The Beast – Two Choices

Two Choices was the second episode of The Beast, the Patrick Swayze show that aired on A&E.  Much of the internal theme of this crime drama centers on Swayze’s character of Charles Barker, an FBI agent who may or may not be on the shady side of the street.  We learn more by watching Barker’s partner, Ellis Dove, who is being told by other FBI agents that Barker is dirty.  Dove doesn’t believe it and yet he’s not certain.  It’s really fun to watch Dove show both confidence and doubt in Barker at the same time.  It’s a real struggle as Dove tries to balance what he’s seeing with what he feels.

Dove is played by Travis Fimmel.  He does okay, but I’m not really sold on him as an actor, especially with his facial expressions, which drive me nuts.

The Beast itself continues to be on the dark side of the street with streams of realism and quit at its base.  There are many location shots of Chicago, where the show was filmed in late 2008.  They especially like using the el train, which is even in the opening credits for the show.  I do admit that all of this location shooting aids the show and, in fact, helps it to be on the edgy side of things.  The drama is definitely heightened by the night shots.  I’d still like to see some lighter moments, but so far everything has been mostly nighttime.  The show is very much on the go, and in the first two shows, there haven’t been many shots inside of buildings.

This show gives some focus to Dove and his wannabe girlfriend, Rose (Lindsay Pulsipher).  She’s engaging enough and while the first episode allowed some off the cuff and spontaneous action between the two, this episode’s progression of the love story was more ritualistic.  I didn’t like the scene in the pool room at all.  My biggest gripe was with Fimmel, who just overacted to no end.  I don’t know if you’d call it method acting or just trying to let his face talk, but it was a bust.  His look irritated me and turned me off big time.  I’ve noticed this with him before.  He’s like a pouting little boy, and it seems like he’s trying to overdo everything.  It was just horrible.

However, Swayze’s portrayal of Barker is right on and a joy to watch.  Watching Barker deal with an unexpected loss was emotional, especially seeing its progression from the moment of the loss to when he took a moment outside.  It’s completely poignant and truly moved me.  It wasn’t over the top, but was subtle.  Barker keeps things inside and in check, but here we got to see a little glimpse of how much he cares about people.

When this episode concluded, the audience had more to ponder about how Barker handled an ethical scenario.  I know it could easily stir some debate, but that’s what television is for.  Using the ending they did keeps everyone guessing about Barker’s true intent.  Only time would give us the answers.

As he always is, Swayze is incredibly awesome as this multi-layered Barker.  The question I have is whether or not he can teach Fimmel to stay on an even keel.

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