Series Theories

Photo Courtesy Of NBC

Photo Courtesy Of NBC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

Not all soldiers contain the qualities to become Generals. In fact the skill sets of an exemplary soldier and an effective General likely couldn’t be more at odds with each other. A good soldier never questions orders and does what ever it takes to fulfill the mission even if it means sacrificing their life in the process. An effective General or leader of any kind needs to be able to react to changing conditions and adapt their plans accordingly. There’s too much knowledge and experience within a leader to sacrifice easily. Soldiers are easily replaceable, however wise veteran leaders aren’t.

If you’re a fan of the NBC series “The Blacklist,” you’ve seen this dynamic in place throughout the show’s third season. FBI Agent Donald Ressler got pressed into running the FBI Task Force, formerly lead by Harold Cooper and Ressler’s first mission’s been attempting to capture his former partner, former agent Elizabeth Keen. Before the series took it’s winter hiatus in November, Ressler took Lizzie into custody and likely put her life in great jeopardy.

Ressler believes that his former partner’s innocent and has gotten set-up by the Cabal, a shadow government that secretly pulls all the strings that have caused the greatest catastrophes of our lifetimes. The group’s made up of leaders of governments and industries across the planet and lead by the CIA Director Peter Kotsiopolus whose usually referred to as The Director. The Cabal’s infested the halls of power in the United States Government, with the President’s NSA Director Laurel Hitchin’s among their ranks. She executed Deputy Attorney General Reven Wright, after Wright revealed she knew some potentially incriminating information.

Meanwhile Ressler naïvely sits back thinking he’s winning Hitchin’s confidence and she’ll soon start taking his side over that of The Director’s. Donald Ressler’s a good man who truly wants to do the right thing, however he’s way over his head right now in shark-infested waters. Because he’s been trained his entire career to think within certain parameters, he lacks the skills he needs to think outside-the-box and being able to adjust strategy as the situation changes. Those skills are absolutely essential to being a good leader, we shall see if Ressler takes advice either from Raymond Reddington or Harold Cooper once the series returns on January 7.

That failure to adapt to the situation and to realize that sometimes you have to deal with the lesser of two evils to salvage a situation, has led Donald to feel betrayed by his former boss Harold Cooper. Both share a severe dislike of the man they know as Tom Keen, however only Cooper was smart enough not to turn an asset away in time of need. After Tom approached Ressler in his apartment building about helping clearing Lizzie’s name and Ressler told him to leave immediately, Cooper sought Keen out. Tom’s completed his mission capturing the Russian spy Karakurt and forcing him to admit that he’s responsible for all the crimes Lizzie’s being charged with.

Meanwhile Cooper’s got to be feeling pretty betrayed himself right about now, as his wife Charlene decided that in the midst of trying to get Karakurt to the proper authorities that it was the perfect time to reveal to her husband that she had an affair a couple of years before. Was this her way of getting back at her husband for involving her in the dangerous situation they’re attempting to complete? Or did Charlene simply have a nervous breakdown due to the stress of the situation and that just tumbled out of her mouth?

When the series does return to TV on January 7, reports have surfaced that the first two episode will revolve around The Director Peter Kotsiopolus. David Strathairn who portrays The Director’s a first-rate actor that came to my attention in the late seventies and he’s added several amazing performances to his resume since then. Having Strathairn just appearing along the sidelines for about the last year’s like having a Porsche up on blocks in the garage. I can’t wait to see what he does with all the time allotted to him.

The Director decided to take a gamble in season two that backfired badly. He decided to chance that Raymond Reddington was bluffing when he claimed to have access to The Fulcrum, a blackmail file that if released would put many members of the Cabal in certain danger. Red obtained the file last season and flew in the planet’s most renowned Investigative-Journalists and gave them each a copy.

Kotsiopolus and other Cabal members have attempted to discredit the information revealed in those documents ever since and the Cabal’s not happy that The Director’s gamble failed so badly. Enter one Matias Solomon, the hitman/enforcer/messenger for the Cabal, Solomon just enjoys killing it doesn’t really matter to him who the victim is. He’d just as soon slit The Director’s throat as he would Raymond Reddington, just depends on which way the wind’s blowing.

Elizabeth Keen will get imprisoned in that same glass cell that Ressler and Red got locked in during the first season, until Raymond agreed to surrender to save Lizzie’s life. Ressler’s promised his former partner he’d protect her while in his custody. How much help will he need from this bizarre lineup that now comprises Team-Reddington?

We’re well aware that Raymond would without hesitation trade his life for Lizzie’s, we’re also well aware that The Blacklist recently inked a contract for a fourth season. Without Lizzie and or Raymond there’s no longer a series, so we know going in that they’ll both survive. However this show’s already displayed they’ll sacrifice a regular cast member if they consider it necessary. They ended the first season with the death of series regular Meera Malik, killed by Reddington’s foe Berlin.

Could Ressler, Samar Navabi, Aram or Harold Cooper be sacrificed this season? Or what about Ryan Eggold who portrays good-looking bad-buy Tom Keen? The happy ending that Liz told Red about earlier this season, about her accompanied by her husband and child walking serenely through some small town square will never happen if she stays with Tom/Jacob. Which means more to her, those dreams or her former husband? We’ll start getting answers to those and other questions in just over two-weeks.

The Story Continues January 7, at 9:00 pm on NBC.

Photo: Courtesy Of FOX

Photo: Courtesy Of FOX

Warning: Spoiler Alert

“Paranoia strikes deep
Into your life it will creep
It starts when you’re always afraid
You step out of line, the man come and take you away.”

For What It’s Worth-Stephen Stills

Utopia: The perfect society; a place devoid of all the troubles that plague humanity; a land of contentment, free from  want and hardship and filled with friendship and love for each other. People have strived to reach or create such a society since the dawn of creation, but they never last for long. Are imperfect creatures capable of building a perfect society?

With just two episodes remaining in the FOX miniseries “Wayward Pines,” we’ve become aware that a sizable segment of the town, don’t truly feel they reside in “The Friendliest Place On Earth.” During episode eight, viewers found out that characters such as Ruby from the coffee-shop and Tim Bell the manager of the Wayward Pines Hotel, aren’t the compliant and passive people we assumed they were. Both were actively involved in the plan designed by Kate Hewson, to disable the electric fence surrounding the town and escape.

Dr. David Pilcher, the architect of  the ark that contains the only remaining humans in the year 4028, now finds himself fighting twin battles. The first being a growing segment of the residents of Wayward Pines that want answers. However the more pressing problem’s the one he’s not aware of yet, the fence has been breached and it’s just a matter of time until the Abbies cross that divide.

Pilcher realized that humanity would cease to exist within the next few hundred-years, back in the nineties and he set a plan in motion to repopulate the planet in Wayward Pines, Idaho. He then spent the next 15-years kidnapping people  and then putting them into a state of suspended animation, so they woke up over 2000 years later without physically aging a day. The new residents thought they’d been unconscious for hours, or perhaps as much as a day and most of them believe they still live in the 21st century.

When the residents awoke they found themselves with new lives and a fresh start, a needed second chance for many of them. They got new homes, new careers and even in some cases new significant others. In many ways it was a paradise, as long as the resident followed the rules, prominently displayed throughout the town:

Do Not Try To Leave.

Do Not Talk About The Past.

Do Not Discuss Your Life Before.

Always Answer The Phone If It Rings.

Work Hard And Be Happy

And Enjoy Your Life In Wayward Pines.

Those rules were not part of David Pilcher’s original vision for Wayward Pines. The current residents of the community, are referred to as “Group B,” because the people from the first group that got revived, couldn’t accept their new realities. The knowledge that they were the last survivors of humanity and the world they knew, ceased to exist two-thousand years earlier, created mass-panic. Residents either fled in panic and quickly became meals for the Abbies, or took their own lives. Determined that the second control-group not suffer the same fate, Pilcher established his wall of secrecy and eliminated anyone who threatened to peek behind the curtain.

There’s a different set of rules in effect for the children of the community, known as the First Generation Of Wayward Pines. They’re informed about their new realities by the Director of the Wayward Pines Academy, Dr. Megan Fisher. A hypnotherapist in our era, Fisher’s masterful in her ability to connect with disaffected teens such as Ben Burke. A young man that spent his lifetime on the outside looking in, he now feels loved and popular. There were no smiles for Theresa or Ethan Burke from their son, when they visited him in the hospital, however he met Megan’s arrival with an ear-to-ear grin.

Ben’s not only accepted his new life, he’s embraced it joyously. He’s got an adorable girlfriend named Amy and Fisher told him in the last episode, that he’s a hero having survived a terrorist attack and people are going to want to hear his opinions.

It’s further reinforcement of the bond she’s creating between the children and the state, further alienation of the child from the people who raise them. Your parents can’t handle the truth, we have your best interests at heart, the state in effect becomes the parent. It’s the same principles used in totalitarian societies throughout history, the Nazis, Stalin’s Soviet Union and the Cultural Revolution in China utilized the same tactics. If the people raising you are enemy’s of the state, then turn them in.

Megan quickly turned Ben against his father partially by picking at an old wound, surmising that Ethan may have been less lenient, had the suspect not been married to Kate Hewson. Fisher realized that Ben felt his father chose Hewson over his family when he had his affair with her. Fisher inferred that Ethan’s feelings for Hewson, nearly cost Ben his life.

We’re aware that Pilcher and his associates care deeply about the town’s children, but how much do they care about the adults. Pilcher wants compliance and things to run smoothly, his concerns with adults seem to be less about happiness and more about acceptance. To keep the placidity he’s trying to maintain in his town, he’s shown us that no measures are too extreme.

David’s sister Pamela interviews the staff of 24 volunteers that regulate the surveillance feeds. Although 23 members of the crew have no problems with the concept of eavesdropping, one man named Reggie Hudson admits to erasing comments that he attributed to fear. Then he looked Pamela in the eyes and said.

“These people are scared. I see them sobbing in their rooms, holding each other. They just don’t understand what became of their lives. It’s just human nature to ask questions.”

Surprisingly, the ever loyal Nurse Pam didn’t share that conversation with her brother. While she’s the first to call for a reckoning, she thinks it will send a bad message to the other volunteers if Reggie gets punished. David ignores her advice and buries the man, filling the tube he’s encased in with soil.

Whether Pilcher wants it or not, that wall of secrecy has collapsed now that the fence got disabled by the 30-foot dump-truck. It appears that the residents of Wayward Pines are going to find out the truth about their situation, sooner than later. Can they band together and defeat the Abbies, or is humanity doomed once again?

The Story Continues Thursday Night at 9:00 pm on FOX.

Images Courtesy of TNT and The History Channel

Images Courtesy of TNT and The History Channel

On this great American holiday that signifies the end of the old America and the beginning of the United States of America, I’d like to float a theory. The story of The Last Ship, is clearly one founded in fiction. However, there are some historical truths where we can easily draw comparisons. This is done in good fun and has not in any way been confirmed by anyone associated with the production of The Last Ship. There are some mild spoilers conceptually. If you have not seen all of the episodes to date, you have been warned.

Warning: Spoiler Alert

The first form of this analogy is obviously accomplished military service that parlay into being asked to be the first President and Commander-In-Chief of the new version of the country. As The Last Ship is first and foremost a story about a military ship and its crew trying desperately to save the world, the parallel begins there. In both cases, these respective men were charged in leading their men in a mission that would ultimately save their world. In George Washington’s case, the mission was to lead his army and defeat the British allowing the colonies to break from the oppressive rule of the British. In Chandler’s case, his mission was command the Nathan James in a mission to find a cure for the virus and prevent global extinction.

In some loose connection, both Chandler and Washington were men of Virginia. We know that Washington was a lifelong man of Virginia. The son of a wealthy family, Washington would eventually inherit his family estate in Mt. Vernon, Virginia. Eventually in the late 1750s, he would return home to Mt. Vernon under the assumption that he would live out the remainder of his life as a family man running said estate. What we know of Chandler, he was a resident of Virginia before commanding the Nathan James on the mission he still finds himself on. To my knowledge that could be as much about the Naval base in Norfolk and less about him being a man of Virginia. Either way, I’ll take the parallel.

Another parallel we can draw from is in the enemy itself. In Washington’s case, the enemy was the British. Conceptual or tangible. Everything stems from that. Protecting the people of the colonies from the tyrannical rule of the British. For Chandler, the enemy is any person or group that seeks to steal or destroy the cure. And by some extension preventing the cure from making its way to the people. And by that I mean all of the people. Whether it be the Russians in season 1, Amy Granderson’s plan to advance a chosen few, or this newest threat of the “chosen ones” Chandler fights to preserve the cure and the promise to deliver it to all. Which is not unlike Washington fighting against everything the British hoped to employ to maintain control over the colonies. All of the British legislation that pertained to the collection of taxes being the tip of the sword.

Where the analogy becomes speculative would naturally come either when Tom Chandler is asked to lead the army (loose term) or when the dust settles and the Nathan James has restored order amongst the chaos, asked to preside over this new version of our country as the Commander-In-Chief. In the most recent episode, we were given a tease to the former. The Nathan James arrives in Norfolk to find not only supplies, but military personnel. Pilots, Seals, and police. Before the episode is over, we get a small glimpse of Chandler commanding more than just the Nathan James. Orchestrating missions that sent out planes and personnel in various directions to secure these secret laboratories. In that moment, the seed was planted.

The more attractive theory is one, that at least I hope we are four or five seasons away from seeing materialize. That of course being, President Tom Chandler. It is clear that for the immediate future, Tom Chandler’s mission is ongoing. The finish line of protecting the cure and ensuring that they can save every last person possible is far from over. However, if we are to assume that Chandler and the Nathan James are able to complete that mission at some point and restore order and health to the world at large, the assumption is not that unrealistic. Not unlike George Washington leading armies against the British, essentially founding Guerrilla Warfare, and ensuring the safety of these ‘Americans’.

Insert the second Continental Congress. George Washington may not have been the driving force of the second Continental Congress of the likes of Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Hancock or the Adams cousins (John And Samuel.) Which is probably the only way a similar notion could be floated for Tom Chandler. Shortly after the second Congress met, George Washington was appointed to General of the Continental Army. Similarly, I would assume that if the story lines move that far past the initial threat, that Chandler would also prefer to stay in the background until such a time as this new nation needs him to step up beyond his current responsibilities.

Citing the defeat at the Battle of Long Island, we can draw another slight comparison. George Washington was not undefeated. There were bumps in the road. The Battle of Long Island being maybe the most gruesome. While Chandler has not experienced (within the Last Ship series to this point) a defeat of that magnitude, his record is not without blemishes. Men and women under his command have been lost. Most laying down their lives for the mission. Some civilians lost in the crossfire. But clearly the Last Ship mission is not without casualties.

Washington’s failure in Philadelphia in 1777 did two things that may present themselves on the show. First, the defeat prompted Congress to consider removing Washington from Command. While there is no reason to believe currently that this is a story line in the works, I would not be surprised if it presented itself somewhere along the way. Twice now, we’ve seen an episode that at least flirted with the idea of the Nathan James sans Chandler. Losing him is not the prize. Having Chandler triumphant in a return might be.

Secondly, the notion of another nation joining the effort does seem like a real possibility. Following the defeat in Philadelphia, France joined in as allies to the American effort. Now we’ve seen that Russia has some semblance of a functioning army/navy. Yet in the most recent episode we discover that some of these laboratories are located in Europe. Potentially setting up some sort alliance between an established nation or nations (i.e. England, France, Germany, etc). Almost as if it were the inverse or absolute zero effect of the United States’ involvement in World War II. But that’s a reference for another time.

I wish I had a stronger case on this next point. Any discussion about George Washington cannot possibly leave out Valley Forge. In the timeline, Valley Forge is an epic ordeal. In the winter of 1777, it is believed that Washington lost as much as a third of his men to disease. The connection here is not the magnitude but the subject matter. Chandler, almost ironically, has not lost many of his crew to the disease in a literal sense. However, in means of effect, we can go back to the first season when Miller leans over to the female shipmate that died and says, “You were wrong, I’ll remember you” (or something to that effect). The numeric loss was small, but the impact of this crew staring at the lethality of the virus in real context was significant.

In the future there must be a final battle that signifies the end of one major act and the transition into another. The Battle at Yorktown may very well have been that moment for American and George Washington. The insurmountable blow that sends a clear message to the enemy, we have won and you have lost. Thus, marking the move to the next stage. For Washington, that meant eventually heading back to Mt. Vernon, but not permanently.

Going back home is also a nice tie-in although it completely ignores any sense of a timeline. Chandler too goes back home. This we’ve already seen and therefore more or less doesn’t fit. But for about 10 minutes of screen time, Chandler flirts with and makes a decision to stay in Norfolk, resign his commission and be there for his children. Which is also short-lived. Chandler’s father makes it very clear that his duty to the mission and his men takes priority. A notion I’m sure was passed along to Washington and in no small part contributed to Washington’s decision to return.

Now for the elephant in the room. A number of sources cite that the concept of the President as depicted by the Constitutional Convention, was done so with George Washington specifically in mind. Does anyone who follows The Last Ship believe for a second that Tom Chandler is not the image of Commander-In-Chief? Especially as it pertains to what he’s done, what he may plan to do, and what we as Americans would want from the leader of this new United States?

Does anyone think that Tom Chandler could not transition smoothly into that role. Sensitive to issues of national security? Foreign policy whether militarily or otherwise? The economy of a new or rebuilt nation might take some doing, but hopefully along the way, survivors educated and well versed in that department would be found an brought into the fold. Everything that embodies the character of Tom Chandler also embodies the character and virtue most Americans would hope to find in the President of the New United States of America.

While none of this is supported or confirmed by anyone of note, it’s not as far-fetched as it may sound. Whether we are talking about the struggle and conflict to preserve the goal at hand, or the actual events that define the great American remember George Washington to be. Both of these men, one fictional and one very real, seem to be cut from the same cloth. So as we celebrate this Day of Independence and look forward to tomorrows episode, “Solace” sit back and ask yourself:

“Is CDR Tom Chancellor the New America’s George Washington?”

Courtesy of TNT

Courtesy of TNT