Previously on Intelligence, we've had Phlox's fatherly relationship with Gabriel and Phlox, Jr.'s occasional problem with his father's insistence on that fact. So it seemed that the only people lacking a daddy-issues plot were the two female characters, Riley and Lillian. And last night, Lillian joined the club, and left Riley all on her own.
Spoilers ahead. . .
For most of this episode, I totally forgot the premise of this show. No, seriously — Gabriel and his brain chip were barely present. Which was totally fine, since those two things have repeatedly shown themselves to be the weakest parts of the show. The only real downside is that it's clear that the writers have NO IDEA what the chip is, does, or is worth.
So this episode's mission is the recovery of two girls who were kidnapped by a Mexican drug cartel. One of the girls is the daughter of a Senator whose committee is about to give a satellite to the Mexican government. The drug lord, Hector, really hates the satellite, since it's going to help patrol the border and aid in policing the drug trade. Now, they mention how it'll do that maybe once, but Hector basically acts like the satellite's being tasked to follow him around, personally. He hates it like it shot his dog.
Lillian is shown the footage of the two girls being menaced that the Senator received. In a twist, the Senator never showed it to anyone. He received it and then pretended like nothing was wrong, clearly going to stop the satellite deal in order to save his wife. The footage is presented to Lillian by her father, Leland.
Sidenote: I super-hope the similarity in their names was on purpose. I really hope that he lobbied his wife hard to name his child Leland regardless of gender, and managed to get "Lillian" as a compromise. From what we see of the dude, that's more than possible.
Riley and Gabriel are sent to Mexico, where they are instantly clocked by Hector as American agents. So he leaves them an excellent little gift: a dead body in the trunk of a car with a ringing cell phone in his mouth. Gabriel uses a rock to open the trunk, jolting me into remembering that he has millions of dollars worth of secret technology in his mind, and barely ever uses it. Hector tells them to look at the laptop he included with the dead body, and there is one of the girls clutching a live hand grenade. He also mentions the name "Obregon" in the call.
While Riley and Gabriel go to save the non-Senator's daughter, Lillian has a truly unbelievable deductive moment. Literally unbelievable. From the name "Obregon," Lillian's figured out that Hector was hinting that he worked with the U.S. government. And not just the government generally, but her father in particular. She says something about Obregon and his relationship with Pancho Villa, but it does not compute. She says something about remembering everything her father told her, including about the Mexican Revolution. I think we're supposed to get that the reference is one that her father's made, so that's how she knows Hector's worked with him, but I think it needed to be clearer.
But this confrontation is not yet done being just ridiculous. Lillian pours alcohol and demands to know what's going on. Leland explains that they made a deal with Hector: he gave them information on all the other drug lords, and they left him alone. This means that A) Since the Americans took out all the competition, Hector's now the biggest drug lord left and B) He sees the satellite deal as a violation of that deal. I'll give this show credit: that deal and its easy-to-predict consequences are totally something the American intelligence community would be capable of.
ON THE OTHER HAND: Lillian compares what happened to the CIA being shocked that the lion cub they raised bit them. To which her father very gravely responds, "Hakuna matata." Peter Coyote should have been allowed to drop a mic after delivering that line.
While Lillian's drinking and interrogating her father, Riley and Gabriel are trying to get clues to the where the senator's daughter is being held from the girl they saved. She tells them that it "Sounded like a jungle." There's a pause and Riley goes, "You've been very helpful." A+ hilarity, right there. They figure out the house had a subscription to a soccer channel — which Gabriel and the chip discover is popular in Mexico. Go home, Gabriel. You're the worst.
Leland offers Hector the codes to the satellite in exchange for the daughter. Hector, logically, points out that they can just change the codes. But he agrees to the deal. And Lillian is ordered to take the deal, so Riley and Gabriel go to collect the girl. Lillian is also the first to realize this is going to be a clusterfuck, and tells Riley to get back. Gabriel's acting as sniper back-up, because he's better at using the rifle than Riley. Gabriel manages to shoot exactly ONE of the kidnappers. THE WORST.
Riley refuses to leave the girl, so she gets abducted, too. Gabriel and his chip figure out where they are, and he goes in and saves them. Riley points a gun at Hector, but he's still technically a CIA asset, so she's not allowed to kill him.
Her father lectures about how the people Hector allowed them to take down were all worse than he was and that if they didn't make deals like this, there wouldn't be an intelligence field. And you'd think pragmatic Lillian would be all over that, but NOPE. Instead, she calls Hector. He's naked in bathtub with a beautiful woman and like a million candles. She's in a gown at the theater with her dad. Hector identifies her, which leads to the hilarious image of Leland bragging about his daughter to the drug lord he's pumping for information. And just as Hector brags about how he's pretty much untouchable because of his deal with the U.S., Lillian's all "You are not the only person we know in Mexico." And the lady sharing Hector's bath proceeds to stab him to death and leave.
The good: 1) Hector was genuinely creepy when menacing the two girls. For a villain of the week, he was pretty great. 2) Leland and Lillian's relationship is fascinating. She's clearly a chip off the ol' Hakuna Matata, but I didn't get the sense she hungered for his approval, as is the cliche. Instead, she seemed like a regular child who happened to learn spycraft from her father, rather than how to ride her bike. Her talk with him really felt like her going "Oh my god, Dad. Be better at your job. You're embarrassing me." 3) The last scene was great, and Lillian is clearly the HBIC.
The bad: 1) No Phlox and son this week. That's a shame, since their humor is usually the best-written stuff on this show. 2) Gabriel remains a load, and his chip's abilities remain unimpressive. 3) It's hard to believe in the competence of your main characters, when they seem surprised by the popularity of SOCCER.
The unclassifiable: Leland and Lillian's confrontation about Hector. Marg Helgenberger and Peter Coyote are trying really hard, and they almost pull it off. But the Obregon logic leap is ridiculous. And "Hakuna Matata" may be the most amazing rejoinder ever. But in terms of believability, it fails. Super-entertaining, though not in the way intended. So I have no idea if it's good or bad, but I'd watch more along those lines.
Unfortunately, the promo for next week sounds like we're in for another "Man or machine?" anvillicious conversation. If anything, this week proved that everyone involved is capable of delivering a serviceable procedural. but no one's really sure what to do with the chip — the supposed defining characteristic of this show. I wonder if it's too late for them to reboot the series without the chip.