by Dave Warren
In “Modern Times” we continue to see Daniel adjust to his new world as his family adjusts to a world with Daniel in it. However Daniel is still struggling to fully ‘arrive’ into this small town.
Having only seen the pilot and this second episode, “Modern Times” felt like a coda to the pilot; it seemed like there was still some more setup that the writers wanted to establish. This setup was good, however, maybe since Daniel didn’t leave his house until the very end, my patience was tested after a series of these setup moments. First we
heard retired Rutherford Gaines, who worked on the case, talk about how “we just repeat ourselves,” then we got a quick at one of Daniel’s peers, with Melvin, who described his experience with Daniel 19 years ago. And after a brief run in with the victim Hanna’s brother and subsequent backstory delivery from Amantha, we are then taken to the crime scene and hear yet another recounting of some of the events that took place – this time how the crime scene developed into a [super dark and creepy] rite of passage for the local kids.
All of these moments, especially the run in with the victim’s brother and the scene at the river, were solid as stand alone scenes. I appreciated the flat description of the rite-of-passage – that could easily have been delivered with more emotion, enhanced with music and/or closeups. But this is not Criminal Minds. And her delivery was in sync with her ‘it is what is is,’ no nonsense personality. And additionally, it has been 19 years – when she’s described this event and others, her lines have been executed with a perfect sense of distance and separation.
So it was not these scenes themselves that were problematic, rather it was the inclusion of all of these moments in the same episode where our main character does very little. This led to ‘Modern Times’ feeling a little bit stagnant, in the sense that I would have liked to see some more hints of where it is going, and a little less hearing about the past.
I hope the pace of this episode was due to the need for additional setup – a result of the creators desire to give the viewer increased perspective – past and present – on this fictitious Georgia town’s take on the Daniel and the crime he was charged with. This particular episode left me wanting more, which is usually a good thing, but after viewing ‘Modern Times,’ I was getting a little weary of hearing about all the tension and trouble that happened here – I’m wanting now to start seeing some present conflicts play out in upcoming episodes. Hopefully once Daniel adjusts and gets out more we’ll see this – soon.
Final note: Though Daniel did not go anywhere physically, he did delve into his past, discovering old memoirs & music from his high school years. Ending the episode by showing him playing Sonic the Hedgehog on his old Sega Genesis was a powerful detail, clearly demonstrating that Daniel has a long way to go until he feels comfortable as a free, 37 year old man in this small town.