In the second part of this week’s two-part adventure, we’re right back where we left off. Chance and Ilsa are arguing when her jet is shot down courtesy of Victor Lopez, who’s still ticked off that Chance killed his brother. (Anyone else hearing “My name is Victor Lopez. You killed my brother. Prepare to die”?) Chance helps the pilot try to bring the plane down in one piece, while deciding that if they have to start eating each other, Ilsa goes first. Once the plane crash-lands, he rescues a panicking Ilsa from the burning wreckage, while still sort of bickering with her. Of course, because this is TV and it’s more fun that way, they escape just before the plane explodes.
Back in San Francisco, Guerrero and Winston discuss what will happen now that Chance and Ilsa are on the outs, while Ames decides to go up to the roof and work on her tan. This means she’s not there when bumbling private investigator Harry (Arrested Development‘s Tony Hale), who’s been a problem for the team before, turns up looking for help. Guerrero and Winston tell him to get lost, but he insists “I’m pretty sure I’m going to be dead by tomorrow.” That’s because there are literally twelve guys who followed him to the warehouse. While trying to decide what to do, Winston and Guerrero start arguing amongst themselves, with Winston putting himself in charge and Guerrero not enjoying that at all.
Chance tells Ilsa that he saw a supply road from the air and intends on following it, while insinuating that she only married her husband for his money. She doesn’t dignify that with an answer as the two of them enter a long-abandoned building, population: one dead drug runner. Much to Ilsa’s continued disgust, Chance looks around to see what he can find in the building and on the body.
In San Francisco, Harry mentions Bangkok to Winston, and it’s obvious that’s a sore subject for our former cop, who immediately turns on Guerrero for telling him about it. “Every time we work without Chance, you act like this,” Guerrero retorts. Winston yells at him for not locking down the freight elevator, which Guerrero thought that Winston was responsible for. As a result of their miscommunication, the bad guys are using the elevator to come up and pay them a visit. They start putting together a barricade.
While Ilsa reminds Chance that she still intends for them to go their separate ways, he saves her from being shot by Lopez. It’s obvious that she needs him, or she’d be dead twice by now.
At the warehouse, Winston explains to Harry that they once took a job in Bangkok, which led to himself and Guerrero being captured. Guerrero ended up freeing himself and saving Winston’s life, and still enjoys holding that over Winston’s head, hence Winston’s animosity. Guerrero arrives seconds later for a quick conversation, in which they realize that the bad guys have way too much firepower and that they’ll be overrun if they take them head on. They agree for once and decide to fall back to a safer location.
“Revenge is a perfectly acceptable reason to commit murder,” Chance tells Ilsa as they hide from Lopez, knowing that the man will wait until nightfall to make his next move against them. This would carry more weight if he didn’t then freak out because there’s a spider on Ilsa’s shoulder. As we recall from “Salvage & Reclamation,” Chance hates banana spiders, and he has a very unmanly moment. That joke wasn’t funny the first time, and honestly, it’s not any funnier now. Once he calms down, he gives Ilsa his gun to protect herself while he goes onto the roof in an attempt to adjust the radio antenna. This leaves Ilsa holed up with the gun as it gets dark and Lopez starts sneaking around. The two of them end up in a standoff before Chance comes to her rescue, or at least attempts to. With him down and almost out, it’s Ilsa who knocks out Lopez so they can both escape. I’d just have shot him, but that’s not the way Ilsa Pucci does things.
Ames finally calls Winston to ask what’s going on, only to have Winston start yelling at her, telling her they’re barricaded in the utility room with Harry and ‘asking’ for her help. I would not be surprised if Winston is on some sort of medication for stress, or at least buying aspirin in bulk. He certainly puts up with a lot, and he’s never been a Zen kind of man.
Chance and Ilsa continue their search for a way home, only to have Lopez spring up on them yet again. The man is everywhere, like a ninja. He finally falls to his apparent death after Chance throws the knife he borrowed from the dead guy into him, causing him to lose his grip on a shocked Ilsa’s hand.
The bad guys have decided to gas Winston, Guerrero and Harry out of hiding, so Ames has to go turn the gas off before they die. They may be on the verge of dying, and Guerrero chooses then to tell Winston that he’s acting kind of like a douche. In the midst of their arguing, Harry helps them realize that it was Chance who saved them both in Bangkok, so they have nothing to hold over each other. They decide to rescue themselves this time instead of waiting for him to do so again, and actually bond over their mutual desire not to be dependent on their old friend. Guerrero uses the busted gas line to their advantage – while Ames distracts the bad guys by being half-naked, he sets off an improvised smoke bomb that blinds them long enough for him to start shooting. Unfortunately, that’s when Chance gets back and spoils his fun.
With them out of South America and back in San Francisco, Chance and Ilsa sort of make up when he drives her home. She reveals that she’s from Northern Ireland originally and went to school in London – so obviously she knows what it’s like to grow up in a dangerous place and time. They agree to work on their professional relationship, and she plans to spend a relaxing evening in. Yet the very not dead Lopez has other plans. He has her call Chance; she decides to one-up him by flat-out telling Chance that he’s there, and a beating ensues. This sends Chance on a one-man rescue mission, but he arrives just in time to hear a gunshot and realize that Ilsa has shot Lopez with his own gun. Hurt and traumatized, she turns to Chance for some small measure of comfort. This whole sequence would be perfect except for the fact that there’s an annoying needle drop through most of it. I feel comfortable in saying that Bear McCreary would have scored this perfectly and quietly, but the pop music has the opposite effect.
“Communication Breakdown” is written by original showrunner Jon Steinberg, and it shows; I’ve maintained for a long time that no one knows characters better than the person who created them, and it’s Steinberg who developed the Human Target property for television and shepherded this show all the way through its solid first season. His script is lighter on action than the first part, but that’s not a detriment, because it’s also character-driven. He basically restricts the movements of his characters to two general locations – the structure in the South American wilderness and the warehouse – in order to focus on the characters and their relationships with one another. We’re not so much concerned with if there’s a cool action scene than how Winston and Guerrero’s relationship has evolved, and how Chance and Ilsa’s relationship has degenerated. Remember that Season 2 currently only has a 13-episode order (although two more scripts were ordered in October, that’s no guarantee they’ll be produced), so we’re more than halfway through the season – these characters have had a lot of change in their lives, so it’s important to stop and take stock of who they are and what they’ve been through.
Furthermore, he does what we’ve been waiting all season to see: he throws Ilsa Pucci into a real life-or-death situation, and forces her to adapt and grow up. By episode’s end, she’s proven for the first time that she might just have a chance of surviving in Chance’s world, because she’s managed to save her own life. What taking someone’s life does to her opens up more to explore with her, but I’m just happy that the show has finally forced her to get her hands dirty, and not just complain about everyone else’s doing the hard work. This is Chance’s world, and she should have to live in it, not vice versa. Hopefully now that she’s had her eyes opened about what it really takes to be him, she’ll mesh with him and his team (and the series) a little better. That’s just the cherry on top of a solid hour of character interaction and development, which to me is worth more than any number of gunshots or explosions.
Remember that Human Target airs two more back-to-back episodes next week. They’re loaded with a trio of great guest stars: Olga Sosnovska (Spooks/MI-5), Carlo Rota (24, The Good Guys) and James Remar (Dexter). I’ll see you back here in seven days for all the action.