Human Target, “Dead Head”

From everything I can gauge, it looks like Matt Miller is trying to make sure every case in Human Target season two is somehow connected to one of the five main cast members. This is opposed to last year’s method that saw Chance and company help random hotties all around the world each week. And though I’d never complain about a series flush of attractive female guest stars, I like the approach that Miller is taking to season two. A series can get a lot of mileage out of having a few cool characters blow stuff up and punch people each week, but at a certain point, it’s nice to find out a little more about those people. I don’t like every episode has to have a Lost-like focus on a certain character or anything like that, but tying a certain person to each case gives them slightly higher stakes, which is never, ever a bad thing.

This week, the spotlight turns to Chi McBride’s Winston and although “Dead Head” doesn’t dive too far into the character’s past or do a particularly good job at it, the story behind Winston’s departure from the police force is probably one that needed to be told. I guess there is some value in keeping all the characters mysterious, but it seems pretty obvious that Matt Miller wants to make Target more accessible and giving Winston a reason to really complete this specific case and also giving him a wife probably helps Miller’s cause.

In any event, it turns out Winston hasn’t been a cop for eight years and most of that has to do with a former partner, who is shockingly dirty. Winston spent a lot of time back in the day trying to take this guy down, but unfortunately it cost him his job, and as he reveals to Chance, his wife.* And so when a prospective client loses his memory and is apparently messed up with this dirty cop, Winston becomes overwhelmed with the desire to take this guy down, once and for all.

*I feel like Chi McBride is ALWAYS divorced or separated in his TV roles. I might be crazy, but if feels that way.

Like I said up top, Winston’s story wasn’t bad at all, but because it had to jockey for storytelling room with the amnesiac client, neither story really got off the ground in perhaps they way they could have. The season can obviously come back to Winston and his wife, and they probably should, but there isn’t much there to really make things interesting in “Dead Head.” The story basically plays out how we would expect it to — Winston gets his man, the ex-wife mentions that it doesn’t matter because Winston just CARES TOO MUCH ABOUT THE JOB — and we move on. I know there’s no way to be fully original and so we can’t just destroy Target for exploring the overly-dedicated ex-cop plot thread, but I think the whole thing might have worked better with Winston simply doing this work on his own without the amnesiac dude involved. He helped bring a few laughs to the proceedings and assisted in the final bust, but because “Dead Head” tried really hard to make us care about his crisis of confidence when he figured out that he was a dirtbag money launderer, Winston got short-changed.

I do, however, continue to like Ilsa’s place on the team. Yes, she’s the shrill nag who always disapproves of the boys’ actions before finally giving in, but Indira Varma seems to be having a really good time in that stereotypical role and she has good chemistry with Mark Valley and Jackie Earle Haley, so the scenes pop just a bit. I like how the guys are showing her the ropes the hard way each week, it makes Guerrero’s side stories even better to watch. Their argument over whether or not to use banks and checks was a fun little bit.

Ames continues to be worthless, but I don’t think anyone expected any different at this point. It seems like the series would be better off with her coming in and out of the picture because that would allow her to whoosh in, cause a ruckus and then speed out of town or something after getting a nice lecture. She doesn’t need to be in every episode, she doesn’t add anything to the proceedings and it’s just a waste of time. Nothing against Janet Montgomery at all, she’s charming, but the character has no weight at all.

Next week, Santa Winston! That should be fun!

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