I’ve had my fair share of dreams involving spy stuff and daring do that seem fairly real. The premiere of My Own Worst Enemy makes me second guess whether those were just dreams or maybe my alter-ego running amok…
Spoilers below…skip to the Bits & Pieces section for just my thoughts and observations
Our adventure starts with an enigmatic video message and then a flashback 48 hours earlier where Edward beds, questions, then kills a Parisian agent instead of bringing her in (she did try to kill him first, though). In the middle of debriefing/getting railed by boss Mavis (Alfre Woodard) for not following orders, Tony the Tech Guy interrupts because "he’s going to be late." Tony walks with him and asks various questions about his physical well being and whether he had any conversations with the wife, while stuffing Edward into a elevator before going to his station and…reprogramming him.
When Edward steps off the elevator, he’s now Henry. He goes to a psychologist (Saffron Burrows) and tells her about his "dream" about Paris and how details actually exist, including a book of matches from said place.
Henry goes home to a wife, a teenage son and a preteen daughter. He reads in bed while she sleeps. All of sudden, his vision goes wonky and Edward suddenly "wakes up." He calls Tony and asks him about the protocal for this sort of thing. Tony says there is none, hangs up and notifies Mavis who declines the termination option.
The next day, Henry shows up to work and is told of an emergency in another city. After being shoved into an elevator, Edward "wakes up" and Mavis tells him he’s too emotionally invested in the case but reluctantly sends him after Uzi, the Russian guy he’s been tracking. It’s a shame things go wonky again and Henry emerges in the middle of a possible sniping. I totally hate when that happens. Confused, he accidentally fires and is chased resulting in capture.
Before Uzi can kill Henry, the second man in the field extracts him. Carrying a mysterious silver case, the masked man cuts down everyone in his path before making it to a car outside and driving away. It’s Tom, Henry’s best work buddy. But his name isn’t actually Tom, it’s Raymond and he’s another sleeper agent. Raymond manages to smuggle Henry and the case out of the country and back to Los Angeles and The Office.
Henry speaks with Mavis, who explains how this whole split personality bit works. Edward Albright is the primary personality, the Alpha that volunteered for this experiment. Henry Spivey didn’t exist until 19 years ago. It’s safe to say that Henry didn’t take this news so well. Mavis has him stay in Edward’s secret apartment to think things over.
Exploring the place, he calls Edward "a dick" while getting drunk and rummaging through his closet. He also finds a hidden armory behind the television projector, complete with surveillance monitors and a trunk of Edward’s personal effects. He was a football player in school and his parents died in a car crash, which lead him to enlist and eventually "die" in 1989. Henry takes his car out on the road when Edward wakes up. He calls Mavis and asks what happened, including if he’s going to get killed. She fills him and says that the Henry persona will be erased the next day. But first, Edward sleeps with his wife in retaliation for Henry driving his car.
In order to reprogram him, they put this big plastic bowl over his head with a bunch of photos and videos. Like a super futuristic halved Cone of Silence. Back at home, Henry is just plain old Henry with no memories of the horror of the past day or two. Too bad Uzi remembers everything and shows up at his house with a henchman. Using a GPS tracker and a shovel he found in his car, Henry leads Uzi and his goon to the desert where he digs up the case while Uzi waxes philosophic about being two personalities trapped in one body with no means of communication. He’s wrong about that second part, a lesson he learns when Henry uses a trigger in the GPS tracker to blow Uzi and his henchman to bits.
Flashing back while Henry stumbles out of the hole he was in, it shows him watching a DVD sent by Edward warning him and detailing the plan. Henry takes the case back to The Office and has a talk with Mavis. She basically says they’re trying to figure out what’s going on with him and tells him to "unring any bell’s he may have rung" in the meantime. You know, so they won’t have to kill him and whatnot.
So it’s back to Saffron Burrows the Psychologist. He recants his concern about his Paris dream and says the matchbook was from one of the stateside locations of the hotel that he must’ve visited in passing. Suspicion diffused, cut to Edward watching a video left by Henry…which he shuts off as he begins to lecture Edward about sleeping with his wife.
Assorted Bits & Pieces:
- I didn’t quite know what to expect from the show. It sounded promising but could’ve easily fall flat. I can’t say so much that I loved it but I’m definitely intrigued. The concept is solid but I wonder how long the show can be sustained. Do the writers/creators have an endgame? Without one, the show could be in some trouble – lack of focus never helped anyone. Just ask Lost.
- Kudos to Christian Slater for the dual role. It wasn’t over the top and he did a good job at switching personalities pretty much instantly.
- The psychologist played by Saffron Burrows reads suspicious to me. I’m assuming she works for the shadow government agency but she could easily be a counter-agent.
- Speaking of counter-agents and moles, what are the chances that Henry’s wife isn’t so normal and civlian-like? Or is that too obvious of a twist?
- One thing I did notice was that, on occasion, the exposition was a little too on the spot. I mean, I get it that you’re explaining things for the folks at home, but surely there are more organic means. I’m hoping this was just a necessary evil for the premiere.
- I will, however, give props to the sequence where Henry was going through Edward’s belongings. It was a great way to tell us about his past without shoehorning some hack dialogue in there somewhere.
- You know what be awesome? If they weren’t really watching messages from each other, instead Henry/Edward are looking at blank screens while the "videos" are actually playing in their mind.
- Huzzah for Mindy Sterling! She’s plays Henry’s secretary/agent wrangler. She was quite normal in the show, which took me a second to get used to since I’m used to seeing her in comedies. But I adore her anyway.
- Mike O’Malley played Tom/Raymond. I’ve always had a soft spot for the guy since he hosted all those Nickelodeon game shows (though you may recognize him more from playing Stuart on My Name is Earl or his time on Yes, Dear).
- P.S. Alfre Woodard. Because yes.
How’d you like the show? Did it work for you or are you disappointed? Did you have a favorite part or line? Any other thoughts?