It’s cold and flu season. I don’t know about you, but I’m never without my hand sanitizer. In other words, I’m acting with 100% more precaution than Gabriel and Riley did in this week’s Intelligence. The duo head to Texas to investigate a deadly virus that mutates with every new victim, is spreading at an exponential rate and kills people within a matter of days. Gabriel learns that the “patient zero” in question is Luther Vick, a prisoner who was supposedly put to death the week before.
Twice (twice!) Gabriel and Riley move into capture Luther, and twice (twice!) they don’t have on hazmat suits. The most Riley does is ask Gabriel to put on a pair of gloves, which I think is the equivalent of placing a band aid on a gushing wound. Such completely illogical moments make enjoying the show nearly impossible. (This nonsense appeared to be so Riley could get infected with the virus, and Gabriel could risk infection protecting her.)
Intelligence does seem to have settled on a formula for each episode. Josh Holloway needs to appear with little clothes on doing something sexy at least once—this time he was doing push-ups in a tank top with tousled hair. And Gabriel and Riley need to exchange flirtatious dialogue in a completely inappropriate place at a completely inappropriate time. This time it’s in the execution chambers of a Texas prison. “Not a bad-looking corpse, huh?” Gabriel says to her with a devilish grin because really what’s more romantic than an execution chamber?
The third thing every episode needs to have is Lillian Strand getting into conflict with either her higher ups or her peers. This time, she’s taking down a general in the Pentagon. Nelson refers to her as a “Disney villain.” But once again the scenes with Lillian fall flat—that’s mostly due to the fact she often stuck behind a bunch of computer screens spewing a lot of techno-babble dialogue.
But the real crux of the show’s problem is the relationship between Gabriel and Riley. As we’ve already established, Holloway oozes charisma and charm. He can get away with a lot of ridiculous dialogue. But the show is pushing it. I can’t believe him as a credible character when he’s being attacked by a special forces team and still has time to say to Riley with a twinkle in his eye, “Do you know how emasculating it is when you tackle me like that?” after she saves his life.
The kind of dance a leading man and woman do on shows like this is delicate and can’t be handled so cavalierly. If they don’t act like they’re in danger when they are in danger, the audience isn’t going to believe it, either. The show runners might be advised to watch a few early episodes of Castle to get an idea of how this “will they or won’t they” tension should be handled.
Other thoughts on “Patient Zero”:
—Gabriel’s wife Amelia came up quite a bit in this episode which supports my speculation that she’s not quite dead yet.
—Can they please give Michael Rady more to do as Chris Jameson? The man suffered through the Melrose Place reboot. He deserves better.
—They seriously need to come up with better episode titles.
Amy Amatangelo is a Boston-based freelance writer and a regular contributor to Paste. You can follow her on Twitter or her blog.