The beginning of this episode sounds like a bad joke: Christopher Chance is in a bar.
He’s being flirted with by a clueless young woman (not that I can blame her, because Mark Valley is ridiculously good-looking) when his old flame Maria (last seen being left behind in Season 1’s “Salvage & Reclamation”) appears seemingly out of nowhere. I was not thrilled to meet her then, and I’m not really thrilled to see her again now. She’s sweet on Chance, but about as subtle as a hammer.
Meanwhile, Ilsa is throwing another fit because Chance hasn’t turned up for a scheduled business meeting for which even Guerrero is present (although he has someone waiting in his trunk). Winston informs her that Chance doesn’t consider her his boss, more like a business partner. She ignores that and talks about how their methods have exposed her new foundation to lawsuits, so she’s decided to create a subsidiary allowing them to do whatever they want without her reputation being besmirched.
Back at the bar, Chance confronts Maria about why she’s really there, especially since he’s spotted a black SUV and an unsavory-looking guy who turned up about the same time she did. He gets her to admit that she’s arrived because she’s in trouble, and proceeds to help her out of it by shooting up the bar. Not that it stops him from making out with her again, which causes me to smash my forehead into the keyboard. Really? He should know by now that she almost seems to enjoy manipulating him, and he’s still making eyes at her?
Thankfully, the next morning, Winston and Guerrero try to talk some sense into him. He maintains that Maria was nearly killed by some lackeys working for Victor Escalante, who kidnapped her friend, Diego Garcia. Ilsa turns up and says Diego did some work for her. Wow, what a small world. How many people getting in trouble in South America does Ilsa know? Chance and Winston argue about whether or not coming to Maria’s aid is a good idea, which is her cue to turn up. Ilsa agrees to help Chance and his team gain access to a party that Escalante is throwing at his estate, where Diego is also being held. Time to fuel up the jet!
Chance has a plan, and it involves Maria staying away as long as possible because she’ll be recognized. Instead, he takes Ames as his “date” to the party, although she could not be more out of her element. While they move through the party, the guys spot Hector and Eladio Lopez, who are two very nasty “private security with a vengeance” types. Chance pegs Hector for having the security access card they need, but Ames gets pulled aside by Victor’s brother Julio and his wandering eye. She returns in time to steal the access card while Chance is causing a distraction for everyone but Hector. While he gets more and more suspicious, Maria goes in to help Chance and Ames rescue Diego. When they get him outside, Ames realizes it’s not Diego they have, but Julio Escalante. Everyone looks to Maria, who reveals that she lied – her real plan was to kidnap Julio and trade him back to his brother. Chance would argue, but doesn’t have time to with them being shot at.
Once they make their getaway to a local airfield, Guerrero considers shooting Maria. Chance, however, wants more of an explanation from her, only to hear her use Ilsa as an excuse for not telling him the truth. He’s about ready to burst a blood vessel, and it only gets worse: she reveals that Diego is her husband. That’s right, she’s perfectly okay with flirting with Chance and kissing him in the aftermath of the bar fight, and she’s married. Obviously, she doesn’t have much respect for Chance or her husband, if she’s willing to betray the marriage vows she made to the latter and play the former. It reminds me of House and Stacy in the second season of House, and not in any good way. “Thanks for thinking so little of me,” Chance tells her while trying to burn a hole through her head with his eyes. Still, he agrees to see the situation through, going back to San Francisco and leaving Guerrero and Ames behind to set up a potential exchange.
Once Chance returns to the warehouse, Ilsa is not thrilled that kidnapping is the new plan, and Winston says “I told you so” without actually saying it. Meanwhile, Ames and Guerrero meet with the Lopez brothers, with Ames once again insisting she can handle herself, while the rest of us recall how that’s worked out for her so far. Using her to translate, Guerrero tries to broker the exchange of Julio for Diego, only to find out from Hector that Julio’s brother doesn’t really want him back. “Maria strikes again,” Guerrero says, just before he and Ames get held at gunpoint.
Ilsa wants to call the State Department to put an end to things, but Chance tries to convince her not to – just before he gets a call from Guerrero informing him that not only is Victor Escalante really after Maria, but that both he and Ames are now hostages. It’s now time for Plan B, or C, or whatever it is they’re on now. That means set up another exchange, and then use it to seize control of the overall situation. Winston warns Chance to stop rubbing Ilsa the wrong way before she walks away, but Chance says it wasn’t as if their life was bad before her (he’s right – it was called Season 1). With that hanging in the air, Winston says, “I get to use the rocket launcher.” By the time Ilsa comes back with her State Department buddies, they’re gone and Julio is making lunch. Take that, bureaucracy.
On the plane back to South America, Maria wants yet another heart-to-heart with Chance. She tells him that she’s always been in love with him, and that Diego isn’t him – but that regardless, he’s not the right man for her. I’m saved from choking because Ilsa has ordered the pilot to turn the jet around, raising Chance’s ire. His response to this is to depressurize the cabin, so they don’t have enough oxygen to get back to San Francisco. As the plane goes down with alarms wailing, Winston growls, “You ought to admit one thing. Things have gotten a little out of hand.” A little, of course, being the understatement of the week.
They prepare to make the exchange, Chance making nice while Winston tries to figure out how to assemble the rocket launcher. Unfortunately, the instructions are in Hebrew, so he’s lost. Chance can only watch while Maria is led away to a helicopter at gunpoint. Winston accidentally fires the rocket launcher before he meant to and it blows up a Jeep across the tarmac instead. A shootout ensues while Chance jumps onto the departing helicopter to rescue Maria. He fights with Eladio Lopez before the guy falls to his death, right in front of his brother, who immediately starts plotting revenge. Literally, you can see the wheels start to turn in his head about five seconds later.
Chance reunites Maria with her husband, but not before she comes back and tells him that she’d run off with him if he asked. It’s a reminder that she has no tact or integrity when it comes to personal relationships. Wisely, Chance just tells her to have a nice life, although she continues to stare longingly at him. He picks a good time to cut ties with her, too, as Ilsa has arrived and she’s not a happy camper. She and Chance immediately start fighting, causing Winston, Ames and Guerrero to decide to find their own way home. It’s a wise decision, as no sooner are they in the air than the plane is targeted by one Victor Lopez.
This is a great action episode (Winston with a rocket launcher and a large gun? Heck yes), but I’m not so hot about the character drama and that’s entirely because of the Maria character. I wasn’t too keen on her when she first appeared and with her actions in this episode, I honestly dislike her. She comes to Chance to beg (and manipulate) him to save her husband’s life, but she’s willing to betray her husband by kissing Chance and then offering to run away with him? To me, that shows that she doesn’t really care for her husband and she doesn’t have a lot of respect for Chance to lie to him, and to put the moves on him even when she’s married. It’s as if he’s only there to get her out of trouble, most of which she seems to bring on herself to begin with. I’m annoyed that he bought it at first, but at least he wises up by the end. Hopefully, this is the last we see of her, because she really needs to stop coming into his life and messing with his head. I really wouldn’t have minded if Guerrero shot her.
That said, her dragging the team to South America sets the team up for an interesting second part of the adventure. There was plenty of solid action in the first part, but it only gets better once the unexpected rocket launcher makes an appearance and brings the plane down in part two. Looking at it that way, I’m willing to call this a successful first part, as long as we never see Maria again.