Sleeper Cell: Salesman
(S02E02) This episode perfectly displays what I think most people had problems with during the first season. Sleeper Cell is still spectacular but it can be very uneven at times. I think this is partially the reason that Showtime doesn't air it on a weekly basis because I don't think it would hold the attention of picky television viewers. It's much easier to stay with a show like this when you know it will be completely done in a week's time. Again though, that doesn't mean it's not good. It's beyond good.
Taking the cue from season one episodes, "Scholar" and "Immigrant," this episode basically dealt with one person and what he could offer to the cell (surface-to-air missiles). In question was Hassani, a washed up Pakistani arms dealer who now barely got by in the US by driving a cab and running a tiny halal delicatessen. It was the circumstances surrounding Hassani that made it worth watching.
At the heart of this episode was the ongoing struggle that Darwyn seems to continually go through with the FBI and they're unparalleled negligence at supporting him properly in his mission. He went through it with Fuller and Serxner in the beginning, but they learned what was what and finally gave Darwyn what he needed. I'm not so sure that Russell is going to catch on. Turns out his claim to have been working with ITOS (The International Terrorism Operation Section) for five years was completely bogus. Russell was assigned as Darwyn's new handler simply because he has some pull -- he's the nephew of the bureau's deputy director. That explains a lot.
The guy doesn't do his research. He put Darwyn in a position where Hassani's death was almost certain and then had the balls to put blame on Darwyn by calling him the last line of defense. Oh sure, and break cover, thus possibly endangering his own life. It's embarrassing that he has to deal with this guy as his new bureau liaison. But Darwyn nailed it right on the head regarding the deputy director: "Next time you talk to him, tell him I don't have time to babysit his f#$kin' nephew." Good point.
What this did bring up though, subtly, was the inefficiencies government agencies go through when sharing knowledge. They don't do it well. Beyond the fact that Russell didn't gather any intel on his own before offering up Darwyn to help bring down Hassani, The CIA (or whoever it was that wanted him) still thought he was a major player in the arms trade anyway! Far from it. It still boils down to Russell. He's a sleaze. Having Gayle sign a non-disclosure agreement? Or using Hassani's son to help set him up? This guy is going to end up getting himself killed.
Once again Farik stole the show for me. He's a master manipulator and the fact that he even had that Muslim lieutenant believing him was impressive. But honestly, once he gave up that public locker at the YMCA, you knew something was going to blow up. If the locker didn't, wherever it led them to would. So when they got to that "safe house," the end result wasn't much of a surprise. Ilija's story is still just dribbling along. He and Carly made it Canada. Not much to report on. That story is lost on me.
What I really like is the position that Darwyn has been placed in. He's the leader, just as Farik was last season. He plays the role well but he's already making the mistakes that Farik never would have done. Getting spotted at the zoo with Gayle by Mina... that's probably not going to go over too well. But I'm sure Darwyn will handle that conversation well when it finally comes up. On top of that, Darwyn isn't controlling the team too well. Under Farik's supervision, Salim never would have considered his move with the butcher cleaver and Hassani's hand. But Salim still resents Darwyn's ascension so they aren't exactly seeing eye to eye. Again though, Darwyn has prooven he can help himself, but it'll be easier once Russell is on the same page.
A note to readers: The entire mini-series is currently available on Showtime OnDemand. For those that choose to go ahead and view episodes ahead of their air date, please refrain from commenting on aspects of episodes that have yet to be shown.