Thursday, October 18, 2007

Revisiting ‘Case’: One Night 3x16

By LillyKat
PTR Staff Writer

James Hogan. George Marks. John Doe.

Silas Weir Mitchell. John Billingsley. Željko Ivanek.

Solo antagonists on which the story centers and of whom are wickedly clever, mysterious and inexplicably likable in their struggle.

Brilliant guest actors who portray these antagonists with such ease and conviction that their stand-out performances ultimately challenge Detective Lilly Rush (and push Kathryn Morris) to bring their A games to the table.

For me, this is Cold Case at its finest.

And one of those finest is the third season episode, “One Night.”

It ranks as one of my absolute favorite episodes of all the seasons for two simple reasons: 1) Lilly vs. one cryptic antagonist; 2) That antagonist forces Lilly to reveal or face something about herself in the process of trying to get her case solved.

Something she doesn’t see coming.

Something she doesn’t want to let get to her.

But it does.

And what we get is a phenomenal performance from Kathryn that coincides with the always welcome revelation of more character growth for Lilly.

Now, on a total side note, re-watching this episode during this week’s TNT mini-marathon found me even further appreciating the John Doe character as portrayed by Željko Ivanek as I have been enjoying his talents over on Damages since July. He is a great character actor and perfect opposite Kathryn in this episode.

I am of the opinion that you do not always need an over-the-top, evil, crazy, psychotic bad guy in a story. True, those types are handy, and a chase with a chainsaw wielding numb nut is good every once in a while. However, the average guy down the street can be just as compelling with the right set of circumstances. After all, 9 out of 10 times, serial killers are the guys who don't stand out, who don't draw attention, who actually are likable.

Dexter anyone?

Thus, this episode’s subtle villain, crippled and damaged in his own sympathetic way, worked ever so well. I know that multiple sclerosis is not a fatal disease (as I have a neighbor who lives with it). But, it can be destructive and debilitating nonetheless. And what was showcased in this episode was that, eventually, you have to face, cope and deal with that thing you never thought you would have to handle again.

Which is something Lilly Rush doesn’t like to do.

She deflects.

She denies.

She doesn’t deal with her personal stuff.

It simmers just beneath the cool calm exterior that makes her ace homicide cop, but grade-D personal life expert.

But what also stuck me about this episode was pace.

Sense of urgency.

You wanted to find the second missing boy as much as the detectives did (and you could almost find yourself looking at the clock as much as they were). Everyone being rushed, knowing time was against them, feeling desperate to save a life – this was all so incredibly tangible, and it added yet another layer to this already packed episode.

And though the performances of the entire cast were fantastic, credit must go once again to Kathryn for an absolutely brilliant final interrogation with John Doe. I have asked the question multiple times, "Why has this woman not been nominated for an Emmy, yet?"

I was again so impressed by her subtleties, her delicate strength, how she chose to deliver that very powerful exchange ... it almost seemed to me as if Lilly was reborn in that scene. As much as second season nemesis George Marks tortured her with his insistence on getting her to fess up to the horror(s) of her childhood, and first season good-guy-bad-guy James Hogan seemed to have a thing for her that left her awkwardly flattered and uncomfortable, with John Doe she fessed up one of what seemed to be her most cherished childhood memories.

Perhaps her only one.

It was the total opposite.

She wasn't being forced to relive the horror of her past in this moment.

She was reliving something good for a change, and she chose to offer it up and be proud of one of the few moments in her childhood that didn't leave a painful scar.


This episode was written by now executive producer Veena Sud. To date, Veena has written some of the best episodes in the series, notably “Mind Hunters” and “The Woods.” She has an undeniable ability to tap into the emotions of the characters in her episodes that are just so layered and gripping, and she always tackles Lilly’s back-story in a clever way, further rounding out an already complex and intriguing character.

And for whatever reason, Lilly’s physical appearance in this episode was something that also stood out to me.

Absolutely flawless.

Almost angelic.

Now, I rarely comment on her appearance (given the whole hair up/down/around issue and the how-much-paler-can-they-make-Lilly jokes that abound). But in this episode, there was a certain coloring in her face, and a softness in the blonde of her hair that, when lit with what seemed to be more soft light than not, showcased almost an angelic side to her that we perhaps hadn’t seen for a while.

And perhaps, in this episode, she was an angel in her own right.

One who saved a young boy from almost certain death whilst healing a bit of herself in the process.

New episodes of Cold Case air Sundays at 9 p.m. on CBS. Mini-marathons of older episodes air Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on TNT. You can also check your local listings of your CBS affiliate for additional late night weekend airings.


TVFan said...

Great insight as always. Kathryn was AMAZING in this one. LOVED her scenes with John Doe. I enjoyed your perspective on the pacing because I originally felt that it was the one thing missing from this episode. For some reason, I didn't feel the sense of urgency that everyone else did. Perhaps, it's because I watched an excellent, similar episode of SVU a few weeks prior and the urgency was palpable in that one. I should rewatch "One Night" and see what I think a second time.

~naj said...

I'm pretty picky when it comes to the CC eps. Didn't Veena write this ep? The only problem I had with it (because it had all the elements of a masterpiece) was the miscasting of the main character who just couldn't pull of his part. I was pulling my hair out. But maybe I should see if I have this video taped and take another look.