Oh yes. McG and Freddie grab Anton but don’t manage to make a clean getaway and Freddie is hit. There then follows a lengthy conversation wherein Freddie asks McG to tell his unborn daughter that he loves her (this being the promise of the title) during which the Koreans keep firing but don’t seem to be getting any closer. Freddie covers McG while he gets Anton into a truck and drives off. I am probably supposed to be having feeeeeels right now but I am strangely unmoved.
Cut to McG and Cath who are now flying home having apparently managed to retrieve Freddie’s body and get out of the country with no trouble at all, even though they recently exploded a North Korean a few feet away from where the body is.
Now we’re having a pilot episode flashback! McG’s in the armoured car thingy with Anton. Poor McG. Do you think he ever wishes he’d said “no, I can’t talk to my father right now, this is a personal call and I’m working”? It occurs to me that this whole mission has been for nothing because they got no information from Anton at all on account of him being dead. This makes me all kinds of sad.
Now we come to the real feeeeels, as Freddie’s coffin is taken off the plane and all the airport staff stop what they’re doing out of respect.
This scene and the one after it remind me of the end of Titanic when I was completely ‘meh’ about Jack dying but in floods of tears for the real-life victims of the tragedy. Freddie’s funeral is moving not because of the character but because of what it represents. The only Show-specific part of it that I found particularly moving was when McG stood up after giving Freddie’s dogtags to his daughter and saw Danny, Chin and Kono standing a little way away.
The part where he actually gave the dogtags to the girl might have been moving if I hadn’t spent it marvelling at the hilarious awfulness of his hair and also wondering why fulfilling his promise is tied in with going back for the body. I mean, he promised to tell her that her father loved her, he could have done that a month ago. Six months ago. She’s old enough to understand and he has a dangerous job. Why wait? Don’t get it.
I had a lot of trouble with this ep, as you can probably tell. I was looking forward to it so much but I didn’t think it came even close to living up to the hype. If ever an ep needed to be a two-parter, this was it. To introduce a character that is such a huge part of McG’s past and to try and fit as much action into it as they did was too much to ask from forty-five minutes. I would have liked to have seen more of McG’s relationship with Freddie because I didn’t feel it at all from the brief snapshots we were given; if you compare it to McG’s relationship with Danny, it comes up very short and I didn’t get much of a sense that they were really that close. I would have liked more interaction between McG and Joe. I would have liked to have seen McG telling the team where he was going and why. I would have liked to have seen an exploration of the parallels between this story and Danny’s flashback episode. I would have liked to have seen the background to McG and Cath’s relationship that we were told this episode would have, instead of one line that told us nothing we didn’t already know. I would have liked to have had some kind of explanation of why Cath was in Korea with him in the first place, because “well, this is a highly sensitive mission that has taken three years to negotiate and will require a lot of very heavily armed guards, but sure, you can take your girlfriend with you for moral support even though she’s an intelligence officer with no combat experience, no problem” seems unlikely. And I was REALLY hoping for some more information about Buster because we’ve learned nothing this season and it seems a long time since Andrea and I were putting the final touches to it and hoping that all would not be revealed before we posted it and found that we were completely wrong about everything thereby making it a completely wasted exercise. We had the idea that this would be the ep where most of the pieces fell into place, but to have nothing, not even a little nibble, when this mission was so important in the grand scheme of things… I am disappointed. Perhaps that has coloured my view of the episode as a whole.
Another reason I didn’t like this ep is that it felt too formulaic. Dangerous, do-or-die secret mission with no hope of rescue? Check. Main character takes his best buddy along? Check. Best buddy just got married and has a baby on the way? Check. Best buddy is wounded and sacrifices himself so the main character can escape? Check. “Tell my daughter her Daddy loved her”? Check. Dangerous, secret, unsanctioned mission with no hope of rescue to recover best buddy’s remains? Check. Skin-of-teeth escape? Check. Tear-jerking final scene where the main character gives his best buddy’s dogtags to the child he never knew? Check. It felt stale. The dialogue wasn’t sharp enough and the characterisation wasn’t strong enough to make up for it. I spent most of the ep trying to find a peg to hang some feels on, but there was just nothing there for the most part. I struggled to care.
I know that most people loved this episode but I couldn’t connect with it at all and that’s entirely down to the writing because all the other elements are there. We all want different things from the shows we watch; some people watch for eye-candy, some for escapism, some for action sequences. I watch shows because I love good stories that are written and told well. I didn’t think this ep fell into that category. I am, however, very happy that most people liked it because – after all the expectation – if most people hadn’t liked it, the fandom would be a very sad place right now; but I can’t pretend that I liked it, or that I thought it was one of the best episodes of the show, because I just didn’t.
Now you can all disagree with me! Ready… set… GO!! 🙂