When Can We Extract Hayley Atwell from Conviction?
And other nearly-burning questions from the second episode.
So, what about that Save Agent Carter campaign?
Conviction is fine. Really! It's also a pretty conventional lawyer show in an absolute sea of pretty conventional lawyer shows. Of course, everything in 2016 that isn't a lawyer show is a Marvel show, but wouldn't we all rather watch a feisty and competent historical lady spy than ANOTHER New York lawyer "with a twist"? (Spoiler: "twist" is a strong word here.) Hayley Atwell's presence and sense of fun are too big for this particular procedural straitjacket, and I will happily mail whatever it is we're all mailing to ABC if it means we get to watch her do something as cool and interesting as she is. Trench coats? World War II-era pistols? Deal me in, guys! I have forever stamps!
Because I'm a progressive person who deals well with change, I would also accept a non-Agent Carter alternative, provided it were exciting and unusual and ideally allowed Atwell to wear cool costumes and good lipstick. Just let me know what we decide.
Is this Tag's big second act?
Will Eddie Cahill live forever in our hearts as Rachel's hot, underqualified assistant with the infamous red sweater on Friends? Obviously (a sojourn at CSI: New York notwithstanding). But he's aging into something like believability in the sexy/manipulative New York D.A. role, and his scenes with Atwell are genuinely crackly. If this show hangs on, Tag could totally be the next...Mark Harmon, maybe? At LEAST.
What's the deal with Wallace and Harper?
One of the smartest choices this show has made so far is tying Wallace to Hayes's fishy Senate-candidate mother, Harper. First of all, nobody -- especially nobody like Hayes -- is probably that into a guy she met through her mom, so that's an automatic and lasting barrier to whatever attraction scenario they're trying to set up.
But also, it's unclear so far what Harper's deal is and where she falls on the spectrum of "meddlesome" to "mom(me) fatale." In a way, I'd prefer that she not turn out to be some kind of Lady Frank Underwood/DC puppetmaster type; in this time where everybody on every network show has at least one evil parent, I think she's more interesting if her villainy is more garden-variety complicated parent stuff than actual moral and legal wrongdoing. Either way, she's clearly up to something, and it's nice that the reason Hayes and Wallace can't be together is that Hayes smells the stink of her mother's involvement all over Wallace and isn't having any of it. (Also: that he blackmailed her into taking this CIU job in the first place, but that already seems like a bygone.)
Can Hayes live, just for a second?
Follow-up question: isn't it against network rules for a television episode not to end with deep thought and a hint of character growth? This episode's final scene begins with Hayes alone at home, talking to some whiskey and a fuzzy blanket about the events of the week's case, as God intended. In proving the innocence of two of the Prospect Three and setting them free, she's also publicly revealed that the assault victim in her case wasn't raped, as the victim had claimed for years; instead, she'd had bar-bathroom sex with a married coworker and then gone along with the police narrative of her attack, in part to cover up the affair. Hayes has seen the destructive effects of the truth on the woman's reputation and her life, even as she's proud to have set innocent men free. It's a complex and graceful moment, especially for a character that's written elsewhere with a certain degree of empathy whiplash.
...And then her brother Jackson (Daniel Franzese, who is no longer Damian from Mean Girls and is an ADULT, or so I keep unsuccessfully telling myself) bursts in and makes her get up off the couch, abandon her drink, and join his living-room dance party, for no real reason except that a lady can never just have a drink and a think in peace. It's a pretty tone-deaf scene -- for one thing, leave the woman alone! She is having a moment! But also, it's already pretty clear that whimsy isn't Hayes's thing. "You love a party!" says Jackson to get her up and dancing, but...it doesn't seem like Hayes's wild-child ways come from a love of dance, and I don't think his definition of party is exactly what she's been into in the past. Coax her off the couch with some cocaine and the chance to put her parents at risk in the media? That, I'd have bought. Silly sibling hangout time, less so. This show is still trying to establish exactly which multitudes Hayes contains, and I think they got this one wrong.
What's with this "peanut butter and banana on a rice cake" code?
While everybody else in the opening montage is having some kind of sexy morning, overly eager paralegal Tess (Emily Kinney) painstakingly slices a banana in the office kitchen and arranges it on top of a rice cake slathered with peanut butter. WHAT ARE YOU SAYING, SHOW? Everybody else is running across some picturesque New York bridge or passed out next to someone approximating their own level of sexiness -- and I, for one, object. The rice cake is disappointing (toast: you should try it!), but on behalf of the delicious and nutritious banana-and-peanut-butter-on-something-crunchy breakfast coalition, I suggest you find a less perfect food to be your judgy morning metaphor. SO THERE. Tess, you're a little annoying, but I can tell you're good people. I'll meet you in the office kitchen for breakfast and gossip.