TV review by Merrill Barr, co-host of The Idiot Boxers
Airs: CBS, Fridays, 8pm
Review: Team One might be able to keep the peace, but my personal health is something else entirely.
Did I expect a “happy” ending to the call, of course. But why should an expected ending to a critical incident diminish one’s enjoyment of the events? The pacing, the directing, and the writing, oh boy the writing, it was all beyond top notch to close out what has been one heck of an explosive season.
As I stated a while back, this season has yet to have an episode that wasn’t better than the one that came before it, and it’s a good thing they stopped here. It would’ve probably been near impossible to top this.
What makes Shockwave work so well is the pacing. For the first two acts the dial is cranked to eleven, leaving very little room for things like breathing, but then in act three things slow down. It gives the audience a chance to breathe and then sweat over the situation as a whole because let’s be honest, that is one big ass bomb.
It was also nice to have an episode that was 100% Spike’s. Even the last time we got a Spike episode during “No Promises,” it wasn’t 100% Spike’s. There was alot going on with the cat and mouse game during that episode. But here, no one else on the team is an explosives expert, so only Spike can handle the call with the care that it needs.
On top of that, the arc of Spike’s relationship with his father was brought front and center in this episode. Since Fault Lines, but chronologically since One Wrong Move, there has been an on-going struggle between Spike and his dying father. Not much has been seen, but we know it’s been weighing on him. What was nice is that the writers didn’t bother going through the motions of him getting back into a relationship with his father. We know how that would go anyway, instead we skip the appetizers and get right to the main course, and in the final moments of the episode, Spike reached an emotional peak that he has never been to before.
When the moment comes where his father speaks the words “Michael, I’m scared,” you could have cut the emotions with a knife. Despite having spent maybe a total of ten minutes with the man, the audience gets the sense that he’s been here the whole time, and it’s all because of what we’ve experienced through Spike.
And speaking of emotional peaks. I have a sneaking suspicion that this episode is the culmination of a much larger arc that began in One Wrong Move. In the final scene of that episode, Spike experiences a huge loss, a loss greater than what was felt by any other member of the team. In the final shot, Greg holds the distressed Spike like a father holding his son.
The next time this moment is brought up is in Follow The Leader where Spike is face-to-face with a bomb for the first time since Lew’s death. When Greg is watching over, Spike looks up and tells Greg to step back, signaling that this is something that he has to do on his own. Essentially, coming to a personal redemption for the death of Lew that he blames on himself.
Then in No Promises Spike comes head-to-head with the man that made him who he is. And in the process of trying to keep him alive, he looses him. And in the final moments of the episode, assumes the role of protector for Mack’s daughter. Bringing him one step closer to maturity.
And that brings us to Shockwave, and his father’s hospital bed. After going through so much tragedy, Spike is now stronger, and emotionally prepared to provide the comfort his father needs in his final hours. And that’s what this arc has been about since the beginning. Making Spike more than just “the bomb guy” or “the team nerd.” It was about making Spike a man, and not just a boy. And what’s more powerful than being able to comfort the man that raised you? It’s not until now that all of that is realized.
This episode shows the type of depth the writing team are able to achieve and why Flashpoint has been and will always be more than just your typical police procedural.
Final thoughts: I think I said everything that needed to be said already.