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"Without a Trace" True/False (2008)

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10/10
Author: kols from United States
12 May 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Without a Trace is a totally different show than the one I reviewed as a series. Differences are too obvious to spend time detailing but began (or accelerated) with the introduction of Steve Weber as Clark Medina in Closure. Team and secondary character now share the limelight, tone is more dramatic as is the pacing, coming close to manic at times. All done very well.

My reason for choosing True/False to document those changes is another, shocking, transformation affecting the new Boss, that very same Clark Medina.

But first, I thought Steve Weber looked awfully familiar; it took about two episodes for me to recognize hims as Brian from Wings, a character I take great pleasure in lambasting.

In Without a Trace he's the new Boss, who loves watching Jack being miserable sitting in the doghouse. Apart from that enjoyment, his is a one-note performance, just as it was in Wings. This time, the stereotypical bureaucratic, soulless Suite caring only for status and advancement.

While Steve is lazily strumming that note, WAT is metamorphosing over several episodes until here, in True/False, everything explodes: first with a plot that really doesn't make any sense, filled with disjointed plot elements that have nothing to do with one another logically and concludes in a (seemingly) pointlessly negative pseudo-denouement.

Sounds critical? It isn't. True/False isn't driven by a plot based on cause and effect, it's driven by an emotional logic that is engrossing, encompasses all of the characters, and leads almost inexorably to its conclusion. And during the process something magical occurs. Without foreshadowing from any of the earlier episodes and in the course of one episode, Clark Medina is transformed. From Suite to a very, very human being. All thanks to an actor who, to my surprise, can act - really act.

That transformation, from Suite Trying To Get Rid Of Jack to Fully Human Being Who Now Recognizes Jack As An Asset And Partner is accomplished in an understated performance that almost puts Alistair Sim's Scrooge to shame (Sim had a lot more screen time to accomplish it).

Steve Weber's performance should be acknowledged as a Tour de Force of the first order, along with the writers who craft it.

As for the episode itself, a fine vessel, equal to its contents. Though I'm not too happy with the denouement (pseudo in the sense that it left a lot of threads to tie), any other would have emasculated the episode's impact. And robbed us of a coda that ties all of those treads together, culminating in a final tying of the threads that softens the pain of the denouement with a classical affirmation.

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