Your favorite summer TV binging couple is back for more! Last year, my boyfriend Frank and I tackled the first season of SyFy/Amazon’s The Expanse together – – two different perspectives on the same show, one from one person who’s seen it, the other watching it for the first time. Who just happen to be dating.
This year, we’re taking a look at the TNT adaptation of Top Cow’s Witchblade comic, which aired on the network from 2001 – 2002. And just like last year, this is a show Frank has watched, and I haven’t. Hilarity is bound to ensue (again). The series follows NYPD detective Sara “Pez” Pezzini and her adventures with the titular Witchblade, which gives her powers to fight supernatural evil and those who want the Witchblade for themselves.
Pez’s investigation of the death of a pimp opens up mysteries about her father’s death and those responsible for it – – and puts her in grave danger. It should go without saying at this point given age, but spoilers within.
Kate’s Five Thoughts
1. “When people get close to me, they die.”
This episode reveals to Pez what many of us suspected all along: the White Bulls orchestrated her father’s death, as he was working to expose the organization and its tentacles into the NYPD from within. I have to believe on some level, perhaps a sixth sense, she knew that her father’s death wasn’t completely an accident, but it’s still a punch in the gut to her to hear her father speak those words on a videotape from beyond the grave.
And the White Bulls continue to take away what most dear to Pez. Her mentor Joe Siri. Jake’s sense of scruples and morals. Heck, I wouldn’t be surprised if the White Bulls have some connection to the anti-terrorist group that killed Conchobar, especially after we see a meeting between Dante and Kenneth in the closing moments of this episode.
The smart thing she does is what she says to Jake: keep moving. From now on, she has to be one step ahead of everyone, and the Blade can certainly help with that. (Maybe. We’ll talk about that in a bit.)
2. Jake Is So Stupid
Oh Bucky With the Good Hair. Did you really, really, think that the White Bulls were just going to gaslight Pez and not kill her? Especially since you’ve spoon-fed them all the information they need to make that happen? Especially when Bruno Dante is the one that ordered the hit on her father?
To be fair, Jake probably didn’t know that last one, but knowing the level of animosity Dante has for Pez and how it’s practically front page bold type all over Dante’s face ought to say something. You’re a homicide detective, which means you do have a certain set of deduction and investigation skills, which means you probably could have figured this out.
Now I can give him some of the benefit of the doubt in that he might still be joining the White Bulls to try and take them down from within. I did see a flicker of uncertainty across his face when he realize the gravity of what membership in the White Bulls will do to the rest of his life. But I’m still not buying that he didn’t know their true end for Sara Pezzini.
3. Pez Is Also So Stupid
Pez isn’t off the hook here. She has a lot of very misplaced trust in her partner. Nottingham has made it clear to her that Jake betrayed her, and in very blatant ways. He’s beaten Jake to a bloody pulp right in front of her. He’s come out and said it more than once to her. And yet, she confesses all to Jake: her father, the existence of the White Bulls, their role in his death, her own fears that she is next. His response is so scenery chewing and has more holes than Swiss cheese anyone would see through it . . . and yet, Pez still trusts him.
I’m hoping that this is all part of a long game with her. I can’t believe that someone of her intelligence would not pick this up, even if it’s just a little gnawing in the gut.Continued below
What’s also interesting to note is that the Witchblade did not warn Pez that Jake is not to be trusted. While it’s great seeing Pez and the Witchblade work in concert so beautifully, I worry they might be too in concert. Is it so in tune with Pez that it’s allowing her thoughts and emotions complete control? Given man’s fallibility, that’s a risky move. Or is the Witchblade itself fallible?
4. Doesn’t He Look Tired?
Boy does Kenneth look tired. It’s all over his face, and he’s now walking with a cane. Time travel (because yes, I still believe he is a time traveler) caught up with him. Coupled with his conversations with Ian about Pez being invaluable for her blood and Ian’s literal interpretation of that statement, his (metaphorical) tentacles grow deeper and deeper. He is controlling this game of Pez and the Witchblade skillfully to meet his own ends. Not that we didn’t think that from the first minute he was on screen, but his actions throughout this episode crystallize it. And his meeting with Dante Bruno shows he will stop at nothing to get at it.
5. The Vocabulary and Classics Lessons.
Someone on the writing staff of this show must have been an English or classics major in college, and it shows with some of these episode titles and references.
There’s more than one references to the Greek philosopher Diongenes in this episode, particularly around his famous search for the honest man and finding one by looking in the mirror. What’s left off here that I find fascinating is that his full name was Diogenes the Cynic. We think of a cynic today as one who distrusts others’ motives, but the ancient Greek interpretation is just the opposite: a freedom from false belief and conceit, a life lived in virtue. Pez’s trust in Jake is an example of that classic Cynic view, and perhaps a warning that she should turn towards the more modern interpretation.
There’s also some fun wordplay with the title, “Apprehension.” You see the literal apprehension at the very start of the episode with the arrest of scores of prostitutes after their john was killed (by the White Bulls). There’s also that definition of apprehension as uncertainty, which you see in several folks’s words and actions: Jake’s flicker of uncertainty when he realizes just what he’s gotten into with the White Bulls, Pez’s uncertainty in whether to believe Jake or Nottingham about who should be trusted.
– How very Downton Abbey of this White Bulls meeting that opens the episode, dismissing the ladies so the men can talk business.
Frank’s Five Thoughts
There is a lot about trust in this episode. Especially regarding who Pez can trust among the men around her (because it really is all men, except for Medical Examiner Vicky, but she doesn’t show up too much despite being presented as Pez’s friend earlier on). The one man that she is certain she can trust, partner Danny, is dead. That makes relying on him rather difficult and, besides, he has the tendency to make it look like she’s going nuts. He does tell her that there is one person around that she can trust, but vanishes before telling her who. That person is suggested as he vanishes right when Gabriel opens the door and catches her talking to the air.
The episode depicts the tension of trust neatly when Pez, fleeing from Dante’s goon squad, is caught between Jake and Nottingham, each urging her to trust him. Neither of them do a great job of convincing her – Nottingham admits that he stole stuff from her while trying to say that giving it back was a reason for trust and Jake is just a bucket full of secrets. Pez wisely decides to just trust herself and GTFO out of that situation for now.
Interestingly, all this time the WitchBlade is not warning Pez of anything from Nottingham or Jake. We have learned that the artifact heightens Pez’s already keen intuition and perception. So the WitchBlade not offering any aid here is increasing her sense of confusion on who to trust.
2. BetrayalContinued below
The flip side of the trust coin is of course betrayal. And there is a lot of that going around in “Apprehension”. Pez is feeling betrayed by Jake, Nottingham, and Irons. She does not quite know where to turn as her situation tightens. Nottingham continues to push the boundaries set for him by Irons and doing what he can to foil Irons’ plans for Sara.
And Jake. What are we going to do with Jake? His allegiances are all over the place. One moment he’s pledging support to Dante and the White Bulls, the next he’s trying to clear a passage for Pez to escape Dante’s goon squad.
The end of the episode gives us one of the biggest betrayals: Irons is working with Dante and the White Bulls… at least in some capacity. It seems like the two conspirators have reached a parting point regarding Pez as Dante really wants to kill her and Irons really needs her alive for whatever purposes. Of course we really should not be surprised by this turn of events as Irons is a wily snake and Dante is just an overbearing creep (I still love you Nestor Serrano), but it was a rather twisty reveal to show these two antagonists are linked in a fashion.
There are also lots of revenge feelings filling the air in this episode. Pez wants to get revenge against Dante for her father’s murder which has been retconned to be involved with the White Bull plot instead of just being a mob hit. And then Dante kills Joe Siri, which just adds another reason for Pez to kill him.
Dante wants to get revenge against Pez for being awesome and not backing down like a good little girl
Dante’s goon, Orlinsky, wants revenge on Pez too because she keeps messing up his corrupted cop flow. I mean the guy just wants to accept a few bribes, enjoy the services of some lovely ladies of the night, and knock off a few pimps. Why does an avenging Valkyrie with a magic gauntlet always have to keep getting in the way?
Jake wants revenge against Nottingham for being shamed several times so he takes a shot at Nottingham during the face off with Pez – I’m sure that felt really good.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Irons is allowing Dante to go after Pez just to knock her down a few rungs for the way she keeps defying his wishes.
4. This Guy
So, here’s the thing: I still rather like this show. My nostalgic memory of watching it really hasn’t been betrayed yet. But I have to admit that there are parts of the show that really have not held up well through the passage of time. Nottingham’s aesthetic is one of those things. I get that they were trying to go with the edgy badass thing with him and when this series aired we were not that far away from the Matrix films and The Crow. But c’mon, this scene was just embarrassing for everyone involved.
5. Kenneth Irons
I think it’s time to talk a little more about Kenneth Irons because I think we’re getting close to finding out what his whole deal is. He’s not looking too good this episode, as Kate mentions above. He looks pale and drawn and needs a cane to aid his movement. This puts the actions he is taking to bring Pez to hand into perspective. I’m getting the sense that the time for his schemes is winding down and he needs something to happen if he is to succeed. I think this is also the reason we see him associating with Dante – he sees Dante as a means to an end, a blunt tool to accomplish what he wants. Temptations of a life of ease and wealth were not enough to draw Pez in, so it is time to use force. Only, sometimes you smash your own thumb with the hammer.
While it turned out to be a means to delay and foil Pez’s actions against the White Bulls, I have to give some credit to Irons for maintaining journalistic ethics involving the media organization he owns. When the reporter refused Pez’s story, she begged Irons to intervene and he maintained that it was important to keep the corporate owner out of editorial decisions. Definitely a show from another time.
We’ll see you next week for the penultimate episode of the season, “Convergence,” and let us know what you thought in the comments!