Second Chance – my thoughts after this first season

When I first heard about Tim being cast in a Frankenstein show, I have to say I was a little skeptical… I was happy at the perspective to see him in another show, but I’ve never been particularly interested in the Frankenstein story. I do like Sci-Fi, though, at least a certain kind. So a modern version of it could be fun. And I could just watch for Tim. It’s not like I haven’t done this sort of things before. After all, I fast-forward through all the biblical stuff in Carnivàle, but I still love the carnie world and Jonesy is one of my favorite of Tim’s characters.

But in the end, Frankenstein aka The Frankenstein Code aka Lookinglass aka Second Chance ended up to be quite a good show, that I genuinely enjoyed all around. And much better than you might think just from the premise. Now, I’d be very sad if Fox doesn’t renew it. Which, I know is a slim chance, but the fact that they haven’t just called it yet means there is a chance.

Admittedly, Second Chance series isn’t perfect. There are a couple plot points from the pilot that have been weirdly hand-waved, but it’s actually not that bad (the blurry nonsense of the season 1 arc of White Collar didn’t prevent us from falling in love with the show). Some crimes are a bit too violent or weird for my liking (O blue skies where are thou?) and it does also requires some serious hand-waving regarding the “science” (especially when you know a bit about said science…). Plus they could have used better the cancer storyline. Yet the show still has a lot to offer. Most of all, the show makes up for those little defaults by showing a lot of heart. The original premise of the show might have sounded just a little bit convoluted, but it actually creates some great character dynamics, both among the Pritchard family, and between Jimmy and the Goodwins. And in that regard, despite the limited number of episodes, it truly delivered. In all the episodes there were great scenes, between Jimmy and Duval, of course, and the twins, but also Jimmy and Helen, And Helen and Duval, and Mary and Jimmy, and Alexa and Jimmy…

The characters, and their relationships, that’s where the show was really excellent.

Otto is probably the most complex character and the show did a particularly good job at unraveling it progressively. He is a genius on the autistic spectrum, he has difficulties interacting with the world, beyond his sister Mary and Arthur the AI. He does have an unhealthy attachment to Mary but he’s doing all he can to save her life.
And I want to point out that even though his obsession for his sister led him to do dangerous things, Otto is very far from the monster Connor is. First, Otto took dead bodies – a little unethical, but, well, they were dead – and then threw them away before they were finished. A fact that was largely used by Connor to turn Alexa against Otto. But Otto actually threw them away before they regained consciousness. Basically, he took them when they were dead, and then they were still very much dead. It’s a lot less evil than Connor who brought them back and used them as guinea pigs. Connor deviously manipulated Otto, but Otto, when he saw what Connor was capable of – killing Albert Lin in cold blood because he didn’t need him, kidnapping and torturing Gracie – Otto turned on Connor. If Otto has difficulties understanding what is right and what is wrong, he seems to actually know what Mary would think, and in the end, he recognized that Mary wouldn’t approve any of this. Mary is like his proxy conscience. And despite some ominous “We won’t need Jimmy anymore”, he only intended to let Jimmy and his tank go. He didn’t mean to kill him.
He did accept to torture Gracie – which made me cringe – but I still think that Otto is more a complicated, misguided human being with a serious lack of empathy than a really bad person. His final realization that he should have let Mary died was heartbreaking. He didn’t actually have to die, but he knew he had lost Mary anyway.

Jimmy is also an interesting character. Jimmy 2.0 seems to be a much nicer person than old Jimmy. It looks like his temporary death acted as a wake-up call for him. Or, as Duval puts it so nicely “I’m glad it only took you coming back from the dead, to finally see the light.” Maybe it’s that, at 75 he had just given up on fighting, whether about fixing things with his family or his legacy as a sheriff. Now he is young and alive again, and he has the time. And he probably needs to find a new purpose now that he possibly has another full life ahead. There’s always this duality in Jimmy, about being old and young at the same time. And I have to say, Rob Kasinsky does a great job at making you believe he’s an old grumpy soul stuck in a young body. I also love the way he’s genuinely enjoying having a young body again. He’s strong and healthy, can enjoy Gracie’s double bacon sandwiches again… And he has a lovely smile.

And then, there’s Duval, the “honest-to-God good person”, whose world gets rocked upside down. Duval is truly the emotional core of the show, the one that grounds the crazy dead/not-dead story to reality, and makes it believable. It’s always one of my greatest pleasures to watch Tim create a new character. He always brings something unique, and yet very “him” to any of his characters, which makes them all different and yet, very human, no matter how simple or similar they can be on paper. He seemed to be so naturally and effortlessly Peter Burke, or Jonesy, that you forget it’s all acting. And that’s when you see all those characters side by side that you realize how versatile Tim is. And here with Second Chance, Tim delivered another beautiful and poignant performance. I’ve lost count on the number of times I’ve watched the scene where Duval learns that Jimmy is his dad. This and the “I don’t want you to go” scene are probably my favorite of the entire show. Duval sure needs a big hug, though. Between his issues with his dad, the death of his wife, his partner betraying him, and his teenage daughter running away and being kidnapped, it’s a miracle he doesn’t break down… And on a shallower note, hat off to the wardrobe department and whoever tailored those suits… Those long legs…

Back to the show, what I absolutely love is Jimmy and Duval’s complicated relationship. There’s a lot of anger there. Lots of resentment built over the years on Duval’s part, and probably resignation on old Jimmy’s part. But there’s also a lot of love and since they’re given that second chance, they’re seizing it. It’s not easy, and the whole situation makes Duval hesitant to let Jimmy back into his family’s life, but they are trying, and it’s often very touching. They do want, both of them, to fix things. Jimmy wants to be a better father, and Duval probably just needed his father to make that first step.

The show also has a strong team of female characters: Mary, Alexa and Helen. They all bring very contrasted personalities to the show. Mary is a successful CEO, both  strong and caring. Sweet Alexa is sneakier than you’d think, and Helen just has this little something that makes her instantly likeable. I really like those characters, all of them really. And the actors all did a great job. I do wish we’d seen a bit more of Gracie, because I know Ciara Bravo is a good actress too.

Another thing that I really liked in the show is the humor and the balance between the dramatic moments and the lighter ones. Or even how the two mixed so well. Like when Duval is all worked up about finding out that Jimmy is his father and Jimmy says the twinspeak freaks him out and Duval says “that’s what freaks you out?!”. And all of Duval’s sarcasms. “Don’t you have a tank to go to or something?”. Though my favorite of those funny scenes remains when Alexa thinks Jimmy and Mary are having sex, and then she misunderstands when Mary says he’s a donor… There’s a certain genuineness from the characters in those funny moments, like when Jimmy asked the old guy in the hospital why he was in for and forgets he doesn’t look old, that I find adorable.

All in all, Second Chance is a very enjoyable show.

I could develop more – I have so many feelings for this show and those characters – but I feel like it’s been quite long already…

We did get some closure at the end, which is good, I could live with this. But they also opened up some very interesting settings for a potential next season. There’s the obvious violence problem that would probably the season main arc. Albert Lin was the first, and he did get violent. Then Alexa, who was reborn at least a year before Jimmy, so she should be next… Another interesting arc would be the Jimmy/Alexa/Mary triangle. Mary is gone for now, and I can see how Jimmy and Alexa, both old people could connect. We still need Gracie and Helen to find out about Jimmy – though if it turns out he’s going to end like Albert Lin, will Duval let him close to his family at all? How much would Otto the AI be able to help? And will we ever know what happened to Duval’s wife?

I do like shows that take their time and don’t explain everything at once and leaves things open for the future. But that implies a future. And I feel like Second Chance really needs at least another season to tell the whole story…

How about you? What did you think of Second Chance?


2 Comments on “Second Chance – my thoughts after this first season”

  1. I agree that the show was definitely better than anticipated.
    Also I’m a sucker for computer personalities, ex. Zen and Orac from Blakes 7. The simple stick figure like Author computer personality is adorable. Definitely not a Hal or Colossus evil computer.
    Hoping for a second season.

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