Last night, Intelligence had its first entirely-Gabriel focused episode in a while. And while this episode seemed specifically written to show how awesome Gabriel is, instead it proved, once and for all, just how useless he is. Spoilers ahead...
This week's mission was to go to Bolivia and keep an opposition presidential candidate safe, as an assassin's been going around killing all of those. There's a photo of the assassin, and Gabriel instantly IDs him as John Norris. Not with his chip, but because he served with the dude in Afghanistan.
And Gabriel's totally ready to believe the worst of Norris. Why? Well, a series of flashbacks show that Norris once essentially kidnapped a family to get him and Gabriel a safe place to hide in Afghanistan, was only stopped in killing them by Gabriel, and used the word "bro" a lot.
In Bolivia, the team gets the candidate and his family to safety. The candidate's got a wife and brother-in-law, and Gabriel scans the brother-in-law's face, and finds out he used to be a soccer player. He says that, and says that he follows soccer. LIES. Gabriel's the same dude who was surprised a few weeks ago that SOCCER WAS POPULAR IN MEXICO. The worst.
While the candidate and his family are secreted away for a meeting with an American diplomat, Gabriel and Riley go to see the local CIA agent. Who is dead and rigged to blow. Gabriel catches sight of Norris, but they miss him when the bomb explodes. Gabriel did manage to pick up Norris' cell phone number, which can't be used to track him without a satellite. So Gabriel just calls him. (Of course, when they later call in a report to Lillian, she gets a satellite re-tasked for him. Because she knows what they're doing, and Gabriel's an idiot.)
Norris gets to safe house that the candidate is being kept in and shoots the agent protecting him. He's one of the side-characters that I haven't bothered to learn the name of. But as of this episode, I have. His name is Jameson and he was an island of good in sea of mediocrity this episode.
Gabriel goes after Norris, and when Lillian asks if he's using the satellite she had re-tasked for him, he says "technically, that's cheating." Gabriel, I'm not even sure what the chip actually does at this point, and I'm still annoyed that you aren't using it here.
Eventually, Gabriel gets a gun on Norris. He doesn't shoot because, as Norris points out, he has no balls. Gabriel counters that he doesn't have to, because Norris is standing in minefield. He offers to guide Norris out if he puts down the weapon. Norris excellently asks how Gabriel can do that and Gabriel answers "Satellite." Norris goes "In your head?" JUST LIKE LAST WEEK, Gabriel is awful at hiding the chip from people.
And then, when Norris gets out of the minefield, he punches Gabriel right in the face. As everyone should.
When Gabriel comes to, Norris tells him that he works for the CIA and was actually hired, off the books, to keep the candidate safe. The wife and brother-in-law actually work for the president and hate America, so they're going to kill the candidate and the American politician he's going to meet. And because this episode needs Gabriel not to be an idiot for not being willing to shoot Norris, this is all true.
The showdown is Three Stooges-level hilarious. Norris shoots the brother-in-law, Riley shoots Norris, Gabriel shoots the wife, and Riley manages to throw the bomb into the distance just as it explodes.
The explanation for how Norris ended up working for the CIA is equally hilarious: Lillian is told that the CIA agent in Bolivia was given a single sentence "The U.S. backs [candidate's name]" and interpreted it as "So kill off all of the competition." Then the CIA guy says that Lillian needs to trust them more. Lillian should have just slapped him, pointed to the memo sent to Bolivia, and stalked off shaking her head.
The episode ends with Gabriel ruminating about Norris that "Once, there was no one better." Riley shoots back "There is someone better." She better not be talking about Gabriel, because he is demonstrably horrible.
The whole Norris character is clearly designed to make Gabriel look good. He's a rogue who used killing as a first resort. And yet, he's the one who knows what's going on in Bolivia. He manages to get past the team. He punches Gabriel. Even standing in a minefield, he has the presence of mind to question how Gabriel could see the mines. AND when Gabriel says he's with Cyber Com, he starts to laugh. He asks how that even happened, since Gabriel can barely open an e-mail (direct quote).
Gabriel, on the other hand, 1) reminded us about his soccer gaffe from earlier in the season; 2) Doesn't use the cell phone number to find his target, but calls him up for a casual chat; 3) gets punched in the face; and 4) once again fails at hiding his new special abilities.
At one point in this episode, Lillian says of Gabriel that "You get used to him. Eventually." How long must we wait to get used to him? Because it's not happening. Norris is like Mirror Universe Gabriel, and I like him better.
And why is Jameson now in my list of "side-characters I'd rather watch than Gabriel?" Well, the opening scene has Riley and Gabriel competing to see who is the better shot (hint: it's not Gabriel). Then Jameson comes in and they make fun of him for firing off memos and not guns. Then he dazzles them with a display of precision shooting.
Later, when he's shot, Riley asks him how he is and he answers with a perfectly deadpan "Stellar." Then, when Riley and Gabriel are arguing about whether she'll stay inside while Gabriel goes after Norris, Gabriel says "We can't let Jameson bleed out." From the background, Jameson lets out a little "Thanks." That was the most genuinely funny moment this show has had in a long time. I'm Team Jameson-Lillian-Phlox. Or really, Team Not Gabriel.