What They Say
Koko is growing suspicious of two members of the CIA: Book Man and Hex. R fears that Hex’s rash behavior is going to undo all of the hard work they have invested in Operation Undershaft. Can he keep everything he’s worked toward from falling apart?
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Jormungand loves to turn on a dime just to keep me on my toes. Last episode I praised the use of conversations rather than flashbacks to get viewers back up to speed after the seasonal hiatus, but this episode relies much too heavily on the same trick. While it’s still as entertaining as ever, I have to penalize such poor writing.
The first of a two-parter, this episode is basically the info dump that sets up the context for part two. And what a dump it is! One of the structural weaknesses of Jormungand’s story is the way it mechanically introduces the characters. The show started out with Koko and Valmet, and all of “those guys”, and we really didn’t get to know any of the men until they were each given their one special episode where we learn their past. Gradually they’ve become less of an undifferentiated mass, but there has to have been some better way to develop them organically. Perhaps having fewer characters in the first place, or maybe by skipping that nonsense with Orchestra in season one?
Anyway, it’s too late to fix that problem now, so this time we’re given R’s story. R’s real name is Renato Socci, and he narrates his past tracking down war criminals in the Balkan war with the help of the CIA. It was there he met George Black aka Bookman aka Saw, and it was from there he started working with the CIA full-time. The baton is then passed onto Bookman, who tells Hex’s backstory. She was in a all-female special forces unit until it was dissolved due to political controversy. Then her fiance was killed in the 2001 World Trade Center attacks, and since then she basically went insane. Then it’s Hex’s turn to have a dream flashback where we learn she once fought with Koko and some allies were killed. Finally, Koko has a conversation with R (conveniently, since I can’t remember a single conversation they’ve had before) about George Black, which is awkward since R is secretly working for him, and he’s unsure whether Koko’s onto him or not.
So the episode fails utterly at “show, don’t tell,” but I’m not quite done yet. During Hex’s flashback, we’re also introduced, briefly, to one of Koko’s former bodyguards by the name of Echo. Koko was apparently fond of him, and it was he who advised her to always keep smiling. We’ve heard nothing of him since, so it’s hard to imagine he wasn’t killed by Hex in the battle.
It’s not that this information isn’t interesting, because it is, and it’s not as though there aren’t humorous bits and great character moments, as those are present as well. But the information is doled out so gracelessly that it’s hard not to be somewhat disappointed. Next week promises quite the bloodbath, as George Black seems to have given up Jonah to Hex, but there has to have been a better way to get all of the pieces in place than three monologues and a contrived conversation.
While conversations were a great way to add new information about events we’d seen in a previous season, using them to dump exposition about a bunch of characters we’ve never seen before is just lazy. Jormungand fans are used to learning about one dude in Koko’s entourage per episode, but we find out about R, Hex, Bookman, and this mysterious Echo all at once? That’s just bad writing, and all of the CIA assets in the world can’t cover that up.
Streamed By: Funimation
Sony VAIO 17″ HD screen