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Shark: The Wrath of Khan

by Michael Canfield, posted Jan 5th 2007 8:03AM
Shark(S01E11) Well, we finally found out what (other than banging Madeleine, of course) Casey is good for. Kidnap-bait. Casey gets kidnapped by an international arms merchant. Stark and the rest of the gang channel Jack Bauer and CTU for an episode. Sort of. There are government agency turf wars, planes that can' t be allowed to leave Los Angeles, international arms deals galore, and that's all before the opening credits. It's a change of pace certainly, for our team of criminal trial lawyers.

L.A. is not quite under the threat of imminent annihilation, but Stark does note that a well-known rap group was blown up a month ago in their SUV. This attack was possibly caused, says Stark, by "plastique and Taliban surplus weapons" supplied to L.A. street gangs by this Khan fellow. Yeah, those high-grade weapons the Taliban aren't using just now and smuggled out of the Afghanistan/Pakistan border region where bin Laden is hiding to airdrop on Malibu. Khhhaaaaaan!!

Stark's been running a sting against Khan for six months. Six months? Who knew? Two undercover agents involved in that sting are supposed to be disguised, I think, as gangster-rappers. This must explain why they are dressed like background dancers in an '80's 7-Up commercial. Other plot elements include, but are not limited to, a few double-crosses, a timer-charge and exploding hideout, a tattooed white-supremacist, sundry slo-mo shoot-outs, and a single slow-motion water-balloon bursting on the pavement.

Shows like 24, and the excellent Sleeper Cell, build entire seasons around these kinds of elements. It's a heckuva challenge for Shark to try and cram them all into a single hour, and the results are too absurdly frenetic and jumbled together for me. Over the top, (and not in a clever Ugly Betty way) just about covers it for this episode, which seems conceived for those who would find Prison Break and 24 too realistic.

Stark's daughter Julie has the night off, and I guess I can be grateful that they didn't pull a Kim Bauer and kidnap her along with Casey and the underwritten daughter of a CIA agent. (I think that's who the little girl was supposed to be, anyway.)

I sincerely don't know what to make of this episode. Maybe some CBS executive gave the producers a note that Shark needs more explosions, so rather than settling for added explosions they decided to blow the entire show up. Or perhaps the Shark staff is having a laugh ala the Scrubs parody of House earlier the same evening on NBC.

In due course, Stark resolves the plot while standing on the tarmac, complete with a taped confession from the arms merchant. Not such a wrathful Khan after all, this guy, who quickly reveals to locale of the kidnappees in exchange for a light sentence and Stark's offer to take the death penalty off the table.

That about wraps it up, except for one element, which may explain the motivation for this format-breaking shoot 'em-up, and possibly qualifies the whole mess as a "very special episode." Some long-overdue cast-thinning is accomplished in the final moments of the hour. Since the character who is killed off was never given that much to do in the series, I can't really come up with anything to say about him. Martin, I hardly knew you.

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I think I just wasn't as unhappy with this episode as everyone else seems to be. There were some questionable moments: most noticeably the five minutes it took for the swat team to take out one guy with a gun. Puh--leeze. One shot and he was dead. I know that played out to bring about the death of Alexis/Martin but still. VERY UNREALISTIC. I guess, all other imperfections aside, i liked the fact that the supporting cast was fully engaged. I think that's important to this show and in the last two or three episodes, particularly, Casey, Madeline, Reina and Martin have stood around like very attractive wallpaper. They need to be involved in the storyline. This week they were. As for Martin, I went back and re=watched a couple of episodes. He was prominent in the show about the sweatshops but otherwise, he rarely had 10 lines in a show. The character wasn't being utilized at all.

January 09 2007 at 11:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I've been a huge fan of shark since it's 1st episode. This last episode is by far the worst written and not believable by any means. Even my wife was calling what was happening before me. I'm not in law at all but I believe if a cop is claimed to be on the take, his partner would be investigated immediately. James Wood is awesome, the rest of the cast is great, the guy they killed off was week. That was the only good thing these writers wrote in this episode. Were these writers rushed for the holidays?

January 06 2007 at 9:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Can someone help me? I am still not clear what happened at the end of the ep - I'm not sure why Khan gave himself up. It sounded like the Feds wanted Khan's support in the "War on Terror," so weren't Stark's threats that he would be shot down empty ones? I'm so, so confused.

I met James Woods at Sundance two years ago. One of the nicest guys around. It would be fun to get him and Christopher Walken together for a serious scene-chewing contest.

January 05 2007 at 11:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Brent McKee

The little girl was the underwritten daughter of Martin's friend the confidential informant (CI in cop speak).

In one of those bits of deliciously ironic synchronicity, today my newspaper's TV magazine (don't ask, getting it on Friday is a Canadian thing) has a short background piece on Alexis Cruz who says about playing the role of Martin Cruz "I just walked into this incredible world that I've been working my entire life to get into." Oops.

January 05 2007 at 3:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I just watched this (thanks Innertube and thank you CBS for updating it so that you can skip forward and backwards!) I enjoyed it. It was totally different than usual and felt like a mini-movie crammed into about 44 minutes.
James Woods is just plain fun to watch in whatever he does.
That was a nice twist on killing off Martin. I didn't dislike his character but he had the least to do on the show. It'll be interesting to see how his death affects everyone else now.
I'm not going to hold their feet to the fire too much about all of the situations these Lawyers get into. Sometimes they're CSI's handling evidence at crime scenes, now they're involved in hostage situations. Maybe it's CBS's way of combining elements from their big shows into one a la CSI, Cold Case, and Without A Trace. ; )

January 05 2007 at 3:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
JUlie Medina

I agree that this was an absurd episode! I watched it because I heard a character was going to die and I wanted to see whom it would be. I was very disappointed! As far as how they killed off Martin, an ADA would never have been there. That is not part of their job to be present at a hostage situation. Also a little criticism, you need an editor. This article was riddled with typographical errors.

January 05 2007 at 2:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Larry Henderson

This is one of the new season programs I enjoy, versus that one with Ray Liotta, that did not last past the first week.
James Woods is a class act, I have followed him for years, and that is what supports all things good about the prgram in general.
Now for Martin, where did the idea originate for him to be excised from the cast?
This episode was intense, fast paced, and head spinning.
The shock of losing Martin, (Alexis Cruz),is disheartening, which now opens the door, to him returning to Abados, and being reunited with Dr. Daniel Jackson as Skaara.

January 05 2007 at 10:34 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Man, this was a bad episode - bad writing, no believability at all.
I guess they wanted to kill off that character and decided to go with this absurd way of doing it.
What gets me is that for some reason with all those sharpshooters all around, the bad cop gets off so many rounds before he is shot dead and Martin is killed - no way in real life would that guy have been left standing/shooting for so long.
I hate dumb shows. I think I'll take a hiatus from this one for awhile.

January 05 2007 at 8:43 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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