I don't know if it's because I feel a little bad for ragging on Undercovers so much the last few weeks, or if I've just generally lost the will to care enough to find it irritating, but watching "Jailbreak" wasn't as daunting a task as I expected it to be.
In fact, it actually had some near-thrilling moments of excitement that the episodes thus far have been sorely lacking. There were elements in play last night that should have been included in the pilot, and further expanded upon in subsequent episodes. Rather than continue taking shots at the flailing spy drama, though, I'll provide it with somewhat of a needed respite this week and try my hardest to focus on what worked.
Most everything I complained about last week was absent tonight. There was only a brief marital discussion between the Blooms, which was less cumbersome than in previous outings, and we were also spared the obligatory bedroom scene for the first time. Most mercifully, Hoyt dialed down his annoying persona to a more tolerable level.The Blooms were tasked to retrieve a stolen hard drive containing information about CIA "black sites" where detainees are kept for interrogation purposes. This proved a much more interesting and entertaining mission than the predecessors, complete with a twist, ridiculous Irish accents, a Top Gun reference, sweet spy gadgets, a wicked-cool explosion and an excuse for Leo to charm the pants off an attractive woman - not that he probably needed one.
As slick as Leo's moves were, though, Hoyt smoked him with the "Reverse Seduction" move. Leo looked oddly impressed and repulsed at the same time.
Much of the subtext this week, if you can really call it that, involved the fact that Sam and Steven may not know each other quite as well as they think they do. Each is keeping a very large secret from the other, which we know to be the real reason each decided to quit the spy game five years ago. We have no idea yet what those reasons are, but evidently they are doozies, since Leo asked Sam if she was protecting the agency or herself by not telling Steven the truth.
Sam is one fantastic liar, I'll give her that, especially in light of the fact that Steven is a well-documented "Human Lie Detector" and has not a clue she's been keeping anything from him - aside from the $700 she loaned Lizzie. Not that she's proud of this, and actually feels pangs of guilt about all the secrets, although the guilt is stemming most likely from the suddenly realization of the disturbing lack of knowledge she has of Steven's past, references to which keeping coming up in conversations with Leo and Hoyt.
I think she's beginning to feel suddenly distant from the man she fell in love with, which led her to almost reveal her secret to Steven. He, on the other hand, tried to steer her in the opposite direction, clearly not ready to divulge any hidden truths just yet. I'm actually finding myself interested to find exactly what these secrets are, and how each will react when they find out.
Early on, we also had a scene with Shaw talking to an unknown voice on the phone about growing concerns that the Blooms would find out the real reason they were reactivated, and perhaps it would be best for the agency to be proactive with the reveal. Wait, what's with all this intrigue? Am I watching the right show?!?
Truth be told, that scene seemed rather out of left field to me. I know I've complained before that we're desperately in need of a long-term arc, but I couldn't help but wonder what it was that made Shaw so skittish? As far as I can tell, Sam and Steve have not an inkling that there is an ulterior motive. Shaw's actions would make more sense if there had been some indication that the Blooms were on to something. Regardless, I feel this is something that should have been addressed in the pilot. If there had been allusions to the Blooms being duped early on, perhaps viewership wouldn't have dropped so drastically.
I'm not sure what the future holds for the ratings-challenged Undercovers (oh, who am I kidding, of course I do), but I'm glad to see it taking an upward turn creatively, even if it does turn out to be too little, too late.
Jeffrey Kirkpatrick is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.