★★★☆☆

A lot can be said about the magnitude of Michael Ealy’s charm—it may be what is single handedly keeping this show together. I say this due to the perfect utilization of his character in this week’s episode “Simon Says” which allowed him to play up the comedy and energy which was the right form of counterbalance for the monotony of the rest of the cast.

There’s been a blackout which has all of the droids in reduced power zones, rather than being fully charged so to speak. For most of the androids this means that they won’t be working at optimum level, their ability to program, reach in to databases, all of this will slow down.

For Dorian, this means reverting into an emotional state of a petulant teenager with erratic mood swings and because of it allows for the funniest episode of the show yet.

If only that could have been the entire premise of the episode.

The villain of the week however goes a little above and beyond the typical cartoon, mustache twirling, maniacal laughing villain with a damaged manchild stuck behind a computer screen as his minions egg him on in planting bombs on defenseless civilians.

The first victim is knocked out and when he wakes up he realizes a bomb has been strapped to his neck, with no foreseeable way to detach it. He has instructions fed from our baddie on what to next which includes going to the bank that he works at and committing a robbery.

He does so and is on his way to the next task when Dorian and John appear on his tail and chase him down. They get him out of the car and Dorian begins to try and defuse the bomb but despite his efforts tells John that there won’t be enough time, and to put a shield around the man.

John does against his better judgment and they, along with anyone else watching the live feed, is forced to watch the man’s death.

It’s more shocking than usual because typically on the show thus far the writes like to portray their lead characters as heroes—police officers who don’t follow the rules and save more lives as a result. This time, however, they’re forced to make the hard call and sentence an innocent man to death in order to save more lives. It’s one of the few times that the show has felt as if it had real stakes at hand and the first time they’ve actually failed the person they were attempting to save.

Dorian and John get to discovering who’s behind this and trying to stop the next hit before it happens. Meanwhile Rudy gives Dorian a bit of an energy boost to try and keep the mood swings at bay so that he can be more alert on the next crime scene.

They track down the live feed that emitted the last video of the hostage’s death and try and figure out who will be the next person that is targeted—they also realize that the man behind it is being enthusiastically encouraged by anonymous, faceless commenters who want to see death and violence on their computer screens. While doing so they realize that they’ve been watched as well.

The next hostage is Jean, a woman who works at a flower boutique and was told to deliver red and orange roses as she was abducted. Like the first man, Jean awakes with a bomb strapped to her and must follow the instructions dictated to her which leads her into an open park with numerous individuals now in harm’s way.

John and Dorian immediately get onto the scene and begin again with trying to defuse the bomb. While they’re making their attempts to save Jean she tells the two of them that she knows who is behind it all. She says it’s a man named Simon Lynch who she had one blind date with. She said she could tell something was off with him and quickly got out of it. All of this is said while the live stream rolls and people on the internet begin to taunt Simon which makes it personal and he grows more and more aggravated.

Dorian is losing power and tells John that he needs to put a shield up around him and Jean and get himself out of danger. John refuses and says he can help, and between the two of them they manage to free Jean, which makes Simon furious.

This makes it seem as if Simon has personal vendettas that he’s working out. The crew begins to work on what could be spawning it and in the middle of researching they discover that he had a history of working at the police academy. He had trained on the bomb squad—explaining his superior knowledge—before being dealt a poor psych examination, pushing him out of the course.

They find a location on him and go to find him only to find his house encoded and trapped and they need to perform a controlled detonation.

Later it’s apparent who has ended up as Lynch’s next target as John awakens, chained to a bench with a bomb strapped to him. He has a limited amount of time to defuse the bomb on his own with limited tools as Simon taunts him through an earpiece, but this time not from the comfort of his own home, rather on the scene only a small distance away taking it all in. He warns John of any police involvement and his co-workers watch on trying to find a vantage point to help.

Simon tells John that he picked him because they both were given low psych evaluations and both were recommended to not go in the field. The difference was that John was given a second chance while Simon was given a black mark that followed him for the rest of his life.

Dorian and the rest of the force with him deduce that Simon must be placed somewhere high to see everything that’s going on and Dorian goes on his own to try and take him out once he’s found on the rooftop of a building.  He’s climbing the wall on a 3% charge and barely makes it to Simon on time as the timer ticks closer and closer to John’s death sentence. Just in time Dorian electrocutes Simon and knocks him out, using up the rest of his charge, and John manages to get out of his trap.

The episode ends with a conversation between the Captain and John which I just can’t find it in myself to care about because barring Dorian and a little bit of John I still have zero interest in any of the characters because the show has done nothing to convince me that I should. So the scene between them rather than being interesting, enlightening or at the very least entertaining ends up simply being an exposition dump where we learn about how John is feeling insecure around the workplace and how Dorian is currently recharging. The show needs to actively pursue expanding their characters if they want anyone to care about them—there’s no growth if there is no action toward it.

Before he leaves he asks the Captain a question. Earlier in the episode Dorian had been complaining about his living situation again and John had refused to let him live with him, saying it’s against the rules.

But he’s found a way around it.

He can live with Rudy, which as Dorian tells John, isn’t exactly what he had in mind. It is a pretty predictable plot development on paper but once again due to Ealy and his barrels of charm he somehow managed to turn the moment into something funnier than it had the right to be.

I’m not being hyperbolic when I say that Ealy is the glue to this show. He’s an interesting character, he’s fun to watch and he seems to be the only actor trying to find depth to his character rather than playing it straight as written.

If Ealy was not a main part of the show I can’t say I could bring myself back each week to keep watching. The rest of the show is still falling short on its potential and while this week at the very least was entertaining and moved at a quicker pace than previous episodes it still has a way to go to become a must-watch each week.

Fun but lifeless, this week is worth it for Michael Ealy’s performance but nothing more.

About The Author

Ally Johnson is a Blast correspondent

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