TAKEN Review: “I Surrender”

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It was the season finale of NBC’s TAKEN and it played out just about as close to exactly how you would expect to it to. It was certainly an action packed hour of television but it generally lacked surprises and was missing that authentic suspense the franchise it derives its name from originally offered. As I’ve also noted all season, that action part of “action packed” is just not worthy of the show’s name. It’s your standard run of the mill (or should I say “run of the Mills” haha get it guys?) run, shoot, jump you see on any other action based network series. Worst of all, there are just no emotional connections to any of the characters that the writers offer the audience to cling to, so all that running, shooting, and jumping you see just ends up being boring.

Last week we left off with Bryan Mills’ rival (and sister Cali’s murderer) Carlos Mejia escaping from his transfer from American custody to the Mexican government, and in the process kidnapping Bryan’s girlfriend Asha for some leverage during his escape to his home country. We pick up with Bryan having gone rogue from his group to hunt down Mejia and save Asha, protocol be damned. He’s on his way to Texas where he believes Mejia is headed to cross the border undetected.

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The problem is, Mejia has really not won any popularity contests lately among the criminal underworld seeing as he was giving up people left and right as an informant. He has to be very careful about who he goes to for help. He’s also traveling with a prisoner, Asha, who is constantly trying to escape. After one escape attempt, Mejia inexplicably decides to call Bryan and taunt him, allowing Asha to wimper into the phone that she needs him to come save her. It is here that we get to hear the classic Bryan Mills’ deadpan talk to the person being taken and her captors. You know, the whole “I’m going to find you, and I’m going to kill you” thing? Only this is a shell of that badassery. I get they are trying to tie it into the movie franchise but, c’mon guys, do better.

Luckily, Mejia has one avenue that proves fruitful in getting him across the border. His ex-wife, now a nun in Texas, who helps Mexican children illegally cross the border through a series of underground tunnels. Unfortunately for him, Bryan Mills knows about this and goes to her to try and get some information out of her. He also beats up some prior business associates of Mejia in the process.

This was a bad move. Bryan’s fight was captured on FBI surveillance cameras. Apparently those criminals he beat up to get to Mejia were being monitored by the FBI and a long-standing drug bust operation. Now he’s put that at risk. Of course Christina Hart is on the hook for Bryan’s actions. She sits down with White House liaison Gary Martello and he shows her the surveillance footage. He asks what Bryan is doing down there, and she tells him that he is trying to stop Mejia from escaping across the border. When Martello asks her if he is doing so on her order, she can’t confirm that he is. This doesn’t not put Christina in the best light as a leader who has control of all her underlings. She sends the team out to Texas to reel Bryan back in.

TAKEN -- "I Surrender" Episode 110 -- Pictured: (l-r) James Landry Hebert as Rem, Michael Irby as Scott, Gaius Charles as John -- (Photo by: Panagiotis Pantazidis/NBC)

However, when the team finally gets to him, Bryan makes it clear he’s willing to fight to continue with his mission in saving Asha, and ideally killing Mejia. It is at this point that John, Scott, Dave, and Rem (had to look up those character names on IMDB since, as I mentioned in a previous review, they have no discernible personalities or character traits as far as I can tell) decide that they are going to help Bryan accomplish his mission, orders from the White House be damned. Christina flies in to join them and they cross the border together.

After stealing from another FBI operation’s cache of weapons in Mexico (the FBI had no authority there so I guess it’s okay for Christina and her team to do this?) they find that Mejia is holing up at one of several of his huge compounds around Mexico. He’s throwing a lavish party for some reason and keeping Asha right next to him looking scared and obviously kept against her will. What are these party guests thinking? I mean, I know Mejia was chummy with some pretty bad dudes, but then the extras casting was terrible because it looked as benign as a middle school dance in there.

TAKEN -- "I Surrender" Episode 110 -- Pictured: Gaius Charles as John -- (Photo by: Panagiotis Pantazidis/NBC)

Anyway, our boys, led by Bryan, infiltrate the compound and of course there’s your typical shoot ’em up scene with Mejia trying to escape. Bryan literally told him he was coming for him earlier this episode so you’d think he’d be a little more discreet and/or protected, but NOPE. The episode culminates in Asha being critically hurt, and then Bryan pointing his gun at Mejia with his hands up, both surrounded by Mexican federales and Christina barking at him “I can’t protect you!” The federals tell him they will take Bryan down if he doesn’t put his gun down. Mejia then announces “I surrender,” (the title of the episode) knowing that he will see to live another day. Except after Bryan initially lowers his weapon, Mejia smiles at him. That does it. Bryan shoots him in the head, killing him. The federales fire on Bryan, who goes down.

There’s a couple scenes after this that try to play like we shouldn’t be sure whether Bryan lived or not. But I’m pretty sure this is a prequel series, so even beyond the fact that network TV series pretty much can’t kill off their lead actor, there’s no way that he’s not alive. We see Asha on the mend in a hospital, we see the team grieving for Bryan and making themselves feel better about having done the right thing in supporting him, and finally, we see Bryan alive on the floor of what looks like a Mexican prison. This is where the season ends.

Meh.

I took barely anything away from this entire series. For a show about a lethal secret ops team dealing with international crises, I was fairly bored for the entire duration. No stakes, no supremely original character voices, there wasn’t even a halfway decent comic relief to bring some levity now and then. I imagine Taken will be back for a second season, but if it isn’t I am not going to lose any sleep.

Season 1, Episode 10 (S01E10)TB-TV-Grade-D
Taken airs Monday at 10PM on NBC

Read all of our reviews of Taken here. 
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Paul has a very particular set of skills. Skills he has acquired over a very long career. Skills that make him a nightmare for people like you… Just kidding, his skills are limited to that of writing mediocre TV show reviews. You are safe.
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Still quiet here.sas

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