Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Patriot - Milwaukee, America

The opening episode of Patriot introduces us to burned-out intelligence officer John Tavner (Michael Dorman), and the son of the head of the agency (Terry O'Quinn). Since the end of his last assignment, John has been hanging out in Amsterdam getting stoned and writing autobiographical folk songs which are becoming more and more about his botched missions. With Iraq elections holding the key to the continued stall or reinvigoration of the country's weapons program, the elder Tanner tasks his son with a new mission. He also enlists the help of his other son (Michael Chernus), a Congressman from Texas, with helping keep his brother on task by providing him a role of an attache overseas. As with John's previous assignment, things go wrong rather quickly.

The first episode of the series is dark, humorous, and a hell of a lot of fun. We meet John working undercover attempting to land a job with a United States firm who does business both in Luxemborg and in Iraq (the two key locations John will need access to for his assignment). Not exactly nailing the interview, the episode opens with John pushing his main competition (Marcus Toji) for the job in front of a delivery truck. An unexpected drug test also forces him to reveal the truth about himself to a co-worker (Chris Conrad) who becomes a bit too enthusiastic about helping out on John's covert missions. Things only get more complicated overseas when bad information leads to him loosing the European currency meant for a bribe, ends off fighting a Brazilian mob, misses a dinner crucial to his cover identity, and discovers that the hand-off (which he is able to complete before heading back to the states) likely was hijacked by the other side.

Dorman is terrific here as apparent normal guy in over his head, who just happens to have all kinds of skills to keep the mission going (even when things go to shit). His habit of singing folk songs offers the show one of its many quirky turns, as does the other brother's illegitimate son who jumps off his grandmother's building with an umbrella after he cancels a camping trip. Although not given much to do here, the show also introduces Kathleen Munroe and Aliette Opheim as John's wife and a detective in Luxenborg respectively, each of whom makes an impression and is likely to affect his life over the episodes to come. I'm not sure if the show can keep the wild ride going at such an impressive level for multiple seasons, but I'm certainly looking forward to finding out.

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