I concluded in last weeks Pilot Review, that ‘Perception’, whilst entertaining and solidly different, needed to improve on a couple of key areas in order to become a great TV show and match TNT’s other quality crime dramas. I am happy to report that this weeks episode ‘Faces’ improved vastly on one of my main two gripes with last week’s outing. Yes, the other remains unresolved.
That ‘vastly improved’ for this episode is the case-of-the-week, which started slowly but by the end of its runtime turned out to be interesting, twisty and informative all at once. If you’re reading this review then you’re likely to have seen the episode, so I won’t relay it for you completely (this isn’t a recap). The last 15 minutes dished out a double twist I didn’t see coming. First we were lead to believe that the husband had killed his wife by accident as he has face blindness, and she had changed the features he CAN recognise (hair etc.) in order for her to pretend to be his prostitute lover, one he would throw money at. As if that wasn’t enough, with minutes to go we discovered that he’d actually killed his wife’s sister – who was covering as both the husbands lover to get money from him AND his wife, as she was more capable of defending herself against the husbands violent outbursts, whilst her sister (the actual wife) had been shadowing around the house as a simple maid. Phew.
As well as the surprising twists, learning about a different mental health issue each week seems as though it’ll be a recurring theme, which can only be a good thing. This week it was face blindness, the real name for this condition being ‘Prosopagnosia’ which, yes, is a real thing. The use of this condition is what made this episode not just entertaining, but informative, in that it taught us about something new (to me and I’m sure to other audience members) and made us aware of it. On the whole, the case was excellent, an improvement on last weeks in every way.
Dr. Daniel Pierce’s (Eric McCormack) hallucinations returned to help this week, as a female FBI agent popped up here and there to drop hints. For a while I was starting to think this usage was going the way of becoming an over-done plot device, when I’d much rather we saw Pierce use his actual expertise and skills instead of being given clues by hallucinations. But then it dawned on me: these hallucinations are of his mind, and they are in fact his subconscious mind telling him what his conscious mind can see, but not make sense of. If you’re thinking I’m crazy and overanalysing, you’re wrong – I read some more previews from before the show premiered last week, and there it was, the show runners saying exactly that.
This is wonderful as it explains what is happening as Pierce follows his hallucination’s lead during investigations and doesn’t put his solving of the cases down to chance, or even ‘cheating’. It’s also important, as it seems Pierce will continue to solve crimes in this way each week. Whilst this part is done right, another key element is that the writers get the right balance between helpful hallucinations and Pierce actually using his skills. He is an extremely talented neuroscientist, and it is inconceivable that he would not be using this knowledge in some capacity with the FBI, especially when one considers this is why they’ve drafted him in in the first place. Luckily, once again, the writers have got this aspect right as well, at least for now. Pierce showed of his superior knowledge and intelligence multiple times during the 40-plus minutes in order to help Agent Kate Moretti (Rachael Leigh Cook) with her case, not least when he identified the aforementioned ‘grieving’ husband’s face blindness.
The ‘real or not real?’ aspect of Pierce’s hallucinations were used effectively again (even if that does sound like a dodgy game show), not least because of the intimidating nature of what he saw this time around – a mob enforcer. The genius of these moments is that we are in the exact same situation as Pierce; we don’t know any more or any less than the character. For a good portion of the episode we are left hanging on whether this man is actually a genuine physical threat to the good doctor, before discovering that he is in fact another figment of his subconscious. It’s good to see this side to the show fulfilling its potential.
The score and directing/cinematography were consistent with the pilot, which, in case you didn’t read the review, is a good thing. A tone and style seems to have been set and settled on, which is just as important as anything else so early on in a shows life.
My main issue with this week’s episode is Kate Moretti. First of all let me say this: Rachel Leigh Cook is fantastic in the role and the character is both likeable and enjoyable – but so far that’s all she is. Aside from Pierce, Moretti is the ‘other’ main character in the show and her character needs to have more about her than simply being a hard ass female agent. In other words, the character needs fleshing out. The nearest we got to that here was seeing her living quarters and watching her take the new professor (Guest Star Jamie Bamber) out to a baseball game. Of course, it’s still very premature of me to be making a final statement on this issue, this is only the second episode after all, in which the focus has understandably been on Pierce as the shows central piece. I just hope that it is rectified over the course of the season, as it should be. I did read an interview with Rachael in which she stated that we would see more of Moretti’s life out of work, so it seems as though it will happen.
On the subject of the baseball game, the events leading up to Moretti inviting the new professor must be discussed. As Pierce asked her to go with him, she seemed shocked, happy and shy even. That’s before he zoned out, the sound of a crowd ringing in his ears, and he gives her both tickets before leaving the room.
Now, it’s tediously early of me to be saying this about two people who haven’t shown even a bit of interest in each other aside form being friends, but was Pierce asking Moretti out on a date here? Judging by his awkward asking and her bashful reaction, it could easily be interpreted that way. If you disagree, don’t flame me, I’m just throwing it out there as a possibility because I can’t make my mind up even on a re-watch.
Either way, Pierce’s reasoning of not liking crowds rang true – he doesn’t, and not only does he not like crowds but he doesn’t seem all that comfortable with being remotely close to anyone, never mind with a woman who his friendship with seems to be blossoming and bringing them closer. Well, closer than he is with most, anyway. I can’t see Pierce being comfortable spontaneously bursting into anyone else’s place at 3:18 AM.
In fact, the only person he seems completely open with is Natalie (Kelly Rowan). Pierce walks away with her, animated in conversation as Moretti (and the audience) see him once again talking only to himself, a sad and regretful look crossing her face as Pierce’s voice over asks us “can you ever really change who you really are?” Regarding his own condition, I think Pierce would change himself in a heartbeat whilst those who care about him (Lewicki, Moretti) most certainly wouldn’t, something I’d like to think Pierce realises in time. As an audience member, I wouldn’t change a thing about Dr. Daniel Pierce, except to have him believe in himself and others acceptance of him.
I couldn’t be much happier with the progress the show made in this episode; it was a truly great thing to see. If it continues on this trend of both sustained quality and gradual improvement, I expect to be giving it that status of ‘great show’ in no time – along with, hopefully, an equally impressed audience-come-fan base and 2nd season order. Here’s hoping.
Check back next week for my review of 1.3 ’86′d’…