All pictures courtesy of the CW
You know the introduction script: ‘nother three-week roundup, new series, recap/review, some half-brained attempt at a witty metaphor, and the title Frequency sloppily woven into the intro paragraph. Let’s get to it!
Frequency is CW’s newest show to add to its bevy of strange sci-fi and superhero shows. It’s funny: when the WB and UPN merged to create the CW, I would’ve never guessed the channel would morph into the home for high-concept creative programming as it has (side note: high-concept is industry talk for a show that is high in idea but can be easily explained in one or two sentences; not to be confused with high-brow) become. Sure, the WB had stuff like Angel and Buffy through the 90s, but UPN still had a plethora of black sitcoms and shows that saw normal people in normal settings. Suddenly, you look across the network landscape and you see every network trying to go slightly strange with their programming in order to capitalize on the superhero craze. Unfortunately, no other network has managed to do it quite like the CW, mixing their comic-book-fare with other creative sci-fi or strange-fic shows in for the crowd of people who still shy away from saying that they watch anything on the Syfy channel regularly. For a channel that has been sporting such programs that have beasts, vampires, ghosts, demons, post-apocalyptic societies and the like, Frequency fits right in with the rest of the weird and crazy, while toeing the line of realistic and simplistic.
OK, tangent over. You need to know what the show is about and that’s why you’re here. Raimy is a young woman on the cusp of the rest of her life. She just celebrated her 28th birthday, she found a black-boxed diamond ring in her boyfriend’s things that morning (she’s totally going to say yes, even though she hasn’t yet met his parents), and she just recently got a new case as a homicide detective, but when her boyfriend Daniel (played by Daniel Bonjour) goes to her house and finds an old ham radio in the garage, he starts to set it up for her as a surprise, only to find her objecting to the gesture. Her problem: the ham radio reminds her of her father. Her father was a cop, too, and, from what she’s been told, a dirty one.
And then something crazy happens. On the night that Raimy spends some time at her old house drinking and what not after her 28th, she sees the old ham radio light up in the garage. She wanders in to find a man’s voice creaking across the frequency, slightly alcohol and cigar-addled as he plays with the radio like it’s a toy. Just looking for someone to connect with (he tells his little daughter that if they get the right frequency they can talk to astronauts up in space Gravity-style), he drums up a conversation with Raimy about the world series. He tells her his call sign and she thinks that can’t be his call sign because it’s her call sign, too. It doesn’t take long for both of them to freak-out and dang near curse each other out as they both believe the other is messing around. What’s the man’s name? Frank. Not possible, because Raimy’s dad’s name was Frank. ‘Oh, and you’re named Raimy? Raimy, what?’ “Sullivan!” ‘No way, because that’s my daughter’s name and she’s eight years old, it’s her birthday.’ “I just turned 28 and it’s my birthday.” You get the weirdness going on here, right?
So, it happens again and this time as Raimy is sitting at the radio, back in 1996, Frank allows a cigar to sit on the radio’s top and start to burn through the cheap metal. Raimy looks at her current-day radio and sees the smoke rising 20 years later as the burn scars into the radio, and warns him that he’s burning the radio. Too freaky.
Finally, to test this strange connection, Frank takes a soldering pen and burns a flag onto the top of the radio. The flag is a symbol for the flagpole at the back of the yard where he’s buried a special coffee can for her to dig up. Raimy goes out her house 20 years later and digs the coffee can up to find a Polaroid of her father holding a newspaper with the date of precisely 20 years prior. She goes back to the radio to tell him about the terrible picture he took and that’s when they realize that by some magical chance, they have tuned into a frequency that allows them to talk to each other through time-space. Putting aside how easily they accept this, both of them are rather excited for this opportunity, though Raimy is a little hesitant. Her problem stems not from the fact that this can’t be possible, but from the things she was told about her father. When she tells him that she is a detective too, now, he finds the idea that he’ll be on the force with his daughter in 20 years crazy. At 28, she’s as old as he is, slightly older. And then everything hits the fan when she bursts his bubble and tells him that he won’t be on the force, nor retired, but that he is dead, and in fact, dies/died tomorrow. Yes, he’s set to die shortly and it’s disappointing. Here’s another tangent for you, the actor playing Frank, Riley Smith is not 28 or even 30 as he is supposed to be, nor is he 48 like he would be if he had lived all through the 20 years since he’s died, but is actually 38 right directly in the middle. Now, I think that was done strategically so that they could easily age him up or down either way and not have it be too drastic looking. He can play younger but why they set his age in his 20s is beyond me, save for that they wanted to say that she is older than he ever lived to be, which they didn’t really have to do.
Raimy nearly hangs up on him after telling him about his death and how they’ll fish his body out of a local lake a few days after, along with some gangster he was linked to. She believes his dirty dealings is what got him killed but he insists that he was just doing the job the entire time and that the whole reason he’s even near the area they found his body is because there was supposed to be a police sting to finally end his undercover op. But she never hears about an undercover op. He is supposed to get shot dead, followed by the gangster. Who does this? They don’t know.
Wanting to believe her father even though she still suspects him of being dirty, Raimy joins forces with him to save his life. She conducts her own investigation in the future while Frank keeps his eyes wide open in the past. Raimy has a sneaking suspicion that this set-up was by the police he was working with based on the fact that she heard nothing about the sting. If the cops weren’t crooked, then a sting would actually have been mentioned and he would’ve died an honorable death in the line of duty rather than a crooked cop who got what he deserved.
When Raimy goes to visit one of her father’s old police buddies that Frank told her was involved in the sting-that-never-happened that night, she finds that he is a security guard who left the force long ago because he couldn’t deal with the guilt. He reveals that there never was supposed to be a sting and that Raimy’s boss at the time set him up to take the fall because he was working with the gangsters. She rushes back home to the radio to tell her father and that’s when we realize the limitations of the radio’s power. Frank’s not only already at the meet, but the other gangster that is supposed to die with him already has a gun to his head and knows he’s a cop.
|Frank with friend Satch|
As he is lying dying on the ground, back in present day, Raimy is curled up in a corner near the radio as she believes she has failed again. But when Frank breathes another breath in the past and rolls to his side and up to reveal that the bullet is in him but it didn’t kill him, suddenly Raimy has a rush of memories from the last 20 years flood her brain, memories that hadn’t before existed, memories of a life spent with a father that not only lived to see her 9th, 10th and 11th birthday, but lived long enough to see her strut into the bullpen in her beat-cop blues fresh from the academy, and dote on his cop daughter. Unfortunately, as soon as she exits her garage/shed, her best friend Gordo (Lenny Jacobson) greets her and wonders about her strange new enlightenment. “Everything’s different now,” she exalts. Her father wasn’t murdered, but Gordo quickly brings her world back to the ground when he tells her that her father died in a car crash about five years ago at the age of 43. While she finds it sad that he’s gone, it’s not that sad because she got to grow up with him and at least he wasn’t killed and didn’t die a corrupt cop, but was hailed as a hero for having survived an undercover gang gig that went horribly wrong. Funny thing: she remembers it both ways, both her life without him and this new life she never actually lived with him. Similar to NBC’s Timeless time travelers, both historical timelines are etched into her memory, though everyone around her only remembers the one timeline. And for that she is thankful.
Who does Frank wake up to in his timeline but his boss, the very man who set him up to take the fall and painted him as a dirty cop posthumously, Stan Hope (played by Anthony Ruivivar). He even gets a visit from his wife and little Raimy while in the hospital, and here’s where I forgot to mention something earlier because I didn’t have room to fit it in. See, the new case that Raimy just got in her time is actually an old case, a very old and ongoing case. In a recent marsh dredging, police found a very old body, nothing but bones left. Rosary beads tied around the wrist and ankle, the ME believes it is the body of one of the victims of the Nightingale killer, an area-famous serial killer from 20 years prior that was never caught. The killer grew famous for killing nurses. One of the nurses that had gone missing long ago was just now found and that was her body. Funny enough, Raimy’s mother was also a nurse and worked with the woman that got killed by Nightingale. But when visiting Raimy’s father in the hospital, even though Raimy’s mother wasn’t on call that night, she still wore her badge to use her clout to get to see her husband without having to check in and go through protocol. While there, she is stopped by the Nightingale killer’s would-be fourth victim and takes some packets of something from the woman who was going to take an elevator downstairs to drop them in a storage room. Since Raimy and her mother are going down anyway as they exit the hospital, her mother takes them and they get on the elevator with the Nightingale himself, when before the other nurse would’ve gotten on. See where this is going?
|Left to Right: Raimy's friend, Raimy, Daniel|
Episode two starts with a rehash of the remains found in the swamp. Not only is the examiner changed from a fat white man to a red-haired black woman, but the victim’s remains are definitely Raimy’s mother. Her mother Julie Sullivan (played by Devin Kelley who is the same age as Peyton List and eight years younger than Riley but is also supposed to be in her late 20s) is said to have gone missing in early January of 1997. This is great because not only does she not die immediately, but Raimy and Frank have discovered that their days mirror each other so that the same amount of time passes by for both of them (one day in present is one day in the past and vice versa), meaning they have, roughly two and a half months to catch the Nightingale killer and stop her from dying. The interesting thing about this show is that they can work this case in either timeline and, so long as it ends before January 11th, they can save her.
Their jumping-off point for their investigation stems from the very existence of a fourth body. Let’s first establish the two timelines to help us all understand this show a lot easier. We’ll call the first timeline when Frank dies the BadCop timeline and the second timeline the Mother timeline. We good there? Everybody understand that when I switch between the two? OK, good. So, in the original timeline AKA the BadCop timeline, the Nightingale killer was known to only have ever had three victims that were found in or near the swamp/marsh, all of them found within a very short amount of time. These killings supposedly stopped just after Frank died. However, the discovery of the fourth body extended the timeline in which the killer was active by nearly three months. So, because his original kills extended beyond the time parameter at least by a few months on the plus-side of time, why not on the minus side, too? In other words, maybe he was killing or doing something at the swamp earlier than when the killings supposedly started. This leads to Raimy and Frank both combing through past crimes of any kind at the swamp as they figured the killer had familiarity with his ultimate crime scene, some deeper connection to it that would make him want to kill there.
|Left to Right: Julie (Devin Kelley), Raimy|
In each of their digs into the past, they collectively discover a sexual assault case by some young kid that had been expunged. A man with the last name Goff was the perpetrator and he lives in the same house that he grew up in. Now firmly in the Mother timeline, Raimy goes to visit the man who is now in his mid-to-late 40s and looks like a family guy. He tells her about how the case was expunged and looks slightly nervous about being hassled by the police. She leaves and goes to tell her father back in his time.
|Captain that set Frank up|
Raimy decides to go back out to the house that she visited the day prior, which, if you remember the way this thing works, is precisely 20 years after Frank and Satch visited the house. In Frank’s time, as soon as Goff’s mother tells them to scram and Goff sees them walking toward his work shed, he comes out to talk with them. His mother lets him say nothing, and the cops leave. But in his haste to get out there, he left the tool shed’s cellar door unlocked. Surprise, surprise, he had the missing woman from his college (not)locked deep inside waiting, presumably, to die. She escapes, smacks him with a shovel and sprints into the woods. In Raimy’s time, she goes to Goff’s house again and is shocked when a completely different guy opens the door and tells her that the Goff family used to live there 20 years ago or so. The future, her present, is constantly changing based off what she is telling her father.
The race is on to find the escaped girl in Frank’s time, but meanwhile, Frank has other things to deal with. His two years spent undercover put a canyon between him and his wife Julie. He’s trying to reconnect with her as he is just now flirting with the idea of moving back into the house—he moved out to protect them. Meanwhile, future Raimy keeps telling him that he needs to tell Julie that she’s going to die, but it’s obviously too complicated for him to blurt this out without some info on how he knows this as fact. When he takes Julie to the radio to have her talk with future Raimy, Raimy freezes up. Having just come from the Goff house, she now realizes that everything she says directly into her past, to her mother, her father, herself, can all change the future. She gets scared that telling her mother will change something else in a big way and says nothing, which only drives a bigger wedge between her parents. And that’s when I realized this show is not about time travel or fixing past faults but is about a family of people that can’t depend on each other. This episode ends with Raimy going back to the Goff house late at night and looking in a space where the tool shed once stood the day before when she visited, and digging through the soft, fertile ground to find a cellar where she automatically theorizes Goff kept his prisoners.
Episode three explores this prison cellar theory more as we already know the answer. Running the course of roughly two days time. In the first day, Frank and Satch go back to Goff’s house in their time and do an illegal “exigent circumstances” search of the tool shed, finding an empty cellar. With the boy gone and his mother not talking, Satch is ready to go because he doesn’t want to get sued by this lady, and then they see footprints in fresh mud that point into the woods to the side of the house. As Raimy sits at her detective’s desk back in 2016 checking and rechecking the police report status of the college girl that had never been found, she wills her father and Satch to the girl. They find the young woman passed out in the woods from having run all night trying to escape, and the report changes before Raimy’s very eyes. Yet another thing erased from everyone’s memory but hers.
|I Remember Everything|
Raimy, meanwhile, does some digging on her end to find out that Goff’s mother never gave him up and is in federal prison herself. Raimy talks to the woman, threatening that if she doesn’t finally tell where her son would have gone for the last 20 years, then the police will find him and possibly kill him on sight. At least with her, she’ll guarantee she can bring him in unharmed. Momma Goff finally gives him up. Meanwhile, in Frank’s time, they let momma Goff go to use her as fishing bait to lure Goff in. When she makes a series of calls to a place near Washington Square in the town, they automatically suspect it is him she is calling.
As Raimy finds Goff in an abandoned warehouse, her Father and Satch stake out his place in their time. Raimy fights with the middle-aged man and brings him down, handcuffing him and throwing him into the back of her car. She takes him out to a place near the lake, the same place they fished her father’s dead body from in the BadCop timeline, and throws him to the ground. She can’t stand the thought of this man having done that terrible deed to her mother, and is about to shoot him. Back in 1996, Frank and Satch spot Goff and take off after him in a foot race through a busy part of town. In both scenarios, he doesn’t want to go to jail. In the past, he sees a cab zooming down the street and casually walks in front of it to get hit. And right as Raimy cocks her gun in the future, she looks down to see Goff having disappeared. He died from those injuries.
Speaking of injuries, Raimy runs back home in hopes of finding her mother stalking the house only to find a bouquet of flowers left by one of her mother’s friends a few days ago. Ever since the body was confirmed as Julie, people have been wanting to have an official mourning service, which Raimy has objected to, because she doesn’t want to have that memory in her mind when she and her father ultimately save her mother. But the sobering fact is that Goff was not the Nightingale. Funny enough, she gets pissed at her father because he had an instinct the guy wasn’t the Nightingale the entire time but let her follow her own instincts that had her so sure the man was. She tells him about not letting her lose it again, which is so ridiculous, but I’m not going to go there. She takes solace in the fact that together, she, her father and Satch saved a young woman and countless others who would’ve died by Goff’s hands. She ends the show by looking at the Facebook photos and videos of the once dead woman sitting with her husband and small son as they are on vacation and out at a restaurant.
What’s my grade? Another hard one, I give it a B-. OK, so, to start, the original movie was not like a gigantic success nor really a cult classic. It was a movie that most people saw, said, “Oh, that was kinda different,” and moved on with their lives. I mention this to say that it didn’t become something studied and obsessed over as other time travel movies, making some of its inherent problems less argued about. The show, while improving on some of those problems, adopts some of its own. First, I guess I can ignore the ages and so-so makeup on the people. For me, Devin Kelley is a very pretty girl, yet in both time frames (old and young) she looks older than 30. Having seen her initially on ABC’s Resurrection, I know that she looks way better than that. In neither case does she look the age she is supposed to be playing, nor her real age. Speaking of which, what is the point in saying that these characters are all in their 20s when none of them are in their 20s in real life? Again, I could let it go with Peyton but with everyone else, it bugs me for reasons I can’t fully explain. Especially with an eight-year-old daughter, in the 90s? Look at the birth statistics and you’ll see that the early-life births where people were having their children in their teens had significantly decreased after the baby boom. Most people, especially Gen Xers were having their children well into their 20s and 30s. If you just made both parents 30, I think that would have been easier, especially when jumping back and forth in time and trying to figure out everyone’s ages. That’s something that’ll only bug me, but again, the makeup is a small problem.
Next, we have the problem of Raimy and how she treats Frank over the radio. I get it, she first remembered him as a corrupt cop in the BadCop timeline, but when the Mother timeline kicks in, it almost feels like she has no change in demeanor or attitude toward him. One of the things wrong with the movie that is also wrong with the show is how little the changes made affected the son or daughter’s personality. Losing a parent and the emotional toll that takes on someone is hard for anyone, especially someone so young. Adding the “bad guy” angle to it would’ve hardened Raimy to a plethora of world experiences. But when she is thrust into the Mother timeline, her personality doesn’t seem to change. She’s virtually the same person. Remember, though, that she was not raised by a loving, nurse (natural caregiver) mother as in the BadCop timeline, but by a hardened, once undercover cop father in the new Mother timeline. I get that she has both sets of memories, but it still feels like it should affect her personality in some way.
Finally, the rules of this non-time-traveling adventure are sort of as-we-go-along carefree. In other words, some things won’t properly make sense when over-thinking them. When reviewing these shows for you guys, I generally will watch each of the three first episodes twice, once at normal speed and a second time to spot-check specifics that will be important for the review. In my second viewing of the 1st three episodes here, I realized three things that stuck out. The first is easiest to explain or question as it has to do with the death of Goff and Raimy’s memories. After Goff disappears from before her, Raimy runs back home in hopes of seeing her mother gliding across the wooden floors of the house, a dramatic visual (she returns to nothing changed). The problem is that the first episode already established that new memories would flood back into her mind the instant something significant happened as it did with her father surviving the gunshot. Why, then, did she run back? Shouldn’t she have already had her memories of her mother returned to her? It’s not just a nitpick but an actually valid complaint.
Speaking of Goff, let’s talk about that fight had between him and Raimy. When she is about to shoot him in that abandoned lot near the lake, she is bleeding from a cut on her forehead put there by him in the fight. Then he vanishes because on the same day 20 years prior he walked into traffic and died after a foot race with Frank and Satch. The problem, however, is that the cut remained on her forehead; in fact, she had to get it cleaned and patched. But if he was dead, wouldn’t the cut not be there? I went to IMDb while checking to make sure of the names, and came across the same question on the boards there. Someone there had a theory that this means that all things that happen to her in the present, regardless of how the past changes, will still stay with her similar to how her memories remain. But that essentially makes her an anomaly in any and all of the timelines. She can be shot, stabbed and even killed by people who are already dead, which, if not carefully monitored by the writers and producers, can become confusing for the viewers.
The third thing I noted about the Goff case was the glazed-over fact that Frank’s time is still moving forward and that she didn’t jump farther back in time to talk with him. Confusing? Think of this: one of the main reasons they went after Goff was because Raimy thought that he already had a link to the marsh and with attacking nurses. Then, when asked why she thought he could have kidnapped this college student, she said because maybe he hadn’t decided on his MO yet, or something to that effect. The college student would have not only been out of his usual range of victims (she wasn’t a nurse) but would also have been killed far from the marsh. On first viewing, you might miss the fact that the Nightingale killer was already established well within his MO before her father’s death. He was already an experienced killer and had been killing enough for the cops to not only have pursued him but named him. Remember, also, that in the BadCop timeline, he stopped shortly after Frank’s death (no, Frank is definitely not the killer), meaning he was ending not beginning his murderous spree. Yet, Goff was treated as if he was just starting or revisiting something he fantasized about doing. Yes, the escaped college girl said that he said there were others before her, but none of that fit with the established timeline, let alone with the evidence if you understand. It doesn’t make full sense to me. And it makes more sense for Raimy to start investigating why exactly the killer would keep killing over the course of 20 years, rather than stopping all because her father survived.
Should you be watching? Maybe. With all of the flaws I’ve listed, and there are more, I still think that this show is quality sci-fi/fantasy for fans of the genre. It is a time-traveling piece without the fancy time-traveling machine, and, similar to The Flash, focuses on lesser known events in the personal lives of the characters rather than looking at big historical events that can be studied. That may actually be a good thing as they have more leeway to play with the differing timelines. When reviewing MacGuyver, this is what I was talking about when saying that procedurals should have more to them than the classic 80s setup. Granted, MacGuyver is on a bigger network and with a better time, and it may do well because it doesn’t make you think and focus on something, but make no bones about it, Frequency is just as much of a cop/secret agent/lawyer procedural as MacGuyver or any of these other a-case-a-week shows out there, but similar to How to Get Away With Murder or The Blacklist (not to compare this show to those), there is an overarching case that needs to be solved and it is quite interesting. With the time aspect, there’s a lot of places this show can go and nothing is off the table concerning any of the main characters’ lives... or deaths. Frequency airs at 9pm EST Wednesdays on the CW, just after Arrow.
What do you think? Have you seen Frequency? If not, do you think you’ll tune in now? If so, what is your favorite part of the show? How do you think the Nightingale killer is related to Frank? And do you think Raimy will ever get her mother back and her father, or will she always have to lose one? Let me know in the comments below (hint: click the no comments button if you see no comments).
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If you’re looking for a scare, check the YA novel #AFuriousWind, the NA novel #DARKER, #BrandNewHome or the bizarre horror #ThePowerOfTen. For those interested in something a little more dramatic and adult, check out #TheWriter. Both season 1 and season 2 are out NOW, exclusively on Amazon. Stay connected here for updates on season 3 coming summer 2017. If you like fast action/crime check out #ADangerousLow. The sequel A New Low will be out in a few months. Look for the mysterious Sci-fi episodic novella series Extraordinary to premiere sometime this winter on Amazon and my blog. Join us on Goodreads to talk about books and TV, and subscribe to and follow my blog with that Google+ button to the right.
Until next time, “Like, OK, so let me explain this again. Goldmember took the time machine to go back in time to the 70s to try to kill both you and Austin Pow—”
“But I was tryin’ to explain that—”
‘Uh, zip it!’
“I was just—”
“God! Even I can’t believe he’s run out of better time travel references and has resorted to using a Mike Myers movie reference.”
P.S. In honor of Halloween, I wanted to remind everybody that Mike Myers is always the scariest costume you can wear. Classic and Canadian—could there be anything scarier. I’ll think of a better sign-off next time.Amazon
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