their brains, and this is nothing more than another attempt by the bugs to push us into war.

Meanwhile, Luke has been running an ad on tv against the war that he’s not happy with, and he wants Laurel to help fix it by meeting with the guy that made the ad, because Laurel was a documentary film maker before going to work for her brother. Luke is getting desperate, because it seems support for his opposition to the war is dwindling, even his father advises him to change his position, and vote in favor of war. Dad, as we know, is a bug person too.

She has ideas how to fix it, but when she meets the  film maker, Ben Valderrama (Michael Zegen), he’s so caught up in himself and his artistic vision he isn’t really capable of listening to anything she says, and somewhere in between what she’s actually saying, and it reaching his brain it gets turned into some thing else.

This is remarkably like trying to have a conversation with someone in reality. About half of what you say seems to get lost in translation often enough to make you begin to doubt your sanity, and your memory of what you said in the first place.

Ben is kind of  jerk and is not above manipulating people to get what he wants on film which he then uses out of context to misrepresent  the people he films, and manipulate people who see his work in a heavy handed fashion. When Laurel watches him doing this she in not cool with  his guerrilla style of manipulating people to get their responses on film to use in this manner, and when he does it to Gareth she really doesn’t like it, and meets him later and apologizes.

She seems interested in reconciling with Gareth, but he seems to think any relationship with her would make his life too complicated and interfere with him down his job, and doing his job is his priority.

On another front, Luke is cheating again, and his wife, Germaine Healy (Lily Cowles), is nine months pregnant, and she turns to Laurel when she catches him in a lie about where he was the night before. Laurel lays down the law, and tells her brother she won’t lie for him any more, and he needs to raise his standards of behavior in terms of not being such a philanderer, but Luke is weak, and apparently has a strong urge to copulate, and a lot of stamina too.

The ladies all seem to want to what he has to offer, and he’s easy to manipulate into giving it to them. He’s seems to be a lost cause and a slave to his hormonally driven compulsions. He does do one thing that seems to be significant, he fires Scarlett, and I have to wonder if that will come back to haunt him soon.

Laurel is concerned about the soon to arrive baby being bug infested when Germaine complains about it kicking a lot whenever Donald Trump is on tv. It goes crazy when his voice is audible, and calms back down when it isn’t. Laurel consults Rochelle about it, but she seems to think  everything is okay. Laurel is not convinced, even  when Germaine’s doctor does special tests and confirms the baby’s fine. Laurel still thinks something’s wrong, and the doctor is not telling, because he has that song by the Cars as a ring tone on his phone.

After the baby is born, she seems fine, except at the end of the episode Germaine is trying to shush her because she’s being a little fussy, until she turns on her musical nightlight and mobile which is playing…you guessed it, that same song again, and the baby immediately becomes calm.

The situation with the ad is solved by Laurel after Ben leaves having made what is essentially the same ad all over again. Laurel takes it upon herself to use her film making skills to edit and shift its emphasis onto  what it should be about, not going to war. The ad gets public attention for being so good, and Ben takes credit for it, despite not having done the actual work to make it into its present form.

It works, Red and Ella are exposed as being in collusion to promote the war, against the wishes of what the public wants to happen. Red freaks out when he sees the ad, and smashes the tv in his office in a fit of anger, and when the vote comes before congress its defeated.

This episode although it had a message about manipulation that was well worth making, was lacking in a lot of the qualities that make this series so appealing. A lot of the charm was missing this time around, as well as a lot of the  humor that makes this series so great. It did make a good point through subtle use of satire, that might have gone over a lot of viewers heads because it was so subtle, but ultimately it  was still a good episode that represents a shift in the manner this series has used to get its message across, during its short existence so far.

I miss Gustav and his damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead, approach to doing things. There’s been no mention of him or what he’s been up to for a couple of episodes now. With only three episodes left, I suspect big things to occur in the home stretch of the series first season.

One thing you can’t take away from this show, no matter how much it makes you laugh, or fails to, is its intelligence, and its keen insightful observations about the human condition, and life on this world we live in. Happy viewing.

 

Our Score
C

By Craig Suide

A genuine (OCD) enthusiast of Sci-FI and fantasy. Addicted to stories. a life-long fan of movies, TV, and pop culture in general. Purchased first comic book at age five, and never stopped. Began reading a lot early on, and discovered ancient mythology, and began reading science fiction around the same time. Made first attempts at writing genre fiction around age 12 Freelance writer for Sci-Fi Nerd (Facebook), retired professional gourmet chef. ex-musician, and illustrator

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