War of the Worlds – episode 1.19: “Vengeance is Mine”

“…Oops.”

In a battle with the aliens, Ironhorse accidentally guns down an innocent woman. It’s an honest mistake, but it sends him spiraling into depression and guilt, especially after he attends her funeral. He visits a therapist but doesn’t find the sessions productive.

Meanwhile, the aliens have decided to arm themselves with ray guns. But a key component of the ray guns is rubies, and they’ll need a lot of them. One of the alien leaders proposes stealing the rubies, but the others think that’s too dangerous, so they decide they’ll all have to get jobs and save up. Or rob a bunch of banks. Because robbing banks isn’t dangerous at all. Sigh. Okay, moving on.

The husband of the woman Ironhorse killed goes totally batshit insane and decides to take revenge on Ironhorse. This works out nicely because Ironhorse is also going kind of insane. He alternates between being way too hesitant to pursue obvious leads because they might get someone hurt and being way too gung-ho on leads that aren’t promising. He snaps at his co-workers and practically has a nervous breakdown. Blackwood goes to Ironhorse’s superior and gets permission to order Ironhorse to take some time off.

Ironhorse leaves to go to Blackwood’s cabin, but before he gets there, the dead chick’s husband attacks with a radio-controlled helicopter and runs him off the road. He then takes Ironhorse to a secluded area to kill him.

“Mmm… rubies make me wet.”

While all this is going on, the aliens pull a bunch of heists on armored cars to get the money to buy the rubies. They go to a super-sexy green-eyed woman who practically has an on-camera orgasm at the thought of selling rubies to literally anyone. She’s a really, *really* weird character.

Ironhorse awakens tied up in a room. He distracts Crazy Guy with logic, managing to loosen his bonds while Crazy Guy is looking right at him. He then Captain Kirks his way out of the situation, beating the guy senseless and tying him up instead.

Throwing the guy in the passenger seat of the van, Ironhorse charges in to join the rest of the team, who are going after the aliens. Ironhorse catches up with the armored car the aliens have stolen and convinces Crazy Guy to use his radio controlled helicopter to blow up the aliens, since they’re the ones who are really responsible for his wife’s death. He does so and then I guess they’re friends now or something.

Alien-fighting gear now sold at Toys R Us.

This could have been a really good character-driven episode, and it’s nice to see Ironhorse in the spotlight, but it’s so sloppily rendered that it ultimately does a big belly-flop. For starters, the pacing is off. It’s just slow and ponderous. The scenes with Ironhorse and the therapist are awkward, with lots of lengthy pauses. I guess it’s supposed to be dramatic, but it’s just kind of bland. Ditto for the scenes where Ironhorse is breaking down in front of Blackwood and the others.

Conversely, the scenes with the aliens are ridiculous as usual, undermining what’s clearly supposed to be a serious dramatic episode. The woman selling the rubies has to be seen to be believed. She chews the scenery every time she’s on screen, coming across like Diana from V, but then she doesn’t do anything. I kept waiting for her to be up to something, to double-cross the aliens or otherwise do something unexpected, but she’s just weird and creepy for no obvious reason, then disappears from the episode without any kind of pay-off. What the hell, episode?!

He no nuts. He crazy!

And then there’s Crazy Guy. He’s so over-the-top, acting less like a grieving husband and more like a serial killer. Seriously, the dude has a real Francis Dollarhyde vibe. It’s hard to feel any real sympathy for him because he’s just so damn creepy. Also, he clearly understands that not only was his wife’s death an accident, but that Ironhorse feels deeply guilty about it. He sees the look of horror and shame on Ironhorse’s face when they’re putting his wife’s body into the ambulance, and then he sees Ironhorse attending the funeral. Ironhorse was in uniform during the incident, so it’s not like he was some mugger or psycho. He was just a soldier doing his duty. The incident is tragic, yes, but an accident, and any reasonable person would know that.

It’s rather unfortunate, because there’s real potential here. I can only imagine the weight of guilt soldiers and police officers must feel when they’ve accidentally gunned down an innocent person while performing their duty. That’s certainly a topic worth exploring. But it’s all so melodramatic on the one hand and fairly superficial on the other that it really doesn’t address the issue in any meaningful way.

And we end with Ironhorse and Crazy Guy just standing side-by-side as if they’ve had this great reconciliation. Never mind the fact that this guy is clearly unstable and guilty of assault with a deadly weapon and attempted murder. But I guess we’re not going to address that. I know Ironhorse feels guilty for killing this guy’s wife, but come on, man, there’s public safety to consider here.

Jesus Christ, this show is stupid.

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