And even with an episode that seemed to bring together everything that's ever worked on this show into one package, it was still only... adequate. Not quite horrible, but not quite enjoyable, either.
On the good side, we had: Lillian being smarter than the rest of the intelligence community leaders. Mei Chen returning to kick all sorts of ass. The Phloxes being funny. Leland Strand coming back for a ridiculous speech.
On the other hand, we had a number of clunking anvils. Some lazy writing that veered into offensiveness. And, while Gabriel did use the chip for something, it still made zero sense.
We missed doing a recap for last week, but semi-conveniently, the finale was a two-parter. Here's what happened last week:
Gabriel was framed for the deaths of high-level intelligence officials, with everyone being worried that the chip was hacked and Gabriel hijacked to perform the deed. He and Riley go on the lam in order to get proof that he didn't do it. Meanwhile, Lillian's removed from Cyber Com, and Lance Reddick is put in charge. And he's trigger-happy.
The proof of Gabriel's innocence comes in the form of Mei Chen, which was obvious, since no one else would be able to replicate what Gabriel can do except the one person who does it better. She's not the only one turning this show into old home week, as Leland Strand is also around. Turns out the dead guys were the ones looking into an Iranian sleeper-agent program called "The Flood." When Riley, Gabriel, and Mei Chen go to meet with Lillian, someone opens fire on them and hits Gabriel. Got it? On to the final episode.
Last night's episode opens up right after Gabriel was shot, with Gabriel directing them to a house for help, since they can't go to a hospital. When they get to the door, Mei Chen's clearly figured out where they are, since she smirks and says, "This is going to be amazing."
And yes, yes it is, since Gabriel's taken them to his mom's house. Mrs. Vaughn is a retired army nurse/alcoholic, so she's given the task of sewing Gabriel up. Mei Chen puts Gabriel into the mental holodeck, creating a hospital environment to "keep him calm." Riley delivers the line "Are you rendering with him right now?" the same way she would "Are you having sex with him right now?"
In the render, Mei Chen keeps up with her insistence that Gabriel abandon working for the government, telling him that she was hired by someone in the government to kill Governor Cameron, a presidential contender. When Gabriel questions why he should believe her, Mei Chen replies that she gives not a single fuck if he does. She's pretty much banking on him not believing her, so she can tell him "I told you so." She also wonders if the chip's wasted on Gabriel, which I'm pretty sure has been Intelligence's main thesis. And then she leaves, taking my heart with her.
Why aren't we watching a show about the woman who had an experimental chip put into her head by the government, and then went rogue and now works as a gun for-hire? Because not only is that more interesting than what Intelligence gave us for most of this season, Faye Kingslee is great in this part.
Back at Cyber Com, Lillian is pissed. She tells DNI Adam Weatherly and Lance Reddick that she would have had Gabriel, Riley, and Mei Chen if someone hadn't started shooting. Lance Reddick insists that it wasn't him, even though he's still all for shooting Gabriel in the face over and over again... although I could be projecting a little bit. Lillian snaps back that she knows, because he's said a billion times. Well, someone's defensive.
And it wouldn't be the end of Intelligence without a massive anvil about the line between man and machine:
Weatherly: If rogue fighter jet was headed to the capitol we'd shoot it out of the sky.
Lillian: He's not a fighter jet.
Weatherly: Yes he is.
Lillian meets with Jameson and the Phloxes, and realize that he's probably gone to his mother's for help. Said mother's tending to Gabriel, while Riley has gone to warn Governor Campbell about the assassination attempt. On her Secret Service team is, of course, Riley's old friend from earlier in the season. So she gets in and talks to the Governor, who turns around and reports it to Weatherly and Lance Reddick, which makes it completely clear that one of them is the sleeper agent.
Gabriel and his mother see someone in the backyard, so his mom casually pulls out the giant, loaded gun she just keeps in the junk drawer of her house. In every scene with his mother, Gabriel is set permanently to "Moooooooom" mode, which is hilarious. Even when it turns out that an assassin has tracked him down, and Gabriel gets him with the "exploding shaving cream in the microwave" trick, the fight scene swings from intense to slapstick the second Gabriel yells at his mom for shooting her gun off. When Riley gets back to the house, she also runs into an intruder: Jameson. They play a rousing game of "No, you put your gun down first," which Jameson loses. Mrs. Vaughn quite rightly does a double-take at yet another intruder coming into her house. Gabriel promises to tell her everything later, and Jameson, Gabriel, and Riley meet up with the Phloxes and the Strands.
Phlox Jr. gets the line of night when he greets Gabriel with "I don't know if you know this but there are Iranian sleeper agents in our government. Feel safe?" Right on cue, Lance Reddick calls Lillian to say that a photo of some of the sleeper agents was found in the home of one of the dead guys. As he is making this call alone, at night, and on the roof, he's totally a dead man. And, lo and behold, he takes two to the chest and dies texting the photo to Lillian.
The photo is of six blurred faces with six types of tigers written on the back. Can we figure out which person on the writing staff loves cat allusions? Because we've had a lot of them this season. And this episode gives this one to the master of weird cat references, because Leland then spins the world's most hilarious tale about how, in the '80s, the six best sleeper agents were flown to a farm in Canada so they could take a picture together for the Ayatollah's sickbed. And that, according to, I don't even know, 25 year-old legend, those six sleeper agents were called the Six Tigers. Slow clap, Leland, that's ridiculous. It's no "Hakuna matata," but it's good.
The Phloxes realize that the photo was blurred by a shitty '80s computer, so Gabriel can unscramble it if he has one face as a key. They figure the dead guy was one of them, so Gabriel uses his face to descramble the rest of them. Let's just move past the fact that it's really stupid to send one of their very best sleeper agents after Gabriel, that he wasn't that good (Gabriel took care of him pretty easily, and he had just been shot), and that Gabriel had to de-age the photo to make it useful. We're so close to the end of this.
Some Iranian controller is talking to Weatherly about how he has to kill Governor Cameron, even though they're friends. He drops some unbelievably offensive Muslim extremist dialogue, making me remember why I have so hated this show's lazy writing in the past.
Weatherly leaves the car to go to the Governor's pairs pheasant-hunting competition for charity. Yes. This is a thing that's happening. And Weatherly's plan is to kill her and use the Cheney-esque "hunting accident" excuse. Gabriel and Riley get to him just as he aims his gun at the governor, and Weatherly runs. Riley sends Gabriel – who is still recovering from a gunshot – after him, while she, the uninjured one, stays with the governor. I don't care that Gabriel can use satellites to find Weatherly, that is not so helpful if he collapses from blood loss.
Weatherly is caught, and appears to be extraordinarily rendered to a cell in the middle of nowhere. Lillian and Gabriel visit him, trying to get the name of his controller out of him. He doesn't answer with a name as with another little parable about how a not-intelligent man gets a clockwork brain, but is ostracized and left alone forever. This, he tells Gabriel, is why the chip project is called Clockwork. Singularly unhelpful, Weatherly. I'm glad Mei Chen breaks into your prison cell and kills you. She's being paid by Leland, who says he has other jobs for her. I would 100% believe that everything that happened in these two episodes was a plan Leland's crazy brain cooked up.
While that revelation was technically the last scene of the episode, let's instead end with one last anvil about man and machine: Gabriel tells his mother about the chip, starting with "Remember when Johnny got a tattoo, remember how angry you got? It's kind of like that," which is the best line Josh Holloway has had this entire series. She asks what the downside is, and he says some people worry that he could be reprogrammed. She counters that they said that Weatherly had essentially been programmed as a child to be a sleeper agent, so how different is he really? See, man and machine aren't so different after all!
And with the lingering question of how his mother got clearance to learn about the chip and Weatherly's sleeper agent history, we say good-bye to Intelligence. Likely forever. This show was uneven, but at least it pulled out its greatest hits for the season finale. And even then, there was some intense suspension of disbelief required to get through it. Adieu, Intelligence, I wish a much better show on your cast, who tried their very best.